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Read an excerpt from Christina Lauren’s new romance, ‘The Paradise Problem’

"The Paradise Problem" features a marriage of convenience and the one bed trope.
Christina Lauren’s new romance "The Paradise Problem."
Christina Lauren’s new romance "The Paradise Problem."Amazon

New York Times bestselling authors Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, better known by their pen name, Christina Lauren, are ready for a vacation.

Their latest book, "The Paradise Problem" out May 14, 2024, takes readers on a tropical vacation to Indonesia. Protagonists Anna Green and Liam "West" Weston were married out of convenience — her for access to subsidized family housing and him for access to a $100 million inheritance.

But when his family demands to meet his mysterious spouse at a family wedding overseas, Anna and Liam agree to travel together with the hopes of convincing them it's not a sham. The book is scattered with fan-favorite romance tropes including a one-bed scenario.

Billings and Hobbs tell they experienced some trouble in paradise when writing the first draft of the book.

"It just wasn’t working. But then when it clicked, it was done in a month. It was almost like those previous drafts told us what wasn’t working. And so we knew what would. And by the time we finished it, it was fun. It was funny. It felt like Christina Lauren. It felt really escapist and great," Billings told in an exclusive interview.

Like all Christina Lauren novels, this one is steamy, whip-smart and cleverly studded with pop culture references (including a nod to Greta Gerwig's "Barbie" movie). Sit back, relax and escape to paradise.

Read an excerpt from "The Paradise Problem"

There are two kinds of airport people: those who like to get to the air- port three hours before departure to sit within eyesight of the gate, and Anna Green.

Even though I sent a car to pick her up, even though I texted her a QR code to enter the Singapore Airlines lounge to relax before our flight, even though I warned her when I sent her boarding pass that the Bradley terminal at LAX is unpredictably chaotic, with only twenty minutes remaining until we board, I remain alone in the plush leather chair, nursing a strong Manhattan. I’m waffling between anxiety that she’s going to accidentally miss our flight, and anxiety that she is going to intentionally miss our flight. Fuck.

I know she’s been preparing for this trip, at least. The check I sent her was deposited on Saturday. And she’s been steadily using the credit card, too: at a salon, a spa, and at a whole range of stores on Rodeo Drive. She signed the contract, I tell myself. She won’t miss the flight.

Trying to relax, I sip my drink, sending warmth across my tongue and down my throat. A pair of shapely legs enters my line of sight, and I direct my attention to this much preferable fixation, lifting my gaze from pink- tipped toes, across the straps of gold high-heeled sandals, up smooth, toned legs to crisp white shorts, a soft short-sleeved blue shirt, the gentle curve of breasts, a long neck, full red lips, soft pink hair—

Pink hair.

Oh my fuck.

My eyes go wide, meeting Anna’s just as she stumbles, ankle twisting awkwardly on the skinny, murder-sharp heel of her shoe.

“Motherfucker,” she cries, collapsing into the seat beside me, seemingly unaware of the attention she’s garnered from both her incredible hot- ness and loud swearing. “Vivi said these would be easy to walk in. She’s a fucking liar. I almost flagged down one of those little airport cars.” She claps a hand over her mouth. “No swearing. My bad.”

I can’t find words. Now that she’s here, I realize I hadn’t even tried to imagine who might show up today. But this person in front of me is unlike any version of Anna Green I’ve ever seen. During the tenure of our roommateship, she never wore much makeup, and of course a few days ago in her apartment, she looked—I’m so sorry to say it—like a demented Care Bear. Today she looks like she stepped out of a Vogue spread. I half expected she’d change her hair, but now I’m glad that she didn’t. It’s bubble-gum pink and falls around her shoulders in shiny waves. Her skin is glowing, eyes bright, nails...

“Wow, Green.” I stare at her hands and the sharp, shell-pink talons tipping each finger. “Those are—”

“Terrible,” she admits glumly. “I feel like a cat with tape on its paws.”

I bite back a laugh. “Why did you get them, then?”

“Vivi’s always look so fun and glamorous. Besides, I needed claws. I should be a lioness if I’m heading into the den.”

I can’t entirely refute this idea. I’ve been out of my parents’ circle long enough to understand how disorienting it will be for Anna to step into it. She bends her fingers, turning her hand and looking at them from another angle. Frankly, they’re so pointy I’m worried she’ll scratch her own cornea. “But I asked the woman at the spa what the really rich ladies get, and she said it’s this fancy hard gel. I think I get the urge to have fake nails. I feel like a badass.” Twisting in her seat, she deposits her purse in my lap. “Watch this for a sec?”

“Where are you going? We’ll need to head to the gate soon.” 


“Take your phone at least?” I call after her. She turns, opens the bag, and delicately plucks an ancient iPhone from inside.

I make a mental note to buy her a new one as soon as we return from the island, and watch until she disappears down a narrow hall, glancing away only after realizing I’d been staring directly at her ass.

The designer bag sits open in my lap. It feels lighter than it looks, hold- ing its shape even though, without the phone, it appears to be relatively empty. Curious and unable to resist, I tilt my head to peek inside, and my heart does an unexpected twist behind my breastbone at the sight of the shaggy coin purse she must use as a wallet, the simple Burt’s Bees lip balm, her passport, and her scuffed house keys on the same UCLA keychain she’s had ever since we lived together years ago.

Anna truly has nothing.

And she is absolutely right: I’m taking a lamb directly into the lion’s den. 

Excerpted from THE PARADISE PROBLEM by Christina Lauren. Copyright © 2024 by Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. Reprinted with permission from Gallery Books. All rights reserved.