Book Review : The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game: A Novel

Author : Sally Thorne
Published By : William Morrow
Year Published : 2016
Genre / Tags : Romance, Contemporary
Mood : Light, fun, relaxing.
Formats : Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
# of Pages : 365 pages (Paperback)


Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.


First, lets introduce the main characters-

Lucy – She’s a well-liked and sweet girl but also not afraid to speak her mind- which causes her to bump heads with one of the more incorrigible personalities at her workplace. I think most people will like Lucy. Career-driven but fun-loving. Playful but intelligent. Just a well-balanced character overall.

Joshua – This guy… where do I start. He’s a handful. Superbly fantastic-looking but with a blunt, abrasive personality. Thrives on conflict. He seems to have it in for Lucy. One thing I find interesting is that he shows some self-awareness toward the downsides of his personality and we see how that effects different areas of his life in a realistic way. But really, Josh is fun, he’s a challenge and at times infuriating yet consistently entertaining in his verbal sparring matches with Lucy. And he obviously adores her despite their many differences.

At one point I was trying to read this book in public, and had to put it aside because I kept smiling like an idiot. The Hating Game is perhaps the crème de la crème of guilty pleasures, and the first thing I want to make note of is the writing style. It’s really good, startlingly good. I would describe the writing, in comparison to many in the romance genre, as sharp and witty in a noteworthy way. The characters are rarely very stupid (they are a tad too old for that) and the level of angst is low despite this being a veritable minefield of potential drama.

This is an enemies to lovers / hate to love scenario replete with playful banter and a teasing, slow burn romance. The tension is extraordinary, at times frustrating, but was largely successful at keeping me engaged.

A frequent struggle with the #EnemiesToLovers scenario is the transition from enemies to lovers. I’ve rarely seen it done smoothly. Usually the couple just goes from hating each other in one moment to loving each other the next, it seems hard to pull off gradually and naturally. The Hating Game does quite skillfully manage to smoothly transition its couple from hating to liking and then loving each other, and still keeps some of their adversarial charm intact. They don’t conveniently change as people and do still have conflicts despite the growing affection.

Another thing about enemies to lovers is that it’s typically full of problematic, trigger warning-worthy happenings. The Hating Game is distinctive in managing to be not too controversial. It helps that the leads are on very level playing fields. I must confess, I’m not great at spotting content that people would popularly deem problematic. The goings-on in various foreign dramas and much older romance novels I’ve read before would make people’s hair fall out with the long lists of objectionable relationships and dodgy things that happen, lol. From my limited perspective, The Hating Game gives off a vibe that the author is being careful. Joshua a pretty decent guy. You know, outside of the two main characters wanting to comically destroy each other.

I can’t think of much to complain about, when observing what this book is trying to do. I think every area (the romance, the relationship, the banter, the will-they-or-won’t-they) is quite well done.

But as someone who usually reads romance as a companion piece to other genres lately, it did strike me how much of a keen focus there was on the main couple. Everything that ever happens in this book has to do with them and building upon their relationship. Very little, if any time is afforded to detailing friends/friendships or sub-plots that veer too far outside of the sphere of the couple’s interactions.

The plot can feel limited in some ways by this consistency. One might say “But Kitty, it’s a romance, of course everything is about the relationship!!” but I’ve read several romances in the past that develop meaningful friendships with other characters or back story or have some other side plot that offers variety. The Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn immediately comes to mind as one that not only develops side-plots but has a large family all doing their own things and gently leaving a mark on the reader. All while developing a narrative that does not lose sight of the main couple.

That said, The Hating Game has one job. Be a good romance novel. In that arena it delivers in spades. But for myself, reading this book alongside other books from other genres at the time was definitely helpful at keeping things fresh. I couldn’t see myself marathoning this one in a single sitting from beginning to end, but a more devoted romance reader or one who clicks in a special way with this couple might easily do so. I can imagine A LOT of people clicking with these two. They are brimming with charm.

Overall Rating – 9/10

Why You Should Try It – An enemies to lovers/hate to love scenario that is skillfully transitioned and just well handled. Sharp, witty writing and great banter. I found both characters very likable. Very fun and light atmosphere. Ideal beach read.

Why You Might Not Like It – The teasing nature of the slow burn romance can be annoying but the ending makes up for it. The chain of events is kind of short considering the size of this book (365 pages paperback.)

The Hating Game: A Novel (Amazon Link)

Have you read this book or are interested in reading it? Have you read anything else by Sally Thorne? Please feel free to share your thoughts, I read and appreciate all your comments and likes.


21 thoughts on “Book Review : The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

  1. You make a really good point about haters to lovers romances being very quick in their transition from one to the other. I hadn’t considered that before. I adored this book though ❤️ I’m a bit skeptical about the movie being made but I’m a sucker for books made to film so I’ll still give it a try! I completely agree with you in regards to the Bridgertons – that’s one series that I became completely invested in purely for the family dynamic you get glimpses of (as well as the abundance of my fav tropes). Awesome review! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much!! I am glad you enjoyed it my review and yay another Bridgertons fan! Definitely for the look out on any romance series with families/sibling MCs. I’m skeptical too about the movie but super excited as well, love when good books get adapted even if the results end up being questionable. On another good note, that brings more attention to the book adapted at least. 😀 Thanks again for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in the same boat as you! Usually I steer clear from enemies to lovers books because, as you said, they can be quite problematic or abrupt. But, The Hating Game does it fantastically! It’s also not clear to me when something counts as problematic, but you’re right that Josh seemed pretty harmless haha. Awesome review 😁!

    Liked by 1 person

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