review · romance

Review | Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Dating You/Hating You

by Christina Lauren

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SYNOPSIS

All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.


REVIEW

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When Beautiful Bastard was originally Twilight FanFiction under the title, The Office, I fell in love with Christina Lauren’s writing then. I loved the intense chemistry and enemies-to-lovers passion they incorporated, the constant push and pull, the fiery independent heroine and the exacting, womanising hero that deserved to have some notches taken down.

It pains me to say this: Dating You/Hating You isn’t my jam. Cup of tea. Whatever. I was hoping this would be similar to Beautiful Bastard. Instead, reading this made me feel like a university student all over again, having to dissect every minute detail and source the meaning behind every word, because this story went from contemporary romance to work environment politics.

So, you can imagine how conflicted this story makes me feel.

Simply put, Evelyn Abbey is my former almost-girlfriend-turned-archnemesis-turned-tentative-ally whom I would now very much like to permanently seduce.

Dating You/Hating You lacks the fluidity CLo’s other stories have. Rather than showing you anything, it explains every single detail imaginable, with little bits of dialogue weaved throughout to slice through the dryness. You are essentially reading a wall of text.

Using dual perspective, we learn and understand the characters and their motivations. We follow Evie Abbey and Carter Aaron as they traverse through the tough waters of Hollywood’s talent agencies, hating and loving each other within an office setting as they compete each other for the same position.

Evie Abbey
Where to begin? One of my favourite things about CLo is the amazing fact that they write intelligent, incredibly confident and highly independent heroines. They are fiery, often times stubborn, but ambitious and aspiring characters that you can’t help but idolise.

Evie is emotionally immature. While it is admirable that she’s a strong advocate for women’s rights, she highlights the difference in treatment between genders and mentions unequal salaries, unequal representation, etc. a lot.

Before crucifying me, Evie is someone who brings up the topic whenever something inconvenient happens. To me, that kind of behaviour shows she’s incapable of recognising the difference between an issue involving sexism and an issue involving the workplace.

She’s always very quick to accuse others, especially Carter, when something doesn’t benefit her. And she’s always assuming Carter is betraying her by not divulging every decision he makes.

Carter Aaron
Carter is an adorable and quirky humorous mess.

And that’s about where his appeal ends. He is awfully passive, kind of weak really, as he never steps forward to praise Evie’s work ethic and credibility in front of Brad Kingman. I do love a brilliant female character. However, I also love when the lead male character is on equal footing with some backbone and observational skills, rather than being a flimsy wet noodle.

“I’m notoriously married to my job.”
“That’s super convenient because so am I. It’ll be like we’re cheating on our jobs with each other.”

Chemistry, romance and storyline, or lack thereof…
I was head cheerleader of Team Evie and Carter before the office antics started. They meet each other while attending a mutual friend’s Halloween party, cute things happen and then that spark quickly fizzles when they become sworn enemies.

Dating You/Hating You would work wonders as a romantic comedy film.

But the office antics these two engaged in didn’t make me laugh, or my mouth twitch slightly. Whatever chemistry and romance Evie and Carter shared disappeared as swiftly as it started. It lacked the iconic push-pull, the constant bickering and the anticipated arguments that you find in enemies-to-lovers romance.

Regarding the ending: I predicted everything.

And it totally undermined the entire feminist subplot being pushed throughout.

arc · review · romance

ARC Review | Wicked Gentleman by Christy Pastore

Wicked Gentleman

by Christy Pastore

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SYNOPSIS

Stevie

My Fairy Godmother had a wicked sense of humor, of that I was certain.

The first time I met Jackson Hart, I was on all fours with my ass in the air.

At the time of our meet not so cute, I didn’t know that the handsome man with the most captivating blue eyes was the wealthy, charismatic, and hot as sin hotelier, oh and my new boss.

Well, technically he is my boss’s boss. Just skimming the company manual was maybe not the best idea.

But, I digress. Working at Hart Hotels & Spa was a temporary plan.

Now, that plan has changed. Jackson Hart not only wanted me in his bed and in his life, he wanted me working alongside him.

Some offers are too good to pass up.

Jackson

Premium scotch aged to perfection, making money before sunrise, nine holes of golf and interesting conversation. Those are the things most known about me. Toss in a leggy brunette or a stunning redhead at a society event for good measure and there’s a story to amuse the public. But, my story goes deeper—to the past that I left behind.

Sooner or later past and present collide. I never dreamed Stevie Brockman would be part of both.


REVIEW

You can also read this review on Goodreads!

Wicked Gentleman is my first read by Christy Pastore.

I found myself drawn towards the cover. Even that blurb captured my attention, despite the wealthy businessman trope becoming an overused concept in romance. Sadly, the middle became flat, almost repetitive, slowly losing my interest in Jax and Stevie.

She was innocence and sin wrapped together and I had the desire to explore every facet of her being.

Jackson Hart is reinventing himself years after being driven away from Miami. With Hart Hotels & Spa, he has succeeded, with multiple expansions organised and wealth pouring in as testament to his determination and ambitions.

I didn’t find myself drawn towards Jax. While he is charming and romantic, he isn’t enigmatic or mysterious. Paired with a dirty mouth and suggestive words, Jax is wicked (sometimes), but it did not make me swoon. Not even once.

Despite her young age, Stevie isn’t a brat that whinges and whines, proclaiming “woe is me!” every chance she receives, because she carries deep-seated daddy issues. However, her personality was two-dimensional, awfully flat and hard to connect to in memorable ways.

He had the lips of the devil. And with one kiss, he melted every part of me—setting my soul on fire.

Oh the romance…

I couldn’t find enjoyment in it. Everything seemed to move quickly, but at the same time, not at all. Jax and Stevie could be passionate, with every encounter filled with steam, but it was the ordinary steam. No fanning and drowning myself in water happened here.

It seems my taste in romance keeps morphing and changing, because I cannot handle fluffy romance that appears to fall into a tiny, neat package. Give me intense sexual tension, grittiness, romance that burns steadily and beautifully.

In saying that, I appreciated the witty banter, Stevie’s independence and the first few introductory chapters really gripped me. But the cliche and common trope of wealthy businessman using his influence for poorer love interest died on me. I’m in a, “it’s not you, it’s me” situation.