Fiction, Reviews

Wrapped Up In You by Talia Hibbert

Image Description: The book cover on a smart phone screen. The background consists of various wrapping paper designs, ribbon bows, scotch tape, and cut-outs of ice skates. The book cover features the text "A Kobo Original," as well as the book cover "Wrapped Up In You" and the author "Talia Hibbert." There is a dark-skinned, plus-sized woman in a tight black dress looking over her glasses at a bearded white man in a red sweater.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Ready or not, the moment was here, and [Will] would take it. For the very first time, he would take it.

Because all he wanted for Christmas was one Abigail Farrell.

(Psssst. Scroll to the bottom of this review for a holiday playlist curated by us!)

Published: November 2020
Genre: Romance
Representation: Black folks & people of colour, mental health (anxiety and trauma)
Content Warning: mention of an alcoholic and neglectful, potentially abusive father; growing up and struggling to make ends meet as a family; gaslighting by a partner; suggestion of physical and emotional abuse by a partner, and resulting trauma; descriptions of anxiety and self-doubt.

Summary

William Reid is nothing special, except for his billion-dollar acting career and his, you know, face. (Apparently, it’s a good one.) Winning ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ was nice, but this Christmas, he has more important goals in mind… like finally winning over his best friend’s little sister, the super-smart and kinda-scary Abbie Farrell.

When a blizzard leaves Will and Abbie alone at Grandma Farrell’s house (if bunking with 27 pets counts as ‘alone’), it’s the perfect opportunity to pull off a Christmas miracle. Convincing clever, frosty Abbie to give Will a chance will take more than mistletoe, but hiding his lifelong crush on her is no longer an option.

— summary from Goodreads

Review

‘Tis the season! We adore Talia Hibbert’s writing: her books are low-stakes, fun, and charming with laugh-out-loud dialogue and eerily relatable characters. This novella is no different. With this newest addition to Hibbert’s literary arsenal, we are met with a prickly and emotionally restrained female protagonist who is endlessly intelligent and full of snark; not too different from the protagonists of Get A Life, Chloe Brown and Take A Hint, Dani Brown. This personification is admittedly getting repetitive, but it’s easy to look past this thanks to Hibbert’s witty writing and commitment to diversity. Abbie is relentlessly pushing down her feelings for her childhood friend and actual celebrity Will, because of trauma from her not-too-distant abusive marriage and subsequent divorce.

[…] there were rules to living safely. And the last time Abbie had broken those rules, the last time she’d let her reckless emotions make decisions for her, she’d landed herself years of toxicity, one hell of a divorce, and a huge therapy bill in return. Her romantic feelings were much safer under lockdown, where she preferred to keep them.

Abbie from “Wrapped Up In You” by Talia Hibbert

As is characteristic of Hibbert’s work, this book doesn’t shy away from emotional complexities and “baggage” as its main source of conflict without it perpetuating negative stereotypes or glamourizing abuse, as we often see in other romance novels. It makes the characters more real, even if they are also not immediately likeable in the way that we tend to expect from the genre; it also makes the romance even sweeter, as we come to see the way in which characters struggling with trauma and mental health are able to find meaningful relationships even with the difficulties that they perceive makes them “less than.” As neurodiverse women ourselves, this is a lovely thing to see embraced. It’s also great to see mental and physical illness portrayed so purposefully in books that are otherwise relatively light and fluffy. Watching these characters have a happily-ever-after in each of Hibbert’s books is emotionally satisfying, to say the least. Abbie’s anxiety and insecurities played out in the form of cognitive distortions just threw Abarna back into some of the conversations she’s had with her therapist, which was equal parts jarring and validating. So seeing her find love and security, knowing it definitely won’t “fix” her or solve all her problems, is a wonderful indication that you are not broken for struggling, and the person who loves you can love every part of you, even the parts you may find unloveable. 

In terms of the romance itself, it was a surprisingly slow-burn considering the novella format of the story. The sexual tension was palpable, and despite having no background knowledge of the characters, Hibbert does a great job in conveying to her readers exactly who the characters are and how they relate to each other. Honestly, we think it could’ve used more of the steamy sex we’ve come to expect from Hibbert’s work, but we can understand the author’s preference in focusing on the story and the characters’ dynamics within these limited pages. The story was well-paced, especially since we had honestly expected it to feel more rushed, as we typically find in short stories. We like Hibbert’s style of switching between the two main characters’ perspectives; it allows us to truly understand their dynamic and the things that each individual character is struggling with. It also serves to increase our frustrations in that “why can’t they just read each other’s minds and be together?!” sort of way, but hey, if that’s the most we can complain about in a romance novel, then we’re pretty happy!

We are both big fans of holiday festivities and joy, so we were very excited to see Talia Hibbert put out this novella just in time for the season. And we were not disappointed! The holiday ambiance that filled the book was cozy and endearing, and we kind of wish there was more of it! All in all, if you’re looking for a low-risk and sweet story to curl up with during the holidays, look no further than Wrapped Up In You. It isn’t all soft and light (check out our content warning for potential triggers, as always!), but it does end in a happily-ever-after emphasized by a fluffy epilogue. And with its main themes of love and familial affection, it is just the right mix of emotional conflict and light-hearted holiday spirit to help you stay cozy during the holidays.


On A Personal Note…

Image description: a decorated and fully lit Christmas tree.

We’ve had a difficult few months which lead to our recent inactivity and self-described hiatus. This review was intended, for us, to be a jump-start back into our regular schedule of two reviews a month, plus more content in the form of blog posts. We did make a few Instagram posts during our short break (courtesy of Becca, which Abarna is sooo grateful for) – if you don’t follow us on Instagram already, consider doing so! In terms of social media, Instagram is where we are the most active. We love to engage with our readers and followers, and we post personal and blog updates, wrap-ups, currently-reading thoughts, quick short-form book reviews, and participate in bookstagram challenges.

We will be back very soon with a new review and other content. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday and happy new year. ✨

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