I’ve followed Alisha Rai on Twitter for a very long time but until now, I’d only read one of her books, Glutton For Pleasure. (also, it’s pronounced rye, like the bread, or whiskey and rye” It was a Hot Seat discussion on the podcast a while back. While I enjoyed the book, I wasn’t blown away by it. In fact, we all pretty much agreed to that on the podcast, which, as you well know, almost never happens. I was very excited to see all of the excitement and hype surrounding Rai’s new book, HATE TO WANT YOU floating about the twitterverse. I jumped right in and boy am I glad I did. Wow, this is a fabulous book…a kept-me-up-past-3am-because-I-couldn’t-stop-reading kind of book. A book so full of layers I felt like I was eating a sweet parfait. (Shrek reference, not sorry) A book I couldn’t stop raving about to the Nerds and I may have gushed a bit when I mentioned it on this week’s podcast. <– Go listen, I’ll wait. Okay, so why did I love it so much? I’ll tell you…
Olivia “Livvy” Kane and Nicholas “Nico” Chandler fell helplessly and completely in love in their youth. Their families were intertwined in a very successful business and all was well in the world. Until a terribly tragic incident tore the families apart. Livvy and Nico never stopped loving each other but their families, or at least the more outspoken members of their families, made it impossible for them to remain together. They were young, barely 20, if even, but smart enough to know what true love felt like. They go their separate ways but never once did they get over each other. In fact, once a year, the two meet up at an undisclosed location on Livvy’s birthday, to bone. Talking is too hard, discussing the hows and whys of the end of their formal relationship never happen, in fact, the only words spoken are “harder, fuck me harder” and “good bye”. It’s so hard to read the internal struggle each has and the fact that they have no one they can confide in, it’s just them, separately, in their own heads…and we all know being locked up that tight in your head can never be a good thing.
Many, many years later, more family drama brings Livvy back to town and it’s an emotional showdown you, as a reader, do not want to miss. Livvy is strong, free spirited, smart and quick with a quip but she’s also desperate for her mother’s love, she’s irrevocably in love with a man she’s not supposed to have and she suffers from depression. Remember I mentioned those layers in this book – yeah, Rai piles them on and develops characters that practically leap off the page. Livvy has struggled her entire life with depression – now, here’s where I tell you how expertly written this particular plotline is written into the tale. Livvy’s depression, much like real life depression, hovers around the outskirts of the story, dipping its toe in to test the waters of her life – it’s a demon she’s fought and basically learned to live around if you can call what she’s doing without Nico, living. Without proper familial support, Livvy has compartmentalized this as best she can, it’s not ruling her life but it is always there, hovering. Having faced this demon so long, she is well aware of her worth – she knows she can not allow herself to settle for less than unbridled love. I’m telling you, I love Livvy, she is a badass heroine – tough and vulnerable at the same time. Layers my friends, layers.
Now, don’t think for a hot second that Nico’s life has been all unicorns and rainbows. Oh no, definitely not. His father is the absolute worst. If you need a villain in this tale, look no further than Nico’s dad…he’s fucking Voldemort with his path of destruction. Many, many years later, Livvy is back in Nico’s sphere and finally, he’s old enough and mature enough to realize he has to fight hard for what he loves, he deserves it and so does Livvy. He loves her so much it will break your heart. He takes some time but he realizes he has to give Livvy his everything, nothing can be done in half measure…and boy ol’boy, he does a grovel that would make Nikki smile.
Need more reasons to drag your finger over to the one-click button? Well, there is chemistry, so much palpable chemistry you might need to wear goggles. The sex is off the charts hot, holy cow…Livvy has a fetish and man, I feel her, I totally feel her on it. Her fascination with Nico taking off his tie when they are together, his tie removal is literally her undoing and it will be yours too. Rai writes one scene, in particular, that will curl your toes – you’ll feel it, that tie, sliding through the collar of that shirt, oh yeah, you’ll feel it right in the girl parts, I promise. The emotions ring true throughout the entire book. And while there is a fair amount of angst, none of it feels manufactured. Rai also gives us a compelling and well developed secondary cast of characters. They are diverse in every aspect of the word and you’ll want to read more about them. In fact, book 2, Wrong to Need You, comes out in November and I’ve already cleared my calendar for that. I did a happy dance when I realized who she is setting up for that book. Book bloggers are always looking for the next great read and all I can say is, come on November!
I know it looks like I’ve given you a lot of details about this book. Let me assure you, I have only scratched the surface. Alisha Rai deftly crafts a layered tale of second chances, family estrangements and true love that will sweep you away. Why are you still here reading this review? Go read the book and thank me later.
Smooches,Tags: 4.5 stars, Alisha Rai, Contemporary, first in a series, Forbidden Hearts series, scandal, second chance