Friday, April 20, 2018

#16 [2017/CBR10] "Dating You/Hating You" by Christina Lauren

Like many good romance novels I've discovered, I first heard of Dating You/Hating You (2017) by Christina Lauren* on the Cannonball website. However, like it often happens, by the time I found and read the book, I couldn't remember whose review led me to the book in the first place. I think it was described as a hate-to-love workplace romance, similar to The Hating Game. Anyway, after I was surprisingly enchanted a couple of years ago by The Hating Game, I've become more accepting of hate-to-love romances. I figured that if Dating You/Hating You was anything like The Hating Game, it would be worth reading. Although I did not find it quite as appealing as The Hating Game, I generally enjoyed Dating You/Hating You and thought it was well written.

Carter and Evie live in Los Angeles. The two meet at a Halloween house party of a mutual friend. There is instant attraction and chemistry, and the two hit it off. Even when they realize they work as talent agents for competing firms, it doesn't cool their ardor, and they go out on one of the best first dates in history. But before they can really get to know and trust each other, their two talent agencies are merged. Suddenly Evie and Carter are working together under the same, horrible boss and competing against each other for their livelihoods.

Evie's boss (and Carter's new boss) is a sexist asshole, and he has it in for Evie. She's become the scapegoat for a bad movie that was made years ago, which he brings up every chance he gets. He assigns her demeaning tasks, and asks her to be a "team player" whenever he wants her to give up clients. There is a scene in the break room that made me gasp it made me so angry. Carter and Evie's fledgling relationship cannot survive these new stresses. They are insecure in their positions at work and take offense at any slight or advantage that the other has. Their attraction turns to annoyance and petty fighting.

Carter doesn't particularly like his boss and sees that he treats Evie unfairly. However, in the beginning he doesn't fight it because he is busy trying to save his own job and doesn't really understand everything Evie has to deal with. It isn't until their mutual friend calls him out, that he really starts to change, which is necessary for his character and the story.

"It's hard enough for a woman to be taken seriously in this business and seen as a person with a brain and not an object. Men get passes for acting like it's 1960 and every woman in the office is their secretary. Evie will have to be smarter, faster, and better at her job than you are, for possibly less money and a whole lot less recognition, all while appearing totally grateful for it."

I liked this book. The initial attraction between Evie and Carter was refreshing, electric, and fun to read. I also thought Christina Lauren managed the office dynamics and the sexist boss very well. It felt realistic, so realistic it was sometimes very frustrating to read. I could understand where Carter was coming from but was actually angry at him. One aspect of the book I didn't love was Carter's and Evie's jobs. The superficial, Los Angeles talent agents kissing ass to stars just doesn't grab me. I had a hard time understanding why they loved what they did so much, and I was never too invested in whether they kept their jobs or not. However, the characters were likable and fun and the story was definitely worth reading.

*Christina Lauren is a writing partnership of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. This is the first novel I've read by the pair.

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