The Hating Game
Grade : A

I finished The Hating Game and immediately emailed my editor, sister, mom, and hairdresser to tell them about it.  A couple of things you should know – first and foremost, I review and recommend a lot of books, BUT – I don’t LOVE a lot of books. And second, my parents (but most especially my mom) are super conservatives and my sister is a committed (and vocal) bleeding-heart liberal.  The chance of them agreeing on anything – let alone a fiction book, is slim to none.  So if I can recommend a book I think they will both enjoy – well, you’d better believe I think it’s special.  The Hating Game is quirky, funny, romantic, delightful, and most of all, charming.  If you like any (or all) of those things in a romance novel, shuffle your TBR queue and move this one to the top.  I think you’ll love it too.

Lucy Hutton is the executive assistant to Helene Pascal, the co-CEO of Bexley & Gamin book publishers.  She shares an office with Joshua Templeman, the executive assistant to Richard Bexley, the other co-CEO.  Bexley Books and and Gamin Publishers are newly merged; just like their respective companies, Lucy and Joshua are total opposites.  Lucy is a Gamin, passionate about books and people, charming and easygoing.  Joshua (in her opinion) is Bexley through and through:

The Bexleys are hard geometrics… Bexleys move in shark packs, talking figures and constantly hogging the conference rooms for their ominous Planning Sessions.  Plotting sessions, more like.

It’s hate at first sight between them.  At least Lucy hates Joshua – and she’s pretty sure he hates her too.  Fated to spend workdays together in an office with a (bizarre) abundance of mirrored surfaces, they indulge in ridiculous games of brinksmanship, but in spite of that and her snippy computer passwords (variations on IHATEJOSHUA4EV@), Lucy finds herself preoccupied trying to figure him out and aware of everything he does.  She knows the day of the week by the color of his shirt (Navy leads to Gorgeous Payday Black), and his husky, soft laugh raises the tiny hairs on her arms.  The tension and their mutual dislike only escalates after their bosses announce the creation of a third executive position, chief operating officer.  Lucy and Joshua are expected to apply and compete for it.  Lucy wants the job, but the knows that if Joshua gets it, she’s resigning. That, for reasons she’s unwilling to examine closely, makes her sad.

Following the announcement, interactions between Lucy and Joshua are more charged than ever.  A conversation the following day rapidly devolves into a brand new game of When I’m Your Boss. The conversation, as per usual, goes off the rails after Joshua says, “When I’m your boss, I’m going to work you so fucking hard.”  That night, Lucy dreams of Joshua working her hard in a completely different way.  Tormented by the dream, she decides to dress up for the office the next day and turn the tables on him.  Like most of her plans to get the better of Joshua, it backfires.

He stares at me until I begin to untie the belt on my trench coat, but I can’t continue.  The blue of his eyes is even more vivid than in my dream.  He’s looking at me like he’s busy reading my mind.

Joshua notices her attention, looks at his planner and;

“Wowsers,” he drawls, and I watch his pencil make some kind of mark.  “Got a hot date, Shortcake?”

Flustered by his attention and the nickname, she lies and says yes.  Asked for details, she fibs and makes up a time and place.  His response – “What a total coincidence.  I’m going there to watch the game tonight,” sends Lucy  scrambling to find a date. Logging onto her computer with her new password, DIE-JOSH-DIE!, she tries to calm down.

Lucy finds a date, but when Joshua offers her a ride she agrees because she can’t think of a good reason to say no.  I’m not going to give away any spoilers in this review – BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO READ THIS TERRIFIC BOOK – but the elevator ride to the parking garage is a game changer.  It opens Lucy’s eyes to the fine line between loving and hating someone – and to the real possibility Joshua might not hate her so much either.  She’s barely processed what happened in the elevator, when Joshua surprises her yet again by taking care of her after she falls sick at a work event.  Delirious with fever for most of the time he takes care of her, Lucy’s not sure she trusts her recollections of Joshua’s care.  Would someone who hates her clean up her vomit and stay with her until the fever broke?

The Hating Game is told entirely in Lucy’s PoV.  She’s a sensitive, vulnerable and hilarious narrator.  But she’s honest – and when she falls for Joshua, you fall for him too.  Once they start spending time together outside the office – and he finally reveals his own vulnerabilities – she realizes many of the assumptions she’s made about him are wrong.  Joshua, focused on hiding his feelings for Lucy, masked them by being a jerk (he’s a guy).  When he admits he fell for her the moment they met, and reveals how much he knows about her (he even cracked her passwords!), I might have sighed out loud.  The whole scene is so romantic.

Joshua isn’t perfect and Ms. Thorne doesn’t pretend he is when Lucy finally falls for him.  He readily admits he can be an idiot and that he handled his feelings for Lucy poorly.  When the story concludes, it’s obvious that much of Joshua’s attitude is a response to his tense relationship with his father. When Lucy discovers why, and witnesses his dad’s boorish behavior first hand, her magnificent and passionate defense of Joshua is awesome.  He’s ready to tell her he loves her – but Lucy, freaked out by her behavior, takes a bit more convincing.  It’s another swoon-worthy conversation, and when she finally admits she loves him, it’s a perfect conclusion to this wonderful book.

Spoilers aside, it’s clear from the first page that Lucy and Joshua are destined to be together.  It’s the road to happily ever for ‘horny eyes’ Lucy and ‘serial killer eyes’ Joshua (how they refer to each other when they’re pretending not to flirt) that makes this début novel so special.  The chemistry between Lucy and Joshua zings off the page and the dialogue – even after they stop being enemies –  is snappy, smart and funny.  From the first page to the last, I enjoyed every bit of The Hating Game.  I bet you will too.

Buy it at Amazon/iBooks/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

Reviewed by Em Wittmann

Grade: A

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : August 8, 2016

Publication Date: 06/2016

Recent Comments …

  1. This author (Judith Ivory) used to appear frequently in “best of” lists for historical romance; and it seems that this…

Em Wittmann

I love romance novels - all kinds. I love music - some kinds. I have strong opinions about both and I like to share them.
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