Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Piatkus (9th Aug 2016)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.
Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
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This book was HILARIOUS. And swoon-worthy. And hilarious. Did I mention that already? It doesn’t hurt to add it again. AND SO SO SWOON-WORTHY. But enough of me repeating words and phrases over and over, *and over and over in my head* and on to the actual review.
The rating for this as I browsed GoodReads was very very promising, averaging 4.26, four star reviews from almost 4,000 reviews and over 20,000 ratings (!!!) okay I know this is getting too mathematical but I choose a lot of my future reads based on average ratings and the best ones are often the ones with over a 4.5 average (and also, very rare). I was excited to say the least.
This book had everything. EVERYTHING. It had humour, and the best kind at that - witty, sarcastic, intelligent banter. There was toe-curling romance, borne from one of my favourite tropes (when done right that is) a love/hate relationship. Two starkly different but oh so hilarious and dynamic characters. And amazing writing to top it all off. I couldn’t have asked for anything more, except for it to be a longer book so I can just keep on reading it. For a debut novel from this author, Sally Thorne has written an absolute corker. Fun and refreshing, I feel like everyone would (and does seem to) love this book.
Lucy and Josh work at a publishing company (which as someone working in publishing, there is nothing greater to read about). Both are competitive, work driven individuals with opposite personalities, opposite seats and - even opposite looks. Lucy is quirky, sweet and fun and very much a people’s person. She’s short, with dark hair and candy red lipstick to adorn her face. While Josh is.. well Josh is the anti-Lucy. Surly, sarcastic, intimidating and cynical - who hates people and makes them tremble in their sensible shoes. With blonde hair and a built, towering figure, he looms over Little Lucy. They spend their days at work doing any and everything to irritate each other, the from the Staring Game, The Mirror Game, right through to, The Hating Game. The aim of all these games? To make the other smile or cry to win. When a chance arises in the company for either of them to become a boss - they begin the biggest game of all.
But you know, there’s a fine line between love and hate - and with that challenge and an unexpected kiss in the elevator, that line gets completely erased. Suddenly, both characters start to learn things about each other which they were too busy to notice while they were plotting ways to sabotage either other. That really, the Hating Game was just a thinly disguised Loving Game. I honestly loved their relationship so much - like I said, there’s nothing I love more than a love/hate relationship and the author executed this perfectly, with the right amount of menace to begin with, to the right amount of romance and fun between these two.
The banter was just perfection. I laughed so hard with nearly every page.
“I see what you mean. You’ve got your horny eyes on.” He spirals his finger dramatically over the elevator button panel.
“Nope, these are my serial killer eyes too.”
He lets out a deep breath and pushes the emergency stop button and we judder to a halt.
“Please don’t kill me. There’s probably a camera.” I take a step backward in fright.
“I doubt it.” He looms over me. He raises his hands and I start to lift my arms to shield my face like I’m in some awful schlocky drive-in horror movie. This is it. He’s going to strangle me. He’s lost his sanity.
He scoops me off the floor by my waist and balances my ass on the handrail I’ve never noticed before. My arms drop to his shoulders and my dress slides to the top of my thighs. When he glances down he lets out a rough breath which sounds like I’m strangling him.
“Put me down. This isn’t funny.” My feet make little ineffectual spirals. This isn’t the first time a big kid’s thrown his weight around with me. “Marcus DuShay in third grade once slung me onto the hood of the principal’s car and ran off laughing. The plight of the little humans. There is no dignity for us in this oversize world.”
“What the fuck is happening? I ask silently with my kiss.
Shut up, Shortcake. I hate you.”
There’s so many moments I could list. SO DAMN MANY. But you know the best part? You could go get this book and read it for yourself and then join in my happy dance about how great this book is. But because I’m a nice person (debatable) here’s another one of my fav scenes. I really am a sucker for romance. The duo go paint balling with work as team exercise. Lucy tries to protect Josh. Josh tries to protect Lucy. Very macho. Me like.
“What are you—” he starts to say behind my back, but I’m scanning the terrain for the ambush. I’m Lara Croft, raising her guns, eyes burning with retribution. I can see the shape of the enemy’s elbow behind the barrels.
“Go!” I yell. I fumble in my thick gloves for the trigger. “I’m covering you!”
It happens instantly. Pop, pop, pop. Pain radiates through me—arms, legs, stomach, boob. I howl, but the shots keep coming, white splats all over me. It’s complete overkill. Joshua pivots us neatly and blocks the shots with his body. I feel him jolting as he takes more hits and his arm rises to cradle my head. Can I freeze time and take a nap right here?
He turns his head and shouts angrily at our assailant. The shots stop, and nearby I hear Simon crow with triumph, standing on top of the mound and waving the flag. Dammit. My one job and he wouldn’t even let me do it.
“You should have gone. I was covering for you. Now we’ve lost.” Another wave of nausea nearly knocks me over.
“Sor-reeee,” Joshua says sarcastically. Rob is approaching, gun lowered. I’m making whimpering noises. The pain is throbbing in points all over me.
“Sorry, Lucy. I’m so sorry. I got a bit . . . excited. I play a lot of computer games.” Rob takes a few steps back when he sees Joshua’s expression.
“You’ve really hurt her,” Joshua snaps at him, and I feel his hand cup my head. He’s still pressing me against the tree, knee braced between mine, and when I look to my left I see Marion watching us with her binoculars. She drops them and writes something on her clipboard, a grin curling her mouth.”
What’s not to love eh? Over the course of the book, we find out more about each character, their life, their vulnerabilities. I loved Lucy’s funny, witty and quirky narration which made this book so much fun to read. Though I do wish this was written with alternating chapters between Lucy and Josh, simply because I LOVE Josh, and it would just be the cherry on top to be in his mind throughout the book. Both characters were so well written, very individualistic with Lucy displaying that you can be both a strong independent woman who don’t need no man - but also a soft, feminine and loving woman at the same time. Josh, with his hard exterior and menacing persona, really is just protecting himself from getting hurt, he is not your nice guy - but he is truly a good guy once you get past his hard pit-bull exterior - (no one said that was easy) but nothing worth having comes easy right? I loved seeing the soft and kind side to Josh. The way he protects her at paintballing. When Lucy falls sick, the way he takes care of her. His cuddy-bear-ness.
“I wake when the sun slices through the center of my pillow through a gap in the hotel drapes. My first thought is, No. I’m too comfortable.
My second thought is: I finally get to see Josh asleep.
Lying face-to-face with our pillows touching, we’ve been playing the Staring Game all night with our eyes closed. Each eyelash curves against his cheek, glossed and dark. I’d kill for lashes like those, but they always seem to be lavished upon the most masculine of men. He’s hugging my arm like a teddy bear. I don’t hate him. Not even a bit. It’s a disaster that I don’t. I smooth my fingers over his brow and he frowns. I press away the crease.”
“I prop up onto my elbow and see the bedside clock reads 12:42 P.M. I have to check several times. How did we sleep past noon? Our mutual exhaustion from the last few days has resulted in a pretty impressive sleep-in.
“Josh.” No point sticking with the formality of his full name when we’re asleep in the same bed. “What time’s the wedding?”
He jolts and opens his eyes. “Hi.”
“Hi. What time’s the wedding?” I try to slither out of bed but he hugs my arm tighter.”
And another one for good measure. I promise, last one! *.. and no, as I was searching for these quotes, I did not end up re-reading bits of the book and forgot about writing this review. Nope. Not me*
“You should have seen me driving here. I was laughing like I’d broken out of prison. I was completely deranged.”
“Do you think you’ve finally cracked your sanity?”
“For sure. The weird need to stare at your pretty face completely overwhelmed me. I had the energy of twenty atom bombs.”
“Why do you think I go to the gym so much?”
A big bubble of happiness fills me. I struggle upright and lean against him, my head falling easily into the perfect cradle of his neck. It’s true; he fits me everywhere.
“You never have to explain your choices. Not to me, not to anyone.”
He nods slowly, and I cover him in the blanket too.”
A fantastic book, with amazing characters and great writing - you won’t be able to put this down and you’ll snort-laugh your way to the end within a day. I can’t wait to read more from this author, this book is definitely going in my favourites and to-re-read-on-a-cold-day pile. Thank you for this gem of a book Sally Throne. Thank you indeed.