Release Date: May 22, 2018
Series: 21 Wall Street
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Wall Street is getting its day on the romance market in Layne’s first book to a new series.
This book was a bit shorter in length then what I typically expect from a Layne romance, but that may be due to the tropes and the challenge of pulling off this story without the hero being unlikeable.
We have rich, attractive, Wall Street investment broker Ian Bradley facing off with an SEC investigator Lara McKenzie. Ian’s the guy who always gets the woman and doesn’t do relationships. Then there’s Lara who’s been so focused on her career she doesn’t do anything but eat, sleep, and work her butt off towards that dream goal of getting into the FBI. It’s a match made for conflict, tension, and so it appears… dual first person POV. Not my favorite point of view, but I’ve enjoyed it before.
What works, Layne’s natural talent for telling about life in the big city. The crisp details, every setting easily transports me. The entire cast is set up seamlessly, including the couples for the remaining two books. The characters and their troubled, yet fabulous lives. We’ve all got skeletons and monsters lurking in corners, but in the meantime, they’re rich and able to spend money out the wazoo. I tend to enjoy escaping into that reality knowing full well I’ll never live it. The conflict, tension built from an informal SEC investigation and an all-consuming attraction, on Ian’s side of things, to the one woman he can’t lay a finger on.
Which leads me to my concerns…
Bradley’s main conflict through the entire story is his attraction to Lara. It’s not only the highlight, but the entire thing. While there is a little subplot of finding out who’s trying to frame him for insider trading, it plays backseat fiddle to him fighting lust and desire for a woman he can’t have. A woman he realizes is dedicated to the fundamentals of truth and justice. Plus, Lara’s no one-night stand woman. She’s they type who wants something real, which is exactly what Ian doesn’t want. The cat and mouse is all right, but carrying most of the story becomes a bit of an issue.
My other problem is that every time Ian says he’s not going to force her to act on her feelings, doesn’t want her to act without knowing he’s innocent, but then dangles his want over her head it reads a bit toxic to me. Additionally, he attempts to break the ground rules she puts in place to keep them both safe in the professional capacity. Not exactly heroic, and something I find myself turned off by more and more. Thankfully, Layne resolves this issue as best she can with the characters and the subject matter, I can’t go into more detail without the dreaded spoilers. In the end, I didn’t love this book as much as I wish I did.
The resolution and some of the turns and twists were things I didn’t expect and others were. The final grand gesture turned out to be nice, sweet, and fitting for the modern, chic world Layne is creating. I can only hope the next book in the series puts Layne back in that sweet, auto-read spot for me.