Woohoo! I’ve been waiting to read The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (Gallery Books, 2019) since I learned of its existence, and there was a copy waiting for me last week on the New Books shelf at the library. I’ve been a Christina Lauren fan for ages, so it’s always a banner day when I’m able to grab a copy of their latest.
Olive Torres’s twin sister Ami is getting married. Ami’s always had good luck, while Olive is more the trip-UP-the-stairs kind of gal. While she’s happy for her sister, Olive doesn’t care for Ami’s smarmy, bro-ey husband-to-be, Dane, and even more than that, she can’t stand Dane’s brother, Ethan, who judged her from the first time they met. Insults fly fast between the two of them anytime they’re within five hundred feet of each other, but Olive’s doing her best to keep things cool for her sister’s big day.
However, an incident with food poisoning at the seafood-based dinner throws the whole reception into chaos, leaving shellfish-allergic Olive and buffet-avoidant Ethan the only ones not revisiting their dinners. Upon Ami’s insistence, Olive and Ethan pose as Ami and Dane to take advantage of the honeymoon trip to Maui that Ami had won. But posing as a married couple has unforeseen consequences as Olive runs into her new boss (for whom honesty and integrity are key) and Ethan runs into his ex-girlfriend, whom he never completely got over. In all their pretending, the two actually fall for each other, but the real test of the strength of their blossoming connection comes when they return home to their real lives.
While I ended up actually really enjoying The Unhoneymooners, it started off just a little slow for me, and I think that was due to the fact that other than being cynical and sarcastic, I didn’t have a good sense of who Olive really was. The more I think about it, since this is something that comes up later in the book in terms of Olive’s career, this may have been intentional, especially since she does develop of stronger sense of self and begins to clarify what she wants (and doesn’t want) as the story goes on.
Ethan isn’t wholly likable at first, either, although, seen through Olive’s eyes, he’s not meant to be. He definitely has his flaws, ones that Olive rightfully walks away from at a certain moment, but overall, he’s just as well-developed as Olive turns out to be. Together, their banter is sharp, witty, and as laugh-out-loud fun as any other Christina Lauren couple, though I definitely preferred their later-on banter over their early pre-getting together banter.
Dane is an entire piece of work, and the team here really knocked it out of the park writing one of the sleaziest, yet still completely believable characters in contemporary first-person romance. I only wish they’d included more backstory on what made Ami fall for him in the first place, because his personality and particular brand of bro-ey-ness was so off-putting to me, let alone all the complications that arise with him later on in the story. He never seemed flat or unrealistic, and I daresay far too many women have met guys who fall into the category of being a Dane. UGH. Well written, CL!!!
The second half was much more engaging than the first for me, so while this wasn’t my #1 favorite Christina Lauren novel, I enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to whatever they come up with next!
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