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I just finished this book and while I enjoyed it in general- many swoopy feelings, heart thuds and chuckles- it was a total rehash of Sally Thorne’s “The Hating Game”. Literal rehash. The main plot points followed exactly, from a stolen kiss to an illness to a apology gift to a trip together (that and more folks). It’s disappointing because I’m a rabid fan of The Hating Game. I love this trope and would really have enjoyed this book were I not constantly expecting Sally’s next plot point to crop up. A little more originality would have gone a long way!
So I didn’t think that this was a total rip off of the Hating Game. It was similar for sure but the characters are pretty different. As an asian woman, I enjoyed that Emmie’s background and racial identity were discussed and key to the book. I also enjoyed the author’s writing of steamy scenes... it was very hot without being over the top. I appreciated the interracial romance but would not re read the book or recommend it given the current cost of $10 for Kindle.
A few things that kept me from giving this a higher rating: discussing Tate’s skin tone repeatedly was annoying and tacky, the way the plot point about Tate’s ex was treated and totally not fully resolved, Tate’s insane jealousy was not okay and really unhealthy, and overall the writing was pretty subpar and repetitive.
The depictions of the heroine struggling to cope in a male-dominated work place was relatable. I like that she had to draw on reserves of courage and determination to be professional in a workplace that was anything but professional. She has a lot more professionalism at 26 than I had at that age. Her conflicts, interactions, successes and foibles made her human, a three-dimensional character capable of courage and insecurity. The fact is women, particularly women from marginalized communities, have to fake it until we make it. The heroine's romantic interest though....I'm conflicted. He was incredibly mean to her. I'm not sure the reason for his (at times) cruelty justifies his actions. Shouldn't we hope for more, ladies? A guy who is nice to us and treats us with professional and personal respect? I like that the author tackled the ideal of women and men of color being treated as fetishes, trophies, and stand-ins. I haven't read a cross-cultural romance that has done that, so it was interesting to see how it played out. While the enemies to lovers trope might not be new, I thought this was a very fine debut novel that tackled some important issues. It was definitely more well-written than a lot of other romance novels I've read to date.