Author: Lauren Layne
Publisher: Random House (Loveswept)
Date of Publication: December 9, 2013
Source: eARC via NetGalley
As a leading columnist for Stiletto, Grace Brighton has built a career warning women about rotten, cheating liars. She just never suspected her fiancé would be one of them. After Grace takes a heart-mending hiatus, her first assignment is to go on a couple of dates with a counterpart from the men’s magazine Oxford and report her impressions. Grace 1.0 may have been instantly smitten with the gorgeous correspondent, but Grace 2.0 has sworn off relationships for six months, and she’s not falling for his outstanding bod and trophy-winning kisses… or is she?
Jake Malone wants to get back to the fly-by-night, who-knows-what’s-next guy he used to be, and he knows exactly how to do it. Oxford is adding a travel section, and Jake—with no wife and no kids and a willingness to live anywhere, eat anything, do everything—is perfect for the job… except that his playboy reputation makes his new editor nervous. To get the gig, he must agree to a fluffy joint article with Stiletto.
But after just one date with snooty, sumptuous, sensational Grace Brighton, Jake starts taking this assignment a whole lot more seriously…
I had such a good time reading Lauren Layne’s first book in her Sex, Love, & Stiletto series, After the Kiss, I knew I am going to be reading her succeeding books. I was eagerly awaiting her sequel which features Grace Brighton. Grace is part of the successful Trio of Stiletto‘s most popular department but in the latter part of the 1st book, Grace suffers a big blow courtesy of her cheating boyfriend, a boyfriend she’s been with for 8 years. Not only is her heart in shreds, her pride had taken a hit as well. She was supposed to be a dating expert. She even published an article on how to tell if a man is cheating on you. She has listed down the signs but was unable to see them for herself in her own relationship.
But in this new book, we find Grace returning to Stiletto after a needed vacation with something to prove. No man is ever going to do a number on her again. She starts that campaign by flaunting to the world her new self, dubbed as Grace 2.0. And volunteering to do the battle of the sexes article series with Stiletto’s counterpart publication, Oxford. Her partner? Certified bachelor and leading columnist Jake Malone.
Jake Malone didn’t want the assignment his new editor-in-chief gave him. In fact, he has had his sights on a position he deems more suitable to his nature, that of a writer for their soon-to-be launched travel section. He’s itching to leave the humdrum of familiarity and routine that has crept up in his lifestyle and the new assignment would break that and send him to many places far and new. He strikes a deal with his editor-in-chief and agrees to the joint project, so to speak, and finds himself battling against Grace.
After the Kiss was cute. It was fun to read and the characters were interesting. Love The One You’re With, on the other hand, blew me away. It had that perfect balance of fun, intelligence, and heart. I know that the premise, while most definitely exciting, is like a mine field wherein there a lot of possibilities an author can go down the cliched road. But Lauren Layne’s take on this one was a breath of fresh air. Sure, there were still cliches and a little bit of predictability but what romance novel doesn’t have those, right? But her delivery was so honest, in that she doesn’t hide behind these cliches but acknowledge them head on. And I really appreciate that. She writes as if she admits that she’s giving the readers these cliches but then she adds her own spin to them and it totally works well.
I love Grace and Jake. They’re just good people, both as individuals but especially when they’re together. They’re decent, genuine, and intelligent characters. You know how some characters can be a bit irritating because they act and think irrationally and can be just so blind at times, maybe for the sake of the plot? Well, Grace and Jake aren’t those characters at all. I love that they don’t lie to themselves. And I just fell for their conversations and interactions. Again, they were genuine in the sense that they felt very organic to the story and to their individual characterizations as well. Those conversations never felt stilted or forced for the sake of the plot. This adds a great dimension to their romance because I could totally imagine the two of them falling for each other. Natural, that’s the word. It felt natural and that goes so well with building their chemistry. That first conversation between them was great. It set the pace and the rest just kept on building up from there.
Can I just say that I love the secondary characters as well. They were engaging without stealing away the show from the two leads. I can’t wait for Riley’s own journey to her HEA.
Overall, this was such a wonderful and very enjoyable read. Great characterizations, amazing chemistry, witty banters, and heartfelt conversations. Amazing writing from Lauren Layne.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
*I received an ARC from Random House through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Lauren Layne writes contemporary romance for Grand Central Publishing (Forever) and Random House (Loveswept), as well as new adult for Random House’s Flirt line.
Lauren graduated from Santa Clara University with B.S. in Political Science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career, she decided to quit talking about writing and actually do it.
A Seattle-native, Lauren’s also tried on the Bay Area, Orange County and Manhattan for size. She’s currently writing from the Pacific Northwest, but is always looking for the next place to call home. Texas? The South? New England? Suggestions welcome.