I feel like I'm finally figuring out what I like in a romance novel and how to pick one that might appeal to me. At the very least, I know that Christina Lauren is my favorite contemporary romance author and that I will always read what she writes, forever and ever amen.
I was so excited to get The Unhoneymooners from Netgalley, and I was right to be, because it was deeee-lightful. The premise is very simple: Olive's twin sister won a fabulous all expenses paid honeymoon, but food poisoning put her, the groom, and almost everyone else at the wedding in a position where no one could go on the trip. But Olive's allergic to shellfish and the groom's brother, Ethan, doesn't trust buffets, so they're healthy and the bride insists that someone is going to use the nontransferable honeymoon tickets. So off go Olive and Ethan, who don't really like each other, to Maui for ten days.
Can you guess what happens? Yeah, that's what happens. Their arguing has always looked a little like flirting, but it gradually gets more flirty and less fighty and so on. The thing that makes this book--and most Christina Lauren books, I think--is the flirting. It's the part where two clever people are being clever and charming at each other and they're having fun and you're having fun with them and everything is just right with the world.
So that's about half the book--just falling in love in Maui, like you do. Part of that plot revolves around how bad Olive is at lying, and the fact that the vacation is firmly non-transferable. So to a certain extent, Ethan and Olive have to pretend to be married. There are some comical scrapes this issue--running into exes and bosses and such--and those just shot my anxiety level through the roof. I don't always hate lying, but I hated it here, I think because Olive hated it so much. Luckily, these bits were short; there were never extended periods where you had to squirm waiting for chapters/days to see how awkward things would get.
Then we depart Hawaii, returning to normal life in the bleak, frozen northlands of the Twin Cities, where there are complications that are real and realistic and that I liked a *lot*. It's nothing melodramatic, all very realistic and normal, but there are a bunch of little moments that feel very relevant and important--misunderstandings based around "oh, you must have misinterpreted him" and "you are putting the worst possible spin on" an experience that is pretty cut and dried if you were there but is hard to describe. It's a perfect depiction of this kind of thing, and while it's fairly small, I loved it a lot.
Just the best. Witty and charming and sexy and real. I have been reading Christina Lauren for a while, but it's time for me to catch up on the ones I haven't gotten to yet. They're very much worth it.
Review copy received from Netgalley; the book will be published on May 14, 2019.