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BOOK REVIEW – Love the One You’re With (Sex, Love & Stiletto #2) by Lauren Layne

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.***
after the kiss lauren layne
After the Kiss
Reviews:
Jen

Chelsea
love the one you're with lauren layne
Love the One You're With
Reviews:

Jen
Chelsea
just one night lauren layne
Just One Night
Reviews:

Jen
Chelsea
the trouble with love lauren layne
The Trouble with Love
Reviews:

Jen

Chelsea

BOOK REVIEW – After the Kiss (Sex, Love & Stiletto #1) by Lauren Layne

BOOK REVIEW – After the Kiss (Sex, Love & Stiletto #1) by Lauren LayneAfter the Kiss (Sex Love & Stiletto #1)
by Lauren Layne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

On second thought, Stiletto readers wouldn’t be getting that little bit of wisdom. This was one memory she was saving for herself.
She was starting to worry she wanted to save it
all for herself.

Aaaaaaah she’s done it again. By now I assume anyone who has read any of my Lauren Layne reviews is rolling their eyes and saying…Okay, we get it, you LIKE the woman and OF COURSE you gave her book 5 stars. Well, to address issue numero uno-Yes. Yes, I ADORE Lauren Layne and apparently everything she writes. And to defend numero dos-No, it’s not an ‘OF COURSE’ situation. There’s way more to why I have been rating her stories the way I do. I don’t go in thinking, ‘Oh, this is SO guna be a five star, just like her others!!’ It’s more like, ‘Aahh I HOPE this is another five star read JUST like her others and I HOPE it makes me feel the way all of her others did.’ It was and it did.

Julie moved slowly, sliding his glasses off and setting them carefully on her coffee table. Her breath hitched as she got the first close-up look of his eyes. No wonder he kept them covered. Eyes like that could kill a girl.

So, there’s this super popular movie called How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Heard of it? Yeah. I love that movie. Well, if you ever wanted more, if you ever wished you could have been inside their heads and hear what they’re thinking-this is your opportunity. No, this book isn’t a rip off of that movie, but it is a damn good portrayal of what could have happened behind the scenes. Julie works for Stiletto magazine, and Mitchell is a Wall Street stiff (With NERD GLASSES, might I add-yum). Julie is the ‘first-date’ guru of her magazine and now her boss has ordered her to write an article about the next step-a real relationship. Julie doesn’t do relationships. Ever. Mitchell is recently single after a never-ending line of long-term relationships based on compatibility and what he believes is good for his lifestyle-his checklist, if you will. But when he is challenged by his co-worker/friend to engage in a meaningless fling where he can’t get attached to a girl and has to break it off after a certain amount of dates, Mitchell refuses….until box seat Yankees season tickets come into play in exchange for participating in the bet. What ensues is a fabulous journey about finding everything you never knew you needed through a completely ridiculous search for what you thought you wanted.

He let out a sleepy snort, and Julie stiffened in surprise. He was asleep? She didn’t know whether to be flattered or insulted. Then his arm curled around her waist, pulling her closer, and Julie’s own eyelids began to droop.
Then Julie marked yet another first off her dating checklist: she fell asleep with a perfectly nice man on a quiet afternoon. Not because it was good material for her column. But simply because she wanted to.

One of the many, many reasons I deem these books five star worthy is because of how they make me feel. I can be a tad skeptical and overly judgmental about the books I read sometimes, which begs the question why these books touch me like they do. Why this contemporary romance author has brought me out of my hate for ‘normal’ romances. In truth, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I read so many bad contemporary/NA/YA romances before deciding to swear them off and pledge allegiance to dystopian/paranormal romances, that when I actually picked up a good, no, excellent, one that I fell head over heels and gave the rest of her series a chance. I’m going to say it was a classic case of right book-right time, but it’s more than that. It’s her stories. They are the same stories that plague the contemporary romance genre, but yet she makes them her own. She has amazing, steamy, butterfly-inducing sex in the stories, and yet it isn’t trashy. It’s so utterly overwhelming that it curls your toes, but then she moves on with the story. She doesn’t let the toe-curling sex command the story. No, she then can focus on what comes after: The cuddling. The love.
That look the hero gives that says
‘I’m falling in love with you.’ Do you know how hard it is to make ME, ME see that look in a book? I never believe it. I love my books and I fall head over heels in love with stories all the time, but that look between two people where they are falling in love? That means something to me to be able to feel the gravid atmosphere of that situation. And that is why her books get five stars. I may not binge on NA/contemporary like my fellow friends, but I know what makes a good story, and Lauren Layne does it beautifully.

Mitchell’s mouth turned sour at the thought of being just another of Julie’s throwaway toys. But hell, that was why he’d picked her, right? This type of casual, meaningless dating was her world.
It was all she’d want or expect from him.
So just why the hell did that bother him so damn much?

I have this thing where, inevitably, I hope and I wish for a certain scenario to unfold and then I not so realistically hope and pray it will happen exactly the way I want….and then when it doesn’t, I kind of pout and then move on. But with LL, either what I WANT to happen actually happens or…and this is 90% of the time the case…she does it better. She makes the ending or a situation unfold with more ferocity than I could EVER have dreamed up. And that is why I love her. Plain and simple. She does what I can’t-She takes the things I didn’t even know I wanted and makes them come to life…and makes them fifty times better.

“Probably for the same reason you balked at it last night,” she said bluntly. “Because it means something.”
He looked at her. Looked away. “I know what it means. Why do you think I suggested it?”
Julie didn’t think it was possible to choke on one’s heart, but it certainly felt like her heart had lodged somewhere near her esophagus. “But last night you said-”
“Last night I was a scared little boy who thought I’d be happy with a quick lay and a few laughs over the occasional dinner.”
“And now?” she whispered.
His fingers drifted over her cheek, a whisper of a touch. “Now I’m a man, spending a quiet evening with a woman I’m crazy about.”

I literally have to decrease my reading speed because I’m trying to absorb every word slowly so as to squeeze every little emotion out of the sentence as if the words will dry up the moment my eyes graze over them. I guess I hadn’t realized I read VERY fast until the moment when I had to slow down to feel I was getting every sensation from the scenes before me. It’s crazy to think a story (or in this case, this authors words) means so much to me that I’m willing to change my whole reading ritual.

She didn’t blame them. She felt dull, listless, and irritable. And while a part of her longed to fix a smile on her face and fake her sparkle, the other part of her was tired of putting on the show.
She felt like she didn’t have a single genuine sparkle left.

Is it weird that the two bets/assignments they had going on didn’t really bother me that much? As in, if it were me and I found out, I don’t think I’d be all, ‘OMG, this is the end of the world! Why did this happen to me?!’ I feel the answer to that question as to what that makes me would be unsavory…so I will ponder that little dilemma at a different time.

“Nothing has ever tasted this good. Never,” she said with a full mouth. “How many calories do you think I burned? Two thousand?”
Mitchell nodded toward an elderly couple sitting on the bench across from them. “Seeing as they passed you about a half mile back, I’d say you burned around fifty.”

So, hats off to Layne for making me give 5 stars to all five of her novels I’ve read. This one by far had the most painful explosion between the two leads, making my heart tear in two, but it was a beautiful disaster and I loved it. I’ve read all the way from frat boy to this successful Wall Street businessman, and I love each and every type of man she’s created. See, but Mitchell? I think he surprised me the most. Major points for that, because I have never been so surprised by a character’s persona…well…ever. He was a Wall Street guy and while I knew he’d be awesome, he was even better than I could have imagined…but I won’t ruin why I was so shocked-you’ll have to read to find out ;). In this story, it was so dramatic and painful that I had an ‘oh, no she di’in’t’ moment with a dramatic gasp (The ‘she’ in question was not the main character, FYI-wanted to make that clear). I was being a tad over-dramatic (as I tend to get) and was a complete mess-pulling my hair out and grasping for them to make up. So, again, I loved this story, so now I need to chill the eff out and try to save literally THE LAST available novel by Layne for a dreary day, because after that it will be at least a couple months before her next release…five down, one to go.

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 lauren layne
After the Kiss
Reviews:
Jen

Chelsea
love the one you're with lauren layne
Love the One You're With
Reviews:

Jen
Chelsea
just one night lauren layne
Just One Night
Reviews:

Jen
Chelsea
the trouble with love lauren layne
The Trouble with Love
Reviews:

Jen

Chelsea

BOOK REVIEW – Just One Night (Sex, Love & Stiletto #3) by Lauren Layne

BOOK REVIEW – Just One Night (Sex, Love & Stiletto #3) by Lauren LayneJust One Night (Sex Love & Stiletto #3)
by Lauren Layne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

**ARC kindly provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**


The truth was, she could count her sexual encounters on one hand.
On one thumb, actually.
Because Riley McKenna, sex expert extraordinaire, was exactly one tepid, beer-fueled college encounter away from being a virgin.

Aaaah okay. Something weird is happening here. This is my THIRD Lauren Layne book, and while the beginning did scare me a bit, what with it’s content, I still ended up giving this five stars…for the THIRD time. 3/3.

That’s crazy. I don’t know what it is about his author that makes me so happy while other NA/Contemporary authors don’t, but MAN this woman can write. No matter how skeptical I am of the storyline, she always somehow manages to make me smile like crazy and giggle like some deranged loon.

I don’t want any of them. “I don’t want this to be just another meaningless how-to article.”
“What the hell headline do you have in mind? ‘I Slept with My Brother’s Best Friend and Lived to Tell About It?'”

This story centered around Riley and Sam. Riley is a writer for Stiletto magazine and Sam is her brother’s best friend. Riley’s column centers around sex advice and totally off the wall sexual experiences…so naturally everyone thinks she has a wild and fruitful sex life considering how knowledgeable and realistic her stories are. But what if it’s all a sham? Anyone can write about sex….but doesn’t it take a sex expert to make the articles so noteworthy and helpful and realistic? Or is Riley just a natural at ‘faking’ it?

He turned back around, disappearing into the kitchen, and thank God for that, because letting Sam Compton see her tears was one path she was never going down.
But beneath the tears threatening to overflow was something else. Something deeper and darker.
It was the desire to tell Sam just how wrong about her he was.

And then there’s Sam-the minute he walked into her family’s door she’s had a huge crush on him. Many long years have passed with her pining for the guy who has never seen her for anything other than his brother’s baby sister…but yet she still wants him. So, when Stiletto asks Riley and all the rest of the staff of the magazine to write a ‘personal’ article, Riley knows she needs to end her years of celibacy (and practically virgin-hood) or she won’t have an article to write. So, in the end, she propositions Sam to help her out for ‘just one night’, but what happens when he has been wanting the same things…and what happens when just one night isn’t enough?

Riley ignored her, her eyes scanning for the white shirts of the serving staff. Yeah, so she had a great metabolism. She liked to think it was the universe’s way of evening the score for depriving her of sex.
Ah. There was the crab cake lady.

I’m going to be frank: There are quite a few things I hate in a book. I hate insta-love. I hate alternating POV if not done correctly. I hate books that center only around sex. I hate books where both people are intertwined with the family and fall for one another. Inevitably…this book had all of those-aside from insta-love, that is. But, and I am being as candid as I can be, Lauren Layne takes all of my issues and makes them completely vanish. They both have liked each other for a while? Poof. Gone-don’t care. She propositions him for just sex? Who cares…it’s hot. Oh, another alternating POV book? I LOVE BEING IN HIS SEXY, JEALOUS MIND. Oh, friends of the family and bro’s best friend and his lil’ sis’? All the better for a secret romance. Literally everything I could complain about is handled so well. Even in her last book, Broken, the guy was damaged and mean beyond repair-She made me love him, too. I don’t think this woman could write a bad book. And that’s the most honest thing I’ve said in this review.

This was it. Sex. Making love. Hell, it didn’t matter what she called it. She was finally going to figure out what all the fuss was about.
And then her hands did shake. Oh God. What if she was bad at it?

One point I want to center around that I mentioned above is the sex as a main point in the story. I got really nervous because at one point early in the story…they decide to try it. I mean, it was SO EARLY in the story and I just had these thoughts scrolling through my mind in rapid fire like-‘Oh gosh the whole book is essentially going to center around this night and they are going to do some weird BDSM and….’ yeah that was what I was thinking. But, no! I was SO wrong! Somehow, in every one of her books, she makes the lust and sex tasteful. It’s never overdone, there’s just enough to satiate us. And this book literally centered around sex…now how does one make this work without it being overdone? I don’t know…but she does it. And she makes companionable relationships on top of it to boot.

Riley reclaimed her glass off the table and settled back into the couch. It wasn’t that she didn’t like vegetables. She just liked other stuff better. Like carbs. And fat. And stuff that didn’t taste like, well…healthy.

Some people complained Sam was boring. Why? Because he wasn’t a kinky business man with a throbbing cock? Hmm. I don’t get it. He was kind, caring, flawed, slightly tortured, and he was in the closet about his business plan. He was scared to upset his best friend and yet couldn’t get enough of Riley. He was jealous, protective, and absolutely adorable. A certain puppy scene comes to mind ;). Everyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for puppies. He made me laugh, he made me swoon, and he made my heart hurt. I don’t understand why not as many people liked him-not every hero can be a flashing neon lights type of guy-he’s simple, understated, he never rushed Riley into sex, and he was kind. I would take him as my own man any day.

“So sneaking in the back door of a man’s home, snooping through his stuff, and then startling the shit out of him isn’t your typical MO?”
“How do you know I snooped through your stuff?”
“Didn’t you?”
“Well, of course,” she said, fishing the cherry out of her drink. “But it was a total waste of time. There was no diary or dirty magazine or leopard-print boxers.”

And, ya know, lastly-I laughed a ton. Again. It’s hard to make conversations funny, but Layne does it. I won’t dwell on it because I have mentioned this a million times for her Redemption series, but I just wanted people to know that the snark and humor was there in spades-as always. I can’t wait to pick up her next work and add it to my collection. She is an amazing author and she never fails to brighten my day. To any who haven’t read a Lauren Layne book-what are you waiting for?? You will most likely find your happy place in one of her novels-take a pick, any of them would suit you.

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 lauren layne
After the Kiss
Reviews:
Jen

Chelsea
love the one you're with lauren layne
Love the One You're With
Reviews:

Jen
Chelsea
just one night lauren layne
Just One Night
Reviews:

Jen
Chelsea
the trouble with love lauren layne
The Trouble with Love
Reviews:

Jen

Chelsea
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