The Man She Loves To Hate by Kelly Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I truly loved this book. I was worried, because all my friends raved, and I didn’t want to be disappointed. But I can truly see why this is a hit. The depth of character, the intensity and emotion, the freshness, and the humor. I loved how this romance unfolded, the manner in which Jolie and Cole come back into each other’s lives as adults and get the chance to make a go of a relationship together. Their relationship wasn’t just about sex. It was about two people who met each other’s emotional needs and wanted to be loved for who they were, not who everyone assumed they were.
I loved that Cole and Jolie were so nuanced. Both of them suffered blows from their parents’ affair, twelve years’ worth. Both cast in the roles of villains because of the fact that they were the children of an adulterous pair. I thought I’d dislike Cole after what he did to Jolie when they were teens. He seemed kind of cold and arrogant at first, but pretty soon, I could see that he had to make a show of being tough to get through years of what his father had visited on his family. I have to say I loved him. I especially loved how he took a stand for Jolie numerous times. He turns out to be her Shining Knight and he slew more than a few dragons for her. And his proposal was gorgeous! As for Jolie, she’s my favorite Harlequin Presents heroine now! A real woman in every way. A woman I admired and cared about. I loved that Jolie set Cole straight and faced him head on. He scared her, but she was brave enough to say what needed saying. I was telling her “Bravo” loud and clear. I knew I adored Jolie at that point. I identified with her shyness, but her ability to do what needed doing. Sometimes you don’t get to choose to hide. You have to stand tall and fight. At the same time, I could understand how things got too much, and she had to run back to her corner. The process of Jolie going through her epiphany about her relationship with Cole was so beautifully written, my heart completely engaged. I think it took a lot of bravery to go to the party with Cole, and to face Hannah and call Christina the way she did.
I think adultery is about one of the worst things a married person can do to a family. I hate it, and I have personal reasons for doing so. I find it very hard to deal with this plot element, and I really hate when adultery is trivialized, brushed off, or rationalized. It’s wrong to me, end of story. I like that Kelly Hunter doesn’t try to justify Rachel or James’ behavior, but neither does she demonize them. Instead they are portrayed are humans with frailties, and hopes and dreams. And Christina Rees, the wife that was cheated on, isn’t just a martyr. She does her share of hurting others as well.
I honestly can’t find a thing wrong with this story. It made for an involving, entertaining, emotional read. I fell in love with Jolie and Cole as individuals and a couple. I felt their pain, and their joy. And that makes for a five star read for me!
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