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.
Liya loves her mother, has a contentious relationship with her father, and while enjoys the community aspect of her culture, she doesn't like the judgment. Living by herself, unmarried, and more of a modern bent attitude towards romantic relationships, Liya doesn't want to get married. She has had it with her father surprising her with these matchmaker dinners and literally runs over the latest match to get away.
Jay can't believe how rude Liya was and is angry at her for making his mother feel bad and when it turns out she works for the company that just hired him as a corporate lawyer to try and the save them from impending lawsuits, he comes down harsh on her when she is late to a meeting.
Liya has a heavy fortified spiked wall around her heart but Jay is intrigued by the glances he gets of her unguarded personality.
“We’re not friends, you know?”
“No one forgets being told they’re not friends,” I said teasingly, knowing full well she didn’t want to be friends but yet, here we were. A smile crept across her lips, even though she tried hard to stop it.
The Trouble with Hating You is a debut by Sajni Patel and while Liya might start off too prickly for some, the author slowly peels and reveals enough layers to have the reader feel for Liya. I really enjoyed Liya and Jay together, Liya is pretty harsh to him in the beginning but Jay was a resilient guy, he wasn't a pushover but he stuck around and poked the bear enough to learn not to be scared of Liya's growls. I feel like I usually read about the heroine being pressured by her mother to get married and while Liya's relationship with her father was sad and anger inducing because of his actions, I liked that Liya wanted to be close to her mother. I would have liked to have more scenes with Liya and her mother as I think this could have given the reader even more of a look into Liya's heart.
Jay's family and especially his relationship with his mother gave readers a great insight to his character and how he was a caring person. The trauma and self-blame about his father dying was actually a story line, in a book I thought had one too many side tangents, that could have been taken out. The reasoning he took for why he blamed himself for his father's death felt kind of forced and I don't think it added much to the story; we didn't need him to have a reason to not want to get married, Liya covered that well.
The first 20% or so percent had some forced writing, there was a scene where a group of guys are talking about Liya and one of the characters gives what felt like a soapbox speech about not slut-shaming. A great line of thinking to put out there but it felt really unnatural how it was written in and I think since Liya was a more than your average prickly heroine, the author was trying to stymie those guns right away. However, as the story went on and around 40%, the writing, story pace, and tone started to flow more natural and instead of forcing things, the characters took over and the story felt less directed.
“You think you see more?” she sneered.
“I see so deep into you, Liya, that you can’t hide yourself from me. Even things you don’t want me to see. I love every piece of beauty, every imperfection, and I can’t get enough.”
Liya and Jay were the highlight of the story for me, which is great in a romance but I felt like the story tried to veer from them too many times. Jay's issues with his father's death that I felt could have been left out completely, Jay's sister-in-law pregnancy, especially the birth scene, took up too much screen time, and Liya's medical company getting sued felt like an important plot in the story that never was fleshed out enough. The plot works to get Liya and Jay together but the essence of it felt important but then felt like it didn't give enough details. While I thought the author handled Liya's sexual assault when she was fifteen by a respected man of their community well, I would have liked to see more of inclusion of Liya's friends here. Reema, Preeti, and Sana were Liya's friends that make appearances and I loved them and their dynamic; each was given enough personality to intrigue for the their own books but didn't clogged the story.
This fell more on the less sexual side of things appearing on page, sex is talked about, there is some kissing, but bedroom door was shut. Liya started off growling but as Jay's humble, calm, and not afraid to tease and poke personality got under the hard layer of Liya, they were a winsome couple to read about.