by Lauren Layne
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As Lauren Layne’s salacious Sex, Love & Stiletto series returns, a jaded columnist discovers a steamy way to get over an old flame: falling for him all over again.
As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.
After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.
Praise for the Sex, Love & Stiletto series
“Fun, sexy, and sharp as a spike heel.”—New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox
“Packed with loads of sizzle and Snickerlicious fun, Lauren Layne’s After the Kiss is a knock-your-stilettos-off, total page-turning treat that had me fan-girling up within the first chapter.”—USA Today bestselling author Mira Lyn Kelly
“Spunky, flirty, and full of sass, Love the One You’re With is everything a romance should be! Lauren Layne has a winner.”—New York Timesbestselling author Christie Craig
“Sexy, sassy, and surprisingly sweet, Lauren Layne’s Just One Night is a total page-turner!”—New York Times bestselling author Donna Alward
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
**ARC kindly provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
You used to love when I put my hand here.” Cassidy’s voice was rough.
She lifted her chin slightly. “Did I? Must have blocked that out.” But the way the heat from his palm branded her made the lie come out just a little bit breathlessly.
His hand pressed, pulling her closer until there was nothing between them but their stormy past. “You sure about that?”
“Yup,” she said, her eyes looking anywhere but his. “You’re utterly forgettable.”
His other hand found her chin, his fingers lifting her face to his. “Prove it.”
AGH! Wow. I loved this. It was, in a few words, addicting, sexy, breathtaking, heart-stopping, giggle-inducing, unputdownable, and, most of all, heartwarming. It literally warmed my soul. Yes, light radiated from my chest the whole time I was reading this. True Story. There are few (*cough* none) LL books I dislike, but because I love this author so much, it tends to make it hard when people ask which I would recommend to them. How do you pick a favorite when they all exceed your expectations? There are some that tend to stick out, but the more I read from her, the more I start to say: ‘No, this is my favorite. No, this is my new favorite. No, no, this one!’ And so on and so forth. But, for whatever reason, this one really and truly did speak to me.
Emma had tried the happily-ever-after route, and knew that for every woman who rode off into the sunset on a white stallion, another one got kicked in the face by that very same horse.
I got this back in early December and, for whatever reason, didn’t think I’d love it. Go figure. I don’t know if it’s my aversion to second chance love stories or just a case of being nervous because I have such high standards with this author, but no matter the reasons, I was very scared to pick this one up. But sometimes it’s all about the timing. I was sitting around on Saturday, trying with all my might to get into the book I had picked out, and I just couldn’t do it. I was sad, for some reason, and I just couldn’t get out of that funky mood. So, I sat there for a couple seconds and thought, you know what? Screw it. It’s Lauren Layne time. I picked this up and I immediately started to feel my lips turn up and my spirits inexplicably lift. No other author has the ability to effect my mood like this, but this woman has my ticket. I don’t know if it’s the dialogue, the quirky inner thoughts and banter, or that ultimate HEA she loves to give us, but this is my go to author. She is
‘the one’, so to speak.
Cole leaned forward and reached out a hand. “Lemme see the orgasm bit.”
Alex ignored him, pulling a sheet of paper from the top and shaking it. “This one is two thousand words about push-up bras. About the brands, and the way they should fit, and listen to this: ‘The trick with the appeal of push-up bras is to know what kind of guy you’re dealing with. Is he visual? If so, he’s not going to mind that you had a little help to achieve that fantastic cleavage. But if he’s more tactile, you might want to consider skipping all that padding…He wants to feel the real you.'”
Alex let the paper flutter to the desk in horror. “I just…I can’t even.”
>.< >.< >.<
Emma. Emma, Emma, Emma. I like this girl. I liked her in the past books, too. I thought how she infiltrated into the Stiletto girls’ group was awesome-who wouldn’t want to be friends with Julie, Riley, and Grace? But a book about her, specifically? I didn’t know how I’d feel about that. I liked my Julie and Riley just fine and didn’t need their stories belittled by someone who was new to the scene. Turns out?? Emma’s story held up to theirs in a way I never expected…her story even battled for that number one spot-which shocked me. Julie and Mitch take the cake, there’s no doubt about that, but….I’d say Emma and Alex pretty well sealed the deal at that number two spot, and this shocked me even more. She kind of beat Riley! How did this happen? I’ll tell you how-He is called by his last name and broke her heart 7 years ago…..But what you don’t know is that his heart was broken, too.
He was the bad guy. He got that.
Preferred it, even. Because being cast as the villain was a hell of a lot better than everyone knowing that you’d spent you wedding day half-drunk, feeling like there was a crater where your heart should have been.
Alex Cassidy…..Cassidy, if you will. This man. Ooooh, this man. I’m not going to lie-he made me weak in the knees. So corny, but not altogether untrue. I can’t remember my stomach being that tied up in knots for one of her stories since Mitchell and Julie in After the Kiss. I feel like I’m just merely speculating on each thing in each paragraph, but it’s only because, agh, I don’t know!! This dude I had NO idea even existed beyond being an employee at Oxford magazine swooped in and stole a BBF spot out of nowhere! I just didn’t expect him to have that perfect amount of confidence, hope, vulnerability, and spunk-I love spunk! Lol. It was adorable watching him oversee the Stiletto ladies while Camille was gone, especially when glittery eye shadow and sex were some of the stories he had to read about. But, more than that, it was so so heart-wrenching to see him suffer. You can tell, even at the beginning with his icy and indifferent attitude, that he’s still in love with the girl who broke his heart all those years ago. I loved being inside his head and seeing just how little he realized Emma was the missing puzzle piece and why he’s so unhappy at times. I could go on and on and on about Cassidy, but the result stays the same: I loved Cassidy almost as much as any of LL’s other guys. That is huge. His vulnerability touched me in a way I never would have imagined, and I will not forget him quickly.
Alex clicked his pen and fought for calm. She was right, of course. He should be responding to her as editor-in-chief. Not as personal anything.
But with every day that passed, Alex seemed to grow more aware of their history. More conscious of their unfinished business.
More aware of Emma.
As a woman.
As his woman.
These two bend each other until they are about to break, but they can’t seem to stay away from one another. They push each other away only to fall back into each other’s spell once again. The cold indifference they have displayed for one another over the years is starting to thaw into a friendship, and with that friendship stems a longing they thought they had forgotten- but what happens when you finally give into that desire? What happens when only a little of the wall crumbles around their defenses and they try not to talk about what happened that fateful night? Heartbreak. Loneliness. Devastation…..Hope.
She opened the door. He was wearing a suit. Always with the damned suits. This one was navy, paired with a white shirt and a navy tie that should have been boringly monochromatic but instead looked sexy as hell for it’s simplicity. Cassidy always wore skinny ties, but not in a trendy, hipster kind of way, but in a way that showed off his trim build in modern perfection.
“You’re so annoying,” she muttered, even though he hadn’t said a word.
By far one of Layne’s best works, I found myself laughing and crying simultaneously in a matter of seconds. It’s rare you connect with everything to do with one certain story: humor, dialogue, banter. But I find that connection with most of her works. This one just had a little extra dazzle to it, and it didn’t escape my attention. Layne put a lot of heart into Emma and Cassidy’s story, and it really spoke to me. I guess I’m just a sucker for vulnerability because I was a pile of heaping goo as they suffered through their heartache. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who asked, because there was very little not to like. We even get to see loads of the other couples from the previous stories, and it helped to bring such a cute and fun dynamic to the whole story. Originality doesn’t escape this dear author, and I hope that never changes. It’s not new material, but it’s done so beautifully and she finds a way to spin it so it seems completely new. These two people wormed their way deep into my heart, and I am so so happy I finally read this.
And for those of you who, like me, adore all the banter from the whole group, I just can’t resist:
“I brought desert,” Riley said, holding up a box of cupcakes.
“I told you I made dessert!” Julie said.
“Right you did. I totally forgot,” Riley said, exchanging a glance with Mitchell.
Julie caught it and spun around to glare at her fiance. “What did you tell her?”
“I told her nothing,” Mitchell said. “No words were exchanged.”
Julie’s eyes narrowed as Mitchell took a sip of wine. “I may have sent her a picture of your, um, cake.”
“I baked,” Julie announced to everyone else with a happy nod.
“That’s great, honey!” Grace replied. Then she turned her head toward Riley and spoke out of the corner of her mouth. “Good call on the cupcakes.”
Julie pointed a finger. “Just for that, you have to try the first bite of my cake.”
The clothes were fine. When she’d told the girls that tonight would be her and Cassidy’s “talk,” there’d been much discussion about outfit.
Riley had voted for a short, red “booby” dress, because “men couldn’t get too mean with a boner.”
Grace had suggested something pink and feminine to “remind him to be a gentleman.”
Good old Julie had asked if Emma still had her wedding dress, “just for impact.”
Lol!!!! I LOVE ALL THESE CHARACTERS SO MUCH!
|Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles)
***Each book can be read as a standalone, but best enjoyed in order.***
After the Kiss
Love the One You're With
Just One Night
The Trouble with Love