If you're a romance novel connoisseur like me, you might sometimes get tired of conventional main characters with the same backstories, the same body type, the same everything.
Every once in a while though, an author and book comes along and shifts perspective; Talia Hibbert is that author and "A Girl Like Her" is that book.
Ruth Kabbah is an outcast in her community and that's fine by her. Autistic, Black and previously involved in a scandal with her small town's golden boy, she stands apart from almost everyone else and, since she enjoys her time in solitude, Ruth finds herself (mostly) content.
Until, that is, gorgeous and kind Evan Miller moves in next door.
Evan spends his time working as a blacksmith, visiting his friend's ill mother and cooking homemade pasta dishes for Ruth.
Ruth, for her part, isn't quite sure what to make of her hot new neighbor; she's been burned badly before and Evan seems a little too good to be true.
But as the two grow closer and the sparks start flying, Ruth's past begins to rise from the grave. Ruth starts to question what she's learned from hard experience: can affection, love and trust be permanent?
I'm not usually a lover of contemporary romances, but this book was brilliant in a number of ways.
Hibbert is an excellent writer, managing to insert humor even into darker topics and proves she can write interesting, lovable characters in accessible ways.
Ruth as a character can be prickly and curt but she has a depth of feeling that Evan is able to recognize immediately and Hibbert ensures that we as an audience can connect with Ruth on a profound level.
She's a standout character in a genre that feels homogenous most of the time and I am here for it.
While difficult subjects lie at the heart of the plot (racism, cancer, intimate partner violence), "A Girl Like Her" still provides comfort and a wonderful look into what romance novels can be.
Megan Mehmert is the technology training librarian at the Missouri River Regional Library.