Desert Isle Keeper
Hate to Want You
Y’all, this book. THIS BOOK. I started it at around 8pm one evening and that was a damn mistake because the next thing I knew it was 1am and I had tears in my eyes. This was one of my most anticipated July reads and hooooo boy did it live up to, nay, exceed my expectations. If you like complicated characters with grounded backstories and hopeful futures (with some seriously hot sexytimes thrown in) you want Hate to Want You. Trust me.
Nicholas Chandler and Olivia Kane have known each other since forever. The heirs apparent to two intertwined and prominent families, Nick and Livvy appeared destined to be together. However, in a very Montague/Capulet-like manner, the Chandlers and the Kanes had a very public breakup and thus, so did Nick and Livvy. Publicly, the two hate each other. Privately? Different matter entirely.
Once a year, since the start of the great feud, the two of them have been meeting up for one night of torrid sex. They swear there are no feelings involved – how can there be? The Chandlers destroyed the Kane family, so how could Livvy ever possibly have feelings for their golden boy? And for his part, how could Nick love someone who despises his family so wholly? No, what they have is just sex. Very, very fulfilling and very hot sex.
The kind of sex that means the two are essentially ruined for anyone else. The kind of sex that means the ties around their hearts that once existed are nurtured in ways that prove they were never really severed. The kind of sex that means the love did not die and instead matured.
Livvy is also one of those heroines I think is going to stick with me. She’s strong yet vulnerable in ways that crawled right under my skin. How she and Nick finally come clean with each other and finally admit what we’ve known all along is also an exchange that will stay with me. No spoilers, of course, so that you can enjoy it for yourself.
Beyond Nick and Livvy, Ms. Rai has built this world fully. I was engrossed in the feud; its origins, its ramifications. We’re dropped into the middle of its story, as though these characters had lives before we met them and will continue to do so after the book ends. The balance between letting us explore a world for ourselves and having to have some things explained is a tough one that few contemporary authors get right. But Ms. Rai has nailed it here; I was drawn in by the trust she placed in me to figure it out and to fall in love with all these characters along the way. These folks are complicated, and lovely, and awful, and real. They come from different cultures and have created new ones along the way.
Additionally, as the kick-off to a new series, this is pitch perfect. I understand the world without having been patronized or having had it explained to death, and I’m enthralled enough that I cannot wait for the next installment.
Ms. Rai is one of the true experts of romance that borders on erotica combined with the arcs of traditional romance. There’s a hero’s journey in Hate to Want You, as well as a heroine’s, and they have some obstacles to overcome before they earn their happily ever after. Earn it they do, dear readers, and you want to find out how. Trust me.