Bookstagram’s favourite writing duo, Christina Lauren, has another book coming out this month (March 24—yay!) and I was very lucky to receive yet another advanced copy to review before it was released to the masses. It was just a few months ago that they released Twice in a Blue Moon, which, admittedly, was not my favourite of their novels, but I was excited regardless. The synopsis was really giving me Chip and Joanna Gaines vibes (though clearly to a dysfunctional extreme), and as a fan of HGTV (especially on a quiet weekend), I was all in.
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…
This book read a bit different to me than other Christina Lauren books. While reading the acknowledgements, the duo did admit that they struggled a bit getting where they wanted to with this story, and I feel like they didn’t quite get where they needed to go. It focused more on the Tripps than I wanted—give me more James!—and they were just downright unbearable as people…I couldn’t understand why Carey would put up with them for so long, despite her history.
That being said, I loved the dynamic between Carey and James. They weren’t at quite at the level of The Unhoneymooners‘s Olive and Ethan in terms of enemies to lovers, but these two had a working relationship where they clearly misunderstood the other, and it took a road trip with their crazy bosses to get to know each other properly. James is the hot nerd of every book lover’s dreams, and Carey is the smart, talented twenty-something that just needs to believe in herself to reach her full potential. They were well-developed characters, and their dynamic was believable.
An extra tidbit that I did like was that Carey had focal dystonia (which is a disease I had to look up). It definitely drove home for me that people everywhere live with invisible disabilities (or at least not obvious ones) and have their own struggles that we never know about. I’m liking that books are giving us more and more realistically diverse characters in their stories—I’m learning so much from it.
Despite my tepid review, I still really enjoyed the story in a way that I always do with Christina Lauren novels. Fans of theirs will love this one, too!
“I want to make her life better by being the best thing in it.” —Christina Lauren, The Honey-Don’t List
Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Book and Simon & Schuster Canada for the advanced copy, and to Eugen Str on Unsplash for the featured photo of the tools.