Author: Sanji Patel
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 46 minutes
Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later — the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.
Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also arrogant and infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?
The Trouble with Hating You that is the first in a series of the same name that will feature companion novels (a new couple in each story from the same general group of characters). To start, it is important to note that this novel features a lot of discussion about sexual assault, as it is a key element to one of the character’s story. Although it is a romance story, it does explore Indian culture as both main characters come from Indian families. After their respective families set up the two characters, their first interaction does not go well. The story goes through each character as they continue to interact in their community and also goes through a journey of self-love.
Liya is an outcast within her community, as she lives alone (not with her parents), although she is unmarried, and she desires to not get married. She would rather focus on her career and date without the automatic assumption that it would end in marriage. She works as the lead biochemical engineer at a company that is currently failing and in need of a miracle to continue to survive. Her home life is rough as her parents are very traditional, especially her father. There are secrets from her past that are hinted at throughout the beginning of the story to explain her desire to avoid marriage, which are revealed over time. Her parents are anxious for Liya to “fall into place” and find someone to marry, so they set her up with a lawyer, Jay. When Jay and his mother show up at her parents’ house for dinner, Liya runs out. This leads to a lovely set-up to this enemies-to-lovers romance, as there is an added element when Jay is hired to be the lawyer that works to help save Liya’s company.
While I cannot commentate on the accuracy of the portrayal of Indian culture in the novel, I did enjoy how it was presented. The community is tight-knight where everyone gossips about everyone. While some topics may be true, others are rumored or exaggerated versions of the truth. Elders are not to be disrespected, so it is not always possible for someone to be open about their feelings. There is a subservient aspect where the woman is seen as lesser than the man is. Again, I cannot say whether this is accurate outside of the novel, but I did greatly enjoy how the author used the story to explore these difficult topics. While I generally enjoyed Jay’s character, there were a few moments where he was a little too pushy for my taste. When he insists that he is different, it felt a little forced when I would rather be shown how he stands out, especially in relation to Liya. On the other hand, I was on the fence about Liya’s character. I loved how her pain is explored in the novel and understood, generally, why she acts and says certain things; however, there were times where she just came across as mean rather than harboring a lot of internal pain. While I do not think the story needed to include her being extremely open to everyone about her past in the beginning, I think her character could have went about it a different way. It could just be how I read it, but it seemed to be fighting for the sake of fighting in some places.
Overall, this was still an excellent introduction to the author. For me, the elements were there, but it just was not quite what I expected. The author has a very interesting style as it explores Indian culture and provides a sweet love story. The exploration into the pressures of society and the two characters were a fun pair as they may not have started on the right foot, but they worked on their communication with each other. I enjoyed that the novel had a nice balance of serious and light topics, so I hope that the author continues this in future novels. I cannot wait to try the next novel, First Love, Take Two, as it will explore a potential romance between an interracial couple.