AUTHOR: Talia Hibbert
AGE RANGE: Adult
In this village, I’m an outcast: Griffin Everett, the scowling giant who prefers plants to people. Then I meet Keynes, a stranger from the city who’s everything I’m not: sharp-tongued, sophisticated, beautiful. Free. For a few precious moments in a dark alleyway, he’s also mine, hot and sweet under the stars… until he crushes me like dirt beneath his designer boot.
When the prettiest man I’ve ever hated shows up at my job the next day, I’m not sure if I want to strangle him or drag him into bed. Actually—I think I want both. But Keynes isn’t here for the likes of me: he makes that painfully clear. With everyone else at work, he’s all gorgeous, glittering charm—but when I get too close, he turns vicious.
And yet, I can’t stay away. Because there’s something about this ice king that sets me on fire, a secret vulnerability that makes my chest ache. I’ll do whatever it takes to sneak past his walls and see the real man again.
The last thing I expect is for that man to ruin me.
This is how he wins, how he makes me all dizzy and soft: he smiles, for real, and for me.
With many authors, once you’ve read enough of their work, it begins to run together. “Was this plot point in this book… or this one?” and so forth. Having now read 10 or so separate works from Talia Hibbert, you might worry if that would be the case here, but it’s not at all. Each of her stories is set wholly apart from one another (despite offering brief cameos that make my little heart so happy — such as a certain family we catch a glimpse of in this newest work), and that is the case for none so much as it is for Work for It, Talia’s first m/m romance and first first-person-POV narrative.
Emotions are not allowed to rule my body and feelings are not allowed to affect my reality; it’s a game I like to play called Keeping My Shit Together. I try not to lose. Not in public, anyway.
When I tell you these characters and this romance are unique, what I mean is that I’ve never read anything quite like it. The level of enemies-to-lovers here coupled with the off-the-charts ratios of steam and angst make for one hell of a roller coaster ride, but the payoff is so sweet and soft that I was utterly bewildered by how much our sweet men develop and grow in the span of a few hundred pages. Not to mention, the fact that Talia can take such a short novel and create this much slow-burn with it? I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over my own weeping because this woman is a Queen. ?
“I think,” I whisper, “that something about you makes me 65% less violent, and that’s well worth exploring.”
Of course, there’s a ton of fun to be had in the process; I laughed and raged a few times alike, and was reminded of my total weakness for big, burly, otherwise scary heroes being soft and working on farms (hello, can we get an AU where Griff becomes friends with Imre from Cole McCade’s Over and Over Again, because they would have so much fun driving Olu and Luca up the walls together?!). There’s also an incredible level of detail paid to the mental health rep here, between Olu’s depression and medications as well as the discussion surrounding Griff’s mother’s depression and the way communities tend to alienate individuals who struggle. As usual, everything is so thoughtfully laid out and makes it incredibly evident that Talia writes from the heart, no matter what the topic is. ♥️
Thank you so much to the author for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
depression, anxiety, references to past sexual trauma and forced outing, references to a parent who died by suicide (TWs taken from author’s Goodreads blurb)
Olu is black, gay, and has depression and anxiety. Griffin is queer (MGA, no label).
Talia has yet again scripted a stunning slow-burn romance, this time between two very soft fire-and-ice queer men. Featuring past traumas and current mental illnesses, Work for It is a tough read at times but is crafted with the utmost of care and promises a sweet and satisfying ending.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? Yes, yes, 100% yes.
— destiny ♥
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