When Kiersten Abbott gets promoted to her boss’ main personal assistant after the previous one gets fired for wanting time off to get married, she knows it’s going to be difficult. Cole Harrington expects his assistants to be at his beck and call, no matter the time of day or night, and many of his demands cross tthe line between PA and mother. Winning 69 million dollars in the lotto allows Kiersten the freedom to walk away from her entitled boss any time she wants to, but what’s the fun in that? Why not see how far she can push him since all he can do is fire her from a job she no longer needs? Unfortunately, Cole finds his mild mannered assistant’s sudden rebellion intriguing, and he decides to fight fire with fire and make Kiersten quit. However, the blossoming attraction between the pair hints at something more than acting out behind their game. Can they break through their misconceptions of each other and find a HEA?
Generally I prefer historical romance to contemporary, but the description of 69 Million Things I Hate About You drew me in. I enjoy the hate to love dynamic (or I hate you so much I love you), and Kiersten promised to be a fiery heroine who wasn’t going to be a complete door mat. Billionaires aren’t a turn on for me, but Kira Archer combined the trope with enough other intriguing elements that I was willing to give it a try.
Both Kiersten and Cole display lives outside their work relationship including close bonds with friends. Cole has had bad experiences with women wanting to date him solely for his pocket book, but the story side steps the evil ex trope and makes Kiersten different because she’s willing to stand up to him, not because she’s super pure, sweet, and has a magic vagina that can heal the hero’s wounded ego/heart/body/etc. Admittedly, she only can show her true personality when she can afford to lose her job, but I found that incredibly relatable (some days I have opinions I have to keep to myself). The wit and intelligence it takes to concoct her increasingly elaborate pranks made me love her, and I’m sure hanging out with a real life Kiersten would be entertaining and fun.
Cole also has enough backstory and depth to fell like a whole human being although one of the critical reveals occurred a little too late in the story for me to fully care. He does show signs of being an alpha male (I think you have to be to reach billionaire status), but he also knows how to care for another human being deeply and allow agency. Cole’s billionaire veneer also hides charitable causes that are close to his heart, and he doesn’t just donate because that’s what rich people do; he genuinely wants to find solutions for the problems he advocates for.
After reading so much erotica the sex scenes between Kiersten and Cole, when they finally occur (they have to work for it; the main focus in their game of pushing buttons) feel a little mild, but 69 Million Things I Hate About You is a quirky revenge to love tale not another book jumping on the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey (although there is a brief reference). I did appreciate that Kiersten and Cole were equals in their sexual encounters, and Archer doesn’t throw in any reference to how many partners either has had. Both have dated other people, but it’s treated as something normal for a pair of late 20 somethings.
My only major quibble is that the big conflict at the end of the book felt like it came out of no where. There wasn’t enough set up for me to fully understand why the situation mattered so much, and while I was relieved when Kiersten and Cole worked past it to realize a full relationship, I didn’t appreciate the stakes.
Overall, 69 Million Things I Hate About You isn’t going to change your life, but it’s a fun, uplifting read that will brighten your day. Watching Cole and Kiersten’s back and forth kept me smiling, and it did warm my heart when they finally earned their HEA. Now I need to go buy a lottery ticket…
4 Pizza Parties with Girlfriends out of 5