cover image Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts, Book 1

Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts, Book 1

Alisha Rai. Avon, $7.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-256673-7

In Rai’s emotional contemporary series launch, dysfunctional families, mental illness, and true love vie for center stage. After a protracted absence, 30-year-old Olivia “Livvy” Kane rolls back into her hometown of Rockville, N.Y., setting everyone’s teeth on edge. Her childhood friend and later occasional lover, Nicholas Chandler, has particularly mixed feelings about seeing her. The formerly inseparable sweethearts have only rendezvoused of late for an annual night of passion. Otherwise, each has ostensibly participated in an ongoing feud between their two families. Livvy plans a longer stay than usual as she helps to nurse her passive-aggressive mother back to health after hip surgery. The visit acts as a catalyst for deeply entrenched bitterness—between and within families—to surface, though hit-or-miss characterizations sometimes lessen its impact. The story line is complex but the ending feels rushed as Rai concludes with a much too easy—almost flippant—dismissal of the blood feud she spent so much effort building up. (Aug.)