Review: Wanna Bet? by Talia Hibbert

Reviewed by Sara

I’ve been in a bit of a book slump lately, but I came across Wanna Bet? while scrolling through Twitter. Another blogger was live tweeting quotes from the book and it looked just different enough that I decided to give it a try.

Jasmine and Rahul have known each other since university. Jasmine is now a lawyer (solicitor really, because this story takes place in England) working with low income families to resolve housing disputes. A leak in her apartment has her calling her friend Rahul. Rahul is a very successful and well off accountant with a spare bedroom. Based on what I’ve just written, you probably think that the conclusion of Wanna Bet? is, well, a foregone conclusion. However, while Jas and Rahul do get together in the end (not a spoiler, it’s a Romance after all) the circumstances around their eventual coming together are what makes this book different enough that I completely fell in love with it.

Jas is smart and skilled at her job, but is blunt and standoffish. She has abandonment issues from her mom leaving her as a child; she drinks too much and feels too little. Her relationships are generally hook-ups or very superficial friendships. She is certain that relationships with her are disastrous, both for herself and others, and so keeps everyone at arm’s length. Talia Hibbert gives readers just enough description of Jas to let them know that if she ever was to let herself be loved or give herself fully to a friendship, she would be a phenomenal partner and friend, but her fear and sense of unworthiness makes her just shy of unlikable. Her characterization is fantastic and so well done.

Rahul loves Jas, warts and all. Back in their university days, Jas gave him the opportunity to be lovers, but with the caveat that if they were it would be temporary. Faced with the option of a couple of hookups or a lifetime of friendship, Rahul picks friendship and dives head first into being the best friend Jas has. Does he want more? Yes! But he wants her, Jas, more than he wants more.

“She’d get bored, probably. Move on to someone else. Which would be fine—it would, he told himself firmly—only he’d probably never see her again. He’d just be some notch in her bedpost. How… undignified.

He wanted to see her again. Always. He tried not to think about why.”

This is the thing about Wanna Bet? that I love. Rahul keeps loving Jas, but never once expects anything of it. He is her friend and that it is. He’s not manipulative or pouty or resentful. So when Jas discovers that he loves her, that he’s always loved her, it’s this lovely and frightening epiphany for her that has the potential to end in complete heart break, but could also leads to beautiful conclusion. The two get together and it’s both incredibly hot and very heart felt. The obligatory conflict that Rahul and Jas face is heartbreaking, but also hopeful as we get to see Jas discover herself, fix the issues she has (alcoholism, fear, etc) and gain a newfound emotional maturity. So, when she does come back to Rahul it’s even better than the first time they got together.

“she let the words fill her up, let them settle inside her heart and warm her soul. He loved her, and she believed him. He wanted her and she wasn’t afraid.”

Wanna Bet? is a truly lovely, sexy book with fantastic dialogue, great characters and a story that should be required reading for any guy that ever uses the term “friend zone”. I look forward to reading more by Talia Hibbert. Do yourself a favor, grab yourself a box of Kleenex and buy this book.

Rating: A+

Click to purchase: Amazon

Wanna Bet?
by Talia Hibbert
Release Date: April 21, 2018
Publisher: Nixon House

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