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Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute – Talia Hibbert

Thank you very much to the publishers, Little Brown, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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?

After reading and loving the Brown Sisters trilogy by Talia Hibbert, I was beyond excited to see she was releasing a YA romance novel. I have to say, I was a little bit apprehensive going into this one as I wasn’t too sure how her writing would translate from adult romance to YA romance. Let me tell you, she did it wonderfully! Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute is such an adorable, heart-warming and fun YA romance that I would highly recommend. 

Bradley is a star football player, manages his OCD well and comes out top in all of his classes. Expect the ones he shares with his ex-best friend Celine. Celine is obsessed with conspiracy theories, and her social media followers eat up her takes on all these theories. Yet, she isn’t cool enough for the popular kids’ table. No longer close, there is now nothing between them but petty insults and academic rivalry. So, when Celine signs up for a survival course in the woods, she is surprised to find Brad there too. Could having to work together as a team bring them closer together and help them realise there may be something more there?

This book is wonderful from the way the plot and characters develop to the way in which you find yourself laughing out loud. I didn’t expect this book to make me laugh as much as it did. Most of the laughter was thanks to the hilarious interactions between Brad and Celine. I’ve not read many YA books that have the banter that these two main characters shared.

Brad and Celine are wonderful main characters who are memorable and unique. Brad is a golden retriever partner, that is for sure. He is sweet, charming and it is clear right from the beginning of the book the feelings he has for Celine, even if he hasn’t yet realised it. I enjoyed his POV chapters the most because we really see his feelings come through and grow. Celine keeps her love close to her chest, but that is for a good reason. She is struggling a lot of the feelings of abandonment that stem from her absent father. A lot of the book is figuring out how these feelings impact on her life and relationships on a day-to-day basis. It was so lovely to watch her evolve as a character throughout the book and I think she has the biggest growth of all the characters.

This book does have a lot of fun moments but it also discusses some heavier and more complex topics. Brad has OCD and we see how this impacts his day-to-day life in a number of ways. We also see how Celine’s absent father affects her mental health. I appreciated that mental health was discussed in this book and showed its impacts but still showed how you can still live a happy and fun life despite your mental health. Both characters have moments where things get difficult, but the showing of both their supportive family and friends help to guide and help them. Talia Hibbert clearly cares about discussing these things and makes sure to do so in an open and honest way.

Talia Hibbert has managed to seamlessly move from the adult romance genre to YA romance. I found the pacing of this one to be good but do wish it was a little faster at points. Talia has still written a beautiful story that I’m sure many will love. I’ll be on the lookout for more YA books from her in the future as I’m sure they will be just as good.

Overall, Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute is a wonderful YA romance novel. I loved the adventure it takes you on, the character development and the romance that is at its heart. Talia Hibbert is an author I cannot recommend enough. I would highly recommend giving this one a read.

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