Here in Kissing Book Corner there’s one book we’ve all been reading and (mostly) heaping praise on. Now it’s my turn to review The Hating Game and I am convinced it is going to be the one of, if not the best romance I read all year – though I welcome competition – and I have already added it to the “Classics” section on my Romance Recommendations Quick List. The writing is fantastically witty and fresh, the love story sweet, and I have already pre-ordered Sally Thorne’s next book.
Lucy and Josh work together in similar roles supporting the co-chiefs of a publishing house. They have a hate/hate relationship which evolves into love/hate but is, of course, actually secretly love/love. How they sort that out makes for a wonderful bit of escapism that almost feels like it could be real life, if one could be as funny as the heroine and men really existed who are romance novel constructs.
I keep a lot of lists for recommendations and such, but particularly of pet peeves for historical and contemporary romances. Logically, I know Sally Thorne didn’t read my lists, but apparently we are of one mind on several items: Josh and Lucy have a significant height difference which they acknowledge and that is unusual in and of itself, but they find it tantalizing and work to manage it; Josh’s not insanely wealthy, just financially secure; he’s romantically experienced enough to know what he’s doing, but not a player; moreover, his body’s “astounding masculine architecture” is justified and the product of tremendous effort. There’s just so much going on in The Hating Game that I appreciate as someone who reads many of these books. It’s not just the writing that’s clever, the construction is, too. Thorne follows tropes that work and plays with the ones that need to be put out of their misery.
As a first person narrator, Lucy’s perspective is an absolute riot. Thorne gives her an insouciantly melodramatic voice that had me in stitches:
- I begin screaming like an injured monkey.
- Of their paintball location: The ground is dusty and stark. The trees ache for death.
- …taking my hand and stroking it like an obsessive sorcerer.
In addition to being wry, Lucy comes across as clearly capable and together, while her interior monologue matches so many of ours in that she feels she is a bit awkward and is convinced she’s not managing as well as she is, even as she works to fulfill her ambitions. She and Josh are just so human.
There have been some great romances featuring difficult men (a few this year alone) and there’s always something fun in the successful redemption of a man who would potentially be too irksome in real life, but can be matched to the right woman and the two of them work beautifully together as a team*. This is one of those books. The director Billy Wilder said, “You’re as good as the best thing you ever did,” and The Hating Game guarantees I will be checking out every thing Sally Thorne writes for quite some time.
*This may require another list. Suggestions are welcome. Harry Rutledge is a given.