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

The Honey Don't List by Christina Lauren book cover

The Honey Don't List by Christina Lauren book coverCan Christina Lauren write a bad book? So far, I’m not convinced that mediocrity is in their vocabulary. They are one of my few automatic buy authors – every book I’ve read by them has been good (and The Unhoneymooners is one of my favorite books ever). Their latest book, The Honey-Don’t List is perfect for HGTV junkies – it focuses around the two exhausted and undervalued assistants to a TV home renovation power couple.

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…

Christina Lauren consistently produces high quality writing – that’s something you can depend on with their books. For the most part, you can also count on them striking the fine balance between drama and tension between their romantic leads with cute, romantic moments. For the most part, they struck that balance with The Honey-Don’t List, at least with the exception of the very end of the book. In the big finale, the drama was overwhelming and really ruined the relationship between Carey and James. The ending was an overdramatic moment that wasn’t very believable and felt like a bit of a cop out way to end the book.

Carey was a slightly frustrating character – she routinely refused to help herself to get out of her frustrating work situation. She was in a position that might be familiar to lots of people – she had grown to have a sort of Stockholm syndrome towards her employers. Carey began working for the Tripps in her teens, and over a decade later she had dedicated her entire life to them. From the beginning of the book it was clear that she felt an unreciprocated loyalty towards the Tripps, even though they were clearly taking advantage of her and had definitely overstepped her boundaries many times. While by the end of the book she had definitely realized how blind she had been to the Tripps’ manipulations, she hadn’t become as independent as I would have expected – her character growth fell a bit short.

The relationship between Carey and James was classic rom-com material: enemies to lovers, with one person realizing their feelings before the other. There was nothing groundbreaking about their relationship, but it was a cute romance, at least until the last big blow up. Towards the very end (without spoiling anything) James did something pretty damn stupid and unforgivable, basically lying to Carey for a reason that was shaky at best. Up until that point, their relationship had been one of my favorites that Christina Lauren had written – but that final fight really ruined the couple for me. After that point I was pretty actively rooting against them, honestly.

Funny, relatable, and super cute, The Honey Don’t List was a very good romantic comedy by Christina Lauren. It wasn’t my favorite rom-com by them (that title still belongs to The Unhoneymooners), but it was a good standalone novel by them. If you love HGTV (especially Chip and Joanne) and house flipping shows as much as I do, this book will be a home run for you. 4/5

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