1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.
Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
“I wish I could use my thumbs to pull his mouth into a huge deranged grin. As the police drag me out in handcuffs I’ll be screaming, Smile, goddamn you.”
Imagine being so riled by someone that you end up thinking things like the above on a near-hourly basis. That is the kind of relationship the male and female lead in this book have with each other. They’re the executive assistants to the joint heads of their company, and are forced to share cubicle space right outside their offices.
Which would be fine, if they got along.
Yeah, no. These two have antagonism down to a fine art. They’re so competitive that they’ve created little games that they play with each other. The Staring Game – where they lock eyes and have whole silent conversations filled with insults. The Mirror Game – where the male lead subtly mimics every move the female lead makes, only on a slight time delay. The HR Game – where they threaten to report each other to the poor, frazzled woman who runs the HR department for even the slightest perceived infraction. The Spying Game – where each of them rummages through the other’s desk whenever the opportunity arises.
It’s childish and immature and a ridiculous way to spend your work day. I thought it frigging was hysterical.
I do, however, see where some readers might take issue with Josh, the male lead, as a romantic interest. He’s pretty terrible to Lucy, the female lead, at times, especially in the beginning. And yet, for me, he never crossed the line into alpha-douche territory. Because, in his defense, Lucy is equally provocative. What he dishes out, he thinks she can take, and also give back to him in turn. Which she does, with relish. Most of the time. The only issue is that at one point she cracks, hard, breaking down into tears. It’s clear when this happens that this was not Josh’s intention, and that he feels genuine remorse for causing her this level of frustration.
Because, you see, throughout all these little games they play with each other, you’re given the sense that some twisted part of them both enjoy it. Lucy actively looks for ways to one-up Josh. Or to surprise a grin out of him. Josh, for his part, is obviously trying to get a different reaction from Lucy, and it’s not really clear until things begin to change between them what this reaction is.
This is a romance. It’s no spoiler that things DO change between them. Love and hate are a fine line, after all. Both invoke a lot of similar mental and physiological responses. So when the line blurs between these two and all that pent up aggression between them becomes filled with the promise of a non-destructive outlet, whoa.
“I’d participate. So well you wouldn’t walk straight the next day.”
This book was so much fun to read. I devoured it in a single session, and by the time I closed it, my face hurt from smiling. The chemistry between these two is palpable from the beginning. Lucy has a completely open, self-deprecating, hilarious inner monologue. Josh, who starts out sort of broody and mysterious, only becomes more and more attractive as you peel back his tough outer layers.
And the two of them together? Gah.
I can easily see myself re-reading this over and over again. And I cannot wait for more releases from this author. I think she’ll become quite a heavy-hitter in the romance genre if she keeps up this level of work.