cover image Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute

Talia Hibbert. Joy Revolution, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-48235-3

Hibbert (the Brown Sisters series) imbues this enemies-to-lovers romance with whip-smart banter, British sensibilities, and energetic verve. Black high school student and aspiring lawyer Celine Bangura is determined to land a spot in the Breakspeare Enrichment survival course program, win one of the offered full-ride university scholarships, and rub her success in her estranged father’s face. When a squabble with charming Black footballer and former best friend Bradly Graeme leads to the pair attending the program’s info session together, Brad is persuaded to apply, hoping a scholarship can help mitigate his own financial woes. Upon acceptance, the duo participate in Breakspeare’s wilderness-intensive exercises, and realize they must put their past feelings aside and rely on each other if they hope to compete with the other ruthless scholarship-hopefuls. As they rekindle their former friendship and grow close romantically, Celine wrestles with her emotionally avoidant tendencies while Brad manages his obsessive-compulsive disorder amid the program’s competitive, high-stress events. With dialogue that juggles both laugh-out-loud humor and pull-at-the-heartstrings vulnerability amid an outdoorsy premise, Hibbert attentively captures Celine’s feelings of abandonment and resentment, and Brad’s mental health struggles while striking a quintessential balance of romance and comedy in this lively romp. Front matter includes a glossary of British slang and terms. Ages 12–up. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Handspun Literary. (Jan.)