Without a doubt, I have a new answer for when people say “Himbo?” and that answer is Talia Hibbert’s wonderful holiday novella, “Wrapped Up In You.” Okay. Imagine bearded Chris Evans (I mean, why not?), imagine him with a British accent (this may have more effect on other people, as I’m Brit-born so the accent doesn’t really do much for me), and then imagine him in little yellow work-out shorts after a run and I’m sorry, I was going somewhere with this but now I forget. Right! Himbo! Okay, so Talia Hibbert’s William Reid is basically a Hollywood superhero-ish movie star who is gorgeous and buff and bearded but… well, by his own admission, not particularly bright. He is, however, very kind, and also? Super completely in love with the girl next door from when he was a kid, poor, and his family and her family kind of linked arms and made a bigger, more supportive whole.
Abbie—said girl next door—is a woman who keeps her emotions completely in check and everyone more-or-less at arm’s length, including the “real” Will, who she talks to via direct messages and silly memes and has been a bright spot through the last few years of her life, which weren’t great, to be honest. A terrible divorce from a terrible marriage left scars, and Abbie is only part-way through her journey of surviving and thriving. The anxiety rep in Abbie felt spot-on to me, so when she and Will (and a lot of cats) and her grandmother end up in the same house and Will begins his, uh, “plan” to woo her, things go sideways, fast. Abbie is not good at surprises, or emotions, or change, and Will basically word-vomits all three into her lap, with pretty unsurprising results.
I think what I loved the most about Hibbert’s book was how self-aware the characters were about their own feelings and failings, but how that awareness (often gained at the hand of therapy) didn’t exactly put them on the path to solutions with each other, which made for an organic, all-too-real feel for their journey to something different and better. Will is freaking adorable. Abbie is amazing and I just wanted to give her a hug. Together, you know they’d be perfect, but they’re both working from some assumptions and carrying their own baggage and the end result is this wonderful mess they need to work through. And, since this is romance, and a holiday romance to boot, you know they’re going to, so all the dips and lows along the way have that little cushion built-in that says ‘it’s going to be okay.’ Hibbert freaking delivers here, is what I’m saying.