1. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
The Hating Game hits strong on two romance tropes: a hate-to-love romance and an office romance. It started off very strong and I was sure I was going to be in love, but while I did have fun reading this book, after thinking about it I have some issues. The Hating Game is a fun, engaging read. I’ve heard this compared to Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, which I don’t think is an accurate comparison other than both of them being a workplace romance. For one, The Hating Game is much steamier and explicit than I was expecting. I have to admit that Thorne can write chemistry though — I’d say it’s the strength of the writing in this book. Where The Hating Game let me down was the development of the hate-to-love trope, which is one of my favorites when done well. And it started off very strong, but my main issue was that I felt the relationship went from hate to love very quickly, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of way. The reason I like this trope is because it pairs so well with the slow burn, which is my all time favorite romance trope. I know it might be a cliche to reference, but I always think of Pride & Prejudice, and the way that Elizabeth and Darcy have to slowly unravel their misconceptions. Because that process happened so quickly in The Hating Game, I didn’t feel invested in the relationship between Lucy and Josh. I enjoyed reading about it, sure, but in the end I didn’t actually care if they ended up together or not. 3/5 stars.
2. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.
I’ve only read one Colleen Hoover book before, which was Hopeless. Immediately after reading, I rated it 4 stars. . . but within two days I had knocked it down to two stars. It just didn’t hold up well, and while I haven’t been avoiding her books, none of them have really interested me. But I saw some intriguing reviews for It Ends with Us and I had to pick it up. This is an amazing book. . . but it’s really one of those books that require reading all the way to the end. I was immediately drawn into Lily’s life, which is a mix of charmed and isolated. She has the means to start her own florist business, but in many ways is still haunted by previous parts of her life. Slowly, though, her relationships start to come together. She strikes up a friendship(and it’s a great depiction of a friendship of two women in their mid to late 20’s), and a relationship with Ryle, who seems like Mr. Perfect. But of course, not everything is as it seems. Slowly Lily’s relationship with Ryle starts to unravel, and this book is the exploration of that. It’s messy and raw and real, and I can see why it turns people off. And now, some spoilery thoughts. View Spoiler »Frankly, I think it does a great disservice to this book to call it a romance, and that’s only going to put readers off. It’s generally accepted that in genre romance, which most of Colleen Hoover’s books are, there is a HEA or a happy-for-now. Lily’s HEA in this case is LEAVING the relationship, which is absolutely the right choice and had me cheering for her standing up for herself. But it’s not romance in the traditional sense. « Hide Spoiler 4/5 stars.
3. The Only Thing Worse than Me is You by Lily Anderson
Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West–and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing–down to number four.
Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben’s, including give up sleep and comic books–well, maybe not comic books–but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it’s time to declare a champion once and for all.
The war is Trixie’s for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben’s best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben’s cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie’s best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they’re on–and they might not pick the same side.
Ahh, now here is a hate-to-love story I DID really enjoy. The Only Thing Worse than Me is You had a slow start for me, but once it took off, I was ALL on-board. My main hesitation at the beginning was that all the characters attend a private school for the super-smart and the school had its own culture and lingo. I found that realistic, sure, but it was a bit annoying at times to remember what the characters were actually referring too. I’ve never read Much Ado About Nothing, but I have read another retelling. It was amusing to see how the plot was adapted in both cases, since all I had to go on was a previous adaptation. Trixie and Ben’s relationship is full of banter, which of course is the #1 way to get me invested in a romance. I found the reveal of the mystery of the cheating scandal to be a bit lackluster, but it was pretty clear from the beginning that wasn’t the main story. I also enjoyed the many, many nerdy allusions. 4/5 stars.