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.
I used to love romance novels, especially (new) adult ones. In the past few years, I’ve read less and less of the genre as I’ve become more aware of how problematic they can truly be. I don’t want to waste my time on yet another alpha-male guy who emotionally manipulates the woman because he’s “damaged”. However, I’ve always been open to reading romance novels if they don’t feature this type of abusive behavior. Destiny at Howling Libraries talked about how much she loved Talia Hibbert’s romance novels a while ago, and convinced me to give them a go. I’m so glad she did!
There are several reasons I decided to read A Girl Like Her first. First, Talia Hibbert created Evan after being inspired by a GIF of Chris Evans. How can you not love Chris Evans? Second, Ruth is a comic book/web comic creator. Third, she is a plus size, autistic, black woman. Fourth, this is an #ownvoices book.
It’s been a long time since I’ve fallen so hard for a romance book. I stayed in bed for hours because I didn’t want to put this book down, and managed to read it in one sitting. A Girl Like Her is exactly the type of romance novels I want to read in the future. It’s diverse, adorable, sexy, and most of all, it’s about a healthy relationship.
Let’s talk about what I loved for a second.
First of all, the characters. Ruth was such a fun person to read about, and I knew I loved her from the first sentence of chapter one. She’s a comic book creator, and is extremely passionate about her work. She meets Evan when he moves in next-door, and they have a sort of arrangement where he cooks for her, and she recommends him comic books and lends him her copies. It’s so wonderful! They’re both funny and kind human beings, and I love them with my whole heart. This novel also made me want to protect Hannah, Ruth’s sister.
That leads me to the second thing I loved about this novel, the importance of family. I’m so happy to read a book with sisters who love each other so much. The Kabbah girls would kill for one another, and I’m here for it. While we don’t talk much about Evan’s family, there is a family he really cares for in the novel. Seeing him help out a family like that out of pure kindness is exactly what I needed in my life.
A Girl Like Her also addressed the unhealthy tropes that often crop up in romance novels through Ruth’s past relationship. At a certain point in the novel, she confronts someone about said relationship, and says the following.
“And I was a teenager; I thought it was romantic. But now I realise that it was just fucking weird. It was harassment.”
She talks about the behavior a lot of us deem to be romantic when we’re teenagers, but later realize is actually abusive and harassment. That’s one unhealthy trope that’s often used in romance books. Another one is an unwillingness or inability to communicate. I highlighted a sentence in my ebook because I wanted to remember how easily Talia Hibbert pierced through that awful trope.
“You feel how you feel and that’s fine. The important thing is talking through it.”
YES. TALK TO EACH OTHER.
I feel like I could talk about this book forever, and still not manage to portray my feelings on it well. Why is it so much more difficult to be eloquent when talking about a book you love, than it is when reviewing one you hate? Either way, I hope I’ve done an okay job at convincing you all to read this novel. If you are interested in romance novels at all, this is an incredible one to pick up. I’ve already read another Talia Hibbert one since finishing A Girl Like Her, and know I’ll be buying more of her books in the future as well. I have my eye on the second Ravenswood book, and the sequel to The Princess Trap already.
Have you read A Girl Like Her? Which romance novels are some of your favorites?