We continue with Enemies to Lovers with a discussion of Work for It by Talia Hibbert, who I consider to be the writer of my heart. Her stuff resonates with me on a deep level so there was a lot of pressure for my husband to like it. Let’s see how he felt!
Me: So, what are your first thoughts about Work for It?
Me: Elaborate, please
Him: Tortured. Emotionally stunted, yet curiously vulnerable
Look – I mostly read literary fiction and contemporary science fiction. Both of those genres are notorious for terrible sex scenes, though there are a few who do it well.
Marlon James & NK Jemisin write lively sex stuff. Their characters have agency and strong libidos.
But Olu and Griff are just horned up all the time.
Me: But they don’t even hold hands until 50% in!
Him: Which – not to sound like a prude – took some getting used to.
Me: It was a slow burn, I tell you!
Him: But they talk about it all the time.
The book opens with Olu going cruising at a club for some dick.
Me: It’s a coping mechanism.
Him: But when he gets the guy back to the room, he doesn’t want it any more – even though the guy is naked in his bed.
Me: He’s depressed!
Him: Of course it is – but he still thinks about it.
And the first time they meet in the village pub, they talk for about 10-15 minutes before Olu wants to go to the alley.
Me: I thought it was fewer minutes than that.
Him: All of that to say, yes – it is a coping mechanism for Olu, but Griff talks about it lots, too.
Me: Prudey pruderson.
Him: That’s me! Prudey Pruderson.
Talia Hibbert is a fantastic writer.
Me: Tell me more…
Him: She has a gift for authentic inner dialogue that most “literary” authors only dream of possessing.
Her descriptions of the scenery are VERY tactile.
Me: Yes. This was her first book in first person POV. She nailed it.
Him: YOU ARE THERE.
This was her first time writing first person POV?
Him: You couldn’t tell!
Me: She usually does third person limited omniscient with head jumping.
Or does that make it fully omniscient? If you get both perspectives just never at the same time?
Him: Fascinating. I’m used to head-jumping from Star Trek.
I’d say it’s limited.
Me: What did you think of Olu?
Him: Class A jerkface.
Type One Alpha Asshole.
Me: But is that the real him?
Him: I mean – probably not to that degree, but still a bit.
Me: Fair enough.
Him: A lot of it is probably tough guy persona from having to navigate upper-class British school waters as someone who doesn’t belong there under the traditional class system.
Olu has lots of defense mechanisms.
Including the “Keynes” moniker he deploys.
Me: And his depression. What did you think of the mental health rep?
Adam: Very authentic, from my experience.
Me: His inner monologue is so damn real.
Him: Most definitely.
Me: Now, what did you think of Griff?
Don’t talk shit about my tiny giant bb Griff. I will fight you.
Him: Griff was much more down-to-earth and relatable than Olu.
I think a lot of that had to do with how his mom raised him, how she left him, and how tight his friendship with Rebecca was.
Him: Neither of them let Griff totally hide from a world that didn’t want to accept him.
Me: And neither does Olu!
Him: Indeed! I think Griff gets that.
That’s eventually what forges their connection – they don’t let the other give up on themselves.
Me: So true.
What Hogwarts House is he? (Olu is obvi — Slytherin).
Him: Griff is Hufflepuff.
He’s Sprout’s not-so-secret protege.
Me: Good call.
Him: The plants. The willingness to serve others at the expense of his own interests.
So he’s an Enneagram 2?
Me: And Olu is so 4 it hurts.
Him: Griff is totally a 2.
I don’t think Olu is full 4, but he has some 4 traits.
Him: What do YOU like most about the book?
You’ve read it three times AND have it as an audiobook.
Me: Most? The beautiful, clever, hilarious turns of phrase.
I love Olu’s progression.
Him: Hibbert is such a wonderful writer!
Clever and witty without going over-the-top.
Those turns of phrase serve a purpose.
Me: From depressed grumpy loner asshole to on-the-road-to-less-depressed, grumpy, partnered jerkface who loves someone. Well, two someone’s. He already loved his sister.
One of my faves: My brain tries to tell me I’m an idiot. I tell it we don’t think things like that anymore, and it it’s not going to be a positive part of the team, it can piss off.
I’ve started telling myself that.
Him: I like that! That’s a very tactical and pointed mantra that’s not all hippie-dippie.
Me: But the weaknesses swear that Griff isn’t like everyone else, that we’re something entirely different together, something precious, never-before-seen under this sun. Something perfectly us.
Him: I liked Olu’s story, but I preferred Griff’s progression – from melancholic loner footstool with only one close friend in the world to someone who’s found the love of his life and stands up for himself.
“Something Perfectly Us”
Me: Fair enough. Griff is so solid. He’s there for Olu without being demanding.
Him: Sounds like the name of the book you need to write.
Me: He would say “You will never exhaust me” to Olu.
Him: He’s not demanding, except when he puts his foot in his mouth by prying too much and trying to get some sort of forward motion from Olu.
Griff would TOTALLY say “You will never exhaust me” to Olu.
Me: I want an epilogue story of them with kids so bad.
Him: That would be fun.
It was just an excellent read filled with superb characters who were complex, layered, and realistic.
Me: I guess I identified with Olu. Not just because of the depression. But mostly.
It was just so well done.
And the discussion of pills. Perfect.
Him: And I identified with Griff. Putting his head down, sacrificing himself for others, stumbling when he doesn’t know how to navigate his feelings.
Me: Yes. I’m glad I picked this one for you.
Him: And I’m glad you picked it for me. I really enjoyed it.
Me: Good. Even if there were a lot of sexy times?
Him: The sexy times didn’t bother me or scare me away.
It was just more intense and more …
shall we say “descriptive” than I’m used to.
Me: Yessss…Another thing I love about Talia Hibbert.
She uses the c-word when writing about vagina sexy times. Which is still very taboo to me, even if I don’t want it to be.
Him: **Note to self**
Me: I love her descriptive sexy times. Not specifically that she says cunt.
Him: I was more interested in how she described the intimacy and romantic nature of the afterglow.
They both loved just being together more than they probably thought.
Sure, the fucking would be good, but their internal thoughts about the post-coital bliss made me happy.
Me: “I want to fall asleep on top of him like he’s a mattress”
Him: Which brings to a running thought in the back of my head throughout the book:
HOW BIG IS GRIFF?
I’m almost positive she says Olu is 6’2″ or so at some point. Olu is not a small man.
But Griff must literally be a giant.
Olu calls him “My Giant” at some point.
Me: Yep. He’s a big motherfucker.
And burly. Dad bod. I had issue with the cover model.
Not enough meat on them bones.
Him: Was the cover model Griff?
Me: I think so? White guy.
Him: Yeah. No.
Olu doesn’t have a beard.
Him: That cover model is in NO WAY anything like Hibbert describes.
His muscles are too well-formed, and he’s not bear-ish enough.
Ok, so final thoughts?
Him: Good story. Good characters. GREAT inner voices.
Him: Just an all-around excellent read.
You know how to pick ’em!