Nina can’t let herself fall in love with the man she’s going to marry. Both of them have experienced the sting and sham of love and have no intentions of falling victim to it twice. Love is expensive—hate is free.
Three years. A million dollars. A solution to both of their problems. They planned it all, from the story of their first meeting to the date of their divorce. Nothing could go wrong.
But what they didn’t consider was chemistry, and Nina and Max have no shortage of it. After too many near-kisses, Nina convinces herself that hating Max is better than loving him, and the more she gets to know this soon-to-be-husband of hers, the more she discovers just how very much she truly, madly, and deeply . . . hates him.
This isn’t a love story. This is the other kind.
He hadn’t stopped smiling at me, and it wasn’t the friendly kind of smile. It was the kind that made it seem like he was in on some secret I wasn’t privy to. The kind of smile that made me feel like I was being trifled with and made the punch line of a hundred jokes I had yet to hear.
I wanted to wipe the cocky smile off his face, but that would have required touching him and even I wasn’t gutsy enough for that. A woman did not touch a guy like him unless she wanted him to be her undoing. Nope. You didn’t play with fire. You didn’t touch it. You didn’t even come close.
Fire. That was all I saw when I looked at him. I was playing with it by agreeing to this kind of arrangement with him.
Even the way he lounged in the chair was smug. Like it was his throne and he was just waiting for minions to come bow before him.
“You’re younger than I thought you’d be.” He broke the silence first.
Though it was faint, I could just make out an accent. It was European, but I couldn’t nail down the country. To look at the bastard, you’d think he was Scandinavian—blond hair, blue eyes, commanding frame—but his accent was too sharp to hail from the land of Vikings.
I was tempted to glare at the tipped smile aimed at me, but I didn’t want to lead him to the impression I cared. I gave him my version of the same smile, abandoning my “no expectations” policy for the prospect of pissing him off. “You’re older than I thought you’d be.”
His smile shifted into the realm of a smirk, like he knew I was lying. So yeah, maybe I was lying about thinking he was older, but I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of confirming his silent accusation. He was older than me, but not by much. He might have been closing in on thirty, but he wasn’t past it.
He leaned forward in the chair. When his gaze circled my face to my fiery red hair, his brow elevated. Yes, I am the stereotype. Be warned.
I stiffened. He was fucking with me now. I’d already agreed to marry him. How much more did he think he could screw me over?
I gave him a cursory glance and kept the unaffected look on my face. “Uglier.”
He cocked a brow like he knew better. “And the personality of ten women rolled into one.”
His head shook once. “Intrigued.”
His eyes investigated me again. It felt intrusive, definitely not cursory. “Impressed.”
“As impressed by me as the woman in heat who was just mauling you over by the bar?”
“You mean the woman who gave me this?” He pulled something out of the inside pocket of his suit jacket and set it on the small table between us.
It was a hotel card key. With a lipstick kiss pressed into it.
“Classy place, this five-star hotel.” I glanced back at the woman at the bar. She was still there, watching him as though he was the height of the male species. “Did you tell her the reason you were here?”
His attention stayed on me. “Yes, I told her I was here to meet the woman I was going to marry.”
My stomach wrung. This was the man I was going to marry.
“And she didn’t ask for her room key back?” I asked.
“She didn’t give it to me until right after I mentioned that.” His stare was intense. Too intense. I felt like every secret—every piece of who I was—was strewn out on that table for him to see. “Women love a man who isn’t afraid of commitment. It’s like an aphrodisiac.”
“You know what else women like?” I didn’t pause for an answer because I guessed he didn’t have a clue. “A man who’s humble.”
He fought a smile and leaned back in his chair when a server approached with a couple of drinks on a tray. “No, they like to think they do, but they don’t.” His head shook authoritatively. “They like the cocky bastard who goes after what he wants and doesn’t take no for an answer.”
Because the server was shielding some of me from his view, I allowed myself to shift. I was getting fired up, and if he kept saying the same kinds of things with the same kinds of looks on his face, that drink was going to wind up in his face.
That was when I noticed what the server had set in front of me. A tumbler with something amber in color. The same thing she was setting in front of him. Although from the curve of her smile, she was offering to give him a blow job on the side, compliments of the house.
“What is this?” I asked. Him. Her. Whoever wanted to answer.
“Scotch,” he answered, ignoring the server lingering between us.
My nose curled at the drink.
“I don’t care if it came from the fountain of youth. I won’t drink it.”
His forehead creased with what appeared to be irritation, but I couldn’t be sure. Maybe it was confusion, like he couldn’t decide what to make of me. “You would have me believe you wouldn’t take a sip of that if you knew it would give you eternal life?” When I shook my head, his head tipped. “Why?”
“Because I value my free will far more than long life.” I pushed the drink away until it clinked against his. “I’d rather live one day free than an eternity in a cage.”
He was quiet for a moment. The server stayed between us, staring at him, waiting.
“Then why are you here?” he asked me finally.
I leaned forward and hoped my stare was as powerful as his. “Because free will is expensive.”
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.
Source: eARC for Honest Review Courtesy of Author and Ardent PRose
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
My Hate Story Review . . .
I have to admit there is something so appealing about a standalone book. Don't get me wrong I love series but when life gets busy sometimes a series can feel daunting. So to have great standalone books its such a pleasure to pick up and read.
In Hate Story, we have a different take on a love story. Where we have two people who needed each other but were never meant to fall for each other. Instead hating each other was so much easier.
hate you, Max Sturm." When she tried to yank her hand free again, my
grip tightened. "Of course you do. Because hating me is less
terrifying than the thought of loving me is."
Nina Burton needs to have money to be able to afford to keep her house that means everything to her while Max Sturm needs a green card to stay in the U.S. So they find each other and agree to marry one another in exchange for money for Nina and Max's green card. All they need to do is stay married for a few years and not fall for each other since that is the last one either is looking for. Easy Peasy. Right?
Nope, not for these two. At first it is hate at first sight even though Max is too handsome for his one good. Max has been burnt before so he never wants to fall for anyone again but there is something about Nina that intrigues him.
Nina Burton might very well spend the rest of her life hating me. But I'd spend the rest of mine loving her.
Not wanting her to fall for him, he turns up his dial on asshole in order to keep her at a decent but his version of asshole wasn't that mean compared to others. Nina has been hurt before in a different context so not falling in love sounds easy enough. But when you've never been in love before the theory is easier than the reality.
"People who like us tell us what we want to hear. People who love us tell us what we need to hear."
Nina and Max are sweet together even through all the hate. However, if Max wants more he has his work cut out where Nina is concerned.
She was better at telling lies than sharing truths. That was the nature of a person who'd been battered by life.
Loving someone is a scary concept, especially when there is a chance you can get hurt. For both of these two, it's quite the internal battle fighting their feelings but in the end love always wins.
"I will always do what's best for you, even if it means you wind up hating me. Because that's how much I love you,"
These two were very sweet together. I loved the concept of the book but I have to admit at times I didn't quite feel all the hate as it wasn't a very deep hate to me. Which in reality is fine but when the books called Hate Story you think the hate is going to be much deeper. Max was trying to be a jerk but it never completely came across as that for me. For Nina, she was so young and had lived already too much for her young age so loving someone and being vulnerable was a scary concept for her. When she was faced with her feelings, her stubbornness to face the truth drove me a bit batty. I know its a lot easier as the reader when we have dual POV to see the end game but watching one character lag behind sometimes, you just want them to get up to speed. I know these parts are thrown in to create more angst but to me often some of the angst becomes unnecessary.
After having that little rant, I still did quite like the book and I'm super happy I got the opportunity to read and review this book. Nicole Williams is near and dear to her heart and I have loved so many of her stories.
3 . 75 Love Always Wins thumbs up!