One of the hazards of being a fan of an author is the disappointment that comes when their latest book fails to resonate with you. You eagerly anticipate their new releases, having loved everything they’ve written before. However, sometimes you find yourself struggling to connect with the story, desperately hoping that it will improve as you read on. Such was the case for me with Christina Lauren’s Dating You/Hating You.
As a devoted reader of their previous works, including the beloved Beautiful and Wild Seasons series, I had high hopes for this book. It had all the trademarks of a Christina Lauren novel – steamy romance, witty banter, and captivating characters with undeniable chemistry. However, the setting of a high-powered Hollywood agency left me feeling disconnected. The soullessness and shallowness of the characters and their careers made it difficult to invest in the story. Even the enemies-to-lovers trope, which I usually adore, fell flat in this book due to a drawn-out Big Misunderstanding that lasted far too long. Dating You/Hating You quickly turned from an exciting read to a struggle.
The story begins at a Halloween Party where Evie and Carter cross paths. Their mutual love for Harry Potter initially brings them together, sparking an instant connection. Both single and hopelessly attracted to each other, they decide to go on a date. As their relationship progresses, the sexual tension between them becomes palpable, leading us to hope for a passionate romance.
However, their world is turned upside down when their rival Hollywood agencies merge, resulting in layoffs and intense competition for coveted positions. The focus of the story shifts from their budding romance to a cautionary tale about sexism and office conflict in the entertainment industry. Evie, who has experienced ageism and sexism throughout her career, immediately puts up walls between her and Carter. Despite his obliviousness to her concerns, he unintentionally worsens the situation, setting off a chain of misunderstandings and comical acts of sabotage.
While Christina Lauren tackles important issues in Dating You/Hating You, such as workplace sexism and misogyny, these themes overpower the romantic aspect of the novel. Evie is a strong and admirable female character, but the unappealing world of Hollywood overshadows her resilience. The backstabbing and shallowness of the industry make it difficult to root for the characters or develop a liking for the novel as a whole.
Despite these shortcomings, Dating You/Hating You showcases Christina Lauren’s strengths as writers. The characters are well-rounded, the dialogue is sharp and entertaining, and the sexual tension is sizzling. However, the prolonged separation and lack of intimate scenes dampen the overall experience. It was a struggle to rate this book, and my final grade of B- reflects the mixture of what worked and what didn’t.
For fans of Christina Lauren, Dating You/Hating You may be a frustrating read. While enjoyable, it may not live up to your expectations. However, if you haven’t yet delved into their works, I encourage you to give them a try. Perhaps save Dating You/Hating You for when you’re more familiar with and fond of their writing.