Something you should know about me dear reader, I am a hopeless romantic. I devour it. I seek it. I consume it. So when I finally fall head-long into a decent romance novel, it’s very difficult for me to emerge without finishing the whole thing. And boy was this book one of those!
An enemies to lovers romance trope? Check.
Vulnerable and likeable characters? Check.
Witty banter? Check.
Heart-warming scenes? Check.
Laugh-out-loud funny? Check.
Tearful moments? CHECK.
Joe and Lucy are nemeses. They’re the executive assistants to the joint heads of a publishing company, and are forced to share cubicle space right outside their offices. Lucy is adorable, she’s tiny and endearing and wholesome. Josh is slightly closed-off, but underneath that facade he’s sweet and compassionate. They absolutely hate each other.
Their hatred and competitiveness runs so deep that they’ve started a series of quite juvenile, quite petty games. You have the HR Game where they threaten to report every minor infraction to the HR department. You have The Mirror Game; Josh subtly mimics every move Lucy makes and, my personal favourite, The Staring Game, where their eyes lock into a competition and have silent conversations charged with insults. It’s hilarious and immature and makes working in an office almost desirable (I’m joking, you’ll never catch me in an office). I laughed so much listening to their back and forth, passive-aggressive banter. Right from the start, they had me completely hooked. Often in books that follow the love-to-hate trope, that hate is actually abusive and horrible, but this one really was based on misunderstanding and confusion rather than anything insidious.
One day, they learn that there is a promotion opportunity to which they are both qualified. And that’s when the real fight begins. But as they’re fighting for the job of their lives, the hate they thought they had for each other starts to thaw. Maybe they could be friends? Or something more….
I was giggling along with Lucy throughout this whole book. She’s a fantastic narrator, even if I wish I could have seen Josh’s perspective a little more. The two of them and their antics made me grin so many times as the story progressed and I really had a great time watching them hate each other less and less and slowly falling in love. I don’t want to disclose too much. I’m trying to make this spoiler-free, but what really had me like this book was how the characters became more vulnerable and sincere with one another.
Some aspects did disappoint me, however. This book was overwhelmingly white with no racial diversity at all. In the current climate, and the discourse around diversity in publishing being so prevalent, it’s a shame that there weren’t any characters that weren’t white. Lucy objectifies Josh a lot in this book and it’s quite uncomfortable to read, especially because, if the roles were reversed, we’d all be up in arms about it.
If one doesn’t take this book too seriously, and enjoys it as a light, fun, fluffy romance you’ll adore The Hating Game!
The fact that it’s Sally Thorne’s debut novel makes it even more impressive. I’ve heard good things about the audio-book, so if you prefer to listen to it it’s available on Audible! A project is apparently in the works to adapt the book for the big screen, which is definitely something to look forward to. I wonder how well they’ll be able to translate the character’s chemistry and tension!
(Please bare in mind that there are adult themes in this book that may only be suitable for a mature audience.)