I picked up The Hating Game (2016) by Sally Thorne with a little trepidation. After seeing so many glowing reviews on Cannonball, I knew I had to read it. But I was worried I would be the lone person who just doesn’t get it or doesn’t like it. It wouldn’t be the first time that I was lukewarm on a Cannonball romance favorite. I also generally avoid the hate-to-love romances. I enjoy romances when protagonists like each other and work well together. When the protagonists hate each other, the hate is often fake and melodramatic, or one or both of the characters is so unlikable that I don’t want them to get together anyway. I needn’t have worried, though, The Hating Game was one of the most fun and memorable romances I’ve read in a long time.
When two publishing houses merge together to save themselves from bankruptcy, Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman find themselves as reluctant co-workers. They are executive assistants to the now co-directors of the merged publishing house. They share a room, with desks facing each other. And they can’t stand each other. The tension between the two mounts even more when a new position is announced and they are both vying for the job. Lucy is small and friendly and tries hard to make everyone like her while Josh is hard, standoffish, and scares everyone around him.
As much animosity there is on the surface, the two don’t really hate each other. Pride and insecurities piled on top of misunderstandings cause much of the rift between these two. When they start to let their defenses down and get to know each other, their relationship is both electric and entertaining.
Like I already mentioned above, I really liked this book. I was surprised that this was Thorne’s first novel because she managed to balance her characters’ likability and vulnerabilities so well. Josh can be difficult, but he’s so protective and sexy, that once you understand where he’s coming from, he’s almost perfect. This was the only romance I can remember where I immediately wanted to go back and read parts over again once I’d finished and knew more about the characters and their misperceptions. I wouldn’t mind reading it again right now.
One of the best parts of this book was the lighthearted humor. There were so many funny, irreverent lines. I wish I’d read this one on my Kindle, so I could have highlighted them all, even though many of them require context. I loved it when Josh called Lucy “Stockholm Shortcake,” which is a much better pet name than a generic “sweetie” or “honey.”
This was one of my favorite romance novels in a long time, and it was made even better by my relatively low expectations coming into it! Highly recommended.
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