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The Honey-Don't List

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From the New York Times bestselling author behind 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 Duncan has worked for home remodeling 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 favorite 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…

308 pages, Hardcover

First published March 24, 2020

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About the author

Christina Lauren

101 books64.2k followers
Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced eighteen New York Times bestselling novels. Their books have been translated into 30+ languages. (Some of these books have kissing. Some of these books have A LOT of kissing.)

We don't respond to private messages here, so please contact us via twitter (@seeCwrite for Christina and @LolaShoes for Lauren) or our site. Thank you!!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,473 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,128 reviews39.2k followers
June 23, 2020
Oh yesssss. I got one of my favorite romance duo’s books and celebrating with happy dance (I made a change and forced my mother in law and husband dance for me this time which was pathetic experience. They don’t know what the meaning of rhythm is!!!) but well, I got a little disappointed from my read. This is definitely not what I was invested for….


You want to send friend requests to those beautiful characters and wear BFF bracelets:

Lately I read “Twice in a Blue Moon” and I think so far that was the worst book of the duo. I couldn’t believe that was the work of this incredible couple. Thankfully this book is not a big disappointment like that one because we have likable hero and heroine and their back stories are perfectly developed. It’s impossible not to feel for Carey, a small town girl, started to work for couple when she was only 16, they slowly replace the place of her family. They became partly her mother and father, uncle and aunt, close friends etc. So she formed an emotional bound with them.
She has her own insecurities, secrets and she needs this job so bad because of her personal reasons but after 10 years, the relationship balances changed between her and the couple. They turned into spoiled kids meet dictatorial narcissistic maniacs and she is trapped with the couple who hate each other passionately.

And James: nerd hottie engineer of your dreams is also trapped in this job (he wasn’t even hired for engineering skills, they wanted him to babysit Rusty- flirty, adventurous, childish man who needs to be controlled 24/7-) because the previous company he worked for got involved into a scandal so he didn’t have too much job choices.
He just dived into this one and made the mistake of his life.

So many resemblances with Netflix’s “Set it up” movie:

At “Set it up” two corporate executive assistants suffered from their exploiter, workaholic, selfish bosses’ never ending demands and they decide matchmaking them to get their lives back. In this story, those selfish assholes are already married and two young assistants are stuck with their childish, illogical demands, doing their best to make them not choke each other for the sake of their work.
I think if Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt would stay married, they could turn into real versions of Rusty and Melissa. Their character development matched so good with them.

Romance parts are failed for me because they were haphazard, sudden:
They never attracted each other but after spending only few days, they were smitten and I couldn’t process how they fell in love and of course something James did (I’m not gonna spill the beans) wasn’t so forgivable for me. We wasted so much time about their work environments and this asshole couple’s non-stop spoiled brat acting. When we finish the first half of the book, we barely see the attraction of James and Carey.

I gave 3.25 stars so it is solid 3 stars read for me. The resemblances of the Netflix movie (I’m sorry to say but movie was better rom-com, at least asshole bosses are more likable. Oh, please! We’re talking about Lucy Liu and charming Taye Diggs!), lack of hot chemistry and emotional parts shaped my decision about this quick read. As a humorous fiction, this book worked for me with its satisfyingly fair ending but romance parts failed for me. I love this duo so so so so much. If I have a time, I still want to reread some of their works including “Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating” but this is not as good as their previous works and I expected more and more!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Galley Books to share one of my favorite duo’s book’s ARC COPY in exchange my honest review.

Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,417 reviews77.6k followers
February 9, 2020
Part of the reason I had a difficult time connecting with this novel isn't because it is poorly written or flawed, but because my expectations were in a completely different place than the direction that this book chose to take. This clearly isn't the fault of the authors, simply a missed connection on my side. Like many other readers, I'm a bonafide fan of the classic Christina Lauren rom com, and feel that no one can deliver a belly busting laugh quite like this lovable duo. That said, I think the team is starting to take their books in more of a women's/contemporary fiction direction, with lighter romance and a more serious tone. I applaud them for staying true to what they want to write, and while this new style isn't my particular go-to, I hope that readers who thoroughly enjoy the genre will find these books and devour them heartily. If you enjoy a read that is lighter on the romance, but still features a love story worth cheering for, please give this one a try for yourself!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
780 reviews12.2k followers
February 11, 2020
The Middle is Good

The Honey Don’t List is a romance about two personal assistants who find love while trying to keep their bosses’ marriage from imploding.

Carey has been working for Melissa (Melly) and Rusty Tripp since she was 16. Now Carey is 26 years old and works as Tripp's assistant. Carey has watched the Tripp's rise to fame for their home improvement ideas. The couple has their own HGTV shows, written best-selling books, and have a new show about to launch on Netflix. The only thing is their perfect marriage has turned into one giant sham. Carey takes care of all the work behind the scenes, including helping Melly and Rusty keep up the pretense of having the perfect marriage. When James joins the staff as an engineer, he finds that his job is more looking after Rusty than doing the work he desires. Carey and James’ relationship is prickly, but when the two accompany the Tripp’s on a book signing tour, the two find themselves becoming allies and then something more. Will their newly developing relationship survive the trip or will the demands of the Tripp’s ruin their relationship before it even gets off the ground?

I enjoyed The Honey-Don't List, but I didn’t love it. It’s a light and fluffy easy read, but the focus on The Tripp's and rushed romance between Carey and James annoyed me. The beginning was a little grueling, as it focuses mostly on the Tripp's. The ending was rushed and it didn’t feel like Carey and James’ relationship ever had a chance to properly develop. They spend two weeks together, fall in love, and then after a brief blip, it’s HEA. I loved the middle part of the book when Carey and James begin their romantic relationship, but there just wasn't enough time spent on them to make me root for them in the end.

The Honey-Don't List is a little different than previous CL novels, which was nice, but it's also missing the spark seen in their other books. It’s not full of snark or wit like in Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, nor is it filled with an intensity that is shown in Love and Other Words. I liked Carey’s character a lot and Jame’s character is decent, but he is underdeveloped. Overall, I wish there had been more time spent on James and Carey’s budding relationship vs the awful people they work for. While not a favorite, it served its purpose as an enjoyable escape read.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Danielle.
791 reviews387 followers
July 6, 2020
Thus far I’ve really enjoyed Christina Lauren’s books. They provide the right amount of angst vs. steam. 🤗 This book definitely had some of that. But something felt a bit off with the story to me. It could be that I kept picturing Chip and Jo Gaines.....🤷🏼‍♀️ Which made me not like the HGTV aspects of this book. It was still an entertaining read. 🙂
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,473 reviews19.2k followers
March 26, 2020
I have to be honest, y'all. I think I have fallen out of love with Christina Lauren's new brand of romance. I was definitely into the less-smutty books they were putting out at first, but with each new release I find myself more bored than the last and really, really missing the raunchy smut they used to deliver. This book wasn't necessarily bad, but I feel like it really lacked personality and was just... boring. I am a sad panda because I wanted so desperately to love this but I clearly did not :c
Profile Image for Anne.
3,864 reviews69.2k followers
December 25, 2021
Oh, wow. I see a lot of people didn't care for this one.
I really liked it, although looking at some of the other reviews, I think your mileage may vary.
It reminded me of a mashup of one of those goofy HGTV 'couples shows' that I've never watched but am sort of aware of out of the side of my eye, and that Netflix Rom-com about the two assistants that hate their bosses and end up falling for each other.
I had to go look and it's called Set It Up. Very cute little movie if you haven't seen it yet.


So, the gist is that you have this talented power couple, Melissa & Rusty Tripp. They're part of a hit design show, preparing for their own solo show to drop on Netflix, and heading out on a bus tour to promote their new book on marriage. He's a laid back goofy guy and she's the adorable glue that keeps their world turning.
They are just PERFECT.


Except they aren't. <--any of that!
He's drunk 99% of the time and fucking a co-star, and she's an uptight monster that rules her domain with tiny iron claws.


Now, I don't know about you, but every time I see one of these happy couples from reality tv plastered all over magazines, usually with some caption squeaking about how Karen McPerfect is going to share the secrets of how she and Chad McPerfect have kept the passion alive in their marriage?
Yeah. No.
Not for one second do I believe that those people are happy. Or at least that they are any happier than the rest of us are in our relationships. PLUS, I always assume that it must suck donkey balls to have to smile and pretend that your other half doesn't wear your nerves with their nonsense?
If the ability to eat and pay our mortgage depended on continually propping up the image that my husband & I were always madly in love with each other?
We'd be two hobos fighting over a can of beans right now.


Enter the assistants, Carey & James, who after walking in on Rusty banging a former Miss America in the sound room, have been relegated to babysitting the increasingly volatile couple while on the book tour circuit.
Carey has been with the Tripps since she was a teenager and has a lot of complicated history with the couple. She does far more for Melissa than just get her dry cleaning and keep her schedule straight, but to the outside world, she's just a high school dropout that was lucky to hook up with the Tripps when she did. James, on the other hand, has only been Rusty's assistant for a few months. He's an engineer (which was the job he actually applied for) coming from a disgraced company and needs this gig to help him get the stink off of his resume.
Normally Rusty and Melissa avoid each other, so James & Carey aren't around each other much.
However, this new turn of events pushes them into close quarters for the duration of the tour, and while they are completely different on the surface, they grudgingly come to not only respect but truly like each other.
More than like, in fact.<--because this is a romance, goddammit!
*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*


So how does it all end?


Or something like that...

Anyway. It thought it was a cute story. Christian Lauren is somewhat hit or miss with me when it comes to these chick-litish romances, but this time around it was a win.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,121 reviews17.7k followers
April 30, 2020
4.5 🌟

I do not understand the mixed reviews for this, and quite frankly don’t want to, because I LOVED this!

For any good story to leave an impact on me I have to love the characters and I loved them a ton. They both come from somewhat broken backgrounds and whilst sorting through their mess, they formed the sweetest relationship.
I loved the backdrop of interior design we had, how the focus wasn’t just on our main characters but on the people that were around them as well, and seeing what role they played and the impact they had.

I just... want to sing it’s praises tbh. I can’t wait for a reread already.


They’re back at it again.
This’ll be an easy preorder.

Get in me basket you!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,506 reviews30.9k followers
February 9, 2020
okay. so. this isnt quite like any other CL novel ive read before. when picking up a CL book, ive come to except either a really funny story or a really touching story. and this is neither. this is pleasant enough, but its missing that classic CL charm that i have come to know and love.

and although i didnt quite fall in love with this, there is still much that i enjoyed. the writing is nice, the story is well paced, and the plot is unique (perfect for fans of chip and joanna gaines!). its also really refreshing to read some of the story from the guys POV, as well. i thought it was a breath of fresh air when

overall, this isnt bad. its probably more accurately a really good 3 star book, but im rounding up because im such a fan of CL.

massive thanks to gallery books for the ARC!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,034 reviews3,549 followers
February 19, 2020
Well, the dynamic duo are back! (Cue the applause and cheers!)

After reading the last release Twice In A Blue Moon by this amazing writing team it seemed their magic was waning. Perish the thought! With this newest read they once again rise to the top of their game!

Do you watch HDTV? Those countless, mind-numbing renovation shows where a couple create someone’s dream home. Or perhaps flip a dive of a house into something beautiful? They’ve created an empire on their names, fame and creativity. Fair enough. But what happens when things start to go south?

Melly and Rusty are the latest king & queen of home-reno. Now it’s time to take the show on the road for the mandatory promotional tour. Guest appearances, autograph signing, etc. Except everything seems to be coming apart at the seams!

Enter the personal assistants!

Carey Douglas has been with team Melly and Rusty since they were a humble local storefront. The only job she has ever had!

James McCann is an engineer by training but due to a scandal with his previous employer, this is the only job he could get.That’s gotta’ hurt! A title of Engineer, but at the end of the day…Rustys’ errand boy.

Together, James and Carey have their hands full and must work together to keep their employers in line long enough to complete the tour.

A delightful, quick rom-com that I devoured so quickly I was shocked when reached the end! This may have lacked some of the previous biting, snarkiness, but was sweet, engaging and back to the clever humor that we’ve grown to love from this pair of writers. Joy!

Don’t miss out on the acknowledgement at the end! Gives you a true insight into the development of this book and their respect for each other. Fascinating! We could probably all take lessons from their working relationship!

A fabulous buddy read with Susanne that we both really enjoyed!

Thank you to NetGalley, Rachel Brenner at Gallery Books and Christina Lauren for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,755 reviews32k followers
March 10, 2020
3.5 stars

 photo F54F4D57-9C59-4BD9-8F0F-86540EB424ED_zpseqogjdrl.png

I love a good slow burn romance and this one was great. It had sweet and heartfelt moments, funny moments, and overall entertained me.

Carey has been Melissa Tripp's assistant for a long while. In fact, she's worked for the Tripps her entire adult life. James has recently started and he is an engineer, but also assisting Rusty Tripp. The Tripps are a DIY power couple with a show and now a book deal. The problem... they can't stand each other. While on a book tour, their assistants have to go to keep them in line. And it's a wild ride.

I really loved the romance aspect of this book, but there was so much about the couple that Carey and James worked for... I do wish that part wasn't such a big piece of the story. If this would have focused more heavily on the main couple and their romance, it may have been a 5 for me. I loved these two so much! I honestly think this book is more women's fiction than romance, though I loved the romance so much!
I feel visable for the first time in maybe forever- but it isn't scary. Being with James is like standing in the softest, most flattering spotlight.

Christina Lauren are such a strong writing duo. Their words flow seamlessly, and I enjoyed their newest book lots. If you're looking for a work-place romance that has that delicious slow burn, pick up The Honey-Don't List.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,198 reviews26k followers
February 11, 2020
This book was very meh unfortunately. I love Christina Lauren with all my heart and soul but this book was just not it. This book was lacking that Christina Lauren spark and magic and charm that I love so much about their books. We follow these characters Carey and James as they are working for these celebrities Rusty and Melissa who have this home decorating show and a book and they are just super famous. Carey and James are forced to go with them on their upcoming book tour to avoid disaster and along the way they start to have feelings for each other.

I feel like this story was way too focused on the Rusty/Melissa Tripp drama and I just couldn’t care less about them or their tv show or their publicity stunts. The romance between Carey and James was cute enough, but at the same time I felt like I never really connected with their characters and I wasn’t rooting for them to get together.

I feel like this book was trying to be many things at once: at times it felt like a dramatic soap opera with the Tripps and their drama, and then it felt like a thriller with the interview clips from the detective asking these characters what happened, I thought it was leading to something crazy like murder or something! But it was very underwhelming and nothing even close to what I was expecting.

Unfortunately this is another Christina Lauren book that just didn’t work for me. I feel so terrible for disliking the last two books they’ve published, but The Unhoneymooners is one of my favorite books of all time, so I’m desperate for something that fun to read again. I’ll always read anything they write, but this one just wasn’t for me.

Huge thanks to Kristin Dwyer and Gallery Books for sending me an ARC of this book!
Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,583 followers
June 25, 2020

Many thanks to Rachel at Gallery Books for the copy in exchange for an honest review
"Relationships are a lot like houses: without a good foundation, they'll crumble."

3.5 stars... sigh... this book was definitely an improvement compared to Twice In a Blue Moon but I must say that I am still pretty disappointed.

So, what's this book about?
Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling 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 favorite 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…

As Chelsea said in her amazing review, Christina Lauren seems to be change their style more towards women's fiction which isn't a bad thing. I just miss the romance style of The Unhoneymooners.

I was not totally a fan of the TV show host drama because it felt like a bit of a jab towards TV hosts in real life. I also hated the way Melissa treated everyone and how it wasn't ever really dealt with.

I did enjoy the relationship between James and Carey though. It was sweet and I enjoy the occasional semi-insta-love story.

Overall, this book wasn't that bad. The problem was that I went into it with low expectations which ended up making me pessimistic but the book ended up being okay.

Bottom Line:
3.5 stars
Age Rating - [ PG-13 ]
Content Screening (Mild Spoilers)
Positive Messages (...?)
Violence (1/5) - [Brief violence]
Sex (2/5) - [Sexual themes, Off-page sex scene]
Language (1/5) - [Brief use of Sh*t, D*mn, F*ck]
Drinking/Drugs (3/5) - [Alcohol consumption]
Trigger and Content Warnings - Violence, Divorce
Publication Date: March 24th, 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Genre: Romance/Contemporary


3.5 stars. It was good but still pretty eh. Less eh than TIABM tho so that’s good. Review to come


fingers crossed I'll be in the minority and absolutely love this


[10/17/19] - this cover is not as creative as i hoped it would be


[9/15/19] - I really hope this one ends up being better than Twice In A Blue Moon


just kidding. keep 'em coming.

i've already gotten myself placed on the mailing list


I HAVEN'T EVEN READ Twice in a Blue Moon YET


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Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
February 2, 2020
3.85 Stars

Nothing in Life Comes Easy - and that Includes Love, especially When Your Career is on the Line!

Carey Douglas’ life has revolved around Melissa and Rusty Tripp since she was Sixteen-Years old. What was once just a small store in Wyoming has become a TV empire and a book deal for the Tripps about their happy marriage and none of it would be possible without Carey, now Twenty-Six.

James is an Engineer, whose life fell apart after his former company was involved in a major scandal. Now, he’s been hired to be the Engineer on Home Sweet Home, the Tripps Netflix series, which basically amounts to being Rusty’s right hand.

Life seems uber glamorous for the Tripps, who are social media darlings, until the sh&t hits the fan. Life is not a box of chocolates for this power couple who are about to embark on a Book Tour. It turns out that the couple’s marriage is a sham. Now it’s up to Carey and James to save the day.

“The Honey Don’t List” isn’t exactly your typical rom com and it isn’t what we fans of Christina Lauren might have been waiting for after the likes of: “Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating,” “Roomies,” “Dating You Hating You” and “My Favorite Half Night Stand” just to name a few. There aren’t any laugh out loud sarcastic, snarky back and forth repartees or any sexy funny comments that will make you roll on the floor laughing - which we’ve come to expect from Christina Lauren’s other novels. I am still holding out hope that they will start writing those types of novels for us once again!

This novel would fall more into the genre of women’s fiction, which is a genre I have grown to like. I truly enjoyed the storyline and the characters of Carey and James and liked how this novel progressed.

Admittedly, I wanted a little something more at the end and felt a tiny little bit let down (hence the reason for the 3.85 star rating v a 4 star rating), but overall I quite enjoyed “The Honey Don’t List” and hope that other readers can separate what they were hoping this novel would be and read and enjoy it for what it is.

Another buddy read with Ms. Kaceey!

Thank you to NetGalley, Jessica Roth and Rachel Brenner at Gallery Books, and Christina Lauren for the arc.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 2.2.20.
Profile Image for Corina.
778 reviews2,112 followers
June 26, 2020
The Honey-Don’t List had so much potential, but unfortunately there were quite a few missed opportunities.

On the one hand I loved the topic.

I’m a big fan of remodeling shows, and can spend hours on Pinterest going through interior design boards. And I definitely love the co-worker trope, it usually comes with forced proximity, which makes for fun times.

But I must admit, this book is the one CLo book that I just couldn’t connect with at all.

For me, the key issue was that the story didn’t focus enough on the main couple, Carey and James.

Instead it was all about Melissa and Rusty Tripp and the mess they made wherever they went. For me the book focused on the wrong couple. Carey and James needed more time together, Because honestly, their relationship could have used more page time. There was no discernible connection or chemistry between them. And that’s pretty unusually for a CLo book. I usually fall in love with their signature trademark banter and sexual attraction. This time it was entirely missing.

On top of that, the book was a bit all over the place. And with that I mean the way it was formatted. There were interview segments, tweets (about the Tripps), and excerpts of a book that didn’t add to Carey and James’s story at all since the book was about the Tripps (again). All of it interrupted the flow of the story. Also, there was way too much behind the scenes stuff of a TV series and a book tour that focused mainly on the Tripps (see where I’m going?) and honestly if you boil it down to the basics, Carey and James felt more like supporting roles than the main couple.

Also, the declaration of love at the end of the novel came a bit out of the blue for me. Maybe because Carey and James’s relationship never felt like it grew out of their budding romance stage. Their love-story was a bit disappointing.

So yes, it hurts to admit but The Honey-Don’t List didn’t deliver the signature CLo style I’ve come to expect and cherish.

On the other hand that just means that I’ll be even more excited about the next book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Find more reviews and book recommendations on my blog
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Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
April 26, 2020
3.5 stars.

Some people make their assistants do everything, even save their marriage!

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the darlings of the design world. They’ve taken the world by storm with their designs and their coupledom, starring in a hit show and becoming their own brand. Things are about to take off for real though, as they’re about to release a new book about marriage as well as a new show of their own.

Carey has worked for the Tripps since she was 16, starting out in their first store in Wyoming before anyone knew their names. Ten years later, although officially she’s Melissa’s assistant, her contributions to the Rusty and Melissa brand are far more immeasurable than most know or will acknowledge. And in many ways, she needs the job about as much as they need her.

The thing is, the Tripp’s’ marriage isn’t as solid as it appears. In fact, Rusty wants out, and is doing everything he can to sabotage their relationship. But Melissa will let nothing derail her ambitions, not even her husband. With so much riding on the book and the show, it’s up to Carey and James, the handsome engineer who has become Rusty’s assistant, to protect their image and save them from a public meltdown before the television show premieres.

Stuck working together, little by little they overcome their initial dislike and misconceptions of each other. And as camaraderie grows into something else, just as the Tripps seem to be publicly imploding, Carey and James have to decide—is their own chance at happiness more or less important than saving their jobs and perhaps the Tripps' relationship?

I love the way Christina Lauren writes. (If you've never heard of them before, it's actually two writers behind the Christina Lauren name.) I love how they mesh humor, steam, and emotional depth. While I enjoyed The Honey-Don't List and tore through it, it didn’t really move me like their others. But it’s still fun and sexy.

If you've never read Christina Lauren before, I'd encourage you to read, in particular, Love and Other Words, Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, The Unhoneymooners , and My Favorite Half-Night Stand . They're a great team.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Terrie  Robinson.
375 reviews548 followers
April 19, 2021
"The Honey-Don't List" by Christina Lauren is such a light, quick and carefree Rom-Com! It's a bit hot, too!

Melissa and Rusty Tripp are the newest HGTV home remodeling and design couple. NOW they're on the verge of hitting 'The Big Time'! Yep, their new book is ready to launch and their new HGTV show is set to air right around the corner!

There's just one very BIG problem: The Tripp's don't see eye-to-eye about their future! Not. At. All.

Carey Douglas has worked for Melissa and Rusty for not quite ten years. Hired at sixteen to work in their first store front in Wyoming, she's been right alongside them, helping to build their brand since the beginning! Currently she's assigned as Melissa's assistant but she's more than that. So much more!

James McCan, originally hired by The Tripp's as an engineer, ends up becoming Rusty's assistant. What? How does that happen? James is still wondering...

Both assistants are pressured by Melissa to forego their vacations to travel with The Tripp's on their promotional book tour. Carey and James, needing their jobs for different reasons, feel forced to comply but reluctantly agree and prepare to board the bus!

Why? The Tripp's always seem so lovey-dovey! Are things really so bad between Melissa and Rusty that they need chaperone's for a book tour? You betcha! Rusty wants out! And, Melissa? Well, she wants it all! And, she'll do anything to keep Rusty from destroying their future.

But - look out! As things begin to unravel with The Tripp's, the story begins to heat up elsewhere!

We all know about those HGTV couples who look perfectly happy on air and when the cameras aren't rolling, we wonder what their life together is really like. This is an answer to that curiosity all rolled up in the form of a sweet and fun Rom-Com.

This Rom-Com also hits the mark with my preference of inclusion of socially relevant topics. Numerous human resource issues (so blinding I almost put my sunglasses on!) and a reoccurring debilitating medical issue are surfaced. All issues were addressed and mutually resolved, kinda-sorta, by the end of the story!

I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed both narrators, Patti Murin and Jon Root. However, if Patti had narrated all female voices and Jon did the voicing for the male characters, it probably would have been a better experience. Having a male disguise his voice as a female just seems wrong! It never plays well when it's a voice as deep as Mr. Root's! Simply a fact of physiology!

This is my second Christina Lauren book and it was another pleasant experience! It's no secret, I really do love the Rom-Com genre. It's like taking and enjoying a much needed respite! I highly recommend this book!

3.5 stars rounded up to 4 socially relevant stars!
Profile Image for Giorgia Reads.
947 reviews1,846 followers
April 15, 2020
2.5 Stars

I didn’t enjoy it because I didn’t care at all for what was happening or the characters. Something didn’t connect and it left me bored and skimming.

It’s my first ever Christina Lauren book, I bought this when it came out because the synopsis sounded interesting and in hindsight I should have waited for the reviews.

From what I understand this particular book was a miss for the authors who actually have some really good novels out there.

I’m gonna try the “The Unhoneymooners” next (it’s on sale from 0.99p) or ”Beautiful Bastard”.

I’d love suggestions for these authors. What’s their best book?
Profile Image for EmBibliophile.
476 reviews1,078 followers
March 27, 2020
2.5 stars

A cheesy Netflix movie/dramatic soap opera turned into a book.

It wasn’t a bad book, it was just kinda pointless? Like, what’s the point of this book? It also lacked that spark that I tend to enjoy in the other Christina Lauren’s books. It was so dramatic and concentrated mainly on the the “star couple” who I really didn’t give a damn about. I don’t know, I just didn’t enjoy this one that much.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,228 followers
May 18, 2020
At the end of this book the authors say that they came up with the idea for it and were laughing hysterically the whole time. I couldn't help but wonder how much drinking was involved or maybe over-tiredness(?) Because it wasn't funny. At all. And, there wasn't even any funny banter. As a matter of fact, I would say that if anyone is triggered by abusive relationships they should stay away.

Here's the reality: This book is about a physically disabled girl being severely abused by employers that have groomed her since the age of 16 to believe that she had no choice but to accept this abuse.
The abuse was mental, verbal, and physical in that she was forced to work unreasonable hours and in ways that literally hurt her because of her disability. Every aspect of her life was controlled by them. She is continually gas-lighted. And, she is even afraid to tell the truth of her situation to her therapist because of how completely terrified she is of her boss.

The male romantic lead is a newer employee who sees through what is going on and is rightfully outraged. But, he was purposely hired because he would also have no options and be at their mercy.

Okay. So, as a romance, and maybe a book about someone finding the power to take control over their life, does it work?
Not really, because there is not enough time to build on that. There are too many holes and not enough substance to build a relationship. It is weak in that way. We see them start out not liking each other much, because of reasons, and then they suddenly are in love.

But yesterday you said you hated me.

How about a fun chick-lit type of book? Nope. Like I said, where was the funny? Where was the banter? How about silly situations? None of that happened.

It was a messy story about these two poor, stuck people running around watching some spoiled, bratty stars act like babies who never would have made it where they did if they really acted this way. The shenanigans of the married couple's bad marriage wasn't even funny or entertaining.

More entertaining than the book.

All together, it was a fail for me.
December 30, 2022

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My track record with Christina Lauren is not the best, as I hated-hated-hated BEAUTIFUL BASTARD and felt only lukewarmly towards JOSH AND HAZEL'S GUIDE TO NOT DATING. But when I found this book for, like, twenty cents at a thrift store and saw the blurb, I knew I had to get it, track record be damned. I loved the idea of two used and abused personal assistants falling in love while commiserating over their showboating asshole bosses. Even better, the asshole bosses in this equation are kind of like a cross between Dave and Rachel Hollis and Chip and Joanna Gaines. 

Carey is a PA for Melissa Tripp, CEO and all-around boss babe of her own renovation/home design company, Comb+Honey. Her husband, Rusty, is her #1. Back when they were working out of their house, he built a lot of the furniture in their shop, but now that that's all outsourced, all he really does is mug for the camera and act doofy. They're releasing a book about their perfect marriage and about to launch a new TV show, but all is not well in Trippland. Melissa is becoming angrier and more controlling and Rusty can't keep it in his pants. Their marriage and their careers are both in choppy waters.

James is an engineer but due to a major career mess-up, he's kind of screwed himself into a corner and is essentially Rusty's PA, despite his fancy degrees. He and Carey are often at odds with their employers' conflicting wants, but when they end up on the road for a book tour together, they end up finding not just rapport but also a sort of attraction, too. I liked the romance a lot. It was sweet without being boring. Part of this is because they both are fully fleshed out human beings. They have families, conflicting drives, and lives that exist outside of each other and their careers. Carey is particularly interesting because she has something called dystonia, which is a chronic motor disorder that affects her hands. The authors talk about their own personal experience with this disorder in their family in a touching afterword that's actually worth reading.

I liked this book a lot. I think I liked it more than I would have if it were *just* a romance because of the social commentary. It was done really well and reminded me of that old movie, Best in Show. The portrayal of the hypocrisy and inner-conflict that influencers and celebrities can sometimes demonstrate was really well done and it added a lot of meat to the story. Melissa and Rusty actually eclipsed the narrators at times because their personalities were just so big. In fact, this whole book was like a fictionalized tea channel or reality TV show, so if you're into that kind of big drama, you'll love this.

4 stars
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
423 reviews1,629 followers
Shelved as 'd-n-f'
February 9, 2020
“... 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.”

Yes, thank you very much. This is exactly the content I need!!
Profile Image for Kendall.
635 reviews633 followers
January 10, 2020
okay....so.... this isn't quite like any CL book that I've picked up (insert hands up emoji here). I've come to expect either extremely sweet touching story or something with humor at it's finest. The Honey-Don't List was a huge disappointment for me and is missing the special CL touch I love!

Carey has worked for Melissa and Rusty Tripp for 10 years, frequently having her design and remodeling work go uncredited by her employer. James is a newly hire that is an engineer who is supposed to help Carey accompany the Tripps on their upcoming tour. They're supposed to keep everything running smoothly along with trying to keep the Tripp's marriage from crumbling in the spotlight.

To tell you the truth... the Tripp's were an absolute nightmare. Their relationship was dysfunctional!!

Now, the romance? I felt this was lacking completely in this novel. I found myself not rooting for James and Carey because there was zero buildup or hardly any chemistry with them. IT was like CL randomly put in a scene with James and Carey beside all the drama surrounding the Tripps and their rich money/rich problems business.

I felt like The Honey-Don't List was all over the place? I'm not even sure what genre to call this? There was police interviews throughout the novel.. that reminded me of a mystery/thriller aspect and was expecting someone to die? Yeah....

I'm sad to say but this is the first book that I haven't really enjoyed by this dynamic duo. I STIll am a huge fan of this talented duo and will read anything by them. I appreciate their willingness to write, write, and write!! ;).

3 stars for this one. I'm sad about this three stars believe me!!!

Huge thank you to Gallery Scout Press and Netgalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

Publication date: 3/24/20
Published to GR: 1/10/20
Profile Image for Patty ~ Wrapped Up In Reading Book Blog.
1,260 reviews9,926 followers
March 7, 2020
*****THREE STARS*****

I’ve been a huge fan of the writing duo of Christina Lauren for years and there are so many of their books that I’ve loved something fierce. It’s probably unrealistic to expect every single book they write to be a hit. ”THE HONEY DON’T LIST” just may be the one book that didn't work for me. The story moves at an incredibly slow pace and the fact that most of the emphasis was placed on the rocky marriage of the secondary characters didn’t help matters. There was this little spark of chemistry between the main characters, James and Carey, but not enough time was spent on developing that connection which is why the romance felt artificial.

I’m sad that I couldn’t feel more for these characters and the plot, but nevertheless I will always gravitate towards anything these two write because they have written way too many hits for me to just write them off over one mediocre book.

Here are my overall ratings:

Hero: 4
Heroine: 4
Plot: 3
Angst: 3
Steam: 2
Chemistry Between Hero & Heroine: 3

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IaI3LK

Profile Image for Jessica .
2,044 reviews13k followers
March 12, 2020
I had such high hopes for this book. I am a huge HGTV fan, so a book surrounding a home improvement couple who can't actually stand each other while their assistants fell for each other sounded so fun.

When this book started, I was entertained. I loved seeing how much Melissa and Rusty could not stand each other but would turn it on for the cameras and for their show. Carey was such a likable character and I really loved her from page one. She was so loyal to Melissa and Rusty and I felt for her so much. She was talented but never felt like she was good enough and I wanted to wrap her up in a hug.

In regards to the romance, I thought the build-up was so cute. Carey and James literally had no thought of a relationship until well over 100 pages into the book. When they finally realized they liked each other, it was super cute. Once that happened, though, the book kind of got boring and I didn't really buy the love aspect of their relationship. I definitely saw the lust, but it felt insta-lovey and the ending just happened so fast. I didn't feel like I really cared about the characters and wish we had more of a build of with the relationship.

Overall, this was just an okay read. I was really enjoying it in the beginning, but I lost interest and felt like the end was rushed and the relationship progressed too quickly. And the whole story took place on a book tour, so we didn't even get any home improvement scenes that I would have loved. While it wasn't a bad romance, it is definitely not a new favorite from Christina Lauren.
Profile Image for Sheyla ✎.
1,807 reviews458 followers
March 11, 2020

I’m always looking forward to reading a book by Christina Lauren. This duo can bring the smiles and the sexy out very easily.

As soon as I saw The Honey-Don't List as an option to request it, I was requesting away and happy to dive into it.

The plot involves Carey Fern Duncan and James Westman McCann helping a well-known HGTV couple, Melissa and Russell "Rusty" Tripp. The Tripp's have become quite successful between their popular stores, Comb+Honey, the upcoming launch of their new book, and their new TV series, New Spaces.

Carey works for Melly who is the designer half of the Tripp's couple. At first glance, everyone believes Carey is just Melly's assistant but the truth is that Carey is the one who has been designing for them the whole time. From the first window decor on their first store to now. Carey has been working for them since she was sixteen. One of the reasons why she does not want to leave her job is because she has a medical problem requiring good insurance.

James, an MIT graduate, gets hired as an engineer but he soon realizes that his real job is to become Rusty’s assistant. He’s frustrated with the position but he can't quit since he’s starting over after his last job was a disaster.

Then, there is a big secret. No one knows that the perfect TV couple can’t stand each other in real life. They're nothing but a sham. Melly craving the media attention and Rusty following any skirt that crosses his path. And you guessed it, our hero and heroine are assigned to keep them in line and to avoid the truth coming to light before their TV show debuts or before they kill each other.

This was a fun and fast read. I liked that the heroine had a disability and how the hero reacts to learning about it. There was good banter but not as much as I've seen in these authors' prior work.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Gallery Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Profile Image for Madison Warner Fairbanks.
2,171 reviews284 followers
March 24, 2020
The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

Romantic comedy mildly. Contemporary romance. Written from the viewpoints of both the hero and heroine in alternating, titled chapters.

Carey and James work as assistants to the Tripps. It’s up tp the two of them to manage the details of the famous couple in their public personas.

I really liked Carey and was rooting for her throughout. She “made” the company with her designs and organizational work. I really hated that Melly took such advantage and stomped all over Carey. James was more a question. He’s trying to build up his resume and doesn't want to be just an assistant and he can’t afford to just walk away from his job. I would have liked a bit more background on his prior job or why he couldn’t just start over. He’s only 26.
But moving on...the middle of the book was the best with the couple getting to know each other. James was good about noticing the little things and paying attention.

In the end it was enjoyable but not as good as other books by this author.
3.5 rounding up to 4 because it’s still a lovely romance happily ever after.

I received a copy of this from NetGalley. I also purchased a copy to share.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,371 reviews1,833 followers
March 25, 2020
I know, I know, you might be saying to yourself, but Hollis, didn't you say in your last CLo read that you were no longer going to be requesting their advanced copies after so many disappointments? And yes, you would be correct. And this time I swear I mean it.

The concept of THE HONEY-DON'T LIST feels like a CLo take on the Netflix movie Set It Up and honestly that's why I grabbed at this one, all excited, despite my best intentions. Because I loved that movie and wanted this duo's twist to make it, possibly, even better. But sadly, for me, it wasn't.

This book centers on the results of a once great working relationship — turned pseudo-family dynamic — between a young employee and her married bosses; a relationship that has become hella toxic and abusive and manipulative and with downright thievery. The marriage between her bosses is falling apart behind the scenes whilst they are trying to run a business, promote their brand of happiness and love and success, and also launch a new home decor show — and she and the male counterpart's assistant are (for some reason) held responsible for making things seem like there's nothing amiss as they go on a book tour for their (oh irony) successful marriage memoir.

Said other assistant is only two months into the job, apparently brought in to help rein in the husband (which in a continuity aspect, in relation to something that comes up, doesn't make sense..) and as the MCs are thrown into direct proximity to each other, instead of a vague awareness of each other, and a general dislike, they get to know each other, grow to rely on each other, and boom, romance. Apparently.

I'll admit, unlike the last one, at least they don't fall in love in the span of a handful of days — I think the tour is a few weeks? — but still. I don't know. I really liked Carey, I felt for her, but her situation literally hurt my stomach. It was awful. Her sudden desire to grow a backbone, stand up for herself, seems to come so late in the game, and definitely flickers in and out, until finally she owns it. Part of me wonders if it would've ever happened without James' presence and that makes me sad. And it's not like James was terrible but.. shrug.

The fact that so much isn't resolved or owned up to by the end is frustrating. In hindsight I'm not sure why we needed the police interview interludes to break up the narrative (yes, this was a thing), I kept hoping a certain something had happened (which I won't speculate on to keep you guessing) and in the end it was just.. flat. Which is sadly how I felt about the whole story.

So that's it, it’s really over, no more CLo ARC reads for me.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Jonetta.
2,181 reviews891 followers
April 6, 2020
Carey Douglas has worked for Melissa (Mellie) and Rusty Trip, the infamous home design gurus, since she was sixteen years old. It’s been ten years and she was an integral part of their rise to the current mega success. Before you go there, they are not Chip and Joanna Gaines...yes, on the outside they’re that couple. But, this reality duo can’t stand each other. The timing couldn’t be worse as they’re set to begin a tour to launch their new book on relationships and a new show and things have gotten even more toxic. Rusty hired James McCann as a structural engineer for the shows but so far he’s not seen much action beyond being his fetch it guy. James is an MIT graduate but desperately needs this job or he’d have been long gone. Now he’s also stuck on this tour, teamed with Carey, trying to make sure these two behave in public.

The association with Chip and Joanna Gaines’ show, Fixer Upper, is hard to ignore as so much of that couple’s lives are mirrored here publicly and it can’t be emphasized enough that’s where the similarities end. Mellie is downright mean and selfish in a passive aggressive kind of way. Rusty is disengaged and can’t keep his pants zipped. It might appear that the story is about these two, and a lot of time is devoted to them, but they’re crucial to understanding Carey. She’s the real creative talent for the show but has no sense of her criticality. After all, she felt rescued by this couple when her personal life fell apart. For so long Mellie and Rusty have been like her real parents so she’s blind to their shortcomings as she’s become inured to their behavior. When she’s teamed with James, he’s the foil who pushes her to look at them with clear eyes but even more importantly, look at herself and recognize that she’s got outstanding skills on her own and doesn’t need them to survive, excel and move on.

I’ve only been reading the more recent books by this writing team (last two years) so I don’t have a history with their earlier romantic comedies. Others have been more critical of this story because it feels like a departure from their past. For me it’s a great thing as I’ve found their stories to be more complex and layered. There are still lots of laugh-out-loud moments but it’s the subtleties and nuanced messages that get most of my attention. On the surface, Carey just seems to be the super admin and you get that’s how she sees herself...the glue that makes the “real” talents work. It takes someone like James who has no emotional attachment to either the Tripps or the job to see things more dispassionately. I loved how his relationship with Carey evolved. He’s sort of nerdy in a professional kind of way and is unlike her in so many ways but they fit very well. The romantic angle worked for me. I loved how the two narrators portrayed them as they also seemed to fit and embrace the characters. I always listen to this writing team’s books because the performances are always wonderful and they hit their marks here. I enjoyed every aspect of this story and like that the writers are continuing to stretch beyond romantic comedy.

Posted on Blue Mood Café

(Thanks to Simon & Schuster Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)
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