The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

Posted June 22, 2020 by Kate

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina LaurenCheck out on Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Also by this author: The Unhoneymooners
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Libby (My Library app)

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 read The Honey-Don’t List for a romance vlog I was filming on reading popular recent romance releases – as many as I could get on my Libby app.  I’ve been excited for this one since I found out about its release, mainly because it features two of my favorite tropes in romance: a forced proximity workplace romance, and a friends-to-lovers read… plus I’ve always been a bit too obsessed with HGTV.

The Honey-Don’t List follows Carey Douglas, who has worked for the home remodel and design guru’s Melissa and Rusty Tripp for almost a decade, and all of her adult life. The Tripp’s have built a fantastic brand from their single storefront almost ten years ago, now with multiple stores, two books, and a show on the HGTV Network. But now they’re going on a book tour, about to announce their own spinoff show… and suddenly can’t stand each other. At least, more than usual.

I want to make her life better by being the best thing in it.

Carey, Melissa’s overworked assistant, idea-guru, and the backbone of the brand, is tasked to join the Tripps on their book tour, along with Rusty’s new “assistant” James. Of course, James, an MIT grad, was originally hired as a structural engineer, so he’s not too happy about the turn his job has taken. But both Carey and James are forced to stick to their jobs for the time being and are given the impossible task to keep the Tripps in line during the book tour. 

I really love Carey. She was so loyal to the Tripps, and was so incredibly talented, yet she had zero confidence in herself. I just wanted to wrap her in a hug. She’s tied to her job because, well, somehow she loves the Tripps (in spite of the fact that she also kind of hates them) and desperately needs the health insurance that comes with the job. She has focal dystonia, which means she has some trouble with her hands cramping and spasm-ing, and generally being uncooperative.

James, too, was really fun. He’s an engineer and the fact that he’s forced to babysit his bosses? Hilarious! He has no idea what to do with all the tension and emotions in the room. But once he gets down to it, he really falls in deep with Carey, and I love how he wasn’t afraid to show her how much and to stand up for her.

James McCann: assistant, engineer, and infatuated boyfriend, at your service

But I have to admit, I do wish we got a bit more of this one. I wanted more design, more HGTV! The book took place on a bus during a book tour, so I didn’t get all the home-improvement scenes I was expecting. I wanted to see Carey in action! The romantic build-up was very sweet and I really enjoyed it, but I also felt like it moved a bit fast. We were through a significant portion of the book before romantic feelings started to be felt, which made the wrap-up at the end feel rather insta-love-y. I understood why they felt the way they did towards each other, but I needed more, instead of a rushed ending.

That being said, the concept of this book was incredibly enjoyable. Watching the Tripps rip into each other backstage with vitriol, and then “turn it on” for the cameras was pretty hilarious in parts, and I actually enjoyed that Christina and Lauren didn’t shy away from having the Tripps be a large part of the book. It wasn’t smutty, it wasn’t consistently funny, but it was pleasant and enjoyable, and seems to be a hallmark of the new Christina Lauren brand the two are cooking up, definitely moving more into contemporary romance than rom-com.

(Also, if you enjoyed Set it Up on Netflix, you will enjoy this one. Or vice-versa! I freaking love that rom-com movie!!) 

Watch my Vlog!

Click on the image above to watch my reading vlog! 
(Or read the other reviews here: The Friend Zone, The Right Swipe, Honey-Don’t List,
You Deserve Each Other, If I Never Met You)

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Have you read a Christina Lauren book? What are some of your favorite forced proximity or workplace romances? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

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