Christina Lauren’s newest romance, The Honey-Don’t List, might not be the romance powerhouse’s best, but it’s a delightful addition to CLo’s already amazing library of contemporary romances.
The Honey-Don’t List was exactly what I needed and I adored it. As an initial matter: The Honey-Don’t List is not like other CLo romances. The romance is less developed and there isn’t the same build-up and chemistry that I’ve found in their past books. Still, I found The Honey-Don’t List to be exactly what I was looking for—it was a fast-paced, charming, contemporary romance that left me with a huge smile on my face.
The Honey-Don’t List follows Carey and James, the assistants (de-facto assistant, in James’s case) to Melly and Rusty Tripp, a Chip-and-Joanna-inspired DIY power couple. Their work environment is, and this is putting it lightly, TOXIC. Melly and Rusty may pretend to be the epitome of long-time marital bliss in public, but in private, they’re a disaster. Despite their shared misery, Carey and James aren’t particularly close—or even that fond of each other. But when Carey and James are forced to accompany (i.e., handle and supervise) the Tripps on a multi-city book tour, they begin to realize how much better things could be if they are on the same side.
While I liked the idea of the book tour and the underlying conflict with the Tripps, their behavior was too much. The toxicity and abuse, while important for Carey’s growth and story, were distracting at times. I didn’t appreciate how, ultimately, Melly felt like the villain of the story despite Rusty’s complicity. Melly was verbally and emotionally abusive and her behavior was absolutely inexcusable, but Rusty’s inaction was just as problematic.
I enjoyed The Honey-Don’t List not necessarily as a romance, but as a story about Carey coming into her own and viewing herself as a woman, as an adult, as capable for the very first time in her life. Carey really made this book for me. I loved her voice. I loved watching her come out of her shell with James. I loved watching her begin to prioritize herself and take herself seriously. In fact, Carey might be one of my new favorite CLo characters.
As you can clearly see, I loved Carey. As for James? Honestly, I thought he was cute but he largely stayed in my periphery. I didn’t get a feel for him in the same way that I did with Carey. His character wasn’t nearly as developed as some of my CLo favorites like Josh, Bennett, and Ethan, but I didn’t mind as much because I ultimately enjoyed his interactions with Carey and appreciated what little of his story that we got.
While different from their other romances, The Honey-Don’t List was satisfying, sweet, and just what I needed during this quarantine. CLo remains one of my absolute favorite writing duos and I cannot wait to see what they come out with next.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has not impacted or influenced my opinions.