Erin Rylie feels like a seasoned veteran of the Romance genre with her debut, Hating to Love You. Despite the fact that I easily award books with five stars for pure enjoyment, it is rather difficult to actually impress me, however, Erin has done just that with Rafe and Sophie’s story.
Hating to Love You takes tried and true romantic elements, but makes them feel new again. Though separate, they each have their own pasts that have dictated the present. Sad circumstances that make them who they are and how they react to being thrown into situations, like Rafe’s inability to be open about his childhood for fear of rejection, both romantically and especially within his career. Sophie has been burned again and again by men and so, naturally, she is immediately dismissive of anyone that even resembles a ‘playboy’.
Rafe finds himself the subject of a lot of attention as he becomes Houston’s Hot Cop, while Sophie is saddled with the unfortunate task of interviewing him for a series of articles. What Sophie wasn’t expecting, of course, was the immediate attraction. While expected within a romance novel, Erin makes Sophie feel so much more real by bringing the trope to the forefront of our heroine’s mind, “So this is what insta-lust feels like. Holy Shit.” Not only did Rafe laugh out loud (because Sophie inadvertently said it out loud), but I did too.
This story is seasoned perfectly with moments like this, that make the characters feel more real, despite the common plot themes that accompany contemporary romance.
Hating to Love You is undeniably sweet, it has heart, humor and it has steam-
” The door hadn’t even completely closed before his mouth was on hers. He kissed her like a starving man, like he needed the air in her lungs to breathe. One hand pushed through her hair, grasping the back of her neck, while the other slid down her body. Everywhere he touched sparked at the contact. His hand moved slowly down her side, caressing the side of her breast, her waist, and then her hip before sliding around to grab her ass. He cupped her firmly in one palm and tugged her forward, pressing his chest against hers. “
The dialogue between our characters, main and supporting, feels effortless, natural. At under 300 pages, it is a shorter story, but the pacing is spot on- including the time jumps that occur. Nothing feels rushed. What could easily have suffered from a plot dump (throwing everything together at the end in a giant clusterfuck), was again, handled with ease by Erin.
One of the driving forces of this story is not necessarily the fact that they are forced to work together, but what happens as a result of their insta-lust.
Minor Spoilers Ahead
It is boldly hinted at in the description that Sophie becomes pregnant, but somehow that didn’t register with me when I briefly scanned in and so I went in primarily blind when starting this book. It should be no surprise that I detest baby romances (that is, if you follow me on Instagram), however, when I realized that this is what Hating to Love You was at it’s heart, I wasn’t mad about it- not one bit. Erin has a way about her writing that drew me in immediately. The pregnancy itself is used to bring Sophie and Rafe closer, to build their relationship and guide us to the Happily Ever After (and subsequent Epilogue cliffhanger! DAMN YOU ERIN). And maybe that is why it was so easy for me to love, while Sophie’s 9 months is the glue, it is Sophie and Rafe’s relationship that holds our attention so completely.
Though our leads are center stage, it is hard to ignore the supporting cast. Kelsey and Carlos feel immediately fleshed out, which is not something I expect from a debut author, but again, Erin is a unicorn. I cannot wait to dive into Kelsey’s head (and have my drama fueled heart sated by her very tenuous relationship with her ex-husband). I can already anticipate the hidden depths to Carlos, resident charmer. There is always more going on beneath the surface and I cannot wait to see what Erin brings us in book two of Houston’s Finest series.