Illustrated cover of I Love You, I Hate You, with a man and a woman, both professionally dressed, facing off as envelopes, forming a heart, float above them

About the Book

Title: I Love You, I Hate You
Published: 2021
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

First Impressions: Return to Sender
What’s Your Type? Enemies to lovers, You’ve Got Mail, Twitter friends, courtroom drama
Meet Cute: You’ve Got (Hate) Mail
The Lean: Dear Enemy
We Need to Talk: Warm Regards
Was It Good For You? Slide Into My DMs

First Impressions: Return to Sender

Okay, okay, the artwork’s not THAT bad, but now that every damn cover is illustrated, I find myself actually longing for the days of romance novels unafraid to look spicy. This book features actual sex, and yet, you’d never know it given the bland, blue and pink (!), giving-me-airport-bookstore vibes.

What’s Your Type?

Dating Profile

After growing up with a young, single mom and not much money, Victoria Clemenceaux has worked her ass off to become an incredibly successful (and incredibly fierce) lawyer. She slays in the courtroom, and though it’s a bummer that her victories mean big wins for an Evil Corporation (hilariously named Smorgasbord), it’s the only company that compensates her well enough to eventually pay off her loans and buy a house for her mother. Vee’s built up a lot of walls to protect herself and keep her laser-focused on maintaining a financially stable existence, so she only socializes online, where she chats with a small group of kindred spirits (who don’t even know her real name, just her handle, @erinNoraephronwasagenius) as well as Luke, a close friend with the potential to be more.

Luke’s real name is Owen Pohl, an Ivy League grad with a super rich family and all of the benefits that come with it—benefits Victoria never had. But Owen, recognizing (some of) his privilege, has dedicated his legal career to fighting for the underdog, particularly former employees who have been taken advantage of by Smorgasbord. When he’s not facing off with his nemesis, Victoria, he’s being the Best Brother Ever to his two half-sisters, the young daughters of his dad and one of Owen’s high school friends (yep, it’s a thing and also another page straight out of the You’ve Got Mail playbook). Owen’s a good-hearted, well-meaning dude, but he’s still somewhat oblivious to the fact that he’s skated through life on his family’s money.

Meet Cute: You’ve Got (Hate) Mail

As I’ve already alluded to, Vee and Owen are bitter rivals IRL, while Nora and Luke are tight AF online. The book begins with a prologue set two years earlier, when they meet in court for the first time, then jumps to the present, right into a steeeeamy spontaneous hook-up between Victoria and Owen, who’ve let a few martinis release their inhibitions and soften their acrimony. It’s just a one time thing, because obviously when two extremely attractive people embrace their enemistry and get it on, there’s no WAY it will happen again, right? Riiiiight.

The Lean: Dear Enemy

Fueled by their long-running feud, the physical sparks between Vee and Owen are immediate, especially given the forbidden nature of lawyers on opposing sides engaging in risky business. The enemies-to-lovers trope is wielded quite effectively by Elizabeth Davis when it comes to the bedroom, especially as Owen and Victoria continue to trash talk each other one second and then madly kiss the next. This animosity dissipates, naturally, as they get to know each other, but there remains a spicy edge to their romance thanks to their crackling banter and the fiery attraction burning between them. (Vee knows she’s a smokeshow, and Owen has no problem confirming this.)

Meanwhile, though they don’t know it, we know that they already have an emotional connection as Nora and Luke. It’s an honest, intimate relationship, but it doesn’t have the charm of the correspondence between, say, NY152 and Shopgirl, so I never quite got behind the idea of Nora thinking Luke may be The One and vice versa.

Dirty Talk

You might assume that sex on Page 17 is jumping the shark, but first of all, what’s wrong with instant gratification? Second of all, Davis keeps the tension running high (and the lust growing) between Victoria and Owen, since they continue to face off in court—and then face off in an entirely different manner behind closed doors—making each subsequent encounter hotter than the last. These interludes are a little on the short side, but they are bracing with detail, so you don’t have to worry about any fade to black bullshizz here.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose

She snapped her hips, driving them both inexorably towards their peak. His gaze was heavy on her skin as she touched herself, his cock filling her so perfectly it didn’t take long before she was coming, falling apart with a sharp keen that had him groaning. The pleasure rolled through her, each crest sparked by the way he moved inside her, deeper and deeper, and then he was pulsing, coming with a harsh sigh that she felt in her bones.

We Need to Talk: Warm Regards

The biggest question I had, going into this book, was how Elizabeth Davis would handle the potentially problematic situation of one person in the duo discovering the truth about their online connection and then lying to the other person by pretending not to know. No spoilers, of course, but she pulls it off in a way that doesn’t vilify the liar—but doesn’t recuse them either.

While I applaud the progressive way Davis navigates that trap, there were times when I felt the book kept hitting the same note in its examination of privilege and misogyny. Did I love it when Owen admitted, ruefully, “I’m a white male, Nora. The world is literally designed to make me happy”? Yes, yes I did. Did I need Owen’s rich boy background to continue to be his defining flaw in Victoria’s eyes, because she grew up without money? No, I did not. (But how very Lizzy Bennet of her.) There’s a strong feminist current in this story, which I applaud, but it just got a tad overbearing at times.

Overall, though, I dug the lively energy of the book, particularly the pithy Twitter exchanges between Vee and her online pals, and I appreciated Davis’ sense of humor—it’s less wicked than her sex scenes but still sassy. (I definitely cackled when I read this line, about one of Owen’s friends: “He had the thick neck and build of a pro-wrestler, but the heart of a turn-of-the-millenium J.Lo movie.”)

Was It Good For You? Slide Into My DMs

This book went down nice and easy, like a spoonful of (spicy) sugar. While it didn’t rock my world, it was a fun flirtation that, for once, actually made me like Twitter. And that’s no small feat!

Literary Matchmaking

The Ex Talk

Get another smoldering dose of enemistry with Rachel Lynn Solomon’s The Ex Talk.

The Unhoneymooners

Oh, you want even more enemies-to-lovers? Christina Lauren’s got you covered with The Unhoneymooners.

The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1)

For another rivalry-turned-romance, make The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai.

FTC Full Disclosure: I bought this book with my own damn money, and received neither cocktails nor compensation for this review.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.