A few years ago, there was a book called The Hating Game that featured two people in competition for the same job and even as they pretended to hate each other, sparks were flying and it turned out they actually liked each other very much. Everyone loved that book. I kind of thought it was just okay although I tried very hard to like it.
This book has a VERY similar premise and I like it much more. Rather than the romantic comedy contrivance of introducing the characters as “hating” each other (even though it’s quite obvious to the reader from the very first that what they feel for each other isn’t hate,) Carter and Evie would actually be predisposed to like each other if they weren’t being played against each other and having competition bring out the worst in themselves. It felt more real, and more high-stakes: they do actually take shots at each other, and their fight to save their jobs often comes at the explicit detriment of the other. In addition to that, Christina Lauren take the time to make a great statement about sexism in the workplace and how men don’t get a cookie just for recognizing that it exists and offering sympathy to the women affected by it. Carter takes steps to correct what he realizes is a specific and sexist personal problem between their boss and Evie, even knowing it could affect their boss’ opinion of him as well. Even though they’d resolved their personal issues before it ever reaching that point, it goes a long way toward him making good on rectifying the harm their competition had on Evie’s career, since she was more keenly penalized for not measuring up to an impossible standard.
Christina Lauren publish so frequently as a team that I have a hard time keeping up with their releases, but I feel like they keep getting better and better and every time I do read one of theirs it’s such a comfort. As far as contemporary romance goes, they are basically a sure thing.