As I began reading Eve Brown, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like it as much as Hibbert’s previous two books, which I loved so much I read twice (rare for me). Eve is an event planner who’s just finished a wedding where a few things went seriously wrong, so her latest career choice is about to go up in flames. The book begins with Eve’s parents sitting her down and telling her it’s about time, as a 26 year old, that she held down a real job. As someone who’s worked since I was sixteen, I found her harder to relate to than Chloe and Dani, Eve’s more accomplished older sisters.
Upset, Eve hits the road and ends up in a small town in the Lake District. She pulls up to a B&B and sees they are interviewing for a chef. She loves to cook but has never worked as a chef, and the interview with owner Jacob doesn’t go well. Fortunately Jacob is desperate to replace his last chef. At least until Eve backs into him with her car.
Somewhere along the way, I realized this book was giving me a new perspective on what it means to be the youngest sibling. Eve is the typical coddled youngest child — she’s been given everything but that means she isn’t taken seriously. At one point Eve says she’s the “social one” but not because she wanted to be. She’s the one who feels she has to fill in the gaps behind her older siblings, to be the one who stays, the one who takes care of the family, even at the expense of her own needs. That got me thinking a lot about how I’ve always seen youngest children (I’m a middle), including my younger sister.
This book made me think about sibling and family relationships in general. Eve, Dani, and Chloe love each other, yet somehow they don’t understand what their sisters are struggling with and what holds them back. That felt realistic to me. One thing I love about Hibbert’s books is that each novel is a journey of self-discovery even more than it’s a love story.
I also realized that I did relate to Eve’s persistent failures. While others see flightiness or immaturity, for Eve her failures come from a fear that if she tries hard at something and fails, she will be crushed. So she stops trying and runs at the first sign of difficulty. I could definitely relate to that.
This book also has characters on the autism spectrum, and that was another thing this book had me thinking about. I struggle with a lot of things that are typical for those on the spectrum, and it’s been really helpful for me to understand that people have different ways of interacting with others and processing information.
One of the many things I love about Hibbert is the diversity of her characters, and this book is a perfect conclusion to her trilogy. In addition to the biracial relationships, her characters don’t have typical body types, they have disabilities, and they struggle with issues like anxiety, abuse, and insecurity (the men as well as the women).
This was not the kind of review I was expecting to write about this book. You’re probably thinking, wait, isn’t this a romance novel? What about the romance?
I will say this — while Jacob and Eve may not be my favorite of the three love stories in this trilogy, this was definitely a satisfying love story. And when I say satisfying, I mean emotionally but I will also note that this novel is more graphic sexually than many romances. I’m not complaining (at all), just noting for readers who will be bothered by graphic content.
I have to take a few points off for a story that involves first a main character being hit by a car, and later a scene that has our heroes running across a crowded highway (what can I say, I have my own triggers). Though I did appreciate that when Jacob is hit by Eve’s car, he doesn’t hop up and brush himself off, he’s seriously injured. I absolutely hate how often shows and movies involve people being hit by a car just for humorous effect.
Thanks to Hibbert for a fantastic, sexy romance which is a perfect conclusion to the Brown Sisters trilogy, and thanks to NetGalley and publisher Avon Books for the advance review copy. This book publishes on March 9, 2021.