Tag: Romance (page 2 of 39)

BOOK REVIEW: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay Adams

BOOK REVIEW: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay AdamsUndercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2)
by Lyssa Kay Adams
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart... even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned. (

Review

Liv Papandreas is a badass. I repeat, Liv Papandreas is a badass.

Even though we get a picture of what these two main characters were like in the first book, the scope of what we learn when they are the focus is obviously so much more. The two briefly meet earlier on because of  Liv’s sister Thea and Mack’s friend, Gavin,  but they really don’t know anything about each other. When Mack decides to wine and dine his latest girl and make things ~official~ he of course decides that he needs to go to a super swanky restaurant and buy her this $1,000 cupcake that surprise, surprise is Liv’s job to make. Due to a series of….very unfortunate events…the cupcake ends up in Mack’s girl’s lap. Neither one of them care very much as it was an accident EXCEPT for Liv’s douchey, slime-ball of a boss. When she goes up to his office later that night to receive the talking-to of a life time, she walks in on him sexually harassing another employee and things proceed to blow up from there.

Let’s just say that neither Liv nor Mack’s nights end up very good after that. Liv is FURIOUS about what she witnessed and without a job and Mack is left sans girlfriend, feeling guilty for playing a role in Liv being fired. The two, begrudgingly (especially on Liv’s part) eventually decide to team up to take down the previously mentioned douchey slime-ball.

What I really enjoyed about this book, other than Liv’s badassery, was the push and pull of Mack’s and Liv’s relationship. They both have their own share of issues but as the book progresses we slowly see both of them showing sides of their life and who they truly are to each other that no one else has ever seen before. There were plenty of bickering scenes which then always sets up a good scene for explosive kisses (which we get a few of) and you know that this is going to be a couple that is always going to be poking at each other just to rile the other one up.

The scenes with the other guys from book club were just as fun as the first book. The Russian, I tell ya, lol. He might be my favorite. I just love picturing this huge group of hot, hulking guys who are insanely famous and rich getting together reading romance novels lololol. Ugh, still such a genius idea.

Finally, the biggest component of this book that ended up being so satisfying to read was the take-down of the bad guy. It ends up coming to light that (not surprisingly) this guy has been a predator for LONG time and has paid a lot of women off because he’s done terrible things. There were a few really important scenes with Liv and a friend that also happened to have been taken advantage of by the sleaze bag, where Liv got so mad because her friend just wanted to let it lie. She had a café that she owned and ran and she just wanted the past to stay in the past. I mean that is such…relevant commentary on situations that have come to light recently with several different rich and powerful men and that you know has happened for years and years in the past. While Liv’s friend did eventually come forward about it, they had a little bit of a falling out about it before that. What I learned from that situation is that even though you are always going to want those people to get in trouble, the women who went through it don’t necessarily want to drag that past into the now because of the pain it’s going to cause them. Just because they didn’t come forward with it when it happened, doesn’t mean they should be discredited (like what seems to happen these days). They just knew in that moment that even if they did come forward, they probably still wouldn’t have gotten believed and their life would have been even worse off than if they just stayed quiet.

UGH. It makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it honestly.

Luckily in this story at least, the girls and Liv get partial justice anyway which is something. Liv learns to be more understanding and to trust and love and Mack learns how to just be himself. Overall a very good continuation of the series!

Huge thanks to Berkley and NetGalley for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion! ♥

BOOK REVIEW: Magic Bound (Ravencrest Academy #1) by Theresa Kay

BOOK REVIEW: Magic Bound (Ravencrest Academy #1) by Theresa KayMagic Bound (Ravencrest Academy #1)
by Theresa Kay
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Starting a new school is never easy and this time not fitting in could cost lives.

Despite being raised by shifters, my life was fairly ordinary . . . until I tried to break up a fight and got zapped with magic.

Then, all hell broke loose.

Power I didn’t know I had came surging out of me, revealing me as a witch and drawing unfavorable attention to my adoptive parents.

Now, as the witches attempt to use my concealment as an excuse to push an anti-shifter agenda, the only way to keep my parents—and myself—safe is to enroll in the elite Ravencrest Academy and prove I can control my newfound abilities.

Unfortunately, raw power doesn’t translate into competency and everything is way more difficult than I imagined.

Even with all the things working against me (like my complete ignorance of magic and witch society), I manage to make a few new friends and there's a spark of something more with the last person I expect.

But I can’t let that distract me from the ugly truth that many who walk the halls of Ravencrest are eager to see me fail. To keep the peace between shifters and witches I must succeed . . . no matter the cost.

Magic Bound is the first book in an exciting new YA paranormal academy series with a slow burn enemies-to-lovers romance. Perfect for fans of Supernatural Academy, Shadowspell Academy, and Evermore Academy.

Review:

Magic Bound was heartwarming, addictive and completely mesmerized me.  With characters that were easy to relate to and a story line that made this book impossible to put down, I devoured this book so fast!  It was just so much fun.  With enemies to lovers, magic and friendship swirling through the pages, Magic Bound easily landed on my favorites list!

The fragile hold I have on my emotions shatters, and the tears come down full force, followed by a hiccuping sob.
I can’t do this. I don’t want to be here. I want to go home.

Selene had been raised by her adoptive parents, who were shifters. She thought she was a blank, a child that had no magic and was from two witches. But a moment at a party went awry, and she discovered she had magic.  To help protect her adoptive family, since shifters should not have raised a child with magic, she was shipped off to Ravencrest Academy.  But life wasn’t easy there for Selene, and what unfolded had me turning the pages faster and faster.

The level of arrogance dripping off this guy is ridiculous. And I’ve dealt with moody alpha level shifters. It makes me want to punch him. Hard.

Selene is definitely one of my favorite heroines.  She was brave, kind, held her own, and acted from her heart. So she was someone I easily looked up to and respected. But oh my gosh did she struggle. She had problems with something as simple as opening a door, with her magic.   And because of how she was raised, and her lack of knowledge, others weren’t kind to her.  She was different.  She was an outsider.  But even though Selene struggled with magic, she was still completely kick ass. She had so much fire in her and I loved that she had a backbone and stood up for herself.  Especially when it came to her interactions with Tristan.

From the very first moment I met Tristan, he irritated me. The fact that he’s a St. James just makes it all the worse.

Ohhh the illustrious Tristan St. James.  I. Loved. Him!  He landed on my favorite book boyfriend list, but it wasn’t an easy path.  You see, Tristan was a total douche bag.  He wasn’t nice to Selene and he hurt her at times.  But I always looked for the tiniest of clues that Tristan was so much more than what he showed the world. And what I saw underneath it all, made me fall for him so hard.  As more of his past came to light, and we saw how he was raised, it all started to click together.

“You are a St. James after all. I don’t know why I ever expected better. You’re just as bad as everything I ever thought about your parents. Maybe worse. Perfect, pretty Tristan who always gets what he wants.”
“I always get what I want?” he asks, the question carried on a huff of incredulity. “If only that were true . . .”

Selene and Tristan had the most addictive slow burn enemies to lovers romance.  Especially since there was a forbidden feel to it, because of who they each were.  So I loved watching their interactions.  They butted heads, each had their preconceived notions and it was rough at times.  But I fell so hard watching them interact.  Moments made me smile and sigh, and others had me wondering how they could even be in the same room together lol.  So hold on because it was a bumpy ride.  On top of Selene and Tristan, there was friendships, family, school and even politics in the pages.

Tristan grabs my arm. “You didn’t have to do that. There’ll be . . . repercussions for you, won’t there? With your pack or whatever.”
“Did you think I was going to stand there and let you get hurt? That’s really not my style.” I tug my arm out of his hold.

The side characters rounded out this story so perfectly.  There was Basil, the eccentric “Grandpa” who helped guide Selene at the academy.  And whose quirks made me smile.  To Isobel, who was Selene’s roommate and was the sweetest girl ever.  To even her cousin Reid, who felt more like a brother and was someone I cared deeply for.  But my favorite side character was Adrian.  He was a fellow student who made me laugh and smile so much.  He seemed to have a lot of secrets, so I can’t wait to learn all about him in this series!

My entire world narrows down to nothing but the feel of his mouth on mine, his breath against my face, his fingers around my waist. And I am lost in it.

So, yup, this book had it all!  And that ending had me beyond excited to see what will happen next.  It was such an easy book to devour and understand their world.  Plus I loved so many of the characters.  So if you’re a fan of enemies to lovers, academy books or paranormal stories, then definitely add this one to your list!   I can’t recommend it enough!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson

BOOK REVIEW: Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. GibsonTogether We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

What happens when the boy you want most becomes the one person you can’t have?

Lane Jamison’s life is turned upside down the week before her senior year when her father introduces her to his new fiancée: mother of Grey McIntyre, Lane’s longtime secret crush. Now with Grey living in Lane’s house, there’s only a thin wall separating their rooms, making it harder and harder to deny their growing mutual attraction—an attraction made all the more forbidden by Grey’s long-term girlfriend Sadie Hall, who also happens to be Lane’s friend.

Torn between her feelings for Grey and her friendship with Sadie—not to mention her desire to keep the peace at home—Lane befriends Sadie’s older brother, Connor, the black sheep of the strict, evangelical Hall family. Connor, a metalworking artist who is all sharp edges, challenges Lane in ways no one else ever has. As the two become closer and start to open up about the traumas in their respective pasts, Lane begins to question her conviction that Connor is just a distraction.

Tensions come to a head after a tragic incident at a party, forcing Lane to untangle her feelings for both boys and face the truth of what—and who—she wants, in this gripping and stunningly romantic debut novel.

Review:

I’ve sat on this review for almost two weeks now. And that’s not normal for me.  At all.  But I kept thinking that as time passed, maybe my thoughts would change.  You see, while this story was an emotional powerhouse, I couldn’t connect to or like the majority of the characters.  So even though this book didn’t work for me, I have a feeling others are going to resonate and feel this story in their soul.  I wish I was one of those, but sadly I wasn’t.

He’d occupied my heart for years, long before he’d occupied the bedroom next to mine.
Seriously. Kill me.

Lane’s father just married her long term crushes mother.  Making Lane and her crush, Grey, step-siblings.  It could only be a crush though, since Grey was in a long term relationship with Sadie.  When Sadie befriended Lane as her new bff, it made life even more complicated for her.  And on top of that, Sadie’s brother Connor was thrown into the mix.  The story started off with the four of them hanging out, and it set the book off on a dark and dangerous tone that seeped through the rest of this story. 

“It’s your happiness that matters.” He coughed into his sleeve, finally blinked down at the half-tied twine, still wound around his fingers. “It matters to me. It mattered to your mother. She’d have wanted—”
“She got what she wanted.”
It flew out on its own dark wings, beat its way past my teeth. Sunk its talons deep.

I tried my hardest, but I wasn’t ever able to connect to Lane.  She suffered from depression that cut so deep into her.  So Lane’s thoughts could be suffocating and I desperately hoped she would find lightness in her life.  Usually I can feel empathy towards a character, but I failed again and again to find it with her.  It didn’t help that she was blunt, cold and fickle at times.  But she was also extremely talented and had a lot of love to give.  I just couldn’t ever click with her.

“I’d rather have a firecracker than an ice queen. Trust me, Elaine— if Sadie were as cold as you, I’d have slit my wrists ages ago.”

Grey was a conundrum.  At first I thought he was a sweet boy.  He was helpful, seemed to try and make the situation with Lane at home work and he was kind about the friendship Lane had with his girlfriend. I completely understood why Lane liked him.  But as the story progressed, I got whiplash.  Grey would verbally attack Lane.  He could be so mean and cruel to her as his words cut at her heart.  And he wasn’t the only one who did that.  His girlfriend, Sadie, did too.  She’d call Lane her best friend and then in the next moment she’d talk trash to her face.  I didn’t know how to handle that at all.

Her eyes were wildfire; her mouth a wet blur. Her answer sliced through me, words honed to razors on her dark, bitter drawl. “Maybe not. But whatever you think of me, Lane, at least I’m not a whore.”

Thankfully Sadie did find logic and become the bigger person.  But by then it was too late for me, the blood that Lane shed was still too recent. And not enough was done to rectify the problem.  I’m one of those who needs a grand gesture to fix everything in a book, but I never got that from Sadie or Grey towards Lane.

A soft, pitiful noise worked its way up from my lungs. Chills broke across my skin like snowmelt, freezing, then slicing , dripping from scalp to neck to spine to soles. My eyes leaped up in time to catch his slipping over my shoulder, off the curve of my collarbone. They reached into me and burned and burned, and undid something in my chest.

One thing stood out on the pages, and that was the writing felt very unique at times.  It gave me Shatter Me vibes.  And while sometimes it lost me and I wasn’t sure what was happening, other times the writing was beautifully poetic.  When I think of this book, I’ll always remember the writing style.   And Connor.

“Loving you was the only thing that made sense.”
“Oh.” There it was again— that same warm thrill spinning through me, slipping along the current of his words.

Connor Hall was rumored to have been kicked out of his house, because he was gay. And we learned a lot about him as the story progressed.  Connor was my favorite in this story.  That’s because he was sweet, thoughtful and had a wild side to him.  And he tried to help Lane out, the best he could.  Even though he was dealing with his own personal struggles that were huge.  And while I loved when Lane hung out with Connor, they were each still drowning in their pain.  So I kept hoping that they’d help each other out.  And I’m happy with how their friendship proceeded.

He was still everything I’d wanted, before the things I wanted took on a different, darker form.

So at the end of the day, I’m still lost.  This story was emotional and the characters each had huge journeys to take.  The way it unfolded kept my interest piqued but I just couldn’t connect or make myself like the majority of the characters.  And I have to able to have that connection, so I can love a book.   So if you pick up Together We Caught Fire, I hope that you’ll find plenty more than I did to love in the pages!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Queen’s Assassin (Queen’s Secret #1) by Melissa de la Cruz

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Queen's Assassin (Queen's Secret #1) by Melissa de la Cruz

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Queen’s Assassin (Queen’s Secret #1) by Melissa de la CruzThe Queen's Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Red Queen, this is the first novel in a sweeping YA fantasy-romance duet about a deadly assassin, his mysterious apprentice, and the countrythey are sworn to protect from #1 NYT bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia's deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he's the Guild's most dangerous member and the Queen's one and only assassin. He's also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow--to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts--to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she'll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they're forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they'll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they'll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen's Secret series.

Review:

Guys, I really, really, really liked this book. Like I finished it in three sittings over two days and I can’t get it out of my head. Shadow and Cal have made themselves at home and now I’m desperate to find out what’s next, which is TOO FAR away.

Quick note before I start gushing – this book probably won’t be for everyone. I’m already seeing some mixed reviews and I’m sure there will be more. There’s a lot of historical backstory and there’s a some tropes happening in this book. But let me be clear – I didn’t care. Tropes are tropes and we all have ones we love. I adored the main characters and was invested in their struggles.  I also think there’s enough differentiating factors to make this feel unique in its own right. So there, now moving on. Mild spoilers ahead.

Do you like…

  • Adventure, action and traveling for a secret mission?
  • One person keeping a secret from the other in order to protect them?
  • Characters constantly denying their feelings but get jealous (a lot)?
  • Royalty, balls and spying?
  • Witchcraft and knights?
  • Oh no, there’s only one bed at the inn, guess we’ll have to share?
  • One person making a huge sacrifice for other and then both have to deal with the aftermath?
  • A bit of a cliffhanger ending?

If you said yes to any (all) of these, it’s time to start reading The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz. Outside of read the Au Pairs a long, long time ago, I haven’t read any other of her books, so I can’t compare to any of her other series.

TQA is told from the alternating perspectives of Shadow, who has spent her whole life trying to prove she should follow in the footsteps of her family and join the Guild, and Caledon “Cal” Holt, the queen’s personal assassin. Cal is bound by a blood oath, passed on from his father, to find the Deian Scrolls as a means to not allow warring countries old and serious magical powers. Shadow has been learning some of this forbidden magic that has been passed down through the generations and hopes to be as helpful to the crown as Cal.

Their paths cross after Cal saves her life and after a daring escape, Cal and Shadow team up to find the scrolls and identify a new threat to their country. Of course, there’s plenty of complications along the way.

This series is described as a romantic fantasy and I think that’s an incredibly fair description. There’s a lot of historical information given to help the readers truly understand the history of the different nations and bloodlines, as well an understanding of the magic in the world. There’s royalty and court intrigue and spying and balls (of course!). And there’s a blossoming romance between Cal and Shadow that’s pretty much apparent from the moment Shadow goes out of her way to help Cal. He’s reluctant to team up, as he’s always worked solo. And he’s even more determined to never fall in love, as his blood oath could be passed down to the next generation if he fails to find the scrolls. Obviously Shadow’s addition to his life complicates all his best laid plans.

Shadow is determined to prove that she is more than capable of training and joining the Guild. The opportunity to rescue and join Cal in a secret mission is more than she can hope for to prove her worthiness, but she’s also keeping a secret from Cal that could change everything.

I don’t recall specific ages being mentioned, but I imagined our two were somewhere between 17-20 (sorry if I missed this detail). Even as they go from reluctant partners to friends to more, they both are constantly fighting against their feelings, as both are determined to focus on the task at hand. However, their immaturity shows at various times, as jealousy becomes a huge point of frustration between them. They can’t stand the idea of the other flirting or kissing others, even when it means they may get important information for their mission. I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed these moments, but I can see others struggling with the drama of it all. But to each their own.

While I liked the historical information that provided throughout the book, sometimes it did slow the pacing down. It was important and informative, but so much else of the book was moving at lightning pace. A LOT happens in the 384 pages, and yet, I am in desperate need of more. As much as I enjoyed all the fantasy aspects, it was Cal and Shadow’s relationship that truly drew me in. In some ways, it really reminded of Serpent & Dove (which I also LOVED), with shades of Red Queen and Everless.

Hard spoilers for the ending: View Spoiler »

Overall, I REALLY enjoyed this book and I’m full of anticipation for the future books. While I have ideas where it could go, I can see a lot of things getting in the way of the happy ending I’m wishing for. The ending of this book ripped my heart, but I still have hope for the next book.

If you’ve made it this far, THANK YOU. This was a long one, but I just had a lot of thoughts and feelings lol. I hope if you decide to pick this up, you enjoy it as much as I do!

Favorite Quotes:

I want to train. If I go to the palace, it will be as an assassin. Not as a doll. Or a pawn.

*

“Not saying I don’t believe you,” he says, noting just how quickly she grows defensive. “Good thing I was here then,” he says with a grin. “To help you out when your magic couldn’t.”

Instantly, he know he should’ve kept his mouth shut.

*

Here I am, about to embark on an adventure under the tutelage of the Caledon Holt. It’s all I’ve ever wanted-and yet all I feel is frustration and fury.

*

Today he hasn’t been half as irritating, which I find rather irritating.

*

He would spend every night at the flea-bitten inn if it meant he would lie next to her again. But of course he doesn’t tell her that, as much as he wants to, and as much as he wants to know how she feels about all of this.

*

“All I did was kiss a girl I didn’t particularly want to kiss, but I did it, for us.”

“For me? You kissed her for me?” Shadow whips from the window. “Should I be grateful? Should I kiss the king too? For you?”

*

“Keep in mind, you’re my brother,” Shadow whispers to him. “Thanks for reminding me. I almost forgot,” he says, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “That would certainly give them something to gossip about, wouldn’t it?

*

Unbeknownst to Shadow, her lies were made of truth. “After all, there is no place safer for the princess than with the Queen’s Assassin.”

*

“I am not free, not without my love,” he says and this time, when he looks at me, I don’t look away. “Shadow. Be with me. Always. I am yours. Be mine.”

Giveaway:

Win one copy of The Queen’s Assasin (US only)! Contest runs Feb. 4 – Feb. 18, 2020.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

Keep up with Melissa: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

BOOK REVIEW: Marriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact #3) by Lauren Layne

BOOK REVIEW: Marriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact #3) by Lauren LayneMarriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact #3)
by Lauren Layne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

Review:

Marriage on Madison Avenue was the perfect ending to this series.  I fell madly in love with the fake fiancée story-line…oh my heart, it was so much fun!  And I loved Audrey, Clarke, and their group of friends.  I found myself laughing, crying and even gasping out loud while reading, this book was such a huge win!  So if you’re a fan of swoon worthy romance, a fabulous group of friends and the fake boyfriend trope, you definitely have to pick this one up!

Clarke’s fingers dug slightly into her hip, reminding her of the plan, and she played her part, winding an arm around his waist and beaming up at him. “Me, too. I don’t know what took me so long to see that he’s the one, but I’m glad I finally woke up.”
The smoldering look Clarke gave her in return caused her breath to hitch just for a second and made her think the man had seriously missed his calling— that was some Oscar-level acting right there.

I have been excited for Audrey’s story since the first book, Passion on Park Avenue.  She was always my favorite, but shhh don’t tell the others.  Audrey was an Instagram influencer who was extremely popular.  But an evil troll got dirt from her past and tried to tarnish her reputation.  When her best friend since childhood, Clarke, announced they were engaged, it looked like all of their problems could be fixed.  Her troll would hopefully disappear, right along with Clarke’s ex who was back in town.  And being pushed on him by his over bearing mother.

What had been brutally true was that Audrey was the other woman. The whole time she’d thought she’d finally found her happily ever after, she was destroying someone else’s. A woman who, as Audrey had come to discover, deserved it more than anyone she knew.

I absolutely loved Audrey, she felt like a friend. Her thoughts made her easy to relate to and I loved all of her energy.  But my heart hurt for her.  She had lost faith in herself when she was damaged by a horrible man.  And it ate away at her.  Audrey had been the other woman, even though she had no clue.  So she didn’t think she deserved a happily ever after.  A fake engagement was not only perfect, since it’d fix her reputation, but it’d be the closest thing she would ever get to experiencing marriage. Without it going anywhere. Or so she thought.

“Smile,”he instructed, stepping even closer and sliding his hand around her waist. She smiled automatically, even as she registered that his hand had slid low on her back, his face needlessly close to hers.
“Clarke—”
“Brace yourself,”he said out of the corner of his mouth.
“What—”
His lips closed over hers.

Clarke was the ultimate friend and book boyfriend.  He was driven, dedicated and I loved how much he loved Audrey.  And how he always tried to do right by her.  Even the relationship Clarke had with Audrey’s parents was what hopes and dreams are made of.  But with his overbearing mother pushing his ex in front of him and his ex showing up where he was, being engaged seemed like the perfect answer to fix it all.  It was a safe plan.  Especially since Audrey had been his best friend since they were kids.  What could possibly go wrong?

It was no big deal, she told her thundering heart. Just a perfunctory stamp of a kiss to get the doubters to back off. It’d be over before she knew it.
Clarke’s lips moved against hers, his head tilting to the side, deepening the kiss slightly as his hand slid up her back, pulling her more firmly against him.
Audrey felt something strange and unfamiliar flutter in her stomach.

As Audrey and Clarke got further into their charade, I was a smiling, laughing and oh my gosh what’s going to happen next mess.  I had butterflies and excitement, but I was also so nervous for them.  Because what happened when pretending to be in love with your best friend caused feelings to stir inside?  Especially when you had to touch each other in public.  Act like you’re in love.  And have kisses that melted those around you.  It was only a facade.  Right?!  Ahhh see that’s why I love these types of books so much.  They’re such a blast and Lauren Layne, for the second time, has pulled this trope off beautifully and seamlessly (the other book she wrote with this trope is Isn’t She Lovely and that book is like a modern day Pretty Woman…sooo addictive!).

“Okay, I’m going to ask something that’s not my business,” Naomi said.
“Now, there’s a surprise,” Claire said. Naomi gave Claire a toothy smile and turned back to Audrey.
“Have you ever thought about trying this whole romance thing for real with Clarke?”

On top of a beautiful romance story, there was a friendship that spanned these three books.  And it was such a huge gem in these stories!  Audrey, Naomi and Claire seemed like an unlikely trio.  Especially since Audrey and Naomi had been sleeping with Claire’s husband, unbeknownst to them that he was married.  And from their first meeting on the day of his funeral, a beautiful friendship blossomed.  One that was based on trust and respect.  These ladies had true friendship goals, and I loved watching them grow with each other throughout this series!

She glanced down and winced. “I was in a hurry to talk to you.”
“About?”
Slowly she dragged her gaze back up, but only as far as his Adam’s apple. “About us getting married. Shouldn’t there be . . . more?”
He swallowed, though it felt like a Herculean effort. “Do you want there to be more?”he asked roughly, needing to ask the question even if he wasn’t at all sure that he wanted to know the answer.

If you’re looking for a fun romance story that is light and will make you smile and laugh, but also deep and will pull at your heart, then definitely add Marriage on Madison Avenue to your list!  This story left me feeling so happy, especially with that epilogue!  Just keep in mind, this series is a little different than LL’s other books, since it’s a fade to black.  But it was still extremely sexy!  So yes, I definitely recommend this book and series!  And Marriage on Madison Avenue can easily be read as a standalone.

PS The crossover with Alexis Morgan, from To Love and To Cherish, as their wedding planner had me squealing with delight!  Especially with that Bride Wars reference…the scene with it was absolutely perfect!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

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