The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

In brief: Lucy is pretty sure she has it all and then some at work. Except for Joshua Templeman who sits opposite her. He’s a colour-coordinated, diary marking devil. It’s all about getting one-up on him until she realises the hating game might not be the right one to play…

The good: The wit of the conversations between Lucy and Josh crackle with sexual tension.

The not-so-good: I cannot work out where this story is set and it bugs me.

Why I chose it: Begged Hachette for a copy because everyone on my feed has been raving about it.

Year: 2016

Pages: 363

Publisher: Piatkus (Hachette)

Setting: A city…somewhere.

My rating: 9.5 out of 10

Many months ago, I added The Hating Game to my book wish list notebook (yes, I have such a thing) after it was more than likely mentioned somewhere on the internet. More recently, said internet started going gangbusters over this book from the snappy conversations to the OMG-ness of the hero. I love good dialogue, so I jumped on this book straightaway. It’s sweet, funny, sexy, realistic, far-fetched and loads of fun. It’s pretty much all of the things that you’d look for in a good romantic comedy in book format. The Hating Game is the book you would see twice at the cinema, buy the DVD, then buy another DVD with special features. It’s that good.

The premise of the book is simple – girl hates boy, boy hates girl, elevator kiss, hmm…maybe they don’t hate each other…maybe they do…okay, it’s definitely love. This is one of my favourite tropes in romance but before you stop reading any more, it’s so much more than a romance. It’s set in a publishing house after a merger, so there’s all sorts of awkward colleague moments too from the person who never does anything on time to the assistant who does everything for the boss. There’s reflection on not fitting in with your family or meeting their expectations. There are quirky things too, like Smurfs, Sleepysaurus and strawberry farms (sorry Lucy, Josh is not just as quirky as you).

Lucy and Josh are colleagues and sworn enemies. They are both the assistants to their respective bosses from each publishing house. So, before they’d even met there was a divide. But it’s not just that between them – it’s hate. Hate that’s full of games. From the staring game to the HR game. If that wasn’t bad enough, management have just announced a new position that will have Josh or Lucy as the other one’s boss. Which just can’t happen – there’s no way in hell or otherwise Lucy would work for Josh. So, if Josh gets the job, Lucy will resign. But what will she do then?

The story is told from Lucy’s first person point of view, so we know pretty early on that she’s an over thinker. She’s also very kind, hardworking and has a thing for Smurf figurines. She’s also determined to be the best to please her parents (who are happy with whatever she does – she really pushes herself). Lucy also knows way too many things about Joshua Templeman – she notices every little detail from the rotation of his coloured shirts to the mysterious marks in his daily planner. She’s very lovable as a heroine and I didn’t even feel envious that she gets to stare at Josh all day.

You see, Josh is sex on legs. Imagine him as grumpy Mr Darcy meets Hugh Jackman. Josh is a fast wit who hones a gym perfect body under his suits. Naturally, he’s hiding quite a few things under his grumpiness but as the reader, you know there is goodness underneath just waiting to be revealed by Lucy. He has his points of true gentlemanly behaviour but he can also talk rather dirtily. It a combination of good boy/ bad boy that is irresistible.

One thing did drive me mad during this book though – I cannot for the life of me tell where it is set. Initially, I thought it was New York, then potentially the UK or possibly Australia. It’s very generic. The best I could do is assume it was a large city in the US given that US English is used. But it still had a UK feel to it! It’s a minor point, but I do like to know where my characters are in the world (you know, just in case I meet them out and about). Everything else is just right – the witty banter, the writing style, the sexual tension. It is an incredibly polished debut and if this is Sally Thorne’s first novel, her second will knock our socks off!

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