Release Date: June 1st, 2022
CW: mentions of the foster system, parents with drug and alcohol abuse problems, secondary deaf character, anxiety and panic attacks, scenes with a premature baby
Enter Warren, a surly mechanic’s apprentice attempting to get custody of his deaf fifteen-year-old brother after failing CPS’ housing evaluation. The two strangers immediately clash but agree to live together until Warren can find housing elsewhere and Chloe can further grow her freelance career.
First of all, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this is Hannah’s debut. Because this book is not only heartwarming and joyful, it’s so well written. I read it in two sittings (on the same day), because once I started, the story flowed so beautifully, I couldn’t bring myself to put it down. Despite the content warnings, this story is absolutely stunning and positive. Hannah took something so difficult and complicated and breathed happiness into it. And I cannot wait for more people to read this magic.
When reading romance, I often feel unsatisfied when it’s a single POV. But I didn’t feel any of that with Hannah’s book. Mostly because Chloe didn’t spend the whole time waxing poetic about the shortcomings of her life or the struggles that she’s been through. She didn’t even make everything about herself. Chloe gave us so much to work with as a reader—her surroundings, Willow, Warren, Luke and even her friends. You’re immersed in her life from start to finish and to be able to do that is definitely something I don’t think a lot of us are capable of.
“A dove is a symbol of peace. That’s what you are to me… peace.”
Chloe and Warren’s relationship is a grump/sunshine, slow burn, roommates and forced proximity situation with a little bit of instalove/lust. And somehow with all of that tied together, the story still worked so well. I loved the initial push and pull, the arguing and ‘keep your distance’ stuff, because it was fun to watch them both pretend to not have feelings. But I really really loved watching Warren unravel the closer he and Chloe got. Their story is one full of feelings and it made me so happy to see them get their happily ever after!
Literally every character in this book is great. Some have to redeem themselves and some are just born great. I loved seeing all these people through Chloe’s eyes and more than that, I related to her on so many levels. Let’s start with Warren. Oh boy. He’s attractive, sexy and charming, but he’s also a bit of a grump at the beginning. And through Chloe, Hannah doesn’t sugarcoat Warren’s shortcomings. If anything, she makes sure we’re aware of how frustrating Warren is. But he’s such a great hero. With every layer that was peeled back, I fell more and more in love with him. He’s been through hell and back, he’s lost people important to him, but instead of letting that define him, Warren has taken charge and become more. And I am a big fan of redemption stories, of any kind.
Luke was a fantastic supporting character. I loved that as a teenager, he goes through the motions of being a teenager with being moody, breaking the rules and getting suckered into things that are bad for him. I also loved his relationship with Chloe and how it slowly built up through the course of them living together. Let’s not forget Emily and Lane, Chloe’s two friends, who were beyond supportive, kind and generous. I loved the three of them together and am so glad that they had each other!
“Your pain met mine, and I came undone. All these things I would become.”
And to round this all up, Chloe is truly a wonderful character. She’s always made to feel like she’s too much and she’s forced herself to become smaller because of that. But I really liked that with Warren, she let herself go. She became herself for a change because he never wanted her to be anything other than who she truly was. Smart, funny and sassy, Chloe starts out as a quiet sort of shy woman. But by the time the book wraps up, you can see how being around the right kind of people allows her to let go of all inhibitions and fears and if that’s not the most relatable thing, I don’t know what is.
I obviously don’t want to give too much away outside of what I’ve already done, because this story is best enjoyed when you read it without knowing anything about the story but the bare minimum. Next of Kin has left me with all kinds of feelings and I don’t know where to put them! I am so excited for Hannah’s author journey, because if this is what her debut is going to be like, then we’re all in for a serious treat with the rest of the stories she’s going to write!
Stay tuned to the blog for an interview with Hannah as part of my ongoing Indie Support Sunday series!
Thanks to Hannah Bonam-Young for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.