The Hate Him Trilogy by Alice Bello
October 13, 2017
Reviewed by Helyce
Liz Hamilton is a young, successful woman who owns an art gallery in Chicago. She is smart, chic and along with her trusted assistant and bestie Lance and her extremely talented roving artist finder Jill, she has had some success in finding and bringing new artists to the art world. Her very creative style and attention to detail have made her showcases very unique. Though she is struggling with Jill’s latest find of zombie turkeys, she’s actually more concerned about getting a seat on the Art’s Council which would be the ultimate coup.
Then there is her love life, rather her sex life, or the lack thereof. Seems Liz has lost her ability to orgasm. It’s not like she hasn’t tried, but as soon as she gets to the heavy petting part of the evening, her body seizes up and it’s a no-go from there. You see, she witnessed the birth of her best friend Susan’s daughter and ever since that blessed event her brain can’t unsee it and the memory of it picks the worst times to surface.
So, she’s pretty wound up when who should suddenly appear back into her life, but Jackson Burk, Liz’s ex from college. She’d wanted him to be the one, the man who she’d give her virginity to…but when she offered herself to him, he left her with no explanation. Brokenhearted, she hoped never to see him again.
Needless to say, she hates him with every fiber of her being and wants nothing to do with him, except her body seems to have other ideas.
I found the blurb for this book confusing with the “books 1-3 description, but I was intrigued by the mention that Jackson rejected Liz when he finds out she’s a virgin. There had to be a good reason right? I mean, college boys don’t care about that stuff…or do they? This made Jackson sound interesting and I wanted to see what had caused him to react that way.
I was very impressed by Liz. She’s young, not quite 30, has a successful business and a supportive clientele and she’s got some great friends. Her assistant and bestie Lance is gay and I was in love with him from the get go. There is fantastic dialogue that is filled with that witty banter that keeps you smiling and urges you to keep reading. Liz knows what she wants, for herself and for her business, and she’s willing to do what is necessary to make it all happen.
The issue with her lost orgasm was humorous, but a tad silly in my opinion. Liz was there when her friend Susan gave birth and the experience left her terrified of getting pregnant and going through the same thing. It didn’t stop her from trying though. In an early scene she attempts to seduce the gorgeous young stud who happened to deliver her lunch one day. She drags him into her office and the kissing and touching begins and then poof, she remembers the birth and it’s like someone threw a bucket of cold water on her. When Lance returns as the young man is leaving he immediately senses what has just happened and looks at her with an excited look on his face, but sadly she responds–
“No, nothing was ended, slapped, or penetrated.”
Liz is totally unprepared when she runs into Jackson Burke when she’s out for dinner one evening. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with him, but he’s not going to give up. And because this is romancelandia, you can guess that Jackson is the one that breaks her several months long no sex, no orgasm streak. And he does it spectacularly, in an alley and up against a dirty brick wall. Of course, now that Liz has crossed this hurdle and feels like she can safely resume her regular dating and sex life, she’s bombarded with thoughts of Jackson. Though she tries to avoid him, he keeps popping up when she least expects him and he slowly begins to worm his way back into her heart.
It was pretty obvious to me that eventually Liz would let Jackson back into her life. When she finally deigns to give him the time of day, his explanation for that evening back in college is believable and I could understand how his young brain might have reacted in fear when hearing Liz say, “I want you to be my first”. No, he didn’t handle it well and the fact that he’d never tried to explain himself and waited years to do so seemed a bit unrealistic. Especially when we learn exactly what Jackson has been up to since then. While I was enjoying the story and how things were progressing, we learn Jackson has a secret and I didn’t like it.
Jackson is married, but separated. He apparently married the daughter of his business partner–I’m pretty sure to cement their deal and the partner’s hope that marriage would help his daughter to “settle down”. She is portrayed as completely unstable (she’s a total whackadoodle), especially as she arrives at Liz’s gallery and proceeds to shout obscenities that include her shooting Liz with a stun gun after hitting her in the face.
Once revealed it was hard to view Jackson in the same way; though we do learn that he may have been coerced somewhat. I think I could have been okay with it all if he’d been honest from the beginning but he was not. The chemistry between Jackson and Liz is done so well, this type of conflict didn’t work for me, especially as it was portrayed. But Liz finds a way to forgive him, and well, their relationship resumes.
Within the story, we get a bit of a secondary story with Liz’s assistant Lance. I loved Lance. He’s in a relationship with a much older, very wealthy man, Churchill, who adores him to no end. But their relationship has not been consummated because of Churchill’s age and health. They have an interesting side story which involves bringing in another man. Lance is against it until he meets one of Liz newfound artists, Angel Lassiter. Lance brings so much to this story and has the best lines.
“If he does that shit again, I’ll turn him queer with my famous fellatio skills and my million dollar ass.”
While everything comes together nicely by the end, I was confused about a few things. We meet a woman named Jessica early on who approaches Liz about meeting an artist because she does book covers for “friends” and is interested in getting the rights to printwork of the zombie turkeys featured in book one. She pops in and out throughout the books. Her page time seemed important, like I should pay attention, but then nothing comes of it. There is also a lot of focus on Liz’s best friend Susan who is still on leave following the birth of her daughter. Susan is a successful architect, but is portrayed as a tired and unkept mother with a husband who has no page time other than to say “he’s traveling”. Then Susan appears at the art counsel’s big gala, gorgeous and dolled-up, and makes a huge announcement. It felt unfinished, like I’d missed something.
I’m not sure why this story was written in three parts, but it does flow and I have to admit that while reading it had my attention. Characters are interesting and there is a good balance of humor and emotion. While there was good conclusion on the relationship side of things, some things just didn’t jive and left me feeling unsettled at the end.