Hate To Want You, by Alisha Rai

>> Thursday, June 28, 2018

TITLE: Hate To Want You
AUTHOR: Alisha Rai

PAGES: 371

SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: #1 in Forbidden Hearts series

One night. No one will know.

That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts-and the last names that made them enemies.

Until the night she didn’t show up.

Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want…so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?

Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence–and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.

Being together might be against all the rules…but being apart is impossible.
This may have been 2017's most hyped book. It was mostly people whose taste I share who loved it, too, so I bought it immediately. And, well... I didn't love it.

The premise of this series is that the Kanes and the Chandlers used to be partners in a grocery store. Over the years, it grew and grew until it became a very successful chain. But then the Chandler daughter-in-law and the Kane son were killed in a car accident together. And in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the Chandler son (father of Nicholas, the hero of Hate To Want You) buys the Kane daughter (mother of Livvy, the book's heroine)'s half of the company for a pittance.

At the time this happened, Nicholas and Livvy were teenagers involved in a budding romance. But Nicholas wasn't able to resist his father's pressure to break up with Livvy, and devastated, she soon left town and has been away for many years. It turned out, though, that they never could really stay away from each other, and after a few years, they started an arrangement where they'd meet wherever in the US Livvy happened to be and have sex for a single night.

As the book starts, things have changed. Livvy never contacted Nicholas this year, and now she's back in town. Her mother is having some health issues, and despite their difficult relationship, Livvy feels obliged to come help. She's become a quite well-known tattoo artist while she was away, and so she's able to work for a period in the local studio. She doesn't mean to see Nicholas, but once he finds out she's there, they can't help coming together, in spite of Nicholas's father disapproval.

Ok, so let's start with the pluses. For starters, I got quite invested in the family drama. What actually happened at the time of the accident and right afterwards? How about the main characters' siblings? There's enough here to make things really tantalising, but there are clearly several big revelations still to come, and I get the feeling they’re the ones that will help us understand the motivations of key characters like Livvy's mother, Nicholas’s father and Jackson, her brother (who was forced to leave town after a fire in the grocery store right after the purchase).

I also liked the difficult relationships Livvy and Nicholas had with their parents, who are definitely not easy people. That felt interesting and real.

Finally, I loved the matter-of-fact diversity. Livvy is half-Japanese, and her widowed sister-in-law, Sadia, is Pakistani-American as well as bisexual. It's part of their identity, but not the point of the book. It's simply that this is set in a world that looks a more like the real world than many romance novels, and that's great.

The big negative, though, is that I found myself strangely disconnected from the romance, even though there was a lot there I should have liked. I guess it felt like the characters weren’t completely real to me, and neither was their relationship. It's hard to describe, but it didn't feel like it was developing organically. Most of their interactions seemed like they were playing a game, like they were making up arbitrary rules about how they could interact, just to prevent an honest relationship. I got bored with that.

I was also a bit annoyed at how half-baked some aspects of Livvy's character felt. The fact that she suffers from depression is just dropped in from nowhere, purely as a  new obstacle in the romance once everything else is seemingly sorted out. And then it's dealt with very quickly. "Oh, but it's fine, I don't mind". Ok then.

I'll probably read the next one, as the protagonists interested me far more than Livvy and Nicholas, but I'll go in with low expectations.



Sun,  30 June 2018 at 15:48  

I, too, was lured by hype and bought this. Now that I saw your grade, I'll go in with lower expectation. Thanks for the review.

Rosario 4 August 2018 at 06:09  

Hopefully that will mean that you'll enjoy it more than I did! :)

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