📚 The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

Reviewed Mar. 2020

Narrators: Patti Murin, Jon Root
Length: 7 hours 29 minutes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio⎮2020

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Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author behind the “joyful, warm, touching” (Jasmine Guillory, New York Times best-selling 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 16, 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.

The Audiobookworm's Review

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The Honey-Don't List was a Booktube recommendation. I've heard of Christina Lauren before, but never heard any of their books until this one. The author duo has been on the outskirts of my radar for a couple of years now. I don't have a particular interest in romance, so I've never seriously considered listening to their work before. However, The Honey-Don't List was described as being somewhat 'left of center' from their normal romantic comedy style, so I figured it would be a good place to start.

What really intrigued me, though, was the idea of it being based around a Chip and Joanna Gaines-type couple, complete with their own home design reality television show and brand. I love celebrity gossip as much as anyone, but I'm not especially obsessed with the Gaines. In fact, I've never even seen a complete episode of their show, Fixer-Upper. But being a person living in the world, I have heard of them. Now, what really sold me on listening to The Honey-Don't List was the idea that this fictional couple hates each other behind-the-scenes. I know it's not technically celebrity gossip, but it was salacious enough to pique my interest.

The first disappointment was in discovering that the story is told from the point-of-view of the couple's two assistants, not either of the couple of themselves. I guess that makes sense, given that the couple and their marital woes are basically just used as a plot device for these two assistance falling in love. The wife's assistant is the main character and her love interest is the husband's assistant. They are the couple that we are supposed to become invested in and root for, yada yada. But I didn't connect with either of them. That's the kind of disconnect that happens when you take two secondary characters and shove them into the limelight. The two most interesting characters (the celeb couple) were always held at arms length from the reader. Major bummer.

Now, if Christina Lauren were to come back with a spin off told from either of the celebrity couples POV, I would pick it up in a heartbeat. Despite us never really getting close to them, their characters were pretty well fleshed out. We know their backstory, how they met, how things used to be before they made it big, and where everything started to go all wrong. That is where the story should have been. I wanted a redemption arc for them. Their assistants could have had their own spin off.

Aside from that one hugely disappointing aspect, The Honey-Don't List wasn't terrible. The writing was good, if a little bland. It was extremely easy to listen to while working. But I doubt I'll ever pick up anything else from Christina Lauren, because despite having an incredibly intriguing premise, they failed to do notable anything with it. And if The Honey-Don't List is unlike anything else they've written, I already know the rest of her titles won't be for me.

Narration review: Patti Murin and Jon Root did a perfectly respectable job narrating this audiobook. I'm afraid I can't gush about the narration, because it was more than likely dragged down by my disappointment with the story. Murin and Root did nothing that would prevent me from wanting to hear either of them perform again. In fact, I would welcome the opportunity! This was my first time hearing (or hearing of) either of them and I'm excited to have two new narrators on my radar. If you are a fan of Christina Lauren or HGTV-type celebrities, I bet you'll love The Honey-Don't List. And if you're interested in it, I recommend the audiobook. ♣︎

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