I had to count my growing stack of Christina Lauren novels before writing this post, and it’s now at five novels! For many that might sound like it’s not a lot, but I think it’s only been a year and a half at most when I came across The Unhoneymooners on Instagram and got hooked. When I hear there’s a new book out by them I am like the grabby hands gif in action. With this now being my fifth book by this author duo it’s like knowing you’ll get something good, but also having higher and higher expectations. Let’s get into my thoughts on the Honey Don’t List!
The Honey Don’t List takes place in a fictional version of the home remodeling tv world, and even this one is ripe with lies and drama. Melissa and Rusty Tripp are soon to be remodeling tv superstars, shot to fame with their recent show, but there is one thing the cameras don’t catch; they hate each other. The Tripp’s two assistants, Carey and James, are the only two individuals who know the truth and deal with it on a daily basis. Most days the couple can be decently managed, but a new book tour changes things as they are all crammed onto a bus for a very long road trip. Suddenly, all the tension is brought forth and James and Carey must rely on each other more as the nightmare grows only more horrific.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I guess let’s start with my one negative with this novel; Rusty and Melissa Tripp feel like they are based on Chip and Joanna Gaines, and that feeling did stick around throughout the book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just strange when I watched and enjoyed their show for years. Joanna had a real obsession with shiplap but we all have an obsession anyway (mine is art/books). For me it all came from the banter the fictional and real couple have on camera, as well as the overall personalities shown. It’s not a writing negative, just one of those weird feelings you can’t shake, and somehow affect your reading experience just enough. To be fair, most of these remodeling couples tend to have the same overall approach, but it really stuck in my head and wouldn’t go away. In the end, it may be only me with that image in my head.
One of Christina Lauren’s strengths with their books is in how they take a common and sometimes cliche idea, and give it a fresh feeling, or coat of paint. Coworkers, or fellow assistants turned romantic interests isn’t a new concept, but from the beginning the author duo does a dive into the world of tv home remodeling, and show us the long hours as well as the strange relationships that come out of a high stress environment such as this. James in this case is still relatively new to his role, at least in comparison to Carey, and a tad bit salty that he is an assistant more so than what he had truly applied for. This frustration sparks some tense moments between him and Carey, and this is before we even get on the bus. That is one relationship out of a whole host, and somehow not even the one that had me the most interested. I think overall this book did a great job with exhibiting a lot of different relationships. Each of the relationships end up being unique, both in the kind of interaction brought on, and how they are begun. The one that constantly had my interest piqued is that of Melissa and Carey, who have worked together since the beginning of the Tripp empire, and are constantly glued together because of their roles. It’s part of the central focus of the book, but it’s also really well done. Both characters in this relationship go through a lot of growth in the story, but also see this relationship differently even throughout that growth. It was just a very realistic showing of how this would likely go down.
I usually rave about Christina Lauren’s characters, and this book will frankly be no different, except maybe it was even better. The main characters, James and Carey, were just as good as all the other characters I’ve read before by the authors, but what set this group apart were the characters Rusty and Melissa. The drama and history these two have in the story just made the writing, other characters, and their disintegrating relationship shine. I don’t think I’ve lived for drama as much as I did in this book. The horrors this couple produced just made me root for James and Carey even more. I guess the best character comparison would be to Umbridge from the Harry Potter series, no one is endeared or excited by that giggle or pink wardrobe, but we all love to hate on her as soon as she and her parade of cat plates come into view on screen. These two start fighting and it’s like, ‘yes, please spill that tea’ as you sip your coffee/tea in the background. It’s just that good.
I think overall, this is yet another great romance novel from this author duo, and another reason for me to keep reading everything they put out. I don’t even think you need to be interested in the home remodeling world, since this book is honestly so focused on the characters, and the relationships between each of them. If you’re looking for a great contemporary romance this book, and any of their other novels would be a great and very quick read to pick up!