Release Date: Sep 17, 2019
Series: The Central Park Pact
Heat Level: Warm/Sensual
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Gallery Books
Toned down Lauren Layne leaves me unsure of my feelings.
So I missed the first book I this series, and I’ll have to remedy that because I want to know more about the characters in book one. The premise of this series is very intriguing with three woman, complete opposites of each other, becoming friends after they find out they were all the same man when said man dies.
This book is Claire’s story, the wife of the deceased. Yes, you can gasp. I sure did. Her dead husband, Brayden was a piece of work. The story is about Claire discovering who she is now that she’s not Brayden’s wife. I like Claire, can relate to her plight of giving up a career, being a housewife, but her husband never made her a mother and since his passing she’s been adrift. Which is exactly what happens when you live a life for someone else and pretend to enjoy all the things they do. Discovering he wasn’t a good guy is one thing, but she needs something new. Cue the remodel and longing for adventure.
Our hero, Scott Turner is a grumpy contractor. A growly man known for building fabulous building across the world. His speciality is remodeling old houses those, and Claire’s townhouse is the perfect specimen. But her idea or a remodel involves rebellion and the awful color pink. Scott can’t help but see Claire’s appeal and as much as he’s attracted to her he is only good at most for a fun fling… thought she’s determined to keep it all business between them. Even as Claire tries to get Scott to assist her in discovering how to have meaningless sex with someone.
The author does a fantastic job of showcasing the heroine re-inventing and rediscovering herself, though at times her introspection appears to be a broken record with plenty of scratching. These two coming together didn’t have as much heat as other Layne series, like Oxford or Stiletto. There is more emotional heft, and growth for the characters. Claire’s internal conflict drags, where her external conflict does remain halfway through the book. Scott, in my opinion, did not get nearly as much screen time for his own internal struggles. Though both characters realize that what they want is so different than what they thought they did.
What this book also has: Classic Layne—Big city setting, fancy clothing and accessories, cute animals, whirlwind backstory for both characters, and fabulous banter/internal witticisms.
Overall, this isn’t my favorite Layne story. I liked the characters, but still haven’t put my finger on what this story is missing. I will always check out the next book Layne puts out, she’s almost an auto-buy for me.