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Escape to paradise

Cover of The Unhoneymooners
A review of The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Every reader likely has their own idea of an escapist read, but for me, there’s a few prerequisites: a location completely unlike the environment I’m currently occupying, a storyline worlds away from current headlines, and characters that I can root for. Christina Lauren’s romantic comedy The Unhoneymooners fits the bill perfectly. It’s a classic enemies-to-lovers story that can be easily devoured in a couple of long winter evenings, boasts snappy and fun dialog, but still has a bit of substance to it. 

Olive Torres has always been the twin with the bad luck. Unlike her sister Ami, who is so organized and lucky she has managed to pay for her lavish wedding with prize giveaways and promotions, Olive has always seemed to come up short. Newly unemployed and sporting a green maid of honor dress that looks very aquatic in origin, Olive isn’t surprised when she’s given the wedding task of checking in on her least favorite person: Evan Thomas, the best man and groom’s elder brother. Ever since they first met, Olive has sensed that Evan doesn’t approve of her, and they can hardly walk down the aisle without hissing insults along the way. But things take a decidedly unlucky turn at the wedding reception when a particularly nasty bugs leaves the entire wedding party suffering acute food poisoning—with the exception of Olive and Evan. With the prospect of a (free) honeymoon to Maui about to go unused, Ami encourages Olive to flee the frosty Twin Cities in her place. The catch? Evan is also invited, and the two have to pretend to be married or lose all the perks of a trip to paradise. Olive isn’t about to see Evan get to enjoy Hawaii solo, so she decides to play along. After all, it’s not like they have to be together all the time in the hotel, nobody there will know them anyway…and a free trip means that Olive’s luck might be turning.

But this being a rom-com, complications ensue. Negotiating a romantic trip designed to keep two people who are supposedly deeply in love together makes for some strained negotiations when you’re actually with your sworn enemy—or you’re a terrible liar, like Olive. And assuming that no one you know will appear at a random hotel thousands of miles from home is basically going to guarantee the opposite. But as they are thrust together, the truth of what kept them apart comes out, and Olive soon starts to feel like getting stuck with Evan was the luckiest thing that ever happened to her. One can’t stay in paradise forever, though, and when the two return home, the lies from the past and present prove impossible to ignore. Will Olive and Evan’s connection peter out like a string of luck?  And what might be the cost of their happiness to others?

Duo writing team Christina Lauren (Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings) use their trademark rapid fire dialog to great effect here. Olive and Ethan’s squabbling has the sense of a screwball comedy, but Hobbs/Billings never lose the sense of real emotion behind the words. I loved how the Hawaii portion of the book really nailed the feeling of letting loose on the island, and the depiction of Olive and Ami’s loving but slightly-too-helpful massive family back home. With a happy-ever-after never much in doubt, The Unhoneymooners proves a frothy fun read for those looking for something for the beach tote or curl up with a hot mug of winter-time tea. 

Jan 29, 2020