The Man She Loves to Hate

The Man She Loves to Hate

4.2 39
by Kelly Hunter

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Three reasons to keep away from Cole Rees…

1. My mom had a scorching affair with his dad—just think how awkward that "meet the family" would be…

2. His arrogance drives me mad—he might be a gorgeous billionaire, but I hate how he knows it!

3. Every time he touches me I go up in flames…and it's utterly


Three reasons to keep away from Cole Rees…

1. My mom had a scorching affair with his dad—just think how awkward that "meet the family" would be…

2. His arrogance drives me mad—he might be a gorgeous billionaire, but I hate how he knows it!

3. Every time he touches me I go up in flames…and it's utterly terrifying.

Come on, a fling with the man I love to hate? Like that would ever work out…

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Dirty Filthy Money , #1
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Jolie Tanner might as well have been carrying a dead body as far as level of difficulty was concerned. But there was nothing else for it, so she hauled and she shoved until finally the box was on the ski sled and strapped into place. So what if cardboard packing boxes weren't meant to endure such treatment? This one didn't have a choice.

Time to go. Past time to go, but Jolie turned back towards the cabin, her rubber–soled snow boots scrabbling for purchase on the icy step as she pulled the door closed and locked it. Everything was as it should be inside the cabin. Clean, tidy and utterly impersonal. Mission complete.

Climbing into the ski mobile's driver's seat, Jolie headed for the gondola next and went through the process of getting the box off the sled and into the waiting ski gondola, grimacing as the box took yet another beating for her efforts. From there she headed for the ski field control tower and parked the ski mobile in its spot beside the door.

The ski mobile rig was Hare's. So too was the heavy coat he'd insisted Jolie put on before he let her head for the cottage. The two–way radio in her pocket was his too. It had crackled to life a few minutes ago with Hare in his official capacity of ski–field manager telling her to make swift with the time because the weather was getting worse, the last gondola ride down mountain was leaving five minutes ago, and she'd damn well better be on it.

Everything in its place, she unhitched the sled and stored it in the lock–up. Everything in its place—a little phrase Hare rammed home to every employee on the mountain. Everything where it ought to be or you could get the hell off Silverlake Mountain and go down and work the bars and restaurants and ski lodges of Queenstown instead.

'Is it done?' Hare murmured as she slipped into the control room and shut the door behind her.

'It's done.' Jolie set the ski mobile keys on the key rack by the door, and the two–way back in its charger on the counter. She pulled the cottage keys from her pocket and held them out towards Hare. These ones had no hanging spot that Jolie knew of. 'Mama said to give you these, as well.'

When Hare rubbed at one of his arms rather than take them, Jolie set the keys down on the counter. Frankly, she never wanted to lay eyes on them again. She could hardly blame Hare for wanting the same.

'Never did sit right with me, that arrangement,' muttered Hare.

'Yeah, well, you're not exactly in the minority.' A truth for a truth and only for Hare. Everyone else got defiant and hostile silence—a defence mechanism that predated her teens. 'But it's done with now.'

Death had a way of finalising things.

'How's your mama holding up?' asked the big man. 'She at the funeral?'

'No,' said Jolie wearily. 'Of course she's not. She was heading out to walk alongside Lake Wanaka for a while instead. Reckons she'll say goodbye to him there.'

'She working the bar this evening?' asked Hare and Jolie nodded.

'Yes. You're invited to come down and drink to the dead tonight, by the way. Discreetly, of course, but it's on the house. It's the wake you have when you're not having a wake.'

'She loved him,' said Hare gruffly. 'You give her that, if nothing else.'

'I know. It's just—' Bitterness didn't become her; Jolie tried her best to avoid it. But she'd just spent an afternoon removing all traces of her mother from James Rees's self–indulgent life and remembering in the process exactly how much her mother had given up for him and what she'd received in return. 'I know.'

Not Hare's fault, Jolie's foul mood. Not his fault that he'd been the unlucky employee charged with running herd on young Jolie that first time Rachel Elizabeth Tanner had gone up to the high cabin to be with her married lover. Not Hare's fault he'd been stuck with Jolie every time after that until Jolie had deemed herself old enough to not need a babysitter any more.

Hare had taught her to ski, taught her the mountain and kept her safe from everything but bitter reality.

Nothing could keep her safe from that.

Things had changed for Jolie after James Rees's affair with Rachel Tanner had come to light. Jolie's friends had not remained friends and she'd never really got the hang of making new ones. And when the boys had started to notice Jolie—and they had—Jolie had discovered that former friends could turn into jealous and angry enemies who knew exactly where to hit so as to make the hurt go in deep.

'You gonna stick around Queenstown for a while?' asked Hare. 'Help your mama adjust?'

Jolie shrugged. 'I can stay a couple of weeks. Then I'll have to get back to work in Christchurch.'

'Heard you landed a drawing job there.'

'I did.' Sheer bloody–mindedness and talent had got her a job as a graphic artist for a film special effects company. Sheer bloody–mindedness and talent kept her there. The pay–off being that she didn't have to deal with reality on a daily basis. Reality was overrated.

'Could you do it from here?'

'Why would I want to do that?'

'I don't know.' Hare seemed to hesitate. He scratched his head and pulled a frown. 'Might be different for you here now that James is gone.'

'I can't see why. Hannah's still here. Cole's still here. James's widow is here.' The reclusive Christina Rees. 'And they still own half the town. They've never been inclined to make anything easy for a Tanner.'

'Wasn't easy for any of you,' said Hare gruffly. 'Could be a good time to let go of old grudges.'

'Now you're being rational,' said Jolie. 'Interaction between Tanners and Reeses is never rational.'

'Doesn't have to be that way,' said Hare.

'Yeah, it does,' she said softly, and opened up to Hare because the big man had always been kind to her and knew more of the real Jolie Tanner than most. 'Hare, I don't want to come back to Queenstown. All I ever did here was hide myself away from other people. Put on masks so that people would see what they expected to see. A young girl completely at home in a bar full of strangers. The defiant daughter of James Rees's mistress. A siren in my own right, fully comfortable in the role. All of them masks, whereas in Christchurch…' Jolie shrugged awkwardly. 'I've finally gathered the courage to step out from behind the masks and just be me. I kind of like being me.'

'You're making friends, then?'

'Not quite.' Another awkward shrug. 'Not yet. But at least I don't have enemies. That's something, right?'

'Right,' said Hare gruffly.

Now she'd embarrassed him. And exposed herself. Not a place of comfort. Definitely time to flee. 'You ready to send that gondola downhill yet?'

'Just waiting on another passenger.'

'Who?' The ski field had been closed since lunchtime on account of the unpredictable weather. Jolie figured that all the other employees and skiers on the mountain would have headed downhill hours ago. All except for Hare, who lived on the mountain in a cabin half a kilometre away from the main complex.


'Cole who?' But Hare wasn't answering. Nor was he looking her in the eye. Jolie's stomach began to churn and churn hard. 'Cole Rees is here on the mountain?'

'Came up a couple of hours ago. He's up at the lookout.'

'Doing what?'

Hare shrugged.

'But…how can he be here?' She'd planned her foray to the cabin for a time no member of the Rees family would be anywhere near here. 'Why isn't he at his father's funeral?'

'Didn't ask. The man wasn't looking for conversation, Jolie. He was looking for space.'

And now he'd be sharing space with her all the way back down the mountain. Just Cole Rees and Jolie Tanner and a box full of evidence of her mother's twelve–year affair with his father. 'Great,' she muttered. 'That's just great. Any chance of rolling another gondola around so that Cole can ride down on his own?' The ski lift consisted of several eight–berth sky gondolas and was a twelve–minute ride, top to bottom.

'None,' said Hare. 'Blizzard warning just came in. You're lucky I'm prepared to run this one.' He looked out of the triple–glazed window of the control hut and nodded once. 'Time to go, girlie. There's Cole.'

Jolie followed Hare's gaze. And there he was. Cole Rees, large as life. Striding down the lookout path towards the gondola, his raven hair windblown and his pretty face set against the worsening weather. A man so reckless, unpredictable and downright sexy he made Jolie's insides clench. And that was before she factored in his hatred of all things Tanner. 'Great,' she said grimly. 'That's just great.'

Jolie grabbed a ratty sheepskin hat with earflaps from the assortment of old lost–and–found attire hanging on the back wall of the tower and jammed it on top of her beanie. The hat wouldn't be missed, and, besides, she'd give it back. She added a thick black scarf and lost–and–found ski goggles to the ensemble while Hare looked on, deadpan.

'I take it you're keeping my coat,' he said.

'I'll give it back tomorrow.' Not for the first time today, Jolie gave thanks that she'd worn her oldest ski gear. Unisex attire purchased years ago during a mercifully brief phase in which she'd attempted to downplay her looks and her femininity. Her ski boots were black, chunky, overworn and all about getting the job done. Nothing feminine about them either. 'Hair,' offered Hare.

'Oh.' She took off the hat and goggles, twisted her auburn tresses round and round and then up beneath the beanie, and then jammed the hat back on her head. Her red hair was a legacy from her mother and truly distinctive. Men were fascinated by it. Hairdressers wanted to bottle it. Jolie had no complaints of it, truth be told, but right now she wanted it hidden. She pulled the hat's earflaps down. 'Better?'

'You look like E.T.'s Alaskan cousin,' said Hare. 'I take it that's the point?'

'Yes,' she said, snapping the goggles down over her eyes.

'Or you could be yourself,' murmured Hare. 'No, I really couldn't. Meet JT. J for Josh. He works for you.'

'Go,' said Hare with a roll of his eyes. And as Jolie leaned in to embrace her old minder and mentor, 'Well, don't kiss me!'

'Suit yourself.' Jolie gave him a manly thump on his arm instead. 'We going to see you at the bar tonight?'

'If the weather clears,' said Hare gruffly, glancing at his computer screen and the satellite weather map currently dominating it. 'Which it won't. Tell your mama I'll be down for that drink tomorrow night.'

'Will do.'

'And tell her I'm sorry for her loss and mind you say it right.'

'I'll say it right,' said Jolie, with a catch in her voice on account of Hare's deep understanding of her mother's position. Brazen bar owner Rachel Tanner—the bar reputedly a gift from James Rees—would get little sympathy from anyone on account of James's death. Instead she would grieve for her lover in lonely silence. 'I'll practise beforehand.'

Hare just rolled his eyes again and looked out of the tower window and up at the sky. 'Kia waimarie, little one.' Good Luck. 'Keep your head down. And close up behind you as you go.'

Hare waited until Jolie was out of the door before rubbing at his aching arm again and letting out a sigh. The girl wasn't wrong to want to avoid Cole Rees on this of all days, but whether she could was a different matter altogether. Chances were that at some point during the ride down the mountain Cole Rees would look twice at the youth who rode down with him. Chances were that he'd start adding up the inconsistencies.

Hare employed teenagers on the mountain if they had the experience and steadiness he was looking for, but he didn't take them that small. Ever.

Nor did they come with alabaster skin, a delicate jaw and, if a man could get past those lips—and some couldn't—eyes the colour of snow clouds.

It'd be Jolie's eyes that would give her away. No one had eyes like the Tanner women. Not that colour. Not that… challenge that lurked in their depths. A siren's mix of sensual self–awareness shot through with aching vulnerability.

Fact: a man could get lost in such eyes and never surface.

He'd seen it happen.

And witnessed the carnage it had caused. 'Eyes down, girlie,' he whispered. 'You give that boy a chance.'

Cole Rees put his head down and quickened his stride as he headed for the ski gondola. The weather matched his mood: filthy and unpredictable, his emotions a roiling mess of sadness and regret, anger and defiance. He hadn't been able to sit through his father's funeral, not all of it. The glowing accolades had turned his stomach. His mother's genuine grief had fuelled his fury. His sister's anxious pleading for him to please not make things worse had only cemented his decision to get the hell out of there before he cursed his feted father to rot in hell for eternity.

There would have been no coming back from that.

His mother the society maven would have crumpled completely.

Hannah, his sister, was stronger than that. Hannah would have made him pay dearly for subjecting the family to yet more scandal.

Only the gossip mongers would have been satisfied, but not for long. They never were.

He'd wanted a woman to lose himself in—and there were plenty around—but even that small comfort reeked of his father's legacy. Of thoughtlessness and recklessness and appetites not easily sated. And maybe Cole had outgrown thoughtlessness a few years back, and maybe he did his best to check his recklessness, but on that third count he was as guilty as sin.

Meet the Author

Kelly Hunter has always had a weakness for fairytales, fantasy worlds, and losing herself in a good book. She is married with two children, avoids cooking and cleaning, and despite the best efforts of her family, is no sports fan! Kelly is however, a keen gardener and has a fondness for roses. Kelly was born in Australia and has travelled extensively. Although she enjoys living and working in different parts of the world, she still calls Australia home.

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The Man She Loves to Hate 4.2 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 39 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story. It's so different from other Harlequin books I've read to date. No alpha male BS, no wimpy heroine. They cut to the chase, they don't dance around. The story reflects modern day relationships... how it flows and all. None of that "ohhh I must resist you..." It made me curious to look up the author's profile ( which I will do after writing this review) to see if she's perhaps younger and more in tune to how dating goes these days. It's great to see romance unfolds earlier rather than in Chapter 13, which most HQ authors do. What's even better is when 2 people are direct to the point instead of hiding their feeling until the end. Thing is that's how it is today, well generally I supposed. Kudos to the author! I will read your other materials again. The story is sad, funny and relateable! A must read! It will make you laugh and you'll find yourself saying "That's what I'll say to Cole too if I was Jolie!"
sjrmontara7 More than 1 year ago
So much heart to this story made me laugh and cry and sigh!
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
Its always hard for me to see people that are so inocent suffering for no good reason. Jolie when she was 12 was hurrying to catch up with Hannah but Hannah was not waiting for her as usual. Hannah and her big brother Cole would not look at her or talk to her, infact Hannah got all their friends to dump Jolie too because her mother was having an affair with Hannah's father. Now thier dad was dead 12 years later and Jolie was up to their ski lodge and cleaned out all her mother's stuff from the cabin on a day of funneral so she would not run into Cole or Hannah. The Gondal ride last of the day was only Jolie and Cole was up their she was warned. So Jolie borrowed someones goggles,hats scarf she was already in borrowed man's coat. Jolie answered Cole in short answers in deep voice and always looked away from him and it was short ride but all of a sudden the ride stopped and they could not get answer from emergency phone and no cell service. They saw one avalanch but missed them but the second caused the gondola to fall. Cole had head injury so Jolie got him mad so he would keep going till they climbed back up and broke in kiosk. Cole finally realized who she was after she saved his life. Cole for years had fought wanting her. He asked for one kiss and ended up too close. Finally they were rescued. Cole realized how unfair he had been to Jolie and saw a lot of that he liked. Cole was now head of his dad's many businesses and trying to keep ski resort to reopen. Cole wanted to keep seeing Jolie and went and flew up to visit every weekend for a month. Cole wanted more. Jolie was afraid that their family and town would not let them. I enjoyed this romance they had. Jolie was a strong woman and would not give up on herself or Cole. Jolie did not want any thing from Cole's dad will in fact she gave it back to him. Would love to see Hannah story someday. I was given this ebook in exchange for honest review.
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
I have tears in my eyes as I write this because the ending of this story was so beautiful, romantic and it made me feel like I needed to hug somebody. I simply had to write this review right away. If a reader is looking for a book with characters they can believe in, then The Man She Loves to Hate is a winner. The title can be a bit misleading, making a reader think it's going to be full of angst, darkness and over the top conflict. It's not. In fact, it's about hope, redemption, determination and a celebration of life. Oh don't get me wrong, there is a deep emotional conflict that colors and influences some of the actions in the book but what I found gratifying is the hero and heroine not succumbing to its poison. I am thrilled that Ms. Hunter wrote a story that is focused on two people falling in love in spite of and despite the past, the community perception of the heroine and the legacy of the hero's father. I loved how the author set up Jolie and Cole to meet again later in life in a situation that stripped away all of those nasty lies and gave them an almost clean slate to work with. It was the first time either saw each other for who they really were or who they could be, if they could only break the shackles of their mutual painful past. And what I liked was their willingness to try. That took guts, courage and of course, a healthy dose of lust and passion didn't exactly hurt. I liked Jolie a lot. I got the biggest kick out of her job. What a fun profession, although it's clear from the book that she worked hard at it and it's not without challenges as well as triumphs. She got there on her own through sheer determination and grit. The heroine is a strong character despite her internal doubts and insecurity. Jolie hides them well but the reader will see so much more. I enjoyed the creative outlet that the author gave the heroine when emotions were at a fevered pitch. It was insightful, fascinating and actually entertaining. And I adored (and I know I wore a loopy grin) when Cole made his comment about how he wanted one of the pictures to look. As for Cole, I have to give the guy credit. Okay, more like Ms. Hunter, because she created a character worth rooting for, and worth admiring. Cole knows the score. So much is at stake and it's not just his heart. And yet, the blinders come off throughout the course of the story and his worth as a hero grew before my eyes. He used to be just as cynical and condemning as the rest of his family and peers until that fateful day. His whole world turned on its axis when he figured out that the situation wasn't exactly what he was told. Since he was a kid, he'd been hurting inside - bleeding for what he thought was lost. As an adult, Cole found out some truths and I was so proud of him when he stood up for what he knew was right and for what he wanted. It was such a powerful moment in the book and Ms. Hunter did it justice. The ending and wrap up is what bowled me over. Everything that happened before fed into that ending making it one of the most poignant and beautiful reunions of two lovers ever. The dialogue, the passion, and the vibrant feelings - the author brought them all to life, and it left me blubbering into a tissue with happy tears misting my eyes. Read the full review at the Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best story ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author was not afraid to stray off the totally romantic mold, and made it. Both the main characters have forgone the bed of roses. The story is truly sweet and tart but I totally got into the web. An excellent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really love this book! Worth every cent.... great read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book! I wish the word count would have allowed for more. What you get is a tightly written story that moves you. Well done!
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