BOOK REVIEW – Love the One You’re With (Sex, Love & Stiletto #2) by Lauren LayneLove the One You're With (Sex Love & Stiletto #2)
by Lauren Layne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Hmm. So this is what it feels like to rate a Lauren Lane book anything less than five stars. I mean, come on, I knew this day would come eventually because literally every book she writes is better than the last in my eyes and that kind of obsession can’t live forever, but…still. It’s oddly unsettling. A lot of it may have been my preconceived notion that I never really connected with Grace and that there was no way I could love her story as much as Riley or Julie’s even before grazing the first page…..but it’s more than that, I think. I have certain standards when it comes to her novels, only because each and every one I’ve read has exceeded anything I could have imagined, so the bar was set really high. I in no way expected to be able to physically connect with each book in her repertoire, that’s unrealistic, but I did expect to get most, if not all, of the same feels I’ve gotten with every other imaginary character she’s concocted over the years. So, when 60% hit and I was still missing the hardcore butterflies I’m so accustomed to, I have to say it really startled me.

Don’t trust a word out of Jake Malone’s mouth.
Don’t trust men. Any of them.

I think my biggest issue, as I said before, was Grace. As a character she was cute and quirky, but her inner monologue tended to be a tad repetitive even after she was proven time and again that not all men are scumbags. I’ll give Grace one thing: She has been with the guy she always figured she’d marry for over 8 years-so when he cheated, it was the ultimate betrayal. In many ways this storyline does have a certain ring to it, in that I can feel her pain on the deepest, darkest level. It’s extremely relatable to my case (boyfriend for 8 years), and the fact that she was so blindsided by someone who has been her rock since she was so young is a massive blow to her ego. That is all 100% relatable. What isn’t, though? All her references to Grace 1.0 and Grace 2.0. Sheesh, woman, give it a break. What started as a fun little character development turned into a defining trait of Grace, herself. I didn’t like that and I couldn’t identify with it. We all go back and forth on our ideals and what we think is right. We all get shy or bashful or unsure of ourselves-what we don’t do is constantly talk to ourselves in the form of two alter-egos. Really, honestly, if this flaw hadn’t been part of the story, I’d probably have swung to a 4.5 up from a 4. But, as it is, that was probably my largest problem with this story.

”I was being suave.”
“No, you were being vague. Next time, try ‘Hey, Grace, want to come over and order Chinese?’”
“That has no game.”
“Exactly.”
He sighed. “Grace.”
“Yeah?”
“Come over.”
She smiled at the impatience in his voice. “I just changed my clothes.”
“So?”
“So…I look…sloppy.”
“Good.”
“You’re not the type of guy that women wear their comfy clothes around.”
Silence. “Well, maybe I want to be.”

Here’s the other kicker: the lack of their personal time. It wasn’t the characters. It wasn’t the storyline; Though, it was my least favorite synopsis from the beginning and thus why I’ve probably chosen to read this one last. And it wasn’t the surrounding characters-in fact, some of my favorite parts of this book included Riley’s overactive appetite and banter with Sam, and then Julie’s fiancé, Mitchell. Okay, I’m sorry, I have to, let’s talk about Mitchell for a second. No, he wasn’t a main character and hell no, he barely got any spotlight, but damn if my stomach didn’t erupt into a torrential butterfly storm the minute his name was mentioned or he got a few words or cameo in. He is by far my favorite Sex, Love & Stiletto male to date, and just getting a little snippet of his ass made the whole read worth it….okay, sorry, sorry *Phew* I’m calm. Back to the kicker: in literally all of LL’s stories, the characters are always in close proximity to one another throughout the entirety of the novel, so in this one, when they both had a journalist job and knew they were reporting about one another, it kind of took some of the fun away for me. 1) Because they literally never got to spend much ‘alone’ time together because the book centered around their battle for a better story and 2) Because, well, FINE. I’ll ADMIT IT. I needed that angst!!! I needed a little secrecy and the idea that maybe they didn’t know everything at all times. Like Julie and Mitchell, for instance. Their story made my heart tear in two and ceased my breathing immediately when they had their big blowup fight about Julie’s ‘dating’ article. And even Riley and Sam in book three had a huge blow up and Riley inevitably wrote a crazy article pertaining to her time with Sam….so I don’t know-I wish they would have had something…inevitable happen. It’s hard to explain. I just didn’t have any doubts about their relationship at any time and I would have liked some, as crazy as that sounds. So, the fact that I felt like they never got one on one time would have to be what bothered me most, even still after all my explanation. I feel it severed my connection not to have them spending more time together separately from the article, and it really sucks because I loved Jake as a male lead and he was super adorable and swoony-they just never had a chance to fully imbed into my heart because I felt their encounters were glossed over for the sake of their ‘He-Said-She-Said’ dating article.

”How much time do we have?”
Grace checked the clock and tried to stifle the surge of panic. “Um…about eight minutes.”
“Until you have to leave? Or is Jake coming over there?”
“He’s coming here. Something about that’s how boys from the dairy farms do it.”
A beat of silence on the other end. “I’m trying to figure out if there’s a sexual reference in there, but mostly it just seems weird.”
–Julie and Grace >.<

Jake was so sweet. He was kind, caring, and probably the most down to Earth guy, yet. He is coined as a womanizer, but when faced with the task of dating Grace Brighton, one of Stiletto’s leading women on the dating advice column, he’s nothing but faithful….it’s all in the name of the competition, right? And the same goes for Grace-when her man of 8 years breaks her heart, she volunteers to head the article that will have the women and men of their respective magazines (Stiletto and Oxford) attempting to claw their way to the top. But what happens when her new and improved *insert eye-roll here* Grace 2.0 starts to lose the battle to Grace 1.0….and where is the real Grace in all of this? Does she even exist anymore?

Jake Malone was a good journalist. A good team player, he was not.

So, that’s all. That’s all there is to it, really. I just….wanted some of the same issues and jealousies to be present in this one, and I didn’t get them. I still loved the banter, the snark, the altogether witty dialogue, but I missed their connection time,their ‘us’ time. So many things happened that made me so happy and I still couldn’t stop smiling-it is a LL, after all. But something was missing deep inside me. That little pull that pushed me over the edge of ‘wow this is awesome’ to ‘OMG OMG OMG I Can. Not. Put. This. Sucker. Down.’ I was somewhere in the middle at all times and while that’s a great place to be planted, as a reader, I know better-I know what it’s like to be head over heels for one of her stories and this wasn’t the feeling I got. So, if asked if I’d suggest to any of my friends, I’d say yes. But would it be the one I tell them to pursue first if they try a LL? No. Not by a long shot.

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles)
***Each book can be read as a standalone, but best enjoyed in order.***
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