Published by Graydon House on 4th January 2022
Buy on Amazon
They say living well is the best revenge. But sometimes, spreading the misery seems a whole lot more satisfying. That’s interior designer Dani Porter’s justification for buying the vacant lot next to her ex-fiancé’s house…the house they were supposed to live in together, before he cheated on her with their Realtor. Dani plans to build a vacation rental that will a) mess with his view and his peace of mind and b) prove that Dani is not someone to be stepped on. Welcome to project Spite House.
That plan quickly becomes complicated when Dani is forced to team up with Wyatt Montego, the handsome, haughty architect at her firm, and the only person available to draw up blueprints. Wyatt is terse and stern, the kind of man who eats his sandwich with a knife and fork. But as they spend time together on- and off-site, Dani glimpses something deeper beneath that hard veneer, something surprising, vulnerable, and real. And the closer she gets to her goal, the more she wonders if winning revenge could mean losing something infinitely sweeter…
I’m actually wondering if the trouble of building a spite house just to get back at a cheating fiancé is actually worth it all, but that if apparently, is what floats anyone’s boat, then it’s all par for the course.
It’s after all, what ‘Love at First Spite’ is built on: recently humiliated from having her planned wedding in tatters, Danielle Porter’s elaborate scheme to get back at her cheating ex is one goes out of the way to ensure he will forever remember the wrongs he’d done to her. Except that she’s a bit stuck with the idea she’s just cooked up and has no one good enough to help her with the build but Wyatt Montego, the distant and aloof architect who takes up her offer for a favour. In contrast to Wyatt’s cool-is nature, Dani did come off as a little unhinged and overly-sensitive—probably understandable given her circumstances—as all her energy is funnelled into getting her revenge plan off the ground.
Yet…to what end, really?
Much of Dani’s come-on to Wyatt feels like a serious rebound, while Wyatt himself blows hot-and-cold, more so office politics and gossip get thrown into the works here. Neither seem to be fully vulnerable to each other despite the heat between them—Dani’s spite house idea stays as opaque as Wyatt’s nebulous feelings towards their relationship—and watching them take stilted steps back and forward was at best, awkward and cringe-worthy at times. In other words, Dani and Wyatt do get along, but never get to the stage of becoming a live wire connection given their half-committed approach to each other and their respective reluctance to dig deep past the surface stuff.
But—this is clear even a mile away—the lesson here seems to be that being consumed by revenge eventually leads to it backfiring spectacularly in a way that isn’t unexpected. This however makes Dani a nasty character that’s hard to like, even though she does seem more lost than spiteful towards the end. Along with the intricacies of real estate, building and design coming into play here (which could be dry if these aren’t the areas you move or are interested in), seemed to slow the pace of the storytelling down somewhat, until we get to a climax and conclusion that seem contrived—and is resolved with blackmail just after you’re led to think you’ve finally, finally gone past that stage of subterfuge.
So much as I definitely liked the premise of the story, little bits like characterisation, the obtuse lack of communication and the final plot twist just didn’t add up to something that I loved overall.