Yellow cover with palm leaves, hibiscus and a toucan

About the Book

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Published: 2019
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

First Impressions: Tiki Life
What’s Your Type?
Enemies to Lovers, Forced Proximity, Fake Relationships, Hotels with One Bed
The Lean: Pride & Prejudice In Maui
We Need to Talk: Cinematic Framing, Flimsy Foundation
Was It Good For You?
Managed Expectations

LET’S GET IT ON with The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

First Impressions: Tiki Life

This cover is like if a tiki drink became a book cover which is a converging of my two very favorite things in life so, yeah, SIGN ME UP. 

What’s Your Type?

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Forced proximity
  • Fake relationships
  • Hotel rooms with only one bed

Dating Profile

Despite being identical twins, Olive Torres and her sister, Ami, are total opposites. Olive has terrible luck, while Ami always wins. Ami’s so good at winning, in fact, that now it’s her wedding day and she’s managed to pay for her entire wedding and honeymoon through earned freebies and contest winnings. Including Olive’s hideous, green satin monstrosity of a bridesmaid dress and the seafood buffet-catered reception. But the twins’ luck seems to be reversed when every guest at the wedding comes down with an extreme (and extremely disgusting) case of ciguatera toxin, including the bride and groom. Everyone, that is, except Olive, who skipped the buffet because of her shellfish allergy, and Ethan, the groom’s brother/best man who refuses to eat from buffets because he considers them to be a hotbed for bacteria.

Worst of all, Ami’s all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Maui can’t be rescheduled, and she insists that Olive and Ethan pretend to be the newlyweds and take the honeymoon she can’t. The only problem? Olive and Ethan have hated each other from the moment they met years ago. But Ami insists, and Olive figures once they get to the resort, they can spend most of their time avoiding each other.

So Olive and Ethan board a plane and head to Maui, where all sorts of delightful challenges await them: a honeymoon suite with only one bed (of course!), pre-booked couples massages, Olive’s new boss, AND Ethan’s ex, just to name a few. Olive and Ethan realize that not only will they be unable to avoid each other, they’ll have to spend much more time than planned pretending to be newlyweds. And the more they pretend, the harder it is to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake.

Meet Cute

Olive and Ethan already hate each other when The Unhoneymooners begins. Olive fills the reader in eventually though, telling us about the day Ami and Dane introduced them on a group outing to the fair, where Ethan seemed nice enough until Olive ordered cheese curds. This apparently disgusted him so much that his revulsion showed plainly on his face, causing Olive to forever label him an asshole, and Ethan to share her hatred.

The Lean: Pride & Prejudice In Maui

From While You Were Sleeping, Bill Pullman explains attraction to Sandra Bullock

Enemies-to-lovers is my very favorite trope. There’s a lot of pride and a lot of prejudice happening between these pages, and setting most of the story on a Maui honeymoon makes the entire situtation that much hotter because: 1) rum drinks and 2) exposed skin. A lot of times, I thought the premise for Ethan and Olive’s hatred of each other felt a little flimsy, but I still enjoyed watching them get into all sorts of shenanigans. Their banter was hilarious, and watching them fake it for the sake of keeping up appearances was almost as entertaining as watching them fake it for the sake making Ethan’s ex-girlfriend jealous. Their chemistry was palpable, and being shoehorned into honeymooner activities made it that much harder for them to deny.

Dirty Talk

Teacher types on laptop while talking to student
Typing a romance novel on a computer screen

Not gonna lie, I was a little disapointed with the lack of sexy times in this book. It’s not that there’s none – I mean, we are in a Maui honeymoon suite, after all. But there’s about 200 pages of build up, only to give us a bit of tasteful action before fading to black. Don’t expect a lot of dirty talk between these pages, my friends. The authors definitely keep things PG-13.

We Need To Talk: Cinematic Framing, Flimsy Foundation

The Unhoneymooners is a quick, fun read that feels like a movie. It’s filled with over-the-top scenes that are both completely ridiculous and written in a way that feel believable (yes, including an entire wedding getting food poisoning). The authors (Christina Lauren is actually the nom de plume of two best friends who co-write together) clearly have an eye for cinematic story framing. The entire time I was reading it, I could just imagine Gina Rodruigez as Olive – charming in her imperfection, plucky, determined, and not afraid to laugh at herself when she gets into all sorts of embarrassing situations.

I think what I struggled most with was the fact that The Unhoneymooners falls into the all too familiar trap of manufacturing drama to keep our lovebirds apart. Like their hatred for one another feeling flimsy at the beginning, I found myself thinking “Oh here we go again” when either of them found a reason to be mad at the other one. I’ll allow some of that in young adult books because teenagers are less likely to be forthright about their feelings. But this is a grown up book, and Olive and Ethan constantly getting mad and walking away from each other felt more immature than dramatic. Pair this with the fact that their time in paradise must eventually come to an end, and the last part of the book felt like it dragged a bit. I can handle drawn out fighting in Maui…not in Minnesota in January.

Was It Good For You?

It certainly wasn’t bad for me. I devoured this book over the course of 48 hours, even if it wasn’t exactly what I expected. If you’re looking for a fun, funny romantic comedy set in a tropical locale, then I assure you, you will find The Unhoneymooners extremely satisfying. If you make the same mistake I did and think you’re about to read a steamy, sexy romance novel, you might be left wanting more. It’s all about managing your expectations, you know?

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the gross cranberry ones) for writing this review. The Unhoneymooners is available now.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.