Valentine’s Day Read: Get a Life, Chloe Brown

He turned her into a complete disaster and so by day she avoided his company like the bubonic plague. But at night, sometimes, she watched him paint.
He was standing in front of his window shirtless, which she supposed made her a pervert as well as a spy, but this wasn’t a sexual exercise. He was barely even attractive in her eyes. She didn’t see him as an object or anything like that. From a distance in the dark with that sharp tongue of his tucked away, she saw him as poetry. He had this visceral quality, even when he was glaring at her, but especially when he painted. There was an honesty, a vulnerability, about him that captivated her. Chloe knew she was flesh and blood and bone like him, but she wasn’t alive like he was. Not even close. He was in profile, focused on the canvas in front of him. Sometimes he painted haltingly, almost cautiously. Other times he would stare at the canvas more than he touched it. But tonight he was a living storm, dabbing and daubing with quick, fluid movements. She couldn’t see what he was working on and she didn’t want to. What mattered was the subtle rise and fall of his ribs as his breathing sped up and the rapid, minute movements of his head, bird-like and fascinating. What mattered was him.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Get a Life, Chloe Brown is a romance novel about a woman named Chloe who, after living for years with the pain and struggles of fibromyalgia, decides to build for her a life that she considers more exciting. She soon decides the her superintendent – the attractive young painter named Red that lives across from her – can help her explore the world she has been afraid of for so long. In exchange for his help, Chloe promises to build Red a website to display and sell his artwork. They each are harboring a secret attraction for one another, though, and soon that attraction threatens to complicate the deal they have made.

I’ve seen some romance with decent character development. Many modern romances have interesting characters with good and bad traits which feed into their romance. Get a Life, Chloe Brown takes this to a new level. I think part of this is because the characters have so much more going on. Chloe is organized and intelligent and has an incredible memory, but also has fibromyalgia, which often affects her ability to keep up with her peers and her workload. Chloe also has an interesting relationship with her family, and this dynamic adds a lot to her personality and the growing relationship between her and Red. Red also has an interesting background that adds a lot to his personality and his interactions with others. He has a complicated relationship history, and that often affects his perspective on interactions he has with Chloe. All of this adds a lot of complexity to their relationship, keeping Chloe Brown from feeling too predictable.

So many romances feel formulaic, and admittedly, that’s because it works well: the couple starts out with a lot of conflict, they build up to an acknowledgement of their feelings, there’s a massive break-up where they think that everything is over, but then they figure it out by the end and live happily ever after. I’m not going to say that Chloe Brown abandoned this formula entirely. However, the conflict in Chloe Brown ultimately comes down to personal growth, and that is something I very rarely see in romance. Chloe and Red have a great deal of respect for one another through the entire book (unlike many romances in which one character must learn to respect the other as an individual with individual rights and responsibilities). Instead, they must learn to accept their own limitations, maintain an intimate level of trust despite their personal histories, and most importantly trust their own gut instincts. This makes the romance between Chloe and Red feel realistic and responsible in a way that so many fictional relationships do not.

In all, I’ll give Get a Life, Chloe Brown an 8 out of 10. The romance is sweet and substantial, and the characters are interesting, complicated, and irresistible. Most readers will find something to like, if they aren’t turned away by the genre.

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