This is my book blog, where I review books I read as part of Cannonball Read 15, where members compete to be the first to reach 52. We also try to get people excited about books and reading, and make money for cancer charities. This year, I will be reading and reviewing in memory of my friend Jennie Baxla, who passed away in 2022. As with last year, I hope to at least review 52 books, but I'll be happy to find time to read at all. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, 22 January 2020
#CBR12 Book 3: "The Unhoneymooners" by Christina Lauren
Rating: 4 stars
Olive Torres loves her twin sister Ami, but while her sister, the eternal winner has been able to finance her entire wedding through various contest winnings, Olive is eternally unlucky. The bridesmaid dress she's going to have to wear is a truly luminous green monstrosity (but it was free!), she has just been laid off from her job, and the best man, who she'll have to spend much of her sister wedding day alongside, is the groom's brother, Ethan Thomas, probably Olive's least favourite person on the planet.
The catering at Ami's wedding is a seafood buffet (won in yet another contest), but Olive has a shellfish allergy and Ethan refuses to eat buffet food. Consequently, they are the only two people not affected by the horrifying, crippling food poisoning resulting from said seafood. It also means that the all-expenses-paid honeymoon is up for grabs, and Ami wants Olive to go in her place. While Olive has qualms, she's certainly not going to let Ethan have the dream vacation to himself (he has no hesitation in accepting his brother's place), even if it means spending ten days in the same resort as the man she loathes. It's not like they'd need to spend that much time together, right?
Of course, the honeymoon is technically non-transferrable and non-refundable, so Ethan and Olive have to pretend to be newlyweds. While they have access to a luxury suite, there's only the one bedroom (and bed). Most of the complementary activities are couples-orientated. And through a series of unlucky (or are they secretly lucky) coincidences, both Olive and Ethan run into people they need to keep up the pretense in front of. As they keep being thrown together during their luxury vacation, Olive and Ethan discover they don't mind the other's company all that much and start actively looking for excuses to spend time together. Also, that the source of their mutual animosity may have been fuelled and encouraged by an unlikely source.
New reading year, a new set of reading challenges. As per usual, I am doing the Monthly Motif Challenge, which for January is "Winter Wonderland" - read a book set in a place you've always thought was wonderful. Maui (where Olive and Ethan travel on their fake honeymoon) most definitely qualifies here. Added bonus, the theme for Ami's ill-fated, ends in food poisoning wedding is, in fact, Winter Wonderland. It also didn't hurt that the book has been on my TBR list since it came out, Christina Lauren's books are usually a treat, and the enemies to lovers trope is a favourite of mine.
While this was a fun read, and both Olive and Ethan were likable protagonists, there were things that annoyed me. Ethan's complete inability to remember Olive's name (he keeps calling her Olivia). As the story progresses, it becomes apparent that this may, in fact, be a defence mechanism to hide how much he actually likes her, and Olive starts fighting back in her own way, beginning to call him pretty much any random guy's name beginning with E. It began reminding me a bit of Colin and Minerva in Tessa Dare's A Week to Be Wicked, and suddenly it wasn't that much of a problem anymore.
I don't agree with the authors' choice of villain, so to speak, without wanting to go too much into detail here, because it's a huge spoiler. While I understand the narrative need for some third act complication to keep our lovers apart for a while, I really didn't like what was revealed, and how it had such major repercussions not just for Olive and Ethan, but other characters in the book, as well. I wish they'd chosen to go in a different direction entirely here.
If you've enjoyed Christina Lauren's more recent entries (where they seem to be moving away from really steamy and rather graphic love scenes, and more towards the more vanilla mainstream), you're probably going to like this too. It's a sweet book and made me very much want my own tropical vacation.
Judging a book by its cover: While it's bright, cheerful and fun-looking, there's nothing much, except the title to hint at this actually being a romance novel. I'm not sure I wouldn't have preferred a book cover that related to the contents a bit more than random tropical flowers and birds.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.
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