Better Hate Than Never by Chloe Liese is a gorgeously vulnerable story that admirably tackles Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. It’s for everyone who adores 10 Things I Hate About You and all the feelings that come with a well-written rivals-to-lovers romance. Liese’s Wilmot Sisters series started strong with one of the best novels last year in Two Wrongs Make a Right, and she follows up with another exceptional run, digging into Christopher Petruchio and Kate Wilmot’s romance with nuance, care, and loads of witty banter.
Chloe Liese is known for her thoughtful inclusion and careful representation of neurodivergent characters and LGBTQ+ heroes, making Better Hate Than Never another gem in storytelling to give a voice to those who aren’t often at the forefront. In this sense, Better Hate Than Never shines with a demisexual heroine, allowing many of us to feel like we’re finally out from the shadows like Kate. It’s also fascinating and lovely to get representation for ADHD in a leading heroine. Liese’s books do the best job of showcasing that no one’s alone and everyone deserves their chance in a lasting love story. It’s easy to dive straight into this world, and it’s hard to put the book down to do something else once you start it. Chances are, if you’ve got the time, you’re binge-reading it from beginning to end because Liese paints a beautifully endearing romance that delivers both sharp banter and exquisite heart.
So much of the reason Christopher and Kate’s story shines is because of Liese’s compassion as a writer to tell authentic stories. In every book of hers that I’ve read, there’s meticulous attention to detail that emphasizes the beauty in human complexities. With this in mind, the story is more introspective, bringing character emotions center stage to show us exactly how they’re feeling and where their minds are trailing. Because their first meeting and past are outside of the reader’s perspective, the story relies on memories to mount the adoration of the present. It lets us see where they’ve been and the steps they took to get to where they are today, making them both feel that much more grounded as characters.
Further, there’s perhaps nothing more endearing in a rivals-to-lovers romance than when both characters realize it’s not hating each other that fuels the fire within but how they challenge one another that makes their love so compelling and raw. The exploration of their emotions, as well as the quiet moments of taking care of one another during difficult moments, make Kate and Christopher’s romance feel like a warm hug on a perfectly stormy autumn night. (It’s a hurt/comfort buff’s dream.) How Liese explores the tenderness of their emotions, the weariness, and the internal homecoming makes the story feel that much more layered.
Above all, it’s how the story explores consent and desires through a gorgeously earnest lens that allows the reader to feel safe alongside the characters. This is a story about coming home and releasing the chains that come from inner heartaches. It’s understanding that you can be incredibly liberated in the presence of people who accept you as you are, even if you aren’t moving from place to place. The story is Kate’s journey more than anything, making it much lovelier for the women who often feel like the black sheep in their families. It’s a story about misunderstandings that occur naturally and understandably, never once feeling forced.
At the same time, it’s lovely to get characters like Jamie and Bea back from Two Wrongs Make a Right, as well as everyone from The Edgy Envelope. It’s a warm, inclusive community that’s easy to stay in as readers, featuring romances that are especially memorable. And for those of us who relate to Kate on a profound level we don’t often see represented, it makes her the kind of fictional character who’ll always stay with us. Juliet’s story is next, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what else Chloe Liese does.
Better Hate Than Never by Chloe Liese is now available wherever books are sold.
First Featured Image Credit: ©Chloe Liese | Berkley