Author: Christina Lauren
Overview from Goodreads:
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…
Melissa and Rusty Tripp are tv’s golden HGTV-style couple (think Chip and Joanna Gaines – the male is the goofier engineer/contractor and the female is the more in control designer – I honestly couldn’t help myself from only picturing the real life duo as that’s how the Tripps on screen personas are described). Our main female protagonist is Carey Douglas who is Melissa’s assistant and has worked for the couple since they started their very first store before they were famous. She has stuck with the couple during their rise to fame over the last ten years. Our male MC is James McCann who is an engineer and ends up being Rusty’s assistant.
The Tripps are riding high wrapping up one successful series and on to launching a book and their own solo show. The problem is that their marriage is on the verge of collapsing. As an attempt to save face, the couple is sent on a book tour around the US and Carey and James get roped in to coming along. Despite not wanting to continue to baby site the couple, both Carey and James are unable to quit. Carey needs this job for the health insurance due to a medical condition and James needs to remain an assistant to secure the position he was promised and more.
It is up to Carey and James to work together to ensure that America doesn’t find out that the golden couple’s life isn’t quite as perfect as it seems. Not an easy feat! Melissa is an over-bearing control freak who can be downright rude to people while Rusty seems to have just given up. While Rusty seems to experience some growth overall, it never really seemed like Melissa grew at all. Although Carey and James are supposed to be the central couple of the novel, you spend a lot of time exploring Melissa and Rusty. It feels out of balance as it seems to take away from the couple we are supposed to care more about (James and Carey).
There are minor conflicts between our two MCs, but you never truly feel the tension that you would expect from any romance novel. Rom-coms books are all based on some kind of misunderstandings, tension of some kind, with the will they-won’t they aspect. The formula may vary from novel to novel, but the expectations remain the same for the basics. Although Carey and James bicker and have some friction as a potential couple, I just didn’t connect like I usually do.
This is my second novel by the authors (my first was the Unhoneymooners) and I just felt that this book lacked the magic that I felt before. Instead it felt like many cliché type events were thrown together to make a rom-com without any heart behind it. The characters didn’t really feel like they have that will they-won’t they type tension (it’s said that they do, but the reader doesn’t feel it).
It’s not a bad novel by any means, but if you only have to choose one book by this amazing duo, then this wouldn’t be it as there are many other better ones to select from. I thought the concept was amazing as I love home improvement shows and what better way than to set a romance story behind the scene, but sadly this just didn’t live up to its potential. I’m excited as In a Holidaze is coming up and I’m hoping the magic and charm returns to these novels. Stay tuned and we shall see!