cover image The Hate Project

The Hate Project

Kris Ripper. Carina Adores, $14.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-335-50917-8

Ripper returns to the circle of friends from The Love Study and ratchets up the heat in this amiable standalone romance between an anxious curmudgeon and his emotion-masking acquaintance. Grumpy 29-year-old Oscar hates his job answering customer service calls, but falls into a tailspin when he’s let go. His overeager friend Declan connects him with snarky 35-year-old financial analyst Jack, who needs massive help cleaning out the home of his hoarder grandparents. After a casual hookup, Jack offers Oscar a generous wage (and the promise of more no-strings-attached sex) for his assistance. Managing to keep his anxiety at bay some days more than others, Oscar delves into the project, carefully sorting cherished mementos from the junk and enjoying his playful sparring—and deliciously described hookups—with Jack. But Oscar’s messy, conflicted reaction to Jack kissing him in a nonsexual context shatters their excellent sex life, forcing both men to evaluate what they want. Ripper’s sensitive portrayal of Oscar’s anxiety blends nicely with the erotic charge to create a tender but still thrilling romance. This is a delight. [em]Agent: Courtney Miller Callihan, Handspun Literary. (May) [/em]