I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert
Published by Joy Revolution on January 3, 2023
Genres: YA Contemporary Romance
Source: the publisher
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From the New York Times bestselling author of the Brown Sisters trilogy, comes a laugh-out-loud story about a quirky content creator and a clean-cut athlete testing their abilities to survive the great outdoors–and each other.
Bradley Graeme is pretty much perfect. He’s a star football player, manages his OCD well (enough), and comes out on top in all his classes . . . except the ones he shares with his ex-best friend, Celine.
Celine Bangura is conspiracy-theory-obsessed. Social media followers eat up her takes on everything from UFOs to holiday overconsumption–yet, she’s still not cool enough for the popular kids’ table. Which is why Brad abandoned her for the in-crowd years ago. (At least, that’s how Celine sees it.)
These days, there’s nothing between them other than petty insults and academic rivalry. So when Celine signs up for a survival course in the woods, she’s surprised to find Brad right beside her.
Forced to work as a team for the chance to win a grand prize, these two teens must trudge through not just mud and dirt but their messy past. And as this adventure brings them closer together, they begin to remember the good bits of their history. But has too much time passed . . . or just enough to spark a whole new kind of relationship?
I own the first book in this author’s adult romance series but haven’t had a chance to read it. We do have it in my school library as well and I’ve had students who really liked it. But I’m very excited that there is now a YA book by this author to add, because sometimes I have to be careful about adult books or similar in my library due to all the challenges these days.
This book grabbed me right away and I think the students will be happy I got it as well! I really liked both characters. Celine had enough of the nerdy girl vibe, but also was confident enough in herself that she could deal with anyone thinking that way about her, for the most part. She was dealing with some family issues though, specifically her father abandoning the family. Bradley was a jock, but also a bit nerdy himself. He also had his own personal issues, specifically his OCD.
But what I loved was that both characters, even while having the shortcomings and worries and overreactions of a normal teenager, also were able to treat each other with kindness in areas they knew were specific hot spots for the other. One example was how Celine would seemingly unconsciously adjust or do things to help or make Brad not feel strange for his OCD actions or thoughts. Another is how Brad knew how she felt about her father, and really did things to help her not feel that way as much as possible.
And then there was the banter. It was perfect, I loved the snarkiness, how the two of them, Brad especially, really enjoyed the banter as a form of communication, even flirting at times. The way Celine tried to end their budding relationship at one pivotal moment made sense and wasn’t blown way out of bounds even as I was so frustrated with her for doing that! And then the part at the end when Brad gets hurt? Oh my gosh! I was pretty emotional with him and Celine at that point!
The way the author wrapped the whole story up to give them their HEA/HFN probably as teens, was just perfect in my opinion as well. And I love that things worked out for both of them, if even not in the way they’d originally planned. Even with her rotten father, I feel the rest of both characters’ parents were realistic and fit the story as well. Oh, and looking at the cover you’d think there’d be a lot about her weight? Nope, it was just Celine, and I loved it! And how no one else made any kinds of remarks or anything about that.
I really can’t wait to get my finished copy of this one to add to my library for my students to love as well!
About the Author
Talia Hibbert is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.
She writes spicy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalised identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include makeup, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm. Talia and her many books reside in the English Midlands.
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