When picking up a Christina Lauren (CLo) book, readers can count on a delicious blend of emotional ups and downs, slice-of-life hilarity and happy endings worthy of an ugly cry (or at least a beautiful, artful tear that rolls down your cheek). The queens of romantic comedy celebrate their 25th book with The Honey-Don’t List, in which two employees of married DIY superstars must keep the couple from imploding in public.
Carey Duncan has worked for the Tripps for over a decade; they’re like a second family. Unfortunately, Rusty and Melissa Tripp cannot stand each other. With a new home improvement Netflix show on the horizon, disaster looms as the Tripps and their crew embark on a promotional road trip. Carey’s role as mediator gets a boost in the form of James McCann, an engineering whiz and new addition to the team. While on the road, the two must contend with close quarters, unexpected chemistry and wrangling the Tripps’ marital dramatics.
Carey is the ultimate sweetheart. She’s dedicated to those close to her and earnestly expresses her emotions. There’s a raw quality to her that motivates others to be better and, to her occasional annoyance, brings out the protective nature of her friends and family. Carey lives with a movement disorder that often affects her hands, and while it’s a routine part of her life, she’s also cognizant that others may view it as a defining characteristic of who she is. For frequent readers of Lauren’s work, Carey likely tops many lists of favorite CLo heroines because of her goodness. She’s a genuinely kind person, and sometimes we all need a reminder that those kinds of people exist, fictionality aside.
The Honey-Don’t List’s leading man, James, is just as charming. The pair get off on the wrong foot—James is the new guy with big ideas, whereas Carey is far more experienced in the idiosyncrasies of her bosses. They eventually realize that there is strength in numbers, and with extended time on the road, they’ll need to rely on each other to keep the Tripps’ sham marriage from getting out. The tenderness James exhibits toward Carey is a magnificent reminder that love isn’t about forcing someone to match our ideals, but that it comes from adjustment and widening our hearts to make room for the unexpected.
The comedic beats are sharp and always impeccably timed to temper some of the more serious moments. These moments feel like well-placed reminders that everything is going to be OK. CLo fans will be delighted that their writing is as rock solid as ever, and newcomers should look forward to beginning what will undoubtedly become a life-long love affair with the author duo.