Release Date: Jan 28, 2020
Series: Central Park Pact
Heat Level: Warm/Sensual
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
The last book in the Central Park Pact series brings the sweetest romance yet.
I’be always been a fan of enemies to lovers, big fan. But, this book reminds of how much power a friends to lovers tale can have. First off, while this book could be read as a stand-alone its better if you have read the previous books on the series.
The conflict is very focused between the two characters, their growing feelings and the risks they are willing to take to protect each other. Audrey Tate and Clarke West have been friends forever, BFFs in a completely platonic fashion. For multiple reasons, they fake a marriage proposal, something they have done before, but this time it’s going a lot further than planned. For once Clarke isn’t scared of the idea and Audrey is actually loving the possibilities.
Watching Audrey and Clarke really fall for one another was great. They have this slow burn of awareness that emerges. Though they have a lot of internal baggage to sort through. Audrey believing she doesn’t deserve love because she dated a married man. Clarke believes he’s not good enough for marriage ever since an ex left him for a job opportunity without an invite. Either way, both characters have great chemistry and connection. It’s kind of surprising it’s taken them this long to come together. Look at this first kiss:
He stepped closer and gave her a fleeting smile, lowering his voice even further. “They’re onto us, darling.”
“What do you mean?” But she already knew what he meant. Knew that their engagement being a sham had somehow hit the rumor mill. And judging by Clarke’s atypically serious expression, something beyond a little petty gossip was at play.
“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.
“Brace yourself,” he said out of the corner of his mouth.
“What—” His lips closed over hers. Audrey’s eyes went wide in surprise before they moment as she tried to register the strangeness of Clarke’s mouth against hers before they instinctively lifted to rest on his chest.
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. Before she could identify it, Clarke lifted his head. His gaze stayed locked on her lips for a long moment, giving her a second to gather her thoughts.
One thing Layne does really well is dialogue and turning up the heat. Though this series is very closed door, it’s still super sexy.
As for villains… the past and outside forces for both their jobs are the true evils in this piece, but quite easily conquered. Like I mentioned, this is more a growth and discovery romance versus big obstacles to overcome. I enjoyed this wrap on the series, and feel like readers who enjoy Helen Hunting or Sally Thorne.