Published by Gallery Books on 24th March 2020
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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…
I’ve never quite had an awful read by the dynamic duo Christina Lauren though some do fall into mediocrity. By and large, this is an author-duo whose works I do like to go back to from time to time.
‘The Honey-Don’t List’ is testament to their smoothly-paced writing that I always expect with characters that generally don’t fly off the handle at the poke of a fork, which is always nice.
That it’s built around a growing relationship between two behind-the-scenes ‘side’ characters in a drama involving a showbiz couple making them the protagonists instead of the ones in the limelight is itself a refreshing change, as James McCann and Carey Douglas navigate the tricky waters of keeping the happy front of the PR machine going. Their employers—Rusty and Melly—the up-and-up couple of Comb+Honey (a home-remodelling-décor shop turned empire) are the ones who behave badly instead and keepers of the peace Janes and Carey finally get to know each other when thrust into a situation that unpleasantly places them in the centre of an exploding domestic feud.
Giving some light and love to James/Carey as fully-fledged characters—when most assistants tend to be secondary figures who stay in the shadows—is something I appreciated from the start. James and Carey have their own stories, their own pain and their own issues and for this reason, stand sharply in contrast to the selfish and manipulative A-listers—making both fairly likeable and relatable.‘The Honey-Don’t List’ isn’t bogged down by unnecessary angst; it’s just buoyed along by growing friendship and some external drama—not heavy enough such that it’ll take gnashing of teeth and tearing of garments to get through.
For a rom-com, it’s an easy (though admittedly not strongly memorable) read without the jagged highs or deep lows along with a hearty dose of millennial self-questioning and for some, that’s probably good enough.