Title: The Honey-Don’t List
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 24 March 2020
Synopsis from Goodreads
From the New York Times, bestselling author behind the “joyful, warm, touching” (Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling 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 remodelling 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 favourite 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…
The Honey Don’t List is about living your life for you and having the belief in yourself to achieve your dreams and not life someone else’s.
The format of the story is a little unusual, including police transcripts, extracts from the Tripp’s book as well as alternating perspectives between Carey and James.
Carey is a wonderful person with incredible talent, however, she is also her own worse enemy, convincing herself the position she is in is better than she deserves (which is completely false btw). However, over the course of her career with the Tripp’s the nature of her job has altered dramatically without the validation to go along with it. Not only has her job changed but so have the Tripp’s, the pressure and the fame taking its toil, including dividing the once-happy couple. Sadly, the escalating discord between the Tripp’s results in Carey having to act as a babysitter to them during their book tour.
James is a relative newbie in the Tripp’s world, hired for his engineering abilities but increasingly manoeuvred into acting as Russell Tripp’s assistant. James has had a raw deal in his career and is desperately trying to resurrect his resume with his current position, although he never expected to be playing childminder to a married couple.
James and Carey don’t particularly get on well in the beginning, mainly due to Carey’s inability to see herself clearly and the baggage she carries from her humble origins and the movement disorder she has, dystonia. Although there is always an undercurrent of attraction between them.
As the book tour progresses so does the relationship between Carey and James; I loved the way James viewed Carey and how he anticipated her needs without the need for her to verbalise them. I loved how Carey’s confidence in herself grew alongside the tour and her blossoming relationship with James.
Sadly, nothing is ever that easy and with the Tripp’s escalating dysfunction affecting Carey and James’ job security, the future for them both looks uncertain.
While the relationship between James and Carey plays a large part in the plot, it is Carey’s emotional growth which for me, was the outstanding feature of the story 💕