“I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them. I’ve had a lot of time to compare love and hate, and these are my observations…Both love and hate are mirror versions of the same game – and you have to win. Why? Your heart and your ego. Trust me, I should know.”The Hating Game
Sally Thorne’s debut novel has been popular in the romance world for quite some time now. I’ve read it a couple times in the past and very much enjoyed it! As always, the synopsis before the review:
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
A classic enemies-to-lovers romance, The Hating Game sets the stage in ‘Bexley & Gamin’; a merged book publishing cooperation in which Lucy and Joshua work. Lucy Hutton is a quirky and unique character with Christina Lauren’s classicly written humor and eccentricities, and Sally Thorne’s own written touch of charisma. She’s a loyal worker for ‘Bexley Books’ and horrified with its recent merge. Joshua Templeman, a seemingly dull, arrogant, and introverted man feels the same way; originally from ‘Gamin publishing’. With the merge, Lucy and Joshua work beside each other in their office—and they absolutely hate it.
The book doesn’t fail to demonstrate just how much they don’t get along. From Lucy’s asinine variations of ‘IHATEJOSHUA4EV@’ as her desktop password to Joshua swearing he’d quit his job if Lucy became his boss—and vice-versa. Not to mention that both of them are brawling over a newly opened promotion as a chief operating officer in the workplace. With this, their already aching tension strains even further as they both constantly attempt to thwart each other’s plans to impress the executive board. Nonetheless, I think the “fighting” was hilarious and have a hard time believing it is anything above banter despite how often the two passionately mention their loathing for each other. I do wish the hate was stronger, but if that means Sally Thorne has to dull down the comedy than I’m pretty content with how it is now.
“‘What are you imagining? Your expression is filthy.’
‘Strangling you. Bare hands.’ I can barely get the words out. I’m huskier than a phone-sex operator after a double shift.
‘So that’s your kink.’ His eyes are going dark.”The Hating Game
Lucy and Joshua recognize their infatuation with each-other fairly early in the book, though it is relatively subtle and they are able to dismiss it to a certain degree. Lucy becomes friends with a co-worker Danny, and tells Joshua she is attracted to him out of spite. She finds herself confused about how she should hold herself around Joshua as her feelings for him become more and more prominent. Not to mention that he appears to be equally attracted to her after a particularly risqué kiss in the elevator. Her situation with Danny does become a conflict later on in the text, and Sally Thorne throws plenty of other challenges their way to test just how passionate they are. The book twists and turns as it progresses until the two finally learn to accept that their “hate” for each other isn’t hate at all, it’s love.
The book was delightful—hilarious as expected, and emotionally demanding as all romance should be. However, I found myself cringing at some parts that were meant to be sweet, instead of eliciting the endearing “awwww” like I should be. Lucy’s family owns a strawberry farm, leading to Joshua giving her the pet name “Shortcake” which isn’t as imaginative nor ingenious as he probably thinks it is. I found myself curling up every time I read that nickname and I do understand why others find it to be the most adorable thing, but it was pretty torturous for me. Moreover, there’s this clever lead up from the beginning of the book where Joshua explains the reason behind all these markings Lucy often sees him write on his planner. I know the scribbling is related to her the moment it is first mentioned; and when he finally elucidates it later on in the text, all the charm is lost for me.
When I closed the book after finishing it for the first time, I found an astonishing lack of satisfaction. The text didn’t have nearly as much closure as it could’ve. I had hope thinking there would be an epilogue, but was disappointed when I flipped the pages to find nothing but the customary acknowledgments and upcoming book spoilers. Lest you think that means it has a bitter ending—it doesn’t. Lucy and Joshua’s relationship concludes as happy as it could be, I just desire to know how they move on from there.
The Hating Game is an exhilarating read for anyone who wants to take in a good romance. I was able to read this entire book in one sitting—everyone mourn for my back— and was intrigued from beginning to end. The constant bickering between Lucy and Josh is my absolute favorite thing, pulling more giggles out of me than I’d like to admit. Sally Thorne’s witty dialogue and clever storytelling has everyone wanting more, and I most definitely see why.
Sally Throne’s latest book, 99 Percent Mine was published almost exactly a year ago; which I enjoyed as well! Her next book Second First Impressions is scheduled to publish September 29th this year, and many with me included can’t wait to gorge ourselves on the pages. Sally Thorne has already proved to be an amazing rom-com author, and I anticipate reading plenty more of her work in the future.