The Hating Game
by Sally Thorne
Release Date: Available Now
“The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne is an enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy with some serious issues mixed into it. The main characters in the story are Lucy and Josh. Because the book is told from Lucy’s perspective as the first-person narrator of the story, we know things that she knows, and experience her realizations right along with her.
Bexley & Gamin is a publishing company created by a merger and led by the two CEOs of the companies that joined forces. Lucy is the assistant to one of them and her nemesis, Josh, has the same position for the other CEO. These ‘assistant’ roles are high-pressure jobs that require a deep and varied skill set, and incredible multitasking abilities. Lucy and Josh sit across from one another, each directly outside the private office of their respective boss. It’s just the two of them in a big, shiny, cavernous space. They constantly snipe at one another and play petty little mind games. Hating games, as Lucy thinks of it. It’s a rather ridiculous situation that’s been going on for at least a year when the book begins.
I never really understood exactly why they initially loathed each other so much. Part of it would be connected to the fact that there was rivalry between the two CEOs, but each executive, and their assistants, handled different aspects of the business so it would not be cutthroat. I think much of the ongoing conflict was largely misdirected sexual tension, and was a type of unwitting foreplay for them.
When the CEOs reveal that a new C-Suite position is being created, Josh and Lucy are the candidates most likely to receive the promotion, although it’s going to be posted internally and externally seeking applicants. If either of them gets the position, they will be the boss of the other person. The direct competition bumps up the continual conflict level to new heights, and finally provides a concrete reason for the intense rivalry. Tensions between Lucy and Josh rise further and further as they each work on preparing the materials for their own applications for the new position. While they’re doing that, they still must work together on other office projects. From this point on, the subtext of their hating games becomes even more complicated.
Much later in the story another, the situation between Lucy and Joshua has thawed and she agreed to go to his brother’s wedding with him. At the wedding she finds out that despite how intelligent and successful Josh is, his family considers him a failure because he didn’t become a doctor like his father and brother. There are also other significantly complicated factors lurking in the background of the wedding festivities. Over the wedding weekend, Lucy and Josh advance their relationship considerably, share a lot of personal information, and significant personal drama. At the breakfast the morning after the wedding, Lucy has finally had enough of hearing Josh’s father belittle him. She goes off on his father in a significant and gripping scene right there in the restaurant.
In addition to Lucy’s internal dialogues, there’s a substantial amount of good banter and dialogue between her and Josh, and between her and other characters. The dialogue gives the story good forward momentum throughout. Parts of the story are sweet, parts are steamy, and overall, it’s entertaining with a satisfying conclusion.