The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books
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.
Christina Lauren are "auto-buy" authors for me, so when I saw The Unhoneymooners for a great price, I grabbed it. I was a little worried when my friend - who really enjoyed the book - said the implied, behind closed door sex was frustrating. Usually, that bothers me too. But the Unhoneymooners was so much fun, and rather sweet, that it didn't bother me at all. I hardly noticed it.
Olive and Ethan's animosity towards each other really filled out this enemies-to-lover's story. Their quips and banter are truly the highlight of this book. The duo that is Christina Lauren knows how to write a well-rounded romance, but with their unique sense of humor, it makes their books a great little endorphin boost when you need it. The Unhoneymooners is no different. And if you think that someone thinking they are cursed with bad luck is silly - and of course, it is - I can at least understand why Olive thinks this when her twin sister wins as much as she does.
While "clean" romances are not typically my thing, it won't stop me from picking up a Christina Lauren book in the future.
Ami: "I'm not a bridezilla. I'm a perfectionist."
I find my list and hold it aloft, waving it to catch her attention. It's a piece of heavy, scalloped-edged pink stationary that has Olive's To-Do List - Wedding Day Edition written in meticulous calligraphy at the top, and which includes seventy-four (seventy-four) items ranging from Check for symmetry of the sequins on the bridal gown, to Remove any wilted petals from the table arrangements.
Each bridesmaid has her own list, perhaps not quite as long as my maid-of-honor one but equally fancy and handwritten. Ami even drew checkboxes so that we can record when each task is completed.
Olive: "Some people might call these lists a little overboard."
Ami: "Those are the same 'some people,' who'll pay an arm and a leg for a wedding that is half as nice."
Olive: "Right. They hire a wedding planner to -"
I refer to my list
Olive: " 'Wipe condensation off the chairs a half hour before the ceremony.' "
Ami blows across her fingernails to dry them and lets out a movie-villain laugh,"
Olive: "Did you actually choose this dress?"
I point to my abundance of cleavage.
Olive: "This was intentional?"
Ami tilts her head, studying me
Ami: "I mean, intentional in the sense that I won the raffle ay Valley Baptist! All the bridesmaids dresses in one go - just think of the money I saved you."
Olive: "We're Catholic, not Baptist, Ami."
I tug on the fabric.
Olive: "I look like a hostess at O'Gara's on St. Paddys Day."
He gives me the same perusal. He starts with my hair - maybe he's judging me for wearing it clipped back so plainly - and then looks at my simple makeup - he probably dates makeup-tutorial Instagram models - before slowly and methodically taking in my dress. I take a deep breath to resist crossing my arms over my midsection.
He lifts his chin.
Ethan: "That was free, I'm assuming."
And I'm assuming driving my knee right into his crotch would feel fantastic.
Olive: "Beautiful color, don't you think?"
Ethan: "You look like a skittle."
Ethan: "I'm sure most of you will have to pee soon,"
he begins, speaking into a giant fuzzy microphone,
Ethan: "so I'll keep this short."
Eventually, the crowd settles, and he continues.
Ethan: "I don't actually think Dane wants me to speak today, but considering I'm not only his older brother but also his only friend, here we are."
Shocking myself, I let out a deafening cackle. Ethan pauses and glances over at me, wearing a surprised smile.
Ethan: "I'm Ethan,"
he continues, and when he picks up a remote near his plate, a slideshow of photos of Ethan and Dane as kids begins a slow scroll on a screen behind us.
Ethan: "Best brother, best son. I am thrilled we can share this day with not only so many friends and family, but also with alcohol. Seriously, have you looked at that bar? Someone keep an eye on Ami's sister because too many glasses of champagne, and there's no way that dress is staying on."
He smirks at me.
Ethan: "You remember the engagement party, Olivia? Well, if you don't, I do."
Olive: "I was laid off two months ago. I' sure that gives you an immeasurable thrill."
Ethan: "A little."
Olive: "You are Voldemort."
Olive: "So, just to close the loop on this stupid squabble, if you were going to have such a strong opinion about our flights, you shouldn't have told me to take care of it."
Ethan: "If I knew you were going to book us on a Greyhound with wings, I wouldn't have."
He looks up, and glances around in horrified wonder.
Ethan: "I didn't even know this part of the airport existed."
I roll my eyes and then meet the gaze of the woman sitting across from us, who is clearly eavesdropping. Lowering my voice, I lean in with a saccharine smile.
Olive: "If I knew you were going to be such a nitpicker, I would have happily told you to shove it and get your own damn ticket."
Ethan points to where the plane is parked outside what I think is a plexiglass window.
Ethan: "Have you seen our aircraft? I'll be amazed if they don't ask us to pitch in for fuel."
I take the magazine from his hand and scan an article on Summer Sherbet Tops and Cool Cotton Cable Pullovers!
Olive: "Nobody is forcing you to take a free dream trip to Maui. And for the record, not all of us can buy expensive same-day airplane tickets. I told you I was on a budget."
Ethan: "Obviously I didn't know what kind of budget you meant. Had I known, I would have loaned you the cost."
Olive: "And take money from your sexual companion fund?"
I press a horrified hand to my chest.
Olive: "I wouldn't dare."
he says as soon as we're out of earshot.
Olive: "Ethan, I'm a terrible liar."
Ethan: "Really? You hid it so well."
Olive: "It's never been my strength, okay? Those of us who aren't summoned by the Dark Mark consider honesty to be a virtue."
Olive: "it was nice meeting you,"
I call out before turning back to Ethan.
Olive: "I might make a terrible wife one day, but at least we know now that I can fake it."
I'm sure Ethan would love to hear it was a long night for me and I barely slept, but my bed is fucking amazing.
Sorry about the couch, dude.
Molly: "I was serious about that spouses club,"
Molly tells Ethan conspiratorially.
Molly: "We have fun."
Molly: "Give us a call when you're home."
They turn back to the reception desk, and we wave as we weave through the crowd toward the restaurant. Ethan leans down, muttering in a shaky voice,
Ethan: "I really don't know what she means by ***fun"
Olive: "Could be innocent, like a bunch of wives drinking merlot and complaining about their husbands. Or it could be Fried Green Tomatoes complicated."
Ethan: "Fried Green Tomatoes complicated?"
I nod somberly
Olive: "A group of women looking at their labia with hand mirrors."
Olive: "To be honest, you were the one who had to go and be ridiculously charming last night."
He picks his mug back up and blows across the surface.
Ethan: "Because you asked me to be."
Olive: "I wanted you to be sociopath charming. Too charming, so that afterward people look back and think, 'You know, I didn't get it at the time, but he was always too perfect.' That sort of charming. Not, like, self-deprecating and cute."
Half of Ethan's mouth turns up, and I know what's coming before it launches:
Ethan: "You think I'm cute."
Olive: "In a gross way."
This makes him smile wider.
Ethan: "Cute in a gross way. Okay."
Ethan: "She's watching,"
he cuts in tightly, quickly glancing past me.
Ethan: Sophie. She keeps looking over here."
In a panic, his eyes meet mine.
Ethan: "Do something."
Olive: 'Like what?"
I ask tightly, starting to panic, too.
Ethan: "Before you go. I don't know. We're in love, right? Just -"
He stands abruptly and reaches for my shoulders , jerking me across the table and planting his mouth stiffly on mine. Our eyes remain open and horrified. My breath is trapped in my chest, and I count out three eternal beats before we burst apart.
He fixes a convincingly loving smile on his face, speaking through his teeth.
Ethan: "I can't believe I just did that."
Olive: "I'm going to go gargle bleach now."
Gently, I elbow Ethan. He clearly doesn't get that it's meant as a Hang in there, tiger! because he elbows me back. Jerk. I elbow him again, harder now, and he starts to shift to return it again but I evade it, turning to dig my knuckles into his ribs. I did not expect to find Ethan's hysterical tickle spot, and he lets out a deafening, high-pitched shriek that I swear males me momentarily deaf. It is so startling that the entire van turns to figure out what the hell we're doing in the back seat.
I say to them, and then quieter to him,
Olive: "That's a sound I haven't head a man make before."
Ethan: "Can you not speak to me, please?"
Olive: "I don't want to get your hopes up or anything, but I look really great in this bikini. There's no revenge like being with someone new who has a great rack."
His lip curls
Ethan: "What an empowering, feminist statement."
Olive: "I can appreciate my body in a bikini and still want to set fire to the patriarchy."
I look down at my chest.
Olive: "Who knew what a little meat on my bones would do?"
Ethan: "Is that what you meant at check-in? About losing your job and baking?"
Olive: "Yeah, I'm a stress-baker. And eater. I mean, obviously you know that."
He stares at me for a couple of loaded seconds before he says,
Ethan: "You've got a job now. Your baking days can be behind you, if you want."
When I look up, he glances quickly away from my boobs. If I didn't definitely know better, I might think he was hoping I'd keep up the baking just a little while longer.
Olive: "Yes, I have a job, assuming I can keep it."
Ethan: "We got through last night, didn't we? You'll keep the job."
Olive: "And maybe the rack, too."
He reddens a little, and the sign of his discomfort gives me life. But then his eyes do another tiny dip over the front of my cover-up, almost like he can't help himself.
Olive: "You had no problem looking in the Skittle dress."
Ethan: "To be fair, it was a bit like you were wearing a fluorescent light bulb. It drew the eyes."
Olive: "After all this, I'm going to have something made for you out of that dress."
I promise him
Olive: "A tie, maybe. Some sexy briefs."
He chokes a little, shaking his head. After a few beats of silence, he confides,
Ethan: "I had actually just been remembering that Sophie almost got implants when we were together. she always wanted bigger ..."
He mimes cupping boobs.
Olive: "You can say it."
Ethan: "Say what?"
Olive: "Breasts. Boobs. Jugs. Knockers."
Ethan wipes a hand down his face.
Ethan: "Jesus, Oliver."
I stare at him, daring him to look at me. Finally, he does, and he looks like he wants to crawl out of his skin.
Olive: "So she wanted implants."
I prompt. He nods.
Ethan: "I bet she regrets not getting them back when she was enjoying my paychecks."
Olive: "Well, there you go. Your fake, new wife has great boobs. Be proud"
Olive: "I saw that."
He sips his drink.
Ethan: "Saw what?"
Olive: "You checked out my chest."
Ethan: "Of course I did. It's like having two other people up here with us. I don't want to be rude."
Ethan sits, too, jerking me down onto his thighs. I fall far less gracefully - far less petite - and let out a burp when I land.
Olive: "What are you doing?"
Ethan: "God, I don't know."
he whispers, pained.
Ethan: 'Just go with it."
Olive: "I can feel your penis."
Ethan: "Is this comfortable?"
I am acutely conscious of every doughnut I've ever eaten in my entire life.
Ethan: "Turn sideways."
Ethan: "Like ..."
He guides both of my legs to the right, helping me curl into his chest
Olive: "I mean ..."
Yes. It is better.
He stretches his arms across the deck railing and, gamely, I wrap an arm around his neck, trying to look like someone who enjoys frequent sex with him.
When I glance up, he's just looking at my chest again.
Olive: "Very subtle."
He looks away, blushes, and an electric zap travels down my neck.
Ethan: "They are pretty great, you know."
Olive: "I know."
Ethan: "They do look better in that than the Skittle dress."
Olive: "Your opinion is so important to me."
I shift, wondering why I'm so flushed.
Olive: "And I can feel your penis again."
Ethan: "Of course you can."
he says, with a tiny wink.
Ethan: "It'd be hard not to."
Olive: "Is that a size joke, or a boner joke."
Ethan: "Uh, definitely a size joke, Orville."
I take a final watery sip of my drink and then exhale directly into his face so that he winces from the fumes of cheap vodka.
Squinting, he says,
Ethan: "You're a real seductress."
Olive: "I hear that a lot."
My back hits the floor, and with a splat, Ethan lands on top of me. If there's pain, I am too distracted by the chaos to register it, and there is a horrified beat of silence where we both realize what's happened: we are completely naked, wet, and clammy, and a tangle of naked arms and legs and parts in the most mortifying game of Twister anyone has ever experienced.
Olive: "Oh my God, get off me!"
Ethan: "What the fuck, Olive? You knocked me over!"
He attempts to stand, but the floor is slippery and in motion, which means he keeps falling back down on me as he scrambles to find footing. Once we're up, it's clear we both want to die of mortification. We give up on the facing the door or facing the wall in favor of speed; there's no way for us to do this without flashes of butt and boobs and all manner of dangly things, but at this point, we don't care.
Ethan scrambles to pull up a clean pair of shorts, but it takes me about four times as long to stutter-pull my clothing up over my wet body. Thankfully, he's dressed relatively quickly, and turns away, pressing his forehead against the wall, yes closed as I wrestle with my bra and shirt.
Olive: "I want you to know,"
I tell him as I tug it down my torso,
Olive: "and I'm sure you hear this a lot, but that was by far the worst sexual experience of my life."
Ethan: "I feel like we should have used protection."
Ethan: "Hold up,"
Ethan says, motioning in their direction.
Ethan: "We can't shoot at a bunch of kids."
One with braces and a backward cap steps forward.
Kid: "Who're you calling a kid? You scared, Grandpa?"
Ethan grins easily.
Ethan: "If your mom drove you here, you're a kid."
His friends snicker in the background, egging him on.
Kid: "Actually, your mom drove me here. Took my dick out in the back seat."
At this, Ethan lets out a bursting laugh.
Ethan: "Yeah, that sounds exactly like something Barb Thomas would do."
He turns away.
Kid: "Look at him hiding like a little bitch."
Bob steps in and levels a glare at the teen.
Bob: "Watch your mouth."
He turns to Ethan.
Bob: "Save it for the field."
Ethan: "I think Bob just gave me permission to take out that little asshole."
Ethan says in wonder, lowering his goggles.
Olive: "Ethan, he's scrawny."
Ethan: "Means I won't waste much ammo on him."
Ethan lifts finger and beckons Chris closer.
Ethan: "Do you want to know a secret?"
Amused, Chris leans in.
Ethan: "I like her."
Chris: "I would hope so,"
Chris whispers back.
Chris: "She's your wife."
Ethan: "It's so exhausting pretending to hate you."
This pulls me up short, and - even though I know it now, the truth of it still blows through me - I ask
Olive: "So you don't hate me?"
He shakes his head dramatically.
Ethan: "Never did."
Tia Maria: "Then why did I find a dildo in her sock drawer?"
Tia Maria asks the room.
Diego groans and pulls a pillow over his face.
Diego: "Here we go."
Natalia turns to face her mother.
Natalia: "She's thirty-three. What were you doing in her sock drawer?"
Tia Maria shrugs as if this information is irrelevant to the story.
Tia Maria: "Organizing. It was purple and huge with a little"
-she moves her finger in front of her to indicate what she mean -
Tia Maria: "wiggly thing on one side."
Natalia presses her hand to her mouth to stifle a laugh, and I take a sip of my tea. It tastes like sadness and hot water.
My mom stops chopping and sets down her knife.
Mom: "Why would that mean she's a lesbian?"
Tia Maria blinks at her.
Tia Maria: "Because lesbians use those strap-on things."
Natalia: "Mom, stop. Lots of people have vibrators. I have a whole box full of them."
She waves in my direction.
Natalia: "You should see Olive's collection."
Olive: "Thanks, Nat."
Ethan: "And remember, even though we are starting side-by-side, I'll probably make it there faster because I weigh more."
She stops, looking up at me.
Olive: "Okay, Sir Isaac Newton, I don't need a lesson."
Ethan: "A what? I wasn't giving one."
Olive: "You were mansplaining how gravity works."
#beta #enemiestolovers #fakerelationship #forcedproximity #onebed #vacation