Ready to Run
Lauren Layne     

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: I Do, I Don't
Book: 1
Heat Level: Hot

The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: firefighter Luke Elliott, a known player who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan, but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.

“Don’t pretend you give a shit about me, City. We both know your interest in my mental stability has everything to do with the ratings of your show. You’re little more than a vulture in high heels.”

That’s the firefighter hero of Ready to Run, Luke Elliot. And he’s talking about the heroine, Jordan Carpenter. I visibly winced when I read that. I wanted to slap Luke upside his head. Don’t worry, he felt two feet tall the second the words came out of his mouth.

Luke isn’t a bad guy. He’s handsome and broody. He hates that Jordan is there—in his small town—endearing the locals, his ex-fiancées and even his sister. She’s persistent in getting him to change his mind and come on the show she represents, Jilted. Honestly, she’s a pain in the neck. Too bad he’s attracted to her. That’s something he could do without.

Jordan is all about her career and getting Luke on Jilted would be career-boosting. He’s perfect having left three women at the altar. If her network succeeded in marrying him off, it would be ratings gold. Too bad he wants nothing to do the show or her. And even worse, the more she gets to know the hunky firefighter, the less she wants to see him married off…to someone else.

As usual, Ms. Layne serves up a sexy, humorous, heartfelt romance with Ready to Run, the first book in her I Do, I Don’t series. Luke and Jordan’s interactions are rife with conflict and sexual tension, the attraction between them almost immediately picked up by her co-worker Simon and Luke’s friends and family.

You may be wondering if Luke really left three women at the altar. And if so why? You’ll have to read the book to find out. But you have to know the answer and reasons are going to be nuanced. And what it reveals about Luke is why he’s the hero of this book.

Jordan has her own issues. She has this thing about small towns. She was raised in one but now lives in New York City. Small towns make her sad and maybe even a little nostalgic. She loves the city and at first, can’t wait to get back. But the longer she stays in the small Montana town pursuing Luke, the less she misses Manhattan. It’s great watching as Jordan makes friends with the locals. I was surprised when she becomes friends with Luke’s ex. Then his sister. He can’t escape her no matter how hard he tries.

The kissing booth scene is fun. I loved Luke’s reaction to male-Jordan. Nothing makes me smile more than when a healthy dose of jealousy is thrown into the mix. And can I talk about the love scenes. To me, they’re the perfect balance between heat and emotion. They’re not too much, don’t go on too long and are not overly graphic but are nice and hot, just the way I like them.

Ms. Layne doesn’t pull any punches with her black moments, always succeeding in twisting my heart into knots and making it ache. I love a good chase and a good grovel, and in this, she delivers.

All in all, Ready to Run is a great start to the series and I cannot wait to read the next book, Runaway Groom.

~ Beverley