Read in February for the Dragons & Tea Book Club!
She’s the town pariah. He doesn’t give a damn.
In Ruth Kabbah’s world, comic books are king, silence is golden, and human contact is a pesky distraction. She doesn’t like people, which works out just fine, because the people in this small town don’t like her. The exception to that rule? Evan Miller, her way-too-charming next-door neighbour…
Ex-military man Evan is all tattooed muscle on the outside—and a big, cuddly teddy bear beneath. He’s used to coaxing prickly people from their shells, but he’s never met a woman quite like Ruth. Blunt, sarcastic, and secretly sad, she’s his exact opposite. She’s also his deepest desire.
Soon, Evan’s steady patience and smouldering smiles are melting Ruth’s reserve. But when small-town gossip from her past begins to poison her future, she’s forced to make a choice. Should she trust Evan completely? Or is her heart safest alone?
Please be aware: this book contains mentions of intimate partner violence that could trigger certain audiences.
I had never heard of Talia Hibbert before, but the second I found out she’s a romance writer who is always boosting body positivity and consent, I WAS THERE FOR IT. Now I want to own every single book by her. Please, if you want to support an independent, ownvoices author, pick up her books! I truly think you’ll be in for a real treat.
This book follows Ruth, a black, plus sized woman who creates web comics and prefers to stay home and keeps to herself. She lives in a small town called Ravenswood, where she’s been labeled a “pariah” and rumors about her are constantly flying. But she’s just trying to move on from her past where she was involved in an abusive relationship. Ruth is also autistic and she tends to not trust new people. She is only close to her sister and mother, but that all starts to change when Evan moves in next door.
Evan is white, ex-military, and he’s very soft spoken and incredibly loyal. He also has a past where he was hurt, and he’s just trying to move on. He’s kind and constantly giving to others. He notices Ruth and slowly befriends her. After he sees Ruth’s horrible diet and learning her cooking skills are… nonexistent… he starts cooking her food every day and brings it over. AND OMG MY HEART.
There’s nothing I love more than two people connecting over food, and I just loved how understanding and patient Evan was with Ruth. He never pressured her to confront him about her past, and once their relationship evolved, there was always so much consent and body positivity.
What I really loved about Ruth was that she was so fiercely loyal to her family, and she knew how to stand up for herself. But she also completely shuts down when any mention of her ex was brought up, because she was always so focused on guilt and blaming herself for the abuse. This topic is brought up a lot, but Talia Hibbert really does such a tasteful job at addressing it. Ruth’s anxiety is also so relatable, and I just know so many people are going to understand and just GET her character. Also? Her favorite attire is pajamas and that is such a mood.
Please use caution going into this book if you are a survivor of abuse. And there are triggers for anxiety, slut shaming, and ableism language toward autism. But I seriously can’t recommend this book enough if you are looking for a good book in the romance genre. Trust me, I don’t read a ton of romance (where there is a whole lotta steam!) but this one was so incredibly well written and you will fly right through it!