Hi hello, readers, welcome to the first edition of, “If You Like That, Try This!”.
Today we’re going to be talking THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne. If you’ve yet to read this book, stop what you’re doing and go get started. I’ll even give you a handy link. Here. One, two, click, boom. Enjoy. And you’re welcome.
For those of you who have already enjoyed this book (and for those of who have since come back from their impromptu read, hi, welcome back!), I thought it helpful to start out this blog feature with this particular book because something I often hear in Romancelandia/the book community is :
I want more books like THE HATING GAME.
I loved THE HATING GAME, can you give me similar recommendations?
Well, today you’re in luck!
First up we have WALK OF SHAME by Lauren Layne. This is a hate to love between a party girl heiress and a celebrity divorce attorney. They live in the same building and, every day, pass each other in the lobby : one just coming home, the other leaving for work. She loves to tease, he doesn’t have time for her ‘type’, and well.. we all know where that inevitably leads. I loved how Layne made these two go through all the typical motions, all the standard romance tropes, and yet.. make them so self-aware while still managing to change up the game. There’s relentless snark, delicious chemistry, so many two steps forward and three steps back agonies, adorable moments, heartbreaking moments, a little bit of drama, aaaand swoons. While this is shelved under Layne’s Love Unexpectedly series, there’s actually no crossover between any of the books so this totally stands on it’s own.
Next up we have PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT by Julie James. This book actually predates THE HATING GAME but it has that same vibe and is also set in an office; except in this story we have sassy lawyers snarking and pulling pranks on each other as they battle for the one partnership position open in their firm. We have misunderstandings, banter, quips, hijinks, and humour. James had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. I know it’s not very highly rated (at least not on GR) but I loved her writing and I enjoyed the hell out of these characters.
ACT LIKE IT by Lucy Parker might be the most un-THE HATING GAME-y of all these recommendations but it definitely a worthy addition to this list. Why? Because it’s an excellent hate-to-love romance full of tension and snappy rejoinders — but this one has a fake-boyfriend trope thrown in and is set against the London West End stage. Their chemistry was just so so great and while Parker doesn’t give us any explicit intimate scenes, they were instead a different kind of intimate. The heat was there, yes, but the tenderness and affection was so palpable that you didn’t feel the lack of graphic interactions between the two — just like with Josh and Lucy. With sprinkles of emotional and personal drama alongside the drama of celebrity and actors and PR nightmares, book one in the London Celebrities series was funny without veering into silliness, adorable and swoony, with drama, characters to love, characters to hate, a grumpy hero for all the readers who love them, a strong heroine who gives as good as she gets, a few thrills and chills, and an epilogue that will turn you into a walking talking heart-eyes emoji face.
BUNS by Alice Clayton (#3 of her Hudson Valley series) is a gently funny contemporary romance where hate to something more is on the menu at this hotel. Clara Morgan loves her life of going into a struggling hotel and fixing what is wrong. Being on the move and never really setting down roots works for her. Archie Bryant however, is deeply attached to his family’s hotel which might be a run-down money pit but he knows what he’s doing. Clara’s ideas seem to gain traction and these two are professionally at odds but there’s chemistry and sweet, sweet buns to be had. I honestly got all the feels reading this story. Archie had a stubborn but strong streak to him, with a side of geek. I found him very appealing and I loved reading these two together. If you liked the previous Hudson Valley books, you will see more of the previous characters, the women from previous books are friends with Clara. But you can read this as a standalone and won’t miss out. Got to say though, Cream of the Crop (#2) is worth your time!
BURN FOR YOU by J.T. Geissenger has some of the most delicious hate to love vibes I’ve ever read. Why delicious? Because Bianca is head chef in her own New Orleans restaurant and the food she makes had my mouth watering but the hate chemistry also had me hungry, if you catch my vibe. The ‘BEAST’ Jackson is a rude, rich, entitled arse who comes into Bianca’s restaurant and insults everyone, then he has the front to ask her to cater a fundraiser for him. Bianca needs the money for a very good reason. The sense of family on Bianca’s side paints a rich and bitter-sweet picture. Whilst on Jackson’s side, the breaking through of his persona to his humanity is something to behold. It took me time to be on the side of this couple but it made me all the more loyal. This book had heart and heat with a culinary context that was fantastic and you MUST READ THIS. I’d say I’m sorry we both talk about this book too much, but I’m not!
THE OPPOSITE OF YOU by Rachel Higginson is the first in a series of interconnected standalones that are also in the chef-ing world. What is it about chefs that equals grumpy and sexy? In this first book, both protagonists are chefs but Killan is the locally-reknown ‘IT’ chef with the Michelin star and Vera is the stubborn and strong chef working from the food van across the road with equal talent but unequal footing in the world. Killan is a grumpy grunter, low on communication but there is much more to this over-worked culinary genius than first meets the eye. There’s less banter in this book and more argument but you know what happens after an argument with a couple who create chemistry-laden fireworks? Yeah, THAT. This was a great hate to love read with a fantastic, rich and sometimes traumatic story to tell. I loved this whole series, but you have to start at the beginning.
And there you have it! We hope you check out and enjoy (if not love) these recommendations — please let us know if you do. And if you have any suggestions for our next “If You Like This..” feature, send them our way!