About the Book

Title: Take A Hint, Dani Brown (Brown Sisters #2)
Published: 2020

Sub-Genres: Contemporary Romance

What’s Your Type: Fake Dating, Foul Mouthed Women, Plus Sized Heroines, Going Viral, Excellent Audiobook, Men with Feelings 

Welcome to year five, week two of FYA’s Grown Up Guide to Romance Novels. This year, we’re getting down and dirty with four of our favorite romance tropes. ICYMI, last week, we got intimate with the Friends-to-Lovers trope, and this week, we’re talking about Fake Dating.

If I had to pinpoint the moment that my love of the Fake Dating trope was born, we would need to travel back in time to 1999, the first time I watched the cinematic classic Drive Me Crazy starring Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier. Guys, I was O B S E S S E D with this movie. I watched it daily. Nicole and Chase really did not like each other at the beginning of the movie, but by pretending to date, they got to know each other. And by trying to make their exes jealous, they had to be convincing. You get all the fun of a slow burn romance, but your romantic leads STILL KISS AND STUFF. What’s not to love?

So, basically, I have been destined since my formative years to love this trope. Check out our recommendations for some great Fake Dating romance novels and leave your own recs in the comments!

Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters, #2) by Talia Hibbert

Fancy Dress to Fabio: Cartoon Cutesy (Yet Again)

I am, in general, over cartoon covers. They’re overdone at this point, and I blame this trend for the fact it’s becoming more and more difficult to discern a spicy romance novel from a closed-door women’s fic. No one questioned that there would be sex on the page with those old Johanna Lindsey covers!!!

The Deal: 

Danika Brown is a PhD student who’s teaching college-level lit classes, and Zafir Ansari is the security guard posted up outside her building. These work buds see each other on the daily, and while they may not be officially crushing on one another, they’ve both been known to admire the other’s, uh, finer qualities from time to time. But when a campus drill goes wrong and Zafir rescues Dani from a (not) burning building, a video of his rescue goes viral with the hashtag #DrRugbae. Everyone thinks Zaf and Dani are THE cutest couple, and with their viral fame, Zaf sees all-time-high donations to his rugby charity for boys.

Determined to raise as much money as they can for him, Zaf and Dani decide to lean in and pretend to be the #DrRugbae couple the internet thinks they are. But the more their attraction toward each other grows, the harder it is to discern what’s real and what’s for show.

The Leading Woman: PhDamn Girl

Dani is a plus size, witchy, bisexual on track to achieve the professional success and academic renown she’s always wanted. She’s dope, y’all. But alas! Relationships never seem to work for her. The other person wants more than she can give, and always seems put out when Dani inevitably chooses work over love. So she asks the gods for the perfect friend with benefits, someone who can get her off without dragging her down.

The Leading Man: RugBAE

Zafir is a former professional rugby player who retired after a tragic death in his family. Now, he runs a non-profit that uses rugby to help teach boys how to tap in to and manage their emotions. During the day, he’s a security guard at the college where Dani works and has always thought she was a total babe, but because her last relationship was with a woman, he isn’t even sure that Dani likes men. Zaf is obviously a sensitive and emotional guy, but he’s also a hopeless romantic. As his feelings develop for Dani, he WANTS to be the friend-with-benefits she needs, but he knows he’ll end up wanting more.

Risque Ranking: 8

I have had the misfortune of accidentally reading three books recently that turned out to be closed-door/off-page/modest romance novels, so when I started reading Take a Hint, Dani Brown, I was really REALLY hoping for spice. And oh man, Hibbert DELIVERED. Dani talks openly and honestly about her need for speed sex, so when the opportunity arises, she doesn’t hesitate to jump Zafir’s bones. And Zaf may be a hopeless romantic, but he’s not an idiot. Their friends-with-benefits sex scenes are only made sexier by Zaf’s secret pining and Dani’s nervousness about her own feelings.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose:

“She sank down like soft, fluid sin, her incredible arse smothering his dick, her fingers digging into his shoulders, and the tips of her breasts brushing his chest, and Zaf shouldn’t be able to feel her nipples through both their clothes, not really, but holy fuck, he could. And judging by the flutter of her pulse at her throat, the spilled ink of her blown pupils, she felt something too.”

Was it Good For You?

YES. It was sexy, it was spicy, the characters were funny and the banter was witty. I can be a bit angst-averse, especially when I feel like it’s the only thing keeping two characters apart. But Dani and Zaf had just enough angst to keep things interesting without dragging the plot. And bonus points: the audiobook narrator was great!


Stephanie Recommends:

Cover The Ex: An old-timey mic with lighting bolts coming out of it with two half-faces of a man and woman talking into it over a pink background

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The two leads in this book actually pretend to have fake dated and broken up so they can play fake exes for their relationship/dating advice radio show. What a tangled web we weave!

Kandis Recommends:

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

No one (especially her family) takes Georgie seriously as an adult because she chose to become a children’s party clown instead of joining the family business. Georgie’s childhood crush, Travis, needs to be taken seriously after retiring as the bad boy of baseball in order to get a lucrative TV commentator job. Fake dating seems like the solution to both of their problems. After all, what could go wrong?

Amanda Recommends:

Two boys, one dressed in a suit, one in a black t-shirt and jeans - stand on opposite ends of the image with red and blue images of London tourist attractions.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Who doesn’t want english banter, hot guys, and fake dating that almost immediately doesn’t seem fake?! This is a delightful read full of fun and drama with an exceptional cast of secondary characters you’re sure to fall in love with. 

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Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.