I’m not sure how to write a review that accurately describes how fun, romantic, and sexy this book is but I’ll give it the old college try. With every book of hers I read I’m falling deeper in love with Talia Hibbert’s writing and A Girl Like Her is a textbook example of why.
Evan Miller is an ex-military man with a perfect face and chiseled body looking to settle into a life of peace and quiet in the small town of Ravenswood. That plan quickly goes out the window when A) the boss’s son won’t stop trying to force a friendship that Evan wants no part of and B) he “officially” meets his next door neighbor, Ruth Kabbah. Ruth is unapologetically blunt, awkward, and the type of girl the good folks of Ravenswood insist Evan should steer clear of.
Unfortunately for the good folks of Ravenswood, Evan likes to make up his own mind about people and he finds Ruth attractive, intriguing, and not at all a woman he wishes to avoid.
For her part, Ruth feels Evan is entirely too attractive and entirely too nice to take at face value. Past experience, plus living in a town that’s branded her with their very own version of The Scarlet Letter, makes her wary and suspicious of both Evan and his intentions. Eventually, Evan’s excellent cooking skills and Ruth’s inability to prepare anything other than instant noodles and toast have them sharing meals, comics, and conversations and the two strike up a genuine friendship that gradually blossoms into something more. Their road to HEA isn’t exactly a smooth one. Ruth is weighed down by guilt and shame and the open scorn of seemingly the whole town only amplifies those feelings. She’s certain Evan will be just another person, in a long line of people, who will disappoint and hurt her.
Evan’s attraction to and acceptance of Ruth is never conditional. The things about her that others find odd or off putting he finds charming or just part of who she is. He accepts that she’d rather wear pajamas than couture fashion. He doesn’t judge her love of comics or ridicule her strong opinions on superheroes. He finds her curves and her skin and her hair and her prickly personality ridiculously attractive. He understands that sometimes she needs space to be alone and time to gather her thoughts and allows her to set the pace and respects her wishes, even when they’re the total opposite of what he wants. When Ruth tells him, in her usual blunt fashion, that she has autism, he doesn’t change his behavior or begin treating her as if she’s tragic, broken, wrong, or in need of fixing. Evan doesn’t fall for Ruth in spite of anything. He falls for Ruth because he’s utterly captivated by her everything.
The book isn’t all sweetness and light. Ruth’s ex is a storm cloud hanging over her life and her budding romance with Evan. He makes his presence and disapproval known and more than once I wanted to teleport into the book just to punch him in the junk.
Seriously, I promise you. You will want to punch him in the junk.
Despite the Evil Ex, Ruth and Evan build something beautiful. It’s not exactly a slow build, but it’s not rushed either. By the time they fall into bed together, not only is it scorching hot but there’s a real emotional connection behind the sensuality. Bonus: It’s at Ruth’s pace, on Ruth’s terms. Let’s hear it for healthy, enthusiastic consent!
If I have a quibble (and it’s a tiny one) it’s that I really wanted more of Zach (Evan’s friend and co-worker) and Hannah (Ruth’s sister). They’re fabulous supporting characters with incredibly interesting back stories (I feel like Evan has a secret and I know what it is) and I adored them and can’t wait to read their stories.
There are some heavy themes mentioned in the book (stalking, harassment, emotional abuse, sexual coercion, terminal illness) and even though they aren’t explored graphically, some readers might find the content triggering.
All in all, A Girl Like Her is a fabulous book. There’s a lot of humor, a lot of heart, and a lot of heat. If you’re a fan of a little bit of realism in your romance, or laughter in your love stories, this is definitely one you can’t miss.