by Sally Thorne
Published on August 9, 2016
by William Morrow
Synopsis from Goodreads: Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude. Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.My take: I've loved British chick lit since the days of Bridget Jones and The Shopaholic back in the 90s. And I also have a soft spot for hate-to-love couples, from Leia and Han Solo to Cher and Josh to Castle and Beckett -- it's a great romance trope. So when I saw other bloggers raving about The Hating Game (yes, book industry, this is a case of a great word of mouth publicity) I decided it seemed perfect for me.
Bottom line: I flew through this one weekend, and with a couple of caveats, really enjoyed it a lot. Lucy is assistant to the CEO of a publishing company that has recently merged with another publishing company. So there's now another CEO and another assistant: Josh, who's infuriatingly type-A and competent. These two assistants' desks are across from each other and they're on each other's nerves for eight hours a day.
The joint/rival CEO theme was fun, adding an element of rivalry and tension to the story. In addition, the company announces a new position that both Lucy and Josh want desperately, ramping up their rivalry even more. I just kept wishing the two of them had more interesting jobs within the company (editors? publicists?). Maybe it's the book blogger in me, but I wish each one had a book or author to promote and were battling it out over sales and publicity campaigns.
The odd couple set-up worked for me for the most part. At times, I did feel like these characters were reduced to a few traits and not developed much further (Lucy's red lipstick and retro style; Josh's days-of-the-week dress shirts and gym addiction.) Their families come into the picture a bit: hers run a strawberry farm and his are predictably overachieving and uptight.
Sexual tension is one of the hallmarks of the love-to-hate romance, and The Hating Game did an excellent job in this regard. The romance was extremely slow burn, with Lucy taking a long time to come around to her (obvious) attraction to Josh and the fact that he's (obviously) crazy about her.
If you're looking to treat yourself to a fun romance over the holidays, The Hating Game is a great choice. I'm giving a copy away on Freebie Friday, so be sure to stop by!