Hate to Date You by Monica Murphy
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Hate to Date You, an all-new standalone contemporary romance in the Dating Series by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Monica Murphy.
Stella Ricci is bored.
Her overprotective family barely let her out of their sight, despite the fact she’s a grown woman. Yes, she loves her job at her family’s café and she’s the best barista in the entire Monterey Peninsula, but is that enough? She’s thinking no. But what else can she do?
Enter Carter Abbott. Burnt out after the never-ending grind of selling high end real estate in Los Angeles, he’s returned home, unsure of what to do next. He needs someplace to crash temporarily until he gets back on his feet.
It’s easy for Stella to suggest Carter move in. Temporarily of course. It’ll give her someone to talk to. The only problem?
That one night stand Stella and Carter had about a year ago. They never talked about it. They still don’t really talk about it. Despite the fact that the old chemistry has come back full force. Living together has made that obvious. Should they admit that one night wasn’t enough? Or will dating each other turn into an epic fail?
Only one way to find out…
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I’m in the bathroom applying one last coat of mascara to my eyelashes when Carter suddenly appears behind me, his gorgeous face looming over my shoulder. Of course, like the dork that I am, I yelp with a jolt when I first spot him, stabbing myself in the eyeball with the mascara wand.
And like some sort of romcom hero, he rushes for me, his big hands curling around my shoulders and turning me around so I have no choice but to face him. Though I can’t even look at him, considering I’m bent over and holding both hands over my wounded eye.
“Are you all right? I didn’t mean to scare you.” He sounds troubled. Which is good. He should definitely feel bad for causing my injury.
Though really, I’m the one who overreacted and stabbed myself in the first place.
“I’m okay.” I stand up straighter, still cradling my watery, stinging eye. “It only hurts a little.”
“Drop your hand.” He turns away from me, snagging a tissue out of the Kleenex box that’s perched on the back of the toilet, then faces me once more. “Drop it,” he repeats when I still haven’t removed my hand.
Reluctantly I remove my hand from my face, my eyelashes practically stuck together. I’m sure I look a mess and I swallow hard, reaching up to dab at the tender skin beneath my eye, but Carter bats my hand away.
“Let me,” he murmurs as he brushes the tissue underneath my eye, picking up all the excess mascara. “Does it still hurt?”
“A little.” He’s so close. I can see all of his eyelashes, and they’re thick and dark and don’t need a lick of mascara on them, the jerk. He’s freshly shaven, his face nice and smooth, and I sort of want to rub against it. Like a cat.
“I’m sorry I startled you,” he says with the utmost sincerity. “I didn’t mean for you to try to take your eye out.”
A soft laugh escapes me. “I’ve stabbed myself in the eye before with a mascara wand. I’m sure this won’t be the last time.”
He finishes cleaning up the mess I made and then turns me so I face the mirror once more. “Now you’re perfect,” he says, squeezing my shoulders for the briefest moment before he lets go and exits the bathroom, heading straight into his bedroom.
I’m shaken by the encounter and it takes me a minute to get moving again. Since the afternoon at my nonna’s house, we’ve been friendlier. Not so friendly that we fall into bed together, but friendly enough. Which is…nice. I don’t like having hostile feelings toward Carter. What exactly did he ever do to me anyway?
Oh, he just rocked your world and turned you into a firm believer in multiple orgasms, then left you in the dust and never talked to you again.
Right. He did that. And it sucked.
Carter. That is all. He is by far the best hero in this series. Yes, I said it and Ms. Murphy knows it. I have read every book in the series and this book is the best one so far. I just connected with Stella and Carter from the start. Stella with her snark and Carter’s availability to feel vulnerable. Plus, they just felt very relatable to me. Stella’s family can be stifling and Carter just has a sister and a sorta messed up upbringing.
Ms. Murphy has had me licking my chops in regards to Stella. She has been present in all the books but for some reason, I kept going back to her as a standout secondary character. She just stuck with me. I liked her spunk, her honesty and especially her loyalty to her squad of girlfriends. Of course, Sara is Carter’s sister and her bestie so there is no awkwardness at all when they move in together and then hook up again. Ms. Murphy does a great job with that little thread in the book. And Stella’s grandmother is a hoot and a half. Oh my, the stories that she told throughout the book that really opened up a lot of eyes further in the book.
There is so much about the book that I will try to summarize now. Stellas trying to keep their relationship under wraps and Carter feeling like a dirty secret; Carter realizing that he wants a true, adult relationship with Stella but she is hesitant; and Stella’s family, especially her mom, finally understanding that Stella is a grown woman that is NOT from the old country and needs to follow her own heart and desires. I felt like Stella had the most growth in the book. Once Carter figured out what he wanted, Stella didn’t have a clue. I honestly loved that Ms. Murphy turned the tables on that particular scene. Most authors have the woman leave but not here. Bravo.
Overall, this is the best book in the series. We get to see all the other couples in the series and see some nice follow-ups to their stories. The book features two tropes that I love: enemies to lovers and second chance. What would you do if a one night stand came back into your life? Take a chance or almost blow it from the beginning? Read this book and find out what Stella and Carter do. You won’t regret it.
Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and HarperCollins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult, and contemporary romance.
She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.
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