Total Star Rating: 3.25 Stars
First and foremost, I want to personally thank Gallery Books for sending me an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of this book in exchange for an honest review!
So with this book coming from the dynamic writing duo that make up the name “Christina Lauren,” I’ve come to notice their overall writing style has taken on a new vibe than what most of their readers, like me, have come to know and love: their books are starting to veer away from the romance specifically, and move more towards contemporary fiction/Chick-lit genres where the main story is about the female main character’s personal growth, but still have a romantic subplot occurring. Not necessarily a bad thing, just not my personal taste. I know I probably say this in every review I’ve done of their books, but I personally really enjoyed their Beautiful Bastard series that started off as a 50 Shades fan fiction! Those felt more fun, more comedic, and more scorching in terms of romance novels go.
This book helps their work get back on track based off the (mostly) negative feedback their previous book, Twice in A Blue Moon, had received. I can admit, even I was really disappointed with how that novel ended so I was a little worried with The Honey-Don’t List, but fortunately it was a good bounce-back for their other fans!
What It’s About:
This story is about a young woman named Carey Duncan: a small town girl who’s been working for a married couple, Melissa and Russell Tripp, when they’d opened a furniture/interior shop in her town. The three of them had gotten extremely close; Carey didn’t have the greatest home-life, so the Tripps had become her unofficial new family when they’d helped her out through the rough times. She’d formed a unique bond with them, and continued to work with them when they’d gotten discovered and got picked up for a Netflix-Original home-remodeling/self-help series.
Ten years later, things have dramatically changed, and the Tripps are no longer that humble, loving couple Carey had grown up with. Instead, they barely talk to each other, and have become Hollywood-obsessed egomaniacs behind the scenes. Carey never went to college, and she really needs the health coverage (as a type-1 Diabetic, I really feel for that), so she’s kind of trapped with the Tripps with her job as their assistant.
Then enters James McCann: a young engineer who was desperately looking for a new job after the last one didn’t turn out the way he’d hoped–the company disbanded after an embezzlement scandal broke out–and thinks he’s signed up for better/similar job with the Tripps, but also gets trapped into being Rusty’s assistant and babysitter/cockblock/errand boy. Unfortunately, he needs something to put on his resumé, so he’s stuck along with Carey.
The main story starts with the announcement of a book tour: a self-help/marriage book that was cowritten by the “loving” couple with a hit TV show, and both James and Carey get roped into going along in order to keep the Tripps from literally killing each other with a 2×4, and ruining everything they’d worked so hard for. The two assistants must make sure America still views them as happily-married, all the while maybe figure out what going on between them as they get closer along the tour.
What I Liked:
- It’s Very Funny! If anyone has read a Christina Lauren novel, you know you’re in for some actually pretty freakin’ hilarious antics to happen! Whether it’s the dialogue or the events that happen, the comedic timing of their books is something that had always made them stand out amongst the other romance titles that release!
- Carey’s Character Growth! She had an incredibly engaging backstory, and her development as the book goes on was for sure one of the biggest highlights! She was incredibly likeable and relatable; I’d want her to be my BFF!
- The Use of Articles/Social Media Posts To Help Tell The Story! Throughout the course of this story, you’re given an inside view of what exactly people think about the Tripps and their show “Home Sweet Home.” You see people’s Twitter Posts, articles written in People and other magazines, and with the couple going all “Hollywood Nightmare,” I thought it was fitting. I especially enjoyed when the marketing team thought they’d had everything under control, but check out that Twitter feed and see that yeah…they didn’t have anything actually under control.
What I Didn’t Like:
- It’s Not So Romantic…Like I’d mentioned earlier, there didn’t seem to be as much focus on the actual romance of the story; it’d actually fallen back into a subplot. It was more about the growth of Carey’s character: to her putting up with the Tripp’s BS to standing up for herself and learning more about herself and what she wants to accomplish in her life, plus dealing with her growing feelings for James. James was a main character with the chapters broken up into focusing on his perspectives too, but his moments weren’t nearly as deep as Carey’s. The romance also just kind of popped out of nowhere: At the beginning, it totally seemed like they hardly liked each other, then after just one non-lethal conversation, they’re all of a sudden head-over-heels for each other, but not able to admit it? I felt like it could’ve happened smoother than that. One thing I did like was how it was James that fell hard first, because who doesn’t appreciate a story when the male is attracted first before the female?
A better story from the writer duo that was saved from disappointment from their last title, I think fans of their books will enjoy this book too. It isn’t the most exciting or most spectacular thing they’ve written, but still quite enjoyable!
They seem to be drifting away from scorching romance, and focusing more on contemporary, female empowering fiction with a lighter sprinkle of romance to add some flavor to the mix. Unfortunately for me, that may mean I might slowly like their books less and less as time goes by just because that’s just not my niche when it comes to what books I choose to read. We’ll see though!
Thanks for Reading!
— Nick Goodsell