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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

'The Hating Game' by Sally Thorne

Received via NetGalley 

From the BLURB:
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman
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 manoeuvres 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.

The Hating Game’ is a debut Contemporary Romance from Australian author, Sally Thorne.

Oh my gosh – I freakin’ loved this book. I first heard about it via Sarah MacLean’s The Romance Review Column in the Washington Post, where she recommended ‘The Hating Game’ as an August must-read, calling it; "a wicked, witty romance." She’s not wrong (Sarah MacLean is never wrong when it comes to romance) and I was thrilled to remember that I’d been approved for Sally Thorne’s debut via NetGalley – so I got stuck into reading it ASAP … and finished reading it a few nights later at 1AM.

Look, as the blurb suggests this is a book about an office rivalry (at a recently-merged publishing house) that kicks up a gear when there’s a promotion on the line and our heroine – Lucy Hutton – has to face-off against her robotic nemesis, Joshua Templeman. But that blurb is a signal to every single romance reader out there who loves ‘Enemies turned Lovers’ plots, and unrequited/repressed love storylines. To put it another way – if you’re totally a fan of the Tracy and Hepburn dynamic, also known as the Pacey & Joey effect … OR to be really on-the-nose; if one of your all-time favourite cinema moments is Kat (Julia Stiles) reciting this monologue to Patrick (Heath Ledger) in 10 Things I Hate About You: “I hate it when you're not around, and the fact that you didn't call. But mostly I hate the way I don't hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.” If just reading those words chokes you up a little bit – then ‘The Hating Game’ is the book for you (there’s even a paintball scene!)

I admit; I still went into this book a little bit hesitant, even with MacLean’s ringing endorsement. I was worried that the chemistry between the leads would simmer down to that old adage; “He’s probably mean to you because he likes you!” – that chauvinistic “pulling pigtails” chestnut. But what I really appreciated was how Thorne totally dismantled that idea by the end of the book – and actually there’s a lot of role-reversal going on, with Joshua being the one in their bludgeoning/burgeoning relationship who doesn’t just want to be desired for his body (as he has been by past girlfriends). And the beginnings of change for Lucy comes when she starts looking beneath his surface-level façade;

When he pins me with his eyes, I know something’s coming. I am not prepared when it happens. The world explodes apart as he begins to laugh. He’s the same person I stare at every weekday but lit up. He’s plugged into the mains and electric. Humour and light radiate from him, making his colours glow like stained glass. Brown, gold, blue, white. It’s a crime I’ve never seen these smile lines before. His mouth is an easy curve, perfect teeth and a faint dimple bracketing each corner. Each laugh gusts from him in a husky, breathless rush, something he can no longer hold in, and it’s as addictive to me as the taste of his mouth or the smell of his skin. His amazing laugh is something I need now. It I’d ever thought he was good-looking before, in passing or noticed in irritation, I never knew the full story. When Josh smiles, he is blinding.

Sometimes I got a little frustrated with Lucy as a character, but I realise it’s only because I know how the ‘Enemies-to-Lovers’ plot goes, and I was just eager for her to get onboard and clearly see what was really going on between her and Josh;

I spot a little origami bird made of notepaper I once flicked at him during a meeting. It is balanced on the edge of the bookshelf.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough – and it seems, neither can anyone else! If you don’t believe me, here’s a link I stumbled across – of one of my favourite romance authors asking for book recommendations, and another of my favourite romance authors recommending ‘The Hating Game’ … that author is KristanHiggins, FYI.

Sally Thorne’s ‘The Hating Game’ is a favourite book of 2016 for me. I loved the story – but more than anything I find myself excited by this debut Aussie author. I can’t wait to read what she comes out with next … and it suddenly occurred to me that the last time I felt this kind of assurance about a writer was back in 2011, after I read a little contemp office-romance book called ‘Attachments’ by Rainbow Rowell … Uh-huh. A big call, but I’m making it!

Keep an eye on this Sally Thorne; she’s got a big career ahead of her.


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