OK. Let’s face it. No one wants to be the girl reading “smut” in the cute coffee shop. I get it. I read most of this book at home or on my breaks at work, hiding the cover. Remember 50 Shades? I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “there’s a great story behind all that other stuff!” (unpopular opinion ahead)…no, there wasn’t. I couldn’t finish the first book because I felt..dirty, ashamed, embarrassed for the girl, so many bad feelings. THIS BOOK IS DIFFERENT. We’ve all heard not to judge a book by it’s cover, well it’s time to use that.
I heard about Hate To Want You on the All The Books! podcast by Book Riot. Yeah, there are a few sexy scenes, but I promise there’s an actual story behind that, too…. A little outlandish, LOTS of family drama, forbidden relationships. I especially appreciate that the characters are around my age-I’m all for some YA in my life, but sometimes it’s hard to believe a 16 year old met the love of her life and lived happily ever after (side note: does that actually happen anymore?).
The lead female (Livvy) is a strong-minded gypsy tattoo artist (think, Jamie Chung).In my mind, the Nicholas character is Henry Cavill, sexy and confident-insert heart eye and flame emoji– businessman who has control over all aspects of his life. The two were childhood best friends turned high school sweethearts, until a tragic family accident/brutal family feud broke them apart to alleged “enemies”. However, they became secret lovers-but only for one night a year. That’s their deal: one night, no questions, no talking or lovey-dovey stuff..just..well, sex. (Side note: mom if you’re reading this..don’t tell me. I won’t be able to look you in the eye.) This has been going on for 10 years. 10 years!! Every year, they meet on Livvy’s birthday. She sends Nicholas coordinates to wherever she in the US, and he jumps on a plane to meet her. On the 10th year though, he doesn’t hear from her. He goes on with his life, trying to run his family business and not think about her..until she shows back up in their hometown to take care of her mom and try to mend things with what family she has left. Nicholas gets word Livvy is back and BAM, he can’t stay away….but will they be able to overcome their sordid past and see beyond the bedroom? Dun dun dunnn…..find out below!
==========FULL REVIEW WITH SPOILERS==========
The Kane and Chandler families have been in business together for centuries. They started a grocery store, focusing on quality ingredients and customer service, that has grown into a huge success chain. The two families were incredibly close, siblings were best friends and Nicholas and Livvy were dating. One night, that all came crashing down when the mother of the Chandler family and the father of the Kane family were tragically killed in a car accident-when they were both supposed to be traveling separately. Sketchy much? This started the beginning of the end for these two families. The Chandlers swindled the Kane’s out of their half of the business, cutting the Kane’s off from their empire. With that, the two families severed all ties, including Livvy and Nicholas’ relationship (mostly).
They do stay in touch one night a year when Livvy sends her location via coordinates to Nicholas and he jumps on a plane to go see her. They have one night of passion (I feel so ridiculous typing that) with no talking or questions and that’s that. The next year, same thing. On the 10th year, Nick doesn’t hear from Livvy.
The story starts with Livvy back in town. Her mother has recently had surgery so Livvy goes home to take care of her, hoping to repair her broken familial relationships. In this small town, word gets around quickly and Nicholas goes to Livvy’s tattoo shop to find out why she is in town and when she’ll be leaving. Nicholas is too distracted to run his business knowing that she is close by and as much as he doesn’t want to feel it, he is drawn to Livvy. From their first encounter, we get a small taste of the emotion and sexual tension between these two.
Nicholas Chandler is not a happy man when we meet him. He is tormented by his past decisions and his desire to be with Livvy, cracking under the pressure to take care of the family business while protecting his younger sister from their sinister father. The Chandler family dynamic is a difficult and tension-filled one. John, the grandfather, and Brenden, his son, essentially hate each other and Nicholas is stuck in the middle, walking a fine line of keeping them both somewhat happy.
When we are introduced to Livvy, we are shown a strong-willed, independent tattoo artist who never stays in one place too long. As the story progresses, we see that Livvy suffers from depression and an ongoing battle with her self-worth. She is lonely and the absence of meaningful relationships in her life leaves her constantly fighting the emptiness. These emotions and insights into Livvy’s thoughts felt incredibly real and intense.
“Society tells women that they have to be responsible for the emotional health of their relationships and then tells them they’re weak for feeling emotions. What kind of message is that?”
Nicholas and Livvy both want more from each other than just one night of sex but in their minds, they are alone in this, thinking the other doesn’t want him/her. That said, there is a lot of back and forth, push and pull here. The sex scenes were..well..raw? That feels weird. They were “a lot” and I won’t go into detail but yeah, this book has an erotica tag on GoodReads so..that’s kind of what you get here. BUT they weren’t every other page.
In the end, Nicholas tells his dad to kiss it and decides he’s tired of fighting what he feels (surprise!) and denying himself happiness with Livvy so he makes his grand gesture. Livvy, with all her tough talk, is more of a self-described marshmallow. Her fear is that Nicholas will leave her once he sees the extent of her darkness and depression.
“I won’t leave you, Livvy. You don’t have to trust me completely right now, but watch me. Watch me fight for you this time.”
Sigh..there’s two more books in this series and I think I’ll definitely be reading them! Rai does a great job of building a story and introducing diverse characters with more realistic attributes than your typical romance novel.
Did you read Hate to Want You? Leave your thoughts in the comments! Happy reading, friends 🙂
k, bye! -taylor