REVIEW: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime—maybe even love—in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies.
Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.
Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.
Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.
So ladies, despite all the love my fellow reviewers have (deservedly) heaped on your books, I’ve been channeling my inner Olive just sure that I would be the lone person who thought differently. Well, this book shot that fear to pieces. I’m totally on-board and riding this train to the station now. Right now, an angel is getting its wings — and people will have to read the book to understand that.
I began laughing from the beginning with the sequin straightening, the hair spray fugged hotel room, and the description of Olive’s dress as “a giant can of 7UP.” No, wait the “shiny, flayed pelt of Kermit the Frog” one was even better. And I never thought it would happen but you two even made the thunderclap arrival of “food poisoning hitting an entire wedding party plus guests all at the same time” hilarious. Not since the scene from “Bridesmaids” has intestinal distress been so funny. Olive is a snarktasticly wonderful narrator but as the book continued I saw the reason for using only her POV. This is the long con.
The setting is carefully crafted with heaving bride and groom plus a non-transferable, free honeymoon in Hawaii and only two people who might be able to use it – the siblings of the happy couple who come complete with a long standing, simmering feud. But hey, free vacay in Maui that’s going to go to waste so despite Olive feeling that “Because if I eat, laugh, or breathe I’m offending his delicate sensibilities…” off they go via a budget airline. And since I’m totally with Ethan about air travel, I felt his nausea.
On an island with thousands of tourists, Olive and Ethan should be able to go their own ways for ten days, right? Only, wrong, they can’t but again for viable reasons. First Olive runs into someone and then Ethan runs into someone and for various reasons, they have to keep up the charade of being happily married. Which they do until, funnily, it doesn’t feel as much like a game. “In Mai-tai veritas” and soon they’re telling each other things they never have or ever thought they would. And wow, the kissing is hot. Which makes the beginning rumblings of other possible truths harder to process but yay Olive for taking a chance and pushing Ethan to be honest about them now.
With a newly happy relationship in hand and an eight hour flight over (again, I felt your pain, Ethan) … what now? Ah, this is where some seeds scattered earlier begin to sprout and *things happen* followed by “shit storms” and heartache. Is their relationship too fragile to hand all of this? And worst, will Olive revert to the status quo she’s comfortable with?
Can I say I just love how carefully the details and clues about how Olive and Ethan really feel are slowly revealed. Early on Ethan starts to show that maybe he’s not been as indifferent to Olive as she thought when he talks about a t-shirt she wore – years ago. It’s awesome, by the way and I want one. The story also avoids the dreaded fact introduction followed by rinse and repeat at least once a chapter that is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Instead, the characters act and talk in ways that remind me of what I’m supposed to remember. Since a lot of this is that Olive and Ethan snark at each other, I also liked that there is a good balance between them on the zings scoreboard.
The change in their realization of their feelings is nicely done. Little things begin to add up and since they’ve spent basically their entire relationship up until now telling each other exactly what they feel (even though the basis on which those reactions was built was so, so wrong) that they know that honesty is staring them in the face and they accept this. The final conflict is solidly based on what has already been set up so thanks for nothing “out of the blue.” Even though I knew what was coming, it’s done so well that my heart was breaking for them because they both have valid reasons for acting as they do.
Then after the pain (go Olive for standing up for her truth and not knuckling under to everyone else’s wishes), there is – hallelujah – time spent thinking. Olive also contemplates what she really wants from life as well as listens to what Ami truthfully tells her then rewires her view on life. Ami’s actions were powerful and well done, too. By the time Ethan is ready to “grand-gesturing in an ugly shirt, with a fake Mai tai glass,” I absolutely believe that both of them are in the right place, heads on straight, and ready for their HEA. However, I will say that the two-years-later epilogue complete with new POV is fantastic.
Yep, I’m giving this one a big thumbs up and only taking off a little from the grade because I want people to know that the snake bite story is not accurate and not to expect a helpful ranger with antivenin if they ever get bit by a rattlesnake. But still, a puppy is getting a tummy rub and maybe two hedgehogs are getting meal-worms because of this review. A-
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