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Aleveria / KarenL

Hate Me, Take Me: A Hate-to-Love Duet

Hate Me, Take Me: A Hate-to-Love Duet - Clare  James

I want to give this book more than four stars. It deserves more than four stars. For the writing. However, since I'm reviewing the book as a whole, I feel like I have to give it four stars.

Let me get the bad stuff out of the way. Plainly put, the stories are done a disservice when read in the order in which they're presented. When Take Me is read after Hate Me, several things occur.

1. The book (as a whole) ends abruptly, when - if read the other way round - it would have more of a "finished" feel.
2. The main characters in the second story are mentioned frequently in the first one, and it alludes to their HEA. I would've liked to have read that first instead of having it "spoiled".
3. Tristan's financial situation isn't fully explained... how does he become "Florida's Bill Gates" when he's still struggling at the end of Take Me?
4. There are NO mentions of the first story's couple in Take Me, which becomes disconcerting after all the mentions in Hate Me.
5. Unrelated to the story sequence, there were a few loose threads left hanging, and I would've liked to see them tied up. Tabby's story (her trauma), Aria's Divorce, Tristan's money situation, Michael/Tabby/Jenna wrap-up, to name a few

So, with that in mind, I couldn't justify 4.5 or 5-stars. That being said, the writing was impeccable, and I never lost interest in the book - characters, story, pacing, themes, etc. Thus the four stars.

Okay, so let's move on to the good stuff. :-)

Hate Me is about a guy who haplessly finds himself attracted to his sister's "mean girl" frenemy. Okay, not so much the "fren" part. Michael has always firmly believed in the whole "Blood is thicker than water" thing, so Jenna should be totally off-limits. But there are two sides to every story, and hers is pretty compelling.

Jenna's life spiralled for a while after a tragedy plunged her into self-hatred and shame. She became someone else, someone that walled off her old crowd, so she became one of the mean girls. It just kinda happened. But when she was away from them, her life was very different. Jenna had a side that wasn't mean at all. And that's the side that Michael fell for.
In Take Me, Aria is returning home with her son, Cade. She'd never really gotten the life she wanted, and maybe this could be a fresh start. Although moving back in with her mother wasn't a dream come true, it was better than any other alternatives. She didn't count on Tristan though...

Who, in a weird twist of fate, was also back home. Taking care of his ailing father in exchange for a cut of the family business. Tristan gets a rude awakening when he finds out Aria is back, and with a kid in tow. When she got married, he severed all ties and declared a moratorium on all Aria-based news, so he had no clue what had happened to her in the years since they'd last seen each other.

Their attraction is stronger than ever, which leads to a deal that neither one of them wants to call off. Tristan finds himself deeper in Aria's orbit than he wants to be, and LIKING it.

I'm giving this duology four "Wednesday/Oscar" stars. :-)