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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

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"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Growing up as the pseduo prince and princess of their families, it was almost inevitable that Nicholas and Livvy would end up together. However, their world gets shattered when tragedy strikes and they find themselves ripped apart.
Ten years later and Livvy is back home to take care of her mother and maybe get back some of what was lost to her.
Nicholas wants something too, more than one night a year.
 
First in the new Forbidden Hearts series, Hate to Want Youlends itself to the easy comparison to Romeo and Juliet. We have two families brought together by hard work and determinism, only to be broken apart two generations later by hurt, innuendo, secrets, and pain. Our couple's grandfathers started a grocery store that has been built up over the years to develop into a chain. When the heroine's father and the hero's mother are killed in a car accident together, painful questions are raised. Then the hero's father does some suspiciously underhanded dealings to buy heroine's family half of the grocery chain. Thus, begins the cold war between the families and the fracturing of Livvy and Nicholas' romance. 
 
In terms of pure pleasure and relief, he imagined the feeling he got when he received a text from Livvy was similar to what an addict felt when they got a hit of whatever drug they craved. 
 
We are started off with Nicholas' point of view and what a deep emotional start it was. We learn that on Livvy's birthday she texts him her coordinates, he travels to her, and they have sex for that one night a year. Except she didn't do it this year and he finds out she is in town where she hasn't stepped foot in ten years. Our first look at the couple is so filled with emotion and sexual tension, you'll be hooked. Nicholas starts off as the brighter focus of the two with his barely contained torment, weight of struggling to take care of the business and his family, and inability to stop craving Livvy. There is a tiny little bit of martyr syndrome to him, but ultimately, his character and heart was wonderful to read.
 
All those years ago, she'd lost her father to death, her mother to grief, her brothers to hate. And then she'd lost him. 
 
While I thought Nicholas started off with a stronger spotlight, Livvy grows brighter and brighter with each new insight to her character. Livvy was such an amazing look at strengths and weaknesses that were laid bare with inner struggles that were a painful beauty to behold. Her struggle to try and manage her feelings to what she thinks is acceptable and still respect her herself had so much depth. We also learn of a very real struggle she deals with, I loved how the author didn't use to define her but showed how she is in some ways fashioned from it. Our heroines don't always get to be everything; Livvy was a fantastic multi-faceted woman.
 
There is no way I can do justice in relaying to you the complete picture of story and characters Alisha Rai gives us. The family dynamics going on here were tremendously done, with the emotions feeling real and raw. There's obviously more to be discovered about the instances that tore these two families apart, the introduction to the secondary characters that are connected by these story threads will have you dying to get the complete picture. Nicholas and Livvy's siblings aren't thrown out there as series bait but rather fill out the complete story; I'm salivating for their stories (Put me on team pairing up Eve and Gabe!). 
 
Now, this has more intense sexual talk and scenes than your average contemporary, you could probably put an erotica tag on it. They are gritty, raw, and of course sexual with the author not shying away from pearl clutching language. I would argue though, that what makes them feel so raw are the deep emotion between Livvy and Nicholas, but look, the spanking and hair pulling also helps. What I personally loved about their sex scenes were the powerful dynamics happening. There's a blowjob scene where Nicholas is the more vulnerable participant, even while physically we know he's the more powerful, he's shown to be incredibly emotionally vulnerable. There's been a little bit of a trend to portray "Me Tarzan, you Jane" sex, the power and emotion dynamics sex scenes here blow those depictions out of the water for me. I was a huge fan of what felt more like consensual and emotionally balanced sex. What I'm trying to say, is spanking and hair pulling sex scenes can be amazing when you add depth of emotion. The hint of humor and lightness between our couple, which gets bogged down sometimes from the pain and circumstances, also plays a big part here, even if regulated to the edges.
 
Deep, emotional, raw, and hot, Hate to Want You is an incredible lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romance. Nicholas and Livvy's desire and love for one another is the stuff of Shakespearean plays. Alisha Rai has set up a series with a world and characters that I can't wait to return to and read about. 
 
"You're not my secret anymore. My love for you is bigger than anyone who might try to tear us apart." He paused. "I won't leave you, Livvy. You don't have to trust me completely right now, but watch me. Watch me fight for you this time."