I Hate You More
I adore Lucy Gilmore – y’all know this much about me at this point. I Hate You More is another adorable dog-centered romance from her, and while it’s not my absolute favorite among her many books, it’s still worth a recommendation and a read.
Ruby Taylor is a former beauty pageant queen who raked in titles as a teenager but is so done with that scene now that she’s grown up. Then Mrs. Orson, an elderly woman who lives in Parkwood Manor, the retirement community where Ruby works, begs Ruby to enroll her Golden Retriever, Wheezy, in a dog show. This even though Wheezy is lazy, out of shape, undisciplined and has never seen so much as the end of a leash in years. Ruby reluctantly enrolls the dog in the Canine Classic, where even she thinks he’s not pageant material.
Local vet Spencer Wilson has volunteered to judge the Canine Classic this year, and he takes one look at Wheezy and sees a loser. But Spencer’s words light a fire under Ruby’s bustle. She’s going to make the judges love this dog, come hell or high water or Spencer’s snobby disapproval or an inability for Wheezy to live up to breeder’s standards. She hires Caleb, Spencer’s twin brother, to train Wheezy, sparking jealousy in Spencer. Let the games begin!
I Hate You More is your traditional enemies-to-lovers romance made even greater by Gilmore’s love of dogs and people. The book’s biggest problem is its pacing, but first I’ll break down what works.
Ruby is lovable. Trying to navigate a life without pageants, she discovers a medical calling and decides to train as a nurse while giving dogs enemas and trying to make Wheezy sit up straight. Spencer is a walking stiff upper lip, but I believed in his eventual softening toward Ruby and Wheezy. And as always, Glimore’s four-legged characters are fun and genuine and don’t feel like the canine version of a plot moppet. I loved romance-reading Mrs. Orson and the folks down at Parkwood Manor as well.
Ruby’s desperate attempt at training Wheezy (and convincing him to resist the lure of cheeseburgers) is particularly delightful. The book as a whole is sharply written and funny.
The pacing, though, is notably uneven. While I found Spencer’s softening toward Ruby credible, it happens way too soon, and they shift from hate to lust far too early in the book; both characters needed more time and seasoning to really make that shift into a full-on romance. I was also frankly shocked that there wasn’t a love-triangle between Caleb, Ruby and Spencer; instead, the conflict between the two men is based on their business relationship.
I Hate You More is a fine afternoon’s jaunt, and is plenty funny and sweet and romantic, even with a few flaws thrown in.
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