If you gravitate towards the love-to-hate romances when looking for your next novel, The Trouble with Hating You might be for you! However, be warned, not all aspects of this novel are as amazing as you might think. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t blinded by the romance! The rose tinted glasses actually came off and I was able to see past the tropey haze.
The Trouble with Hating You follows Liya and Jay. Liya is a biochemical engineer recently promoted to a management position and is focused on doing her best. She’s independent and lives alone and doesn’t care for anyone’s negative opinions. Her traditional Indian parents are disapproving and want her to settle down with a nice Indian man.
Enter Jay. He’s a tall, handsome lawyer who works hard and is completely dedicated to his family, especially his widowed mother. He wants her happiness, and if that means going along with an arranged marriage then so be it.
When Liya’s parents ambush her with a surprise marriage meeting, she slips away, not without barreling straight into Jay and deciding instantly that he’s not for her. Little do they know that soon, Jay would be starting at Liya’s firm as the company’s lawyer. Aaaaand they hate each other.
Until one day… yep you guessed it! They don’t quite hate each other anymore! Maybe they could be friends? Or something more. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But in getting to know one another, Liya and Jay must grapple with their past traumas before finally accepting the true feelings that blossomed along the way.
I must say I really liked Jay. He’s mature and sensitive, and just lovely. Despite this whole alpha male thing he has going on, it’s not in the effort to diminish Liya’s authority. He’s likeable and a good guy and his vulnerabilities really shine through. Patel wrote his character, his feelings and his perspectives really well! I did find him a little pushy at times when it came to his pursuit of Liya. But overall, I really enjoyed his presence in the book.
Liya was a great example of someone who struggles under family pressure and her community’s constant perusal but still manages to shine and grow strong. At some points in the novel, I did find her a little mean. I get it’s a hate to love romance BUT some of the things she said and did were borderline unforgivable. That being said, I loved how fiery she was and completely self-assured.
Her storyline is very much focused on why she feels ‘broken’, and on her refusal to let her ‘weaknesses’ show. Given her backstory, which you’ll discover in the novel, her distrust of men is understandable. However, even if you have most of the characters describe one character as a ‘feminist’ doesn’t mean she’s automatically acting the right way. For instance, Liya telling men that she’s not ‘loose’, a ‘whore’ or a ‘slut’ in a manner that clearly suggests that other women deserve such degradations, just not her. Way to uplift your fellow women, Liya! I don’t see how a character who is pushed as ‘feminist; is simultaneously advocating for sexist notions.
Aspects of the writing just made me cringe, some scenes were a little cliche and clumsily inserted in. I understand that some scenes are really important to further the story but I did expect them to be a bit more nuanced. I think the many side-plots and filler chapters are what made me feel this way.
On the other hand, the supporting characters were honestly perfect! It’s honestly my favourite thing when I see strong, supportive female friendships, and Liya had that! I really hope the girls get spin-off novels, especially Sana and Preeta who have real potential for a romantic storyline. Jay’s family members were absolutely lovely too, and I enjoyed getting to know them as the story unfolded.
As I am not from an Indian or Hindu background, I’m not sure if the representation of Indian culture is something that was realistic in the story. Therefore, I can’t comment on that aspect. All I do know is this is an own-voice book (where an author writes about their own cultural identity), which is great! I wish there were more positive aspects of traditional Indian culture shown in this book, beyond the mouthwatering descriptions of the food! There was a prime opportunity for that during a wedding scene where we could’ve seen more detailed cultural aspects, but that entire scene was overshadowed by a really dramatic moment.
Overall, The Trouble with Hating You was ok. I would probably give it a 3 out of 5. I would suggest reading it yourself to form your own judgement! Let me know in the comments what you think of it.
Trigger Warning: There is mention of and scenes describing sexual assault. If this is harmful or triggering to you, please proceed with caution!