I first found Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai on NPR’s Best Books of 2017 List. I was finally able to get it from the library (on Kindle) right before I left for a long backpacking trip. Although I read most of it before getting on the trail, I always look for books that will not scare me when I’m sleeping alone in the woods. Romance novels are usually perfect. Now that I’ve read it, I don’t feel strongly about it. I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t dislike it. The leads had a good connection and steamy sex, but the story was somewhat convoluted and I didn’t really buy into what was keeping them apart.
Supposedly a very loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet (with a happy ending), Livvy Kane and Nico Chandler were high school sweethearts. Their grandparents had started a successful grocery chain and the two families were very close. Everything was great until Olivia’s father and Nico’s mom (I think I have this right) were killed together in a car accident. There were many unanswered questions surrounding the accident. No one could understand what the two were doing alone together. There was speculation of an affair, of driving while impaired, or even suicide. The Kane family blamed Nico’s father while the Chandler family blamed Livvy’s mother. Nico’s father made the situation worse when he showed up at Livvy’s house shortly after the tragedy and bullied Livvy’s mother into giving up her share of the company.
Ever since the car accident and the division between the families Livvy and Nico’s relationship could not handle the strain. However, they have/had red-hot sexual chemistry. Once a year they meet up wherever they happen to be and basically use each other for one night of uninhibited and mostly satisfying sex.
Things change when Livvy comes home to take care of her mother who just had hip surgery. Suddenly Livvy and Nico are in the same town and their sexual attraction is harder to ignore. Both Livvy and Nico have to deal with their own feelings as well as various problems with family members as they realize they are meant to be together and try to find the courage to do that. Livvy also struggled with depression and is afraid of what that means for a relationship.
In the end, I certainly found this book entertaining enough to distract me from my exhausted legs while backpacking. I liked the main characters and their connection, but I just couldn’t get into the whole family feud plot line. At first there wasn’t enough information to really understand the causes. As the book went on, it seemed either an unreasonable reaction or a misunderstanding. When you can’t really believe what’s keeping your main characters apart, it’s hard to really get into the romance of it all. I still enjoyed it, but it’s not one of my favorites.
You can find all of my reviews on my blog.