Author: Christina Lauren
Overview from Goodreads:
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.
My very first Christina Lauren novel! It is a classic story where enemies are forced to be together by some kind of event turned to lovers story. It is a tried and true formula that doesn’t seem to “blah” while reading through the chapters. Although you can predict the rom-com aspects of it, you still are excited to keep reading to find out what new event will cause some kind of misunderstanding or what will help them realize their feelings. I’m not usually one to find some rom-com novels humorous (I find them greatly enjoyable, but never actually laugh at some moments), but this one had some events that actually made me laugh while reading.
Our main leading lady is Olive. She is biracial (Mexican and white), the twin sister of the bride. She is clumsy, doesn’t know how to read the room and stop talking, and overall has moments where she embarrasses herself. She also believes she is unlucky in both love and life. The leading man is Ethan who is the groom’s brother. Our story opens at the wedding of Olive and Ethan’s respective siblings. As “enemies to lovers” stories go, this one sees Olive’s side of things where it’s assumed Ethan’s feelings, but you never actually get his inner thoughts on the issue. He acts aloof and is a fairly cynical individual, but he never does or says anything where you classify him as Olive’s enemy. When the two of them first interact, it seems more like friendly bickering compared to perceived hatred.
Unlike other novels, this is a single perspective story told via our main heroine. It was a great choice on the part of the writers as it builds some tension as you try to figure out why other characters are doing a certain action or what is going on in their minds. As a reader, you are in Olive’s position and have to try and interpret others’ thoughts and feelings. Typically, I’m a bigger fan of the dual perspective novel, but seeing everything from Olive’s side worked well for how the story was set up. It wouldn’t be the same if we also saw events from Ethan’s side as it would forfeit the mystery of his thoughts and actions.
I love the setting of tropical setting of Maui in this book with the resort as the backdrop. It made me want to hop on a plane and go enjoy paradise again. Fake-dating is the main troupe of this story where they are forced to pretend to be a couple and on their honeymoon in order to keep the free all-inclusive trip that Olive’s sister won in a contest. It makes me wonder where I can win that type of contest! To avoid having to forfeit the free trip, create a plan to only see each other when it’s time to sleep. At first, it’s easy as they can do their own activities and just come together when needed. With Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-fiancé as guest stars in the story, the show must go on and both Olive and Ethan must continue the pretense of being a couple.
I haven’t found a great novel that has accurately represented a plus-size individual. Weight is one crux of why Olive doesn’t like Ethan due to what she remembered him believing, but her appearance is not described as having some slight curves with big boobs (having a large chest does not make you plus-sized). She focuses a lot on how clothes fit on her or how she will gain weight from all the stress baking that she does. If you actually read through the novel though, she’s compared to fit celebrities and her sister. No matter what she actually weighs or what her size actually is, she has a poor body image of herself. I’ve met MANY people in my life who weigh less than my arm, but still believe they are bigger and have poor body thoughts on themselves and others that are higher weights and are experiencing their own issues. If this is how Olive is, then it is not that rare of a thought to have, but I wish that there were slightly more redemption to this part of her character as her body image issues are not fully explored. (It would have been a nice side story given that they are in a tropical environment where you wear less layers of clothing and usually experience more instances of being self-conscious). If Ethan or anyone made a comment about her weight again at the end of the book, it feels like Olive would have a reaction exactly the same as she did at the beginning. It seems like a missed opportunity to me as plus-sized individual who has a huge love-hate relationship with my own body. I do understand though that this wasn’t the main focus of the book or the main goal as the focus was just the romantic relationship and didn’t fully explore other underlying themes.
My one negative didn’t deter my love of this story as it was more of a missed chance to explore a relatable topic further rather than something that the story did “wrong.” I loved the witty banter between Ethan and Olive and how they kept being in situations that forced them to not only be together, but to learn more about each other. This novel got me in to this dynamic duo of authors and I’m now slowly working my way through their books and have alerts set if new ones are released. I would love love love to see this novel turned into a movie as it quickly become a beloved rom-com classic to replay over and over again when you’re in the mood for a heart-warming and fun tale. This book is on my definite re-read list and I can’t wait to keep reading anything they write.
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