Friday, July 14, 2017

[Review]: "Hate to Want You"

contemporary romance, Royal Pick, romance novel covers, Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
Publisher: Avon (July 25, 2017)
Series: Forbidden Hearts, 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance

One night. No one will know.

That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts-and the last names that made them enemies.

Until the night she didn’t show up.

Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want…so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?

Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence–and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.

Being together might be against all the rules…but being apart is impossible

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Reviews of Rai's Previous Novels:

A Gentleman in the Street

My Review:

Livvy and Nicholas have known each other all their lives; first as friends, and then as teenage lovers. Their families were also close, and co-owned a successful company. But all that changed in an instance when a car crash left his mother and her father dead, dozens of questions unanswered, and betrayal/drama in the form of his father taking the rest of the company from her grieving mother. Shit went downhill from that evening, and Nicholas suggested they break up to avoid angering either family even more. Of course, there was more of a story to why he broke up with her than that half-hearted excuse . . .

One night. No one will know.  
Those were the rules. They weren’t romantic rules, but nobody had called Nicholas Chandler a romantic in a very long time. Love rarely conquered all, the true villains almost always went unpunished, and happily ever afters? Ha. Sometimes all you could hope for were secret stolen moments with one messy, royally bad girl.

For the last decade, Livvy has moved all around the country, and tried to stay away from her family – and Nicholas. But she started a yearly deal with Nicholas: one night each year (her birthday) for them to meet up for sex. No talking, no trips down memory lane, no looking to the future. Just pleasure. But this past year, he never got the yearly text from her, and now that she’s back in town for a bit to help her mother, he’s determined to find out why she’s backing out of their deal – and if there’s a chance for them to somehow move past their, well, past, and reach for a new future together.

This story is so damn good – no surprise, since I already love Rai’s writing. Yet I was still surprised when I reached the end of Hate to Want You and had to control myself and my feels – I wasn’t expecting so many feels! I knew there was going to be enemies(kinda)-to-lovers drama between them, but I didn’t realizing the level of angst and emotions that would be there, too. And that’s not a complaint! I loved every angsty moment between these two. As well as loving their complicated relationship (second chance + we-shouldn’t-be-doing-this-but-shit-I-can’t-move-past-you-so-where-does-that-leave-us + family drama still going strong).

And their chemistry! Oh, fuck, but the chemistry though. Rai knows how to write a fantastic dirty book, and she proves that once again. They spark -- in and out of the bedroom, of course. But in the bedroom? It’s a damn wildfire of dirty-smutty-goodness.

I mean:

He slid his hands over her ass, gripped her luscious cheeks tight, and spun her around, pushing her up against the door. 
He ripped his lips away, holding her from him when she might have forced her way back. “How do you want it?” he growled. He had an inkling, from the signals she was broadcasting, but it had been a while since he’d had to read those signals.
 “Hard . . .” She scraped her nails over the back of his neck. “Use me. Make me feel it tomorrow.”


“Please,” she gasped into his mouth. She twisted her caught hands until they could grasp his, their fingers twining together.
He drew away, enough so he could speak, his breath puffing against her lips. “Please what?”
He circled her clit and released her hands. “Hold yourself open for me.” 
Trembling, she slid her hand down her body, until her fingers could slide over her pussy. She made a vee of her fingers and spread her lips. 
His hand left her for a second, and then three fingers landed on her clit in a gentle slap. She tilted her head back, crying out, but his big palm was there to capture the sound.  
Her breath came in shallow gasps, and she stared into his dark, merciless eyes. “Do you like this kind of spanking too?”  
She nodded.  
His lip curled up, and he delivered tap after tap, alternating with lazy fingering, speeding his motions up when she grew grasping and greedy.  
He captured her cries with his lips when she came, making sure no one could hear them. When she was finished, he drew away and carefully buttoned her shirt. Then he dropped a chaste kiss on her cheek.

HELP. Stop me before I start rereading and sharing ALL THE SEXY SCENES. 'Cause you know I will. 😈

Wait, wait, one more. Because the teases leading up to the action are just as hot:

His fingers went to the knot of his tie. It took her a second to realize what he was doing. 
Oh no. She tensed. No, no, no, not his tie. Goddamn it.
Did he know? Could he possibly have any idea how much she loved watching him unfasten the Windsor knot at his throat?  
He carefully folded it around his hand, and she had to fight not to press her hand over her belly at the jump of excitement there. That deliberate, neat gesture always did something to her.  
The times they’d come together over the years, he started the night like this. Tidy. Then she eroded every ounce of his control, until he was a naked, stripped animal, hungry for her.

So we’ve got emotions, a second chance complicated relationship, and A+ dirty scenes. What else does Hate to Want You have to offer, you ask?

Oh, so much!

Livvy battles with depression, and it comes into the story, quite heavily at times. Almost no one knows about it (because hi, fuck you society and pushing us all to believe the mental health stigma), but the few who did know assumed that one of her worst episodes – after Livvy and Nicholas broke up – was due to the heartbreak. In reality, it was just the final straw for her, as a bunch of other events leading up to that had also started triggering her depression. Anyway, she still, obviously, has depression. It doesn’t magically disappear, and it never will. In fact, towards the end of the book, that’s a bit of the conflict between her and Nicholas, as she worries that he won’t be able to handle her for a long-term relationship, that he’ll leave at the first sign of a relapse with her depression. (He won’t, of course, but it’s hard to believe that at face value when depression itself is lying and telling you that no one will stick around, that no one cares, etc.)

I loved that we got depression representation in a romance like this, and so well done, too. I could connect with Livvy at times, and I know others will as well. Plus, we get some fucking amazing “YES THAT, that is the truth!” quotes of wisdom:

“Strength isn’t about how much you cry or the bad nights you might have. Strength is here.” She tapped Livvy’s forehead. “And here.” She poked a blunt finger into Livvy’s chest. “You can be strong and have moments of incredible despair, when everything feels like it’s collapsing in on you, and yes, when you feel like you want to die. Those moments are not weaknesses. They are simply moments. And they are not you.”

As well as some other fantastic quotes full of truthfulness, such as this:

"Be proud of your accomplishments. No one wil lbe proud of them for you."
The world was unkind to women. It was devestating to women who didn't believe in themselves.

Did I mention already that I love Rai’s writing? She hits on the truth of society and life, and phrases it so perfectly. I’m a little bit in love, tbh. :P

Every day, he had his assistant refresh the list of every person who worked for Chandler’s in every capacity, no matter how small, and place it on his desk, in plain sight. A visible, tangible reminder of the small universe of people who were relying on him.

Nicholas was also a great character to follow. He’s spent so long trying to hold his family together, being the one always in the middle, forced to stand between his shitty father and his beloved grandpa, both to keep the company going and to look after his younger sister. And damn, but I could feel for some of what he was going through, always trying to hold everything up on his shoulders like that.

A man who loved to give head and was spectacular at it? He was a goddamn prince.

*points* Plus, you know, he’s sexy and I want him. :D

A moment of appreciation for Livvy’s beautiful, kickass tattoos. And their meanings . . . OH MY FEELS. That just about broke me. I won’t spoil it, but obviously most have meanings tied to Nicholas. But also tied to her own determination to move forward with her life.

Related: THAT COVER THO!! 😍😍😍😍

And as if all that wasn’t enough of a reason to love this book, we also get the set up for book 2, in the form of Sadia and Jackson. Sadia is Livvy’s best friend. She’s also the widow of Sadia’s older brother. Jackson is Livvy’s younger brother – and he’s a bit of a mystery, as he left town after he was accused of starting a fire at the Chandlers’ business all those years ago, and has since been almost entirely out of contact with the family since then.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m not looking for a relationship right now.” 
“Damn, girl.” Livvy shook her head sadly. “Now you’ve done it.” 
“Done what?” 
“Said the words that ensure a relationship smacks you in the face.”

Falling for your late brother’s widow is going to have soooo much angsty feels and complications and I AM SO READY FOR IT! Thank god we only have to wait until November because any longer of a wait might kill me.

Oh, did I mention that Sadia is also bi? GIMME GIMME GIMME! Plus both Livvy and Sadia are heroines of color (Livvy = Japanese/Hawaiian, Sadia = Pakistani). Fuck yes!

My one complaint, and it’s minor in the grand scheme of things and obviously didn’t drag my overall rating down any, is I do wish the ending hadn’t been so rushed. They talked a lot about what their plans were for the future, and the realities of everything they’d have to deal with to make this work. Which I loved and very much appreciate! But right after that, it just ends, and I was left wanting a bit more, a look at them down the road (months, years, whatever) showing us how they were making their HEA work. I don’t think that this somewhat rushed ending took anything away from the book or their romance, hence my high rating still. But I would have liked to see a bit more from them after the declarations of love. #greedyreaderalways

“Livvy, for God’s sakes. How can I be with anyone else when I spend three hundred and sixty-four days waiting for you to draw me a map?” 
She went statue-still. “Is that what you do?” 
“Yes. It’s exactly what I do.” 
Her light brown skin paled. “I—”
“It’s what you do too, isn’t it?” 
“It might be what I did.” She shifted. “I stopped. Like I said, ten years is long enough to get it out of our systems.”
“Yeah.” He traced the letters carved into the tree. “You’d think so.”

Hate to Want You is such a beautiful, emotional, and hot story. I loved these two, loved seeing them work so hard to make it work a second time around, to see them move forward from their past, which was holding them back – both as individuals and as a couple. Really, if you’re not reading Rai, you’re missing out, trust me! 


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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss

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If you want to read more quotes that I highlighted, check out my Twitter!

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on July 27th for a chance to WIN an ecopy of your own!


Until Next Time,


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