Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve had my eye on Claudia Burgoa for some time. She wrote a newsletter story, I believe, that grabbed my attention, and I read every month until its end. When I read the blurb for her newest book, Something Like Hate, I decided to go for it. Like a lot of romance readers, I love enemies-to-lovers, fake girlfriend stories. There is something exciting about an alpha male or female who initially hates (or heavily detests) the other main character in a story, but eventually, they fall for each other. And Something Like Hate offers a take on this story.
The story follows Claire and Miller. Claire works for Miller’s company, and she’s a top-notch employee. Miller knows this, as does his “right-hand man” Devon, who is Claire’s boss. The issue is they take advantage of Claire as an employee, and the work environment is sub-par. Miller and Devon are not great bosses. As such, Claire is very close to leaving the company, but she believes Miller’s company could help her meet her professional goals, so she’s conflicted on leaving.
Claire sets off on a much-needed vacation with her best friends. Unbeknownst to her, Miller is going to the same destination for his sister’s wedding. Miller’s mother pressures him about a girlfriend, going so far as to threaten to set him up with other women. Miller is not interested in this, so he decides to take a fake date with him to the wedding, Unfortunately, at the last minute, his date cancels, and he is left with a dilemma. Enter Claire who happens to be on the same flight, going to the same destination. Miller has always appreciated Claire’s talent, intelligence, and work ethic from afar, and he decides to ask Claire for the favor of playing his girlfriend for the wedding. After much propositioning, Claire concedes, and they pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Until they become attracted to each other and decide to actually date at the end of the weekend together.
In the meantime, Miller’s company is trying to sign an important client, one whom Claire was handling before her vacation. Thanks to another employee’s treachery, Miller leaves Claire alone and makes important decisions without her knowledge. Drama ensues, and Claire and Miller end. The story fast-forwards several years, and Claire and Miller meet again. Much has changed, but one thing has stayed the same: their chemistry. Will they find love again? Can Claire forgive Miller and move past his shortcomings? Those are the questions of Something Like Hate.
In reading the blurb for this story, I really wanted to like it. And for the most part, I did. Claire and MIller together is the best part of the story. They have a chemistry that jumps off the page. Individually, Claire is the stronger character of the two because Burgoa creates her as a strong woman who stands up for herself. Some would say she’s overly protective of her boundaries; however, I see her as an emotionally mature woman who defends her spirit and her ethics. Especially in contrast to Miller. Miller is NOT emotionally mature, as evidenced by his inability to stand up to his mother and his family, along with his dealings within his company. He is obviously the character who undergoes the most growth, another strength of this romance. I tend to love flawed heroes whose proximity to the heroine brings about their maturity and growth. And Burgoa definitely delivers this in her book.
Here is the thing with this book, however. It has issues with consistency, and that’s what I struggled with in the other story I read from Burgoa. Granted, that was a newsletter story, and those tend to be drafts. I get it. But Something Like Hate is supposed to be fairly fully formed, and I struggled with a few aspects of this romance:
- At times, the dual POV was sloppy. What I mean by that is the chronology didn’t always line up between the two. When you write dual POV, you want consistency between the two, even if you have to re-tell certain moments in the story to capture that particular character’s understanding of that moment. The whole situation that occurs after Miller and Claire return from the vacation has issues in the story-telling. I found myself writing comments about confusion because the timelines between the POVs did not match up.
- While I love Miller, he is inconsistent in his thoughts and feelings about Claire. He moves from being emotionally unavailable to adoring her, wanting a future with her. Yes, this is typical of an alpha hero; indecision can drive their story. However, Burgoa creates that indecision in such a way that I found him confusing at times. And his response to the situation after their time away together did not align with his thinking on vacation. It was too much of a deviance from his actions earlier that I didn’t believe that he’d react as he does. There is something contrived about Miller’s development that, at times, I didn’t believe him as a character. I think this underscores Burgoa’s issues with consistency in the story-telling and the character development.
- Lastly the biggest moment of the story, the one that happens near the end of the book, when Miller makes a huge change for Claire, actually read as anti-climatic on the page. For one, Miller essentially goes silent towards Claire, which I didn’t believe. And secondly, he presents his resolution of her problem with little emotion built into it. I was hoping for a greater revelation or a more dramatic moment, and it felt underwhelming. This is a resolution, the falling action, and it simply needed more.
There is a lot of good in this book: the character types, the overall storyline, and the happy ending. I don’t want that to be lost in my review of Something Like Hate. Would I recommend rushing out to read this book? Probably not. There have been better “enemies-to-lovers, fake girlfriend” stories. However, if you’re a Claudia Burgoa fan, then you’ll want this book. I hate writing reviews that read as criticisms. I understand that each story is a “book baby” to its writer, and I hate disparaging said baby. What I would recommend is simply more beta-readers or editors for a story like this one. Burgoa knows her characters, and her story has a lot of potential. But I think it could have gone through one more revision before birthing it into the world.
In love and romance.