The Hating Game is Sally Thorne’s debut romance novel, a fun and charming romantic comedy about two rival co-workers at a publishing firm. Lucinda is a people pleaser, occasionally a bit of a doormat and a self-described “sad loser” because she doesn’t have any friends. Joshua is her big, serious, taciturn work rival at the company where they work. They are in similar positions as assistants to the co-CEOs after the two companies merged. Lucy professes to hate Josh on a regular basis, and they take tremendous and immature satisfaction in getting on each other’s nerves.
When a major new promotion opens up at their publishing company, Lucy and Josh both vie for it, with Lucy vowing that if Josh gets it, she’ll quit her job because she’ll never work under him. At first I worried it would be juvenile brinksmanship the whole book, which turned out not to be the case. Lucy and Josh share terrific chemistry, and it is clear to readers that Joshua likes her (or at least that the hatred is one-sided and very liberally spiced with attraction).
A scorching kiss between the two sets off a new dynamic, as Lucy begins to see Josh in a new light. The Hating Game has a smart and quick narrative voice in Lucy, and the author strikes a perfect balance between romantic tension and satisfying resolutions to conflicts throughout the book. I never got frustrated at either main character (which can happen with romantic comedies when characters are too blind, stupid, or stubborn for the sake of tension). The romance develops in a convincing way as Lucy begins to see and understand Josh more clearly, and he inspires her to be more assertive and to say no more often. The way they ultimately resolve their issues is also satisfying in this sweet and funny workplace romance.