Oscar is a grouch. That’s a well-established fact among his tight-knit friend group, and they love him anyway.
Jack is an ass who’s always ready with a sly insult, who can’t have a conversation without arguing, and who Oscar may or may not have hooked up with on a strict no-commitment, one-time-only basis. Even if it was extremely hot.
When Oscar is fired (answering phones is not for the anxiety-ridden), he somehow ends up working for Jack. Maybe while cleaning out Jack’s grandmother’s house they can stop fighting long enough to turn a one-night stand into a frenemies-with-benefits situation.
The house is an archaeological dig of love and dysfunction, and while Oscar thought he was prepared, he wasn’t. It’s impossible to delve so deeply into someone’s past without coming to understand them at least a little, but Oscar has boundaries for a reason—even if sometimes Jack makes him want to break them all down.
After thoroughly enjoying The Love Study I was primed to love The Hate Project, but some elements hit too close for me to enjoy myself fully.
- Oscar comes off as a grouch in the first book and here we learn why – he has social anxiety that can lead to panic attacks. It made past actions understandable and gave me more appreciation for how Ripper set up that first book.
- The dynamics of the friend group are becoming clear and I love the way they interact and support each other. Oscar’s friendship with Ronnie is particularly interesting and they shine on the page together. We also learn more about Mason, one of the MCs of the next installment, through his relationship with Oscar. The found family elements, which felt a little forced in the first book, are in delightful full force.
- Jack’s grandma is an awesome lady, a no-nonsense grandma that gets her own mini story arc and characterization.
- Ripper pushes the edges of what’s considered du rigueur in romance and I am here for it. The Love Study has an HEA without a solid commitment, and here sex does not lead to the ‘I love you’ realization that it does in many romances.
- Some people may find the anxiety rep empowering and comforting, however…
- …Oscar’s thought spirals are so similar to ones I’ve experienced (thank you, birth control!) I found myself skimming whole sections. And while Oscar’s single PoV works well for the story it also means we’re always in his head, close to that anxiety.
I have all the love and respect for what Ripper is doing but unfortunately this book wasn’t the one for me. I’m very much looking forward to the next book – a poly relationship, yay!
Content notes: anxiety including panic attacks, grief, disordered eating