Mattie Johns is a girl rather down on her luck. Actually scratch that; she’s hit rock bottom and even had to sell her beloved mini cooper to keep the bailiffs from the door. And it’s not as if it’s her fault either. If it hadn’t been for her ex, Kyle – really the only long-term boyfriend she’s had and the only man she’s ever loved – running off with the receptionist and stealing all her clients from her now-not-so-successful recruitment agency then she wouldn’t be in this mess. No clients, no money and no man – not that she needs the latter anyway. As Mattie’s mother says; financial independence is the key to happiness and that’s what Mattie needs to focus on – getting her bank balance back in the black. And thank goodness she’s got Jess. Best buddies since secondary school, the only person to have stuck by Mattie and her fiery ways and understands all her idosycrancies (like her addiction to prawn cocktail crisps).
But Mattie’s not the only one down on her luck. Nate O’Reilly is desperate to break out of children’s television production and make a name for himself in the dog-eats-dog world of television ratings. Seeking a chance to become an Executive Producer he makes an appointment to discuss his career opportunities with Mattie. Well aware of Mattie’s man-eating ways, when Nate overhears Mattie and Jess discussing a school reunion and old flames he has an eureka moment and comes up with an idea that will give him the chance he’s been looking for and Mattie one too; a Second Chance for Romance. If he can just convince scary Silver, his boss at SiniStar Productions then everyone could be on to a winner….
Desperate for the £200,000 prize money which will save her and her business, Mattie signs up to Nate’s dating game show concept, unaware of just what he’s got in store for her. It was tricky tracking down four contestants but with the help of a private detective Nate discovers four ex-boyfriends of Mattie’s all keen to take part and find a way back to Mattie’s heart. Only Nate hasn’t banked on Silver bringing meddlesome Baz on board to stir things up and with all exes signed-up the scene is set for madness and mayhem where Mattie gets to play The Hating Game.
Talli Roland – in my humble opinion and without wanting to sound too gushing – is a literary genius. The Hating Game combines a fast-pace, page turning plot with humour and love. I couldn’t ask for more in a book. But what I love about this story more than anything is that for once I was unable to predict the ending. So often you read a romantic story, identifying with who the heroine and her hero are and knowing that whatever happens they will end up together in the end. With Talli’s original and imaginative plot of a dating game show – and what a twist! – I was hooked on finding out who Mattie might eventually end up with, if she ended up with anyone at all. One of my favourite aspects are the little statistics which open every chapter such as ‘Seven per cent of married couples met at secondary school reunions. Twenty per cent of these were married to others at the time’.
If you’re looking for a read to make you laugh, make you cry and make you believe that truelove will out then look no further. Because contrary to what the title suggests The Hating Game truly is a loveable read.