What happens when a bad boy becomes a man?
I was introduced to Talia Hibbert earlier this year when she was interviewed on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. And I can honestly say at that moment, I was a fan. Not with just of her writing – which is incredible – but her story. Our lives seemed to intersect in strange ways that made me feel like maybe if she could do this writing thing, I had a shot at it too. I look up to her in so many ways, but I digress – as much as I could gush over her, I’ll focus on the book review.
When I read A Girl Like You – the first book in the Ravenswood Series – I saw myself in Ruth in ways I’ve never myself in a book character… ever. Once Untouchable was announced and I learned the heroine, Ruth’s sister, Hannah suffered from depression, anticipation set in. I have suffered from depression since I was in my early teens. Reading about a character of color that not only was open with her depression but was able to find a partner who didn’t look for ways to fix her made me feel more hopeful about own mental health journey.
Untouchable‘s hero, Nate, a reformed bad boy, and widower moves back to the small town of Ravenswood with his two young children. He cares for his sick mother and is a creative consultant/photographer. He keeps all the fun parts of teen/early twenties rebellion: tattoos and piercings. But is mature enough to understand his emotions and not become too broody that he makes the reader want to scream in dissatisfaction. When Hannah bumps into Nate – who also so happens to have been her childhood crush – she learns he’s searching for a live-in nanny and she decides to offer her services… No matter the obvious attraction the two still have for one another after all those years.
Hannah and Nate are partners in every sense of the word. There’s plenty of steamy and swoon-worthy moments throughout the novel – a garden scene that will simply blow your mind – but my absolute favorite scenes between the two happen when Hannah is being as open as possible about her mental illness. And Nate listens with an open heart and even offers insight to his own experiences with feeling depressed in the past.
One of my favorite exchanges between the two comes towards the end of the novel (spoilers, perhaps?) where Hannah is pulling away from Nate in fear of their relationship is centered around sex. Nate is quick to let Hannah he’s willing to do anything because “Sex isn’t as important as being close to you” (Chapter 20). And afterward he checks in to make sure she’s in an okay mental space and it’s just… *sigh* So incredibly genuine and kind and a perfect representation of how someone can respectfully support their partner when mental illness is in the picture. Hibbert knows how to balance heart and lust. Like all of her novels I’ve read before, Untouchable had amazing representation and a couple that reminds me why I love romance.
10/10 would recommend if you love smart, complex heroines, supportive men, mental health representation, and steamy romance.
Some of my favorite lines:
There’s a difference between refusing to feel shame and setting yourself up for a fall. (Chapter 5)
Jesus. She hadn’t been this into a shadow since she’d watch Peter Pan as a kid. (Chapter 8)
Because people, she knew, could care about you – could love you, even – and still fuck you over if they thought is was necessary. (Chapter 22)
“Well, you pin all your self-worth on external validation, you have to be the best at everything to consider yourself even slightly accomplished, and you apparently don’t think someone can like you enough to put up with a week of weird behavior and an awkward moment in a garden.” (Chapter 23)