Review: The Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST
Christina Lauren
Publication date: March 24, 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Gallery Books and NetGalley
3.25 Stars










S Y N O P S I S

From the New York Times bestselling author behind the “joyful, warm, touching” (Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author) The Unhoneymooners comes a delightfully charming love story about what happens when two assistants tasked with keeping a rocky relationship from explosion start to feel sparks of their own.

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.
 



M Y   T H O U G H T S

Carey had worked for Melissa and Rusty Tripp since she was sixteen and worked in their home décor store. Almost a decade later, as the Tripp’s went from obscurity to fame, Carey had stayed by their side and became an integral, but uncredited, part of their success.

James was hired as an engineer for the Tripp’s mega popular home DIY show but instead found himself thrust into the role of Rusty’s personal assistant. Since his last job ended in scandal, he felt obligated to stay in his role in order to boost his resume before moving on.

The Tripp’s book tour (a book all about maintaining a successful marriage) was about to coincide with a big announcement about the launch of their new TV show. And all of this was happening just as the Tripp’s marriage was imploding. Carey and James were strong-armed into going on tour with Melissa and Rusty in order to keep the peace and ensure their perfect public personas remained intact. And you can imagine just how well that worked out.

While the story is told from James and Carey’s points of view, the focus is largely on the Tripp’s. Their career, their marriage, their drama. It left me feeling like I barely knew Carey and James. And that, in turn, made it hard to feel invested in their relationship and its outcome, or even them as characters. It was easy to empathize with Carey, a young woman who worked tirelessly, had an unhealthy relationship with her employers, and was truly taken advantage of. However, other than a few mentions of her roommates and her brother, Carey had no personal life. Everything about her revolved around Melissa and Rusty Tripp. With James, it was cursory mentions of his former employment and a sister. That was all I learned of James. Again, his story was really told only in relation to the Tripp’s drama.

The Honey-Don't List is billed as a romantic comedy but read more like a sort of humorous look at a marriage going down the tubes and how the fall-out affected those in the wake. Even though it felt very much like the story of Melissa and Rusty Tripp, as told by Carey and James (which was not what I was expecting), it was still entertaining. I enjoyed seeing Carey experience some growth and come into her own. And James was… pleasant. But for me, The Honey-Don’t List was missing much of the charm and humor (and romance!) of Christina Lauren’s previous novels. I think readers who can connect with the HGTV/celebrity aspect will likely get a lot more from this one.


Disclosure: I received a a complimentary copy of this book for review. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.




24 comments

  1. Darn. I've been worried about this one and almost didn't download a copy. Looks like I should've trusted my instincts. I had hope though, especially since I loved Josh and Hazel so much. I'm not thrilled about reading a story about a marriage going down the tubes. Sorry to hear this was less than stellar. Great honest review, Tanya.

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    1. Thanks, Rachel. I hate giving a Christina Lauren book a less then glowing review, but I guess they can't all be winners. This one really wasn't what I was expecting (or wanted) and kind of missed the mark for me. I really hope it will work better for you if you decide to try it.

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  2. Even our favorite authors have a few duds every once in a while. Thanks for calling it like you see it!

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    1. So true, Ethan. They can't all be five star reads. :)

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  3. I feel like enjoying this book is a matter of managing expectations. I knew early on, that this was not going the rom-com route. It was funny, but the romance between Carey and James was too minor to call this a romance. I did feel it leaned women's fiction, and from that perspective, I appreciated Carey's personal journey. I enjoyed this book, but I probably would have loved it, had there been more focus on Carey and James

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    1. Maybe expectations was part of it. Even its own blurb bills it as a rom-com and that's simply not what it is. I did like Carey's journey (that was probably my favorite aspect) but I really finished feeling like I didn't know much about her or James. And that's what I wanted.

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  4. I was so fascinated by Carey and the Tripps' dysfunctional relationship that I didn't feel the same way about missing out on Carey and James. I kind of liked how it all played out.I would have liked to know more, but I was good. Sorry you didn't love it as much as you wanted to. Great review, though!

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    1. Thanks Deanna. And I'm so glad Honey_Don't worked for you! I wish it had worked better for me, but... *shrugs* Can't love 'em all. :)

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  5. Ah, sorry this one didn't work for you! I can understand why. If I'm reading a book about a couple, I want the focus to BE on that couple and have everyone else as the window dressing, not the other way around.

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    1. Exactly! I really didn't want to get that into all the Tripp's drama. It would have been great to have that happening on the side while keeping the focus on Carey and James. I really would have liked to got to know them more.

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  6. Hmm, really not what I was expecting. I thought the story would be more about Carey and James, but it almost sounds like they're hardly in it!

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    1. They're definitely in it - practically every scene - but it still never felt like their story. The focus was always on the Tripp's and that just wasn't what I wanted. :(

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  7. I'm so bummed. I'll probably give this one a pass, but who knows. Great review!

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    1. I hope you'll love it if you do decide to give it a try, Alison!

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    1. Yeah, just a bit. It wasn't really what I expected (or wanted). But they can't all be winners. :)

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  9. I am glad that you were able to enjoy this one even though it wasn't quite a charming as some of their others. Great review!

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    1. Thanks Carole! Yes, it wasn't quite what I expected but still entertaining. :)

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  10. Definitely sounds like it's not Christina Lauren's typical style. Sorry it wasn't exactly what you were hoping for.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Yeah, this one didn't seem to measure up to some of their earlier books. But it was still okay. Not a total letdown. :)

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  11. Oh no, I'm sorry to hear that this one was a bit of a let down. I've been so excited for this book but I have seen some mixed reviews, although not that many. The story actually sounds a little complicated 🤔 Very curious to see what I'll think of it. It's been a hot minute since I read CLo! Great review :)

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    1. I'll be realy interested to see what you think of it, Dini. Many of my other blogger friends have loved so I hope you will, too!

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  12. I agree with you about the HGTV/celebrity aspect. I thoroughly enjoyed that part, which made this a good read for me, but I definitely would have preferred a lot more scenes with Carey and James even if it meant making the book longer.

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    1. That probably made a difference for me, Suzanne. I don't even really watch TV, and had zero interested in the HGTV/reality TV/celebrity aspect of the story. I think because that part just left me cold, I wanted more relationship stuff to make up for it, and that wasn't there, either.

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