Hate to Want You, by Alisha Rai

I have strong romance novel preferences. I only willingly read books about characters who routinely bathe. I like sex scenes to feature clearly expressed consent. And, as long-time readers of the site know, I want protagonists to pass my Tuesday Night Test. Alisha Rai's Hate To Want You gets an A on the first two issues, and a solid C on the third, putting it well above average.

For the past decade, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler have been reenacting the same unhealthy script: every year on Livvy's birthday, they meet up for a night of mind-blowing sex, then go back to ignoring one another. They're both aware that this behavior isn't normal, but their lives are entwined in a messy knot of scandal, family history, and broken relationships. Their shared past has made it difficult to move on, but Livvy is determined to finally get a grip—she's thirty now, and that's well past time to break old patterns. But when she moves back to town to help her ailing mother, Livvy is chagrined to find Nicholas more tempting than ever.

While normally I would find two thirtysomething protagonists who are still hopelessly hung up on their long-lost teenage significant others a little pathetic, Rai does an excellent job establishing the many reasons Livvy and Nicholas can't get over one another. Plus, her novel boasts so many other strengths that I was able to overlook their mutual fixation. I wanted to know more about the background characters, Livvy and Nicholas's jobs, and the various mysteries that drove the plot along. Most of these are only partially resolved... but that just serves as an effective hook for the other two books in this series.
Posted by: Julianka


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