New Adult Romance, Romance

My Review: The Honey-Don’t List: by Christina Lauren

Publish Date: March 24th, 2020
Number of Pages: 320 Pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance, Chick-Lit

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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:

  1. 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


My Review: The Unhoneymooners: by Christina Lauren

Publish Date: May 14th, 2019
Number of Pages: 400 Pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

I can treat this trip like an actual vacation on a tropical island. Yes, it’s with my nemesis, but still, I’ll take it.”

– Christina Lauren, “The Unhoneymooners”

The co-author duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings have come together to write another swoon-worthy, romantic comedy title that I think many readers will enjoy immensely!

I for one will always recommend their work towards anyone looking for a funny, romantic, witty, easy going beach read, but lately for me it seems like their books aren’t getting that extra oomph factor that I felt in their Beautiful Bastard series. I still enjoy their books, don’t get me wrong, but it just doesn’t seem like their standalone titles coming out now measure up as much to me.

This title is a great addition to anyone who likes the hate to love, enemies to lovers, fake relationships story tropes, and while it’s not the greatest story involving these kinds of storyline, it’s still a lot of fun to read!

What It’s About:

Olive Torres is a twin sister to Ami and while her sister is in better shape, always wins contests and giveaways, and is getting married to a gorgeous guy; basically Ami seems to have all the luck in the world…Olive does not. On the day of her sister’s wedding, Olive is forced to spend time with her arch-nemesis, Ethan Thomas, who is also the best man and older brother to the groom.

Like they always do, they bicker and get on each other’s nerves, but when disaster strikes and the whole wedding ends up getting violently ill at the reception (Yes, this includes the Bride and Groom), they have an unusual task before them…go on the honeymoon together!. Ami won the whole trip through entering her name countless times into a drawing, it’s non refundable and not able to be rescheduled, so with her luck seemingly about to change, Olive and Ethan unwillingly go to Maui together instead of the bride and groom.

They both expect the absolute worst to happen, and it definitely starts out pretty rough, but when more craziness ensues, and they have to pretend to be happy newlyweds in order to not tip off the other guests and the hotel staff, they just might discover that there might have been some hidden, unrequited feelings beneath all that anger and frustration…

What I Liked:

  1. It Takes Place in Minnesota! Being a native Minnesotan myself, I enjoyed the fact that this story took place in the Twin Cities whenever Olive and Ethan weren’t over in Maui. It gave me a little spark whenever Loring Park, Edina, Dinkytown and other known locations are mentioned because in my head, I’m like: “OMG, I’ve been there! I know exactly where they are! I live here!!” It’s also a little refreshing that it took place in places that are always used in books; like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or San Francisco. Switch it up on the locations and settings of contemporary books, authors!
  2. The Massage Table Scene! I’m just going to leave that there for you to ponder about, so read the book to find out more!
  3. The Boat-Bathroom Scene! Another iconic scene within the story like the one above, but for entirely different reasons! Basically, if anyone’s seen The Proposal with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, get back to me when you’ve read this bathroom scene!
  4. The Ongoing Theme of Luck! The idea of people being lucky or having luck on your side and how it affects your outlook on the world shows up quite a lot in this book. I personally related to Olive a lot on this level because like her, I constantly believe I am unlucky in all aspects of my life, and so I’m a Debbie Downer a lot of the time because I feel like the universe or fate or whatever is against me…um actually bitch, I prefer the term “Rita Realist.”
  5. The Family Dynamics! Olive comes from an extremely large Mexican-American family, and some of the scenes of how much they’re willing to do for each other, how far they go to take care of each other and show their love & support was pure fluff and so heartwarming, so adorable that it became one of the highlights of the book for me!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Really? They’re Each Other’s Worst Enemies?…What I mean about this is that at the beginning of the story, when Ethan and Olive are still in the “hater” phase of their story, it honestly didn’t feel like they actually hated each other all that much. Sure, they were usually annoyed at each other while both trying to rile each other up, but it felt like the back and forths between them could’ve gone further, or have been more dramatic and over the top. It felt more like they were just an old married couple who just had to say some comment on everything the other did, or it was just plain old foreplay and neither one really even realized it until they are trapped in a honeymoon suite in Maui together. The backstory of their rivalry also felt a little weak to me, to be honest. It didn’t feel like something that would cause such a tense relationship over the years, and then to have her completely forgive him right away when he screws up again…It just didn’t add up to me.


Christina Lauren continues to put out another story that is hilarious, fun, easy-going, and lighthearted rom-com of a book that fans of the romance genre will soak in like a 99 cent Mai Tai 😉

I recommend the title to anyone who wants to read a fake relationship, enemies to lovers story trope that has plenty of awkward, laugh inducing moments with a quirky, clumsy heroine and a cynical, aloof guy who turns out to be amazing with a huge heart of gold!

I still wanted a little more from the authors; this title is good, but still not their greatest in my opinion. I feel like they just need to stop playing it safe and really go somewhere, you know? Drive it home and really just go wilder with it. Despite my subtle disappointment, I did enjoy this book of theirs, and will continue to read their stories until my wish is granted!

Side note: If they ever make this into a movie, PLEASE cast Gina Rodriguez to play Olive and maybe someone like Sebastian Stan to play Ethan…I will accept nothing else!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell