Book Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne ★★★

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“Love and hate are visceral. Your stomach twists at the thought of that person. The heart in your chest beats heavy and bright, nearly visible through your flesh and clothes. Your appetite and sleep are shredded. Every interaction spikes your blood with a dangerous kind of adrenaline, and you’re on the brink of fight or flight. Your body is barely under your control. You’re consumed, and it scares you.”

This one was pretty good. Cute, surprisingly touching in certain areas, and funny. Overall, it was solid and I enjoyed it. However, for some reason I just didn’t connect with the romance all that much. I liked the characters well enough and really felt for them during some scenes, but I just never 100% committed to them. Three stars.

This book started out just a tad slow, I’m not going to lie. I don’t think I am the biggest fan of workplace romances, so it took me a minute to get into the story. Once, I did, the pace definitely picked up and I was invested in the outcome and the characters’ lives/relationship.

The story revolves around two executive assistants at a publishing company who are pitted against each other to win a big promotion. And they’ve hated each other since the first time they met. Because Josh didn’t smile back at Lucy and she’s holding a mega grudge. Except it’s SO obvious to anyone but Lucy that he is super into her and in fact does not hate her at all. It’s fine that she is denying her feelings for him and his for her, but throughout the book, she just seems increasingly more dense and willfully delusional about it.

Josh is stern and never laughs. He’s kind of a grumpy, hot, heart-of-gold cliche. Sometimes he seemed kind of aggressive (a few times Lucy for sure thinks he is going to kill her and that’s just not very rom-commy to me) or pushy, which I did not love. Lucy is chipper and adored by everyone. Oh and she’s so short. Lord, I am pretty sure Lucy was called small or short or tiny about 5,000 times in this book. It got really annoying. And she played up the whole “little kid” aspect of being small so much that it was a bit weird at times (almost as weird as her obsession with Smurfs…). Like not quite fetishized by the two of them, but borderline lol.

It might seem like I didn’t love these characters, and I wouldn’t say that I lovedddd them, but what redeemed them for me were their genuine quirks. The banter between the characters was overall pretty good, and some of the things that they would say were actually unexpected and unguarded. They both had a sincere weirdness about them that you do not often see in rom-coms, especially where the main girl is “omg so quirky and random.” Lucy would say/do things that were funny and totally strange. Josh was shy and also pretty odd at times. They were both very lonely, solitary people and I found that very refreshing for a rom-com. I really enjoyed the depth and different facets that the author gave their personalities and their romance, in that regard.

The pacing and the writing were some of my main points of contention, however. To me, everything felt very disjointed the whole time. It made it hard to connect to the characters and follow the story right away. Some scenes were too quick or seemed to happen too fast (their first kiss), while others seriously dragged on and on (her illness). To me, it felt almost slopped together and as if the author was checking off a list as she wrote. Like, “Ok we need a scene where the couple fights. One where they’re outside and have to work as a team. We need one at a wedding. And one where he takes care of her. And one where they’re jealous, etc. etc.” it was rather jarring to read.

In this same vein, the drama for the most part was unnecessary and overblown, most notably near the end. I’ve mentioned already that the grudge Lucy holds is pretty silly and their tension could 100% be resolved with one honest conversation (granted they were both willing to have that conversation and give up the easy “we hate each other so we have to fight” game). But the drama that unfolds over Josh at the wedding with his family and his lies by omission to Lucy was just kind of..anticlimactic? I didn’t see why it was all such a big deal, honestly.

At the end of the day, this was a good book and a nice enemies to lovers romance. I liked it and had a good time reading it. I will definitely be interested in checking out more of this author’s books.

Sidenote: I loved Lucy’s childhood story with the strawberry farm and the origin of her name! Even if her shame over being “wild” as kid was weird and exaggerated. Like who cares, you were six???

Maybe she likes Smurfs so much, because she’s roughly the size of one?

Thank you for reading, my dudes!

Title: The Hating Game
Author: Sally Thorne
Genre: Adult | Romance | Fiction | Women’s Fiction | Chick-Lit | Contemporary | Enemies to Lovers
Publication Date: August 9th, 2016
Page Count: 387 pages
Buy It: Wordery Book Depository

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