Release Date: Oct 9, 2018
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: Random House
Sometimes a book tries too hard…
I Hate You, I Love You is my first Elizabeth Hayley book and I fear it will be a while before I give them a chance again. Let me preface by saying that Enemies to Lovers is one of my favorite tropes. I’ll one-click books all day with this trope. It’s the main reason I selected this book to review. So, I went in with elevated expectations. None of those expectations were met, save one.
What I liked – naturally grumpy hero. I really enjoyed Sebastian. Whose grumpy attitude, and antisocial way of being endeared him. He’s got plenty of reason to be pissed and does a fine job of scaring away everyone, except our heroine, Naomi. She finds Sebastian’s attitude to be like a red flag in front of a bull and eagerly engages in verbal combat every time she gets a chance. Some of the most enjoyable parts of this book were when the main characters engaged in verbal fisticuffs.
Outside of the barbs tossed to and fro this book falls flat. Naomi’s internal thoughts often reflect the mindset of a college student, rather than a distinguished tenured professor with a PhD. The point of view is presented in dual format, but with Naomi getting most of the head time. As for keeping the story flowing, there is little keeping these two a part besides their animosity toward one another borne from Sebastian’s pain and Naomi’s refusal to cower from him. The conflict does not support a book as long as this, and it could have settled at novella length.
There were other things. How at times the story seemed to be searching for a ‘Hating Game’ type feel, but unable to recreate the magic. I was able to draw a lot of parallels and what could have been exciting fell flat and appeared poorly executed.
The final thing that pushed this book over for me, and this is a bit spoiler-y, is two tenured late twenties/early thirties, consenting adults, getting down and dirty in a truck in a restaurant parking lot. When the hero has a spinal injury that hurts his leg and they both have homes without roommates… it doesn’t make sense. Especially since both are pitted against each other for a distinguished professor award. I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think a tenured professor would win an award, let alone be allowed to keep their job, if they were found getting busy in a parking lot.
Overall, this book kept me flipping pages in desperation, hoping for something better. While the premise sounded fun at the start and the hero is a grumpy man who needs to be redeemed, there wasn’t enough to keep me from becoming bored.