With her debut novel The Hating Game, Australian Sally Thorne has certainly made quite the first impression. Her sexy, workplace romantic comedy is utterly hilarious and completely engaging, and has received a lot of very positive hype. After reading it, I completely understand why! This book is a comical, naughty romp that had me laughing out loud while simultaneously tugging at my heart-strings.
Executive assistants Lucy Sutton and Joshua Templeman are trapped together, in the same office, with its many, many reflective surfaces, day in and day out. Lucy and Joshua are polar opposites: Lucy is quirky, charming, full of personality, and short; Joshua is dark, brooding, intimidating and tall. The one thing they have in common is that they hate each other, filling their days with games – the Staring Game, the HR Game, the Mirror Game – all with the goal of outdoing each other. So, when a promotion comes up at their publishing house, Bexley & Gamin, they prepare for the ultimate showdown. Until a kiss in an elevator changes everything.
While the office antics between Lucy and Josh are entirely unlikely to actually happen, and the ending of the book is wholly predictable from the very first page, this book is wonderful fun and absolutely addictive. The idea of their rivalry creates the perfect platform for the witty, snarky, glorious banter that makes this book, and the dynamics between Lucy and Joshua, so appealing. The dialogue between them is sharp and sardonic and doesn’t miss a beat. I couldn’t help thinking that The Hating Game is ready-made for the big screen. The only challenge will be finding an actor who can live up to the Joshua Templeman now present in the minds of women everywhere (that’s like finding a more delicious Mr Darcy than Colin Firth in the 1995 BBC series of Pride and Prejudice).
The story is told entirely from Lucy’s point of view, and she really is a delightful protagonist. She is adorable, and her inner monologues truly uproarious. Her outlandish awkwardness as she becomes smitten with Josh completely captures the fluttery feelings of new love – I’ve been there, felt like that. And, I am sure most women could confess to feeling familiar with Lucy’s obsessive idiosyncracies – I know I can.
Then there’s the romance, oh the romance! While a few other characters come and go, this book properly focuses on the changing relationship between the hero and heroine, who are vibrant and alive on every page. Knowing that each chapter would drop me straight back into their mounting tension made it so much harder to close the cover and step away from the book, leaving me hanging in anticipation until the next time I could snag a little bit of time (okay, a couple of hours) to pick it up again. The book feels like one big tease as the tension between Josh and Lucy builds, and as Lucy starts to see – really see – the man that has sat in front of her all this time. For most of the book, Josh and Lucy don’t even really do anything as far as sexual antics go, but living vicariously through Lucy, as she desperately wants them to do something, seemingly mundane activities become seductive and sensual. You’ll be begging your someone special to hold your hand while you watch re-runs of ER on the couch so you, too, can create some of Lucy and Josh’s chemistry of your own.
The Hating Game is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2016, the only downside being that this is a debut novel, meaning I’ll have to wait to hear this author’s highly entertaining voice again. This highly recommended contemporary romance is full of heart and full of steam. But be warned: if you’re anything like me, and you’re into the whole Mr Darcy vibe, you’ll have a new book-boyfriend before you’re halfway through.