Tensions run hot, but chemistry runs even hotter in these two enemies-to-lovers romances. Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners transports two prickly siblings-in-law to gorgeous Maui, where the fiction of a honeymoon becomes quite real. And The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker gets creative with live theatre, as a snarky critic butts heads with an actress who comes from a theatrical dynasty.
Olive Torres and Ethan Thomas’ siblings were due to be married and off to Hawaii for their honeymoon. But when a food-borne illness ravages the wedding party, Olive and Ethan are the only two left standing. With the honeymoon nonrefundable, both bride and groom insist they go in their stead. The only problem is that Olive and Ethan don’t exactly get along. In fact, simply uttering a kind word to each other would take an act of god.
They set off for Maui with the understanding that, once there, they would do their own thing until the honeymoon is up. Unfortunately, familiar faces pop up in paradise, and Ethan and Olive get caught up in their newlywed charade. As they enjoy a couple’s massage, snorkeling and even a frustrating game of paintball, Olive and Ethan realize that their dislike stems from terrible first impressions on both sides. Though, when a huge secret is revealed, any hope for a friendship, let alone a romantic relationship, seems to be heartbreakingly dashed.
Filled with Christina Lauren’s seamless blend of wit and romance, and peppered with adorably nerdy moments, The Unhoneymooners perfectly illustrates how easy it is to get swept up in the tranquil bubble of a tropical vacation, where everything seems perfect, your nemesis looks positively criminal in their bathing suit and mai tais are a powerful, transformative truth serum. But what happens when real life resumes? If you can’t make it to a gorgeous Hawaiian beach, this warm and bubbly romance isn’t a bad substitute for sunny relaxation.
Though The Austen Playbook doesn’t have sandy beaches, the insular setting of a live television production amps up the stakes of this romance. Freddy Carlton is a veteran of the theatre scene, having started her career at the age of 11. When she’s cast in a new interactive murder mystery play titled The Austen Playbook, there’s only one thing that can dampen her excitement: James “Griff” Ford-Griffin.
Griff is one of the toughest theatre critics around, known for his caustic reviews and harsh sarcasm. He also panned one of Freddy’s recent performances. Too bad for Freddy that Griff is personally invested in The Austen Playbook, as the production will be performed at his family’s estate.
Freddy is an eternal optimist, a direct contrast to Griff’s more grumpy nature. With the two temporarily fixed in each other’s orbit during the play’s production, Griff’s moody disposition is hopelessly drawn to Freddy’s infectious and affable nature. If a live TV production wasn’t enough to tip Freddy and Griff’s relationship over the edge, there are high-strung actors, fraught moments of backstage cattiness and juicy family secrets. Learning her lines is the least of Freddy’s worries. Both Freddy and Griff have their own motivations for making the show a success, but flirtations, scandals and schemes push the pair to their limits.
Charming and honestly just plain fun, The Austen Playbook should be an immediate hit with Austen fans and theatre geeks.