Black person's hands holding cards messily

Review: Wanna Bet? by Talia Hibbert

Books Romance

Much like the last word in this book, Wanna Bet? is true. It’s true to its depiction of such subtle signs of alcoholism, it’s true to its heart fluttering romance between two best friends, it’s true to its incredible moments of friendship, and it’s true to its Muslim hero and fat black heroine.

Jasmine Allen has many vices. Rahul Khan has just one: her.

Wanna Bet Cover
Cover via Goodreads

For the last seven years, Rahul’s been Jasmine’s closest friend. Sure, he’s strong, sexy, and deliciously stern—but she doesn’t care about that. She certainly isn’t tempted by his wicked smile or his genuine sweetness. She can’t be. Because everything Jas touches turns to dust.

Rahul disagrees. Seven years ago, Jasmine touched him, and he’s still standing—still standing, and still hopelessly in love. When disaster drives Jasmine into his spare bedroom, Rahul prepares for a month of painful proximity to the woman he secretly wants.

But when he realises that Jasmine just might want him, too… all bets are off.

She’s wild. She’s reckless. She doesn’t know how to love, and she doesn’t intend to learn.

But she’s also his. And in this game of desire, Rahul’s playing to win.

Goodreads

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of Wanna Bet? from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Jasmine Allen and Rahul Khan will sneak up at you and delight you into adoring them. They’ll be the sudden “Ah! I love this pair” that you’ll see from page 2 of their first meeting. Whether it’s in Jasmine’s point of view or Rahul’s, you’ll see how good they are for one another.

Jasmine’s humor and openness and vivacity keeping Rahul from keeping every second of his life stuck just so it’d be controllable. While Rahul’s presence in Jasmine’s life is her daily reminder that she was safe, she was allowed to be all facets of her personality and she was worthy of that kind of attention and care.

I loved Jasmine the second she said she picked up a pink knife to cut her cheese because it was pink. And I adored Rahul the minute he cleaned the lens of his much-needed glasses because he was nervous about Jasmine. There’s something so incredibly lovely about two people who aren’t quite similar but get along so well that made me smile so hard as I read their banter.

My heart was wrenched into pieces halfway through this book due to something in my personal life but reading the progression of these two’s relationship made some parts of it come together to heal.

Friends to Lovers

What I mainly enjoyed so much about Jasmine and Rahul was that they never stopped being friends.

From the first minute they sat down at a library table and had a race with raindrops, to the first time she pushed him onto the floor, the first time years later where he kissed her, and until the moment the gravity of their feelings pulled them apart and forced them to assess and properly work and grow separately. From start to finish this is was story that puts friendship at the same level of importance as romance.

That’s how I read it, anyway, but i’m very excited to read other reviewers’ opinion about how Rahul and Jasmine’s friendship, while it wavered, it never broke. It did take a lull, it did sleep for a couple of weeks, but I found that even as they professed their love, they were doing it as friends who knew each other for nearly a decade. (Yes, Jasmine, I’m rounding it up. Although I love the number seven.)

Fat and Muslim Representations

Much like all of Talia’s heroines, Jasmine is fat and her body is described in all positive manner that made me, a fat reviewer, very happy. I quite liked how Rahul would describe her body not only in situations where he was aroused by her but also moments where he simply sought out physical assurance from her.

Rahul admits to not being the good Muslim boy or the good Hindu boy his parents wish him to be and I was delighted to see such a subtle way in which Rahul’s faith was portrayed. He doesn’t drink and he tries his best not to gamble though he fails with the second one since he loves losing many hands to Jasmine’s grin. There’s also a scene in which Islam is mentioned which is during a funeral. That bit gave my heart such a good pang. It’s so good to see my faith portrayed so positively and offhandedly even through the lens of someone who didn’t practice it.

Heat Level

The heat level of this book is a total five out of five because there are more than three explicit scenes. All of them are very consensual and portray a healthy amount of talking and joking which was so heartwarming. There’s also a scene that was done in public and it was written as a scene in which the heroine felt very safe despite the level of danger that lingered around public sneaky intimate scenes.

If you’re a fan of romances in which the angst doesn’t pull you away from the romance but helps you admire the characters’ growth and healing, then do pick up a copy of Wanna Bet? on Amazon, which Hibbert wrote as a gift to her subscribers/readers.

ABOUT UNMASKED BY THE MARQUESS

Title: Wanna Bet?

Author: Talia Hibbert

Publisher: Nixon House

Length: 95,000 words

Release Date: April 21, 2018

Rating: ★★★★★ / Five stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Representation: black, fat and queer main character, Muslim main character

Tropes: friends-to-lovers, love at first sight, pining for the best friend

Content Warnings: themes of parental neglect and abandonment, parental death, alcohol dependence that could trigger certain audiences, explicit sex scenes, and a scene depicting blood and uneasy feelings about blood.

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