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REVIEW: She’s Got Dibs by A.J. Nuest

Dear Ms. Nuest:

I picked up She’s Got Dibs when it was free a few weeks ago, but then deleted it when the ebook opened to a dedication that made me think it would be a particularly heavy inspirational. Lesson learned. After I saw some enthusiastic discussion on Twitter, katiebabs was kind enough to lend it to me. I mostly enjoyed reading it, though not as much as she did.

dibsShe’s Got Dibs is most notable for its twist on the billionaire hero. Actually, two twists: Dibs (David Isaac Brenner) is not only a very sweet beta but — unusual realism — he’s not entirely in control of his money. His domineering family holds the purse strings to his charitable foundation, a fact that will lead to trouble.

The story is told from the point of view of events planner Tessa, who shares a steamy one-night stand with Dibs after they meet in an airport, then resolutely tries to shake him off. A very painful broken engagement has left her cynical and somewhat hysterical about love and relationships. Dibs pursues for awhile, then — again, a twist — actually gets the message and backs off. But when they wind up sitting next to each other on a plane, his hurt feelings burst out and an ashamed Tessa agrees they can be friends.

Since Dib’s idea of friendship is wining, dining, flowers, and caring for her every need, and he’s pretty darned hot, it’s not too surprising that Tessa finds herself falling for him against her will — which is, of course, exactly what he was aiming for. But things get complicated when both Dib’s disapproving parents and Tessa’s ex come into the picture.

This is the sort of story that inevitably brings the word “cute” to mind. For the first half, it was  fun to see Dib’s playful, semi-subtle wooing of Tessa, whom he nicknames Rex because of the way she attacks her food. Even if I didn’t entirely get why he was so into her, a hero with strong feelings who isn’t a controlling asshole is just kind of delightful to read about.  The book seemed overly long and there were a few editing errors, but since the storytelling was generally good, it was nothing I couldn’t overlook.

The second half of the story goes in a much angstier direction, and I started having some real issues with it. The prose began to feel over the top:

She longed for Dibs to arrive, needed the comfort of his arms, the soothing murmur of his voice in her ear. And at the same time, terror sizzled along her nerve endings each time she envisioned meeting his discerning gaze.

But there was no stopping the clock, and when the doorbell rang at five forty-five and she lifted her chin, a sob lodged in her chest, the weight of her decisions almost to much to bear.

Love shone like a ray of light on his face.

I also kept tripping over odd turns of phrase:

Cold steel hardened his gaze, and with the next stuttering heartbeat, grim reality sharpened every facet of the room down to one abhorrent truth.

And I started to get tired of the repetition. Tessa’s wangsting about how relationships always go wrong, Dib’s constant adoration, even the frequent references to his cologne got on my nerves.

But the kicker was when Tessa lied to Dibs when he most needed her honesty — practically gaslighting him — and not only was she hurt by his completely justified mistrust, but the lying was later framed as a virtue on her part, something she did for his sake.  That rocketed her into my heroine Hall of Shame.

I’m really torn on what to grade this, but because I was engaged for much of the book, I’ll potentially err on the higher side. C-



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Willaful fell in love with romance novels at an early age, but ruthlessly suppressed the passion for years, while grabbing onto any crumbs of romance to be found in other genres. She finally gave in and started reading romance again in 2006, and has been trying to catch up with the entire genre ever since. Look for her on twitter or at her blog at


  1. Lynn S.
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 09:37:30

    You made me smile this Friday morning. I’m hoping you hadn’t seen the cover art when you thought it was an inspirational.

    And, with fingers light as thistledown upon my keyboard, I am compelled to complete the quote:

    Cold steel hardened his gaze, and with the next stuttering heartbeat, grim reality sharpened every facet of the room down to one abhorrent truth. She was a hoarder.

  2. Breanna
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 10:16:53

    I couldn’t even finish this book because I got so tired of Tessa’s relationship fears. Or at least how often and frequently they were brought up. And when I skipped ahead to the end to see how it all played out I didn’t feel like I was missing out on a good story, just one that was needlessly dragged out.

  3. Kini
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 11:03:05

    I’m with Willaful on almost mistaking it for an inspirational. Her dedication can mislead you. And although it is not an inspirational, there is very minimal use of curse words. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I wasn’t too thrilled with Tessa’s lying at the end. I did really enjoy the way Dibs worked his way into her life and not dating her.

  4. Deljah
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 11:10:12

    That’s interesting about the dedication. I try to skip those when I’m reading.

  5. KT Grant
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 11:43:39

    I’m so tired of the alpha emo billionaires that it was a nice change for me to read about a nice beta billionaire with a thing for giving people cute nicknames. David aka Dibs made this book for me. A few times I wanted to smack Tessa because of her issues and how she refused to see that David was the real deal.

  6. cecilia
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 12:40:07

    I agree with your assessment completely. I think I rated it higher because it had a lot of potential, but it was totally overwritten. A few poetic flourishes go a long way. But this book definitely subscribes to the “more is more” philosophy, I think.

  7. JenM
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 13:03:48

    I love those really sweet heroes who have to do all the chasing, so when I read about this book, I picked it up even though I hadn’t gotten it for free. Dibs was so great that if I were grading just on him, it would be a B+. However, I disliked Tessa right from the start, and by about the 60% mark, this book almost became a wallbanger because I was so sick of her. The prose also started to really wear on me. I gritted my teeth and finished it, and in the end, graded it with a C- exactly as you did.

  8. Willaful
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 14:04:40

    @Deljah: I actually like to read everything and was sorry when I realized that I’d been missing acknowledgments and so on because of Kindle books generally opening to the first page. In this case, it was set to open there.

  9. Beth
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 16:20:21

    is it just me or did his name really bother you? there is NOTHING sexy or attractive about a man named Dibs. Even if its his nickname.

  10. Mary
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 17:32:21

    This sounds like an interesting take on the billionaire trope. But you know what I’d like to read? A (good) romance novel where the heroine is the billionaire.

    To the people who read this: Would you recommend reading this even with the annoying heroine, or should I just skip it?

  11. Willaful
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 19:48:25

    @Mary: I haven’t read it, but Ros Clarke has a book titled something like The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh.

    As to whether I’d recommend it… it’s different enough to be worth recommending if it would fill a specific reading desire. Like if you just love the idea of a rich beta hero. I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.

  12. Des Livres
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 21:36:40

    I loved the word Wangsting. How is wangsting different from angsting?

  13. Willaful
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 22:37:57

    @Des Livres: My take on it is that it’s a portmanteau word, combining angst and wanking. So, it’s angst so overdone, it’s masturbatory. Where the line is will differ for every reader, of course.

  14. Des Livres
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 23:19:37

    I was pondering whinging + angsting versus wanking + angsting – I think the later is heaps more apposite. Great reiveiw!

  15. flchen1
    Aug 10, 2013 @ 23:59:21

    Great review, Willaful–not sure I could take Tessa though, even though Dibs sounds like a dream!

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