Title: Blurred Lines
Release Date: 06/02/15
Genre: NewAdult Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Since I read many books during my blog break that I never reviewed I want to go back and review some of them. I’d love to go back and review all of them, but my memory isn’t that great and I don’t have that much time, sadly. One of my great discoveries during the break was Lauren Layne. I had requested Blurred Lines on NetGalley without really knowing anything about it. I feared that it would be the typical melodramatic new adult book, but I went for it any way and maybe it’s case of low expectations, but I ended up really loving it. The way I described it to Estelle was When Joss Met Matt but better.
Parker and Ben met in college and have been best friends ever since. Even though they’re a girl and a guy they’re truly just friends. After college, which is when the story takes place, they live together happily as roommates. Ben hooks up with lots of random (kind of ditzy) girls and Parker is in a long-term relationship with a guy she started dating in college. After Parker’s boyfriend suddenly breaks up with her everyone encourages her to go out and have some fun, but she realizes casual sex isn’t really her thing. Enter hooking up with Ben, a guy she loves and trusts, but is confident that they can have sex a few times and part as friends.
If you’re read any chick lit or seen a rom-com you can probably guess where this goes. Parker and Ben hook up, have fun, but then start to question if maybe there is room for them to be more than just friends. Enter chaos and some angst, but luckily for us, not too much chaos or too much angst. Parker and Ben are both just great characters. The story is told in their alternating perspectives and they’re normal 20-somethings (who are really attractive and great in bed). At the beginning of the story their friendship is great and then as the story goes on their sex and romance is also smart and engaging in a very real and honest way. Plus, the story isn’t just about Parker and Ben’s romance, there are also really relatable family situations, friendships, and careers. I loved this story and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for something light but smart.
Release Date: 09/02/14
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
After being totally impressed with Blurred Lines I knew I had to see what else Lauren Layne wrote. Happily I found the Redemption series (yes, it’s a cheesy name). Technically there is a novella prequel, but I started with Broken, the first full novel. The series is about three childhood friends, two guys and a girl, who are finishing up college and going through different things in their own lives. In Broken Olivia is dying to get away from the stuffy NYC society world she grew up in after she made what she considers to be a terrible mistake. Rather than finishing college she moves to Maine to work as a caretaker for who she thinks is an older, wounded veteran. The veteran turns out to be Paul, a guy who’s only a few years older than Olivia, who hasn’t come to terms with what happened to him in Iraq/Afghanistan (this is terrible but I can’t remember which country it was).
The idea of Olivia as a nurse/therapist was kind of silly, but I thought Lauren Layne did a good idea of embracing the fact that Olivia wasn’t trained for either of those jobs and finding out ways to explain around it. The story kind of has a Beauty and the Beast aspect to it since Paul refuses to leave the house or interact with anyone due to his injuries. Olivia does a great job of bringing him out of his shell and repairing both of their lives. The cheese factor in this one was definitely higher than Blurred Lines and there was some more melodrama, but I still enjoyed it and if you enjoy stories about soldiers (which I do) and redemption then I would recommend it.
Release Date: 04/14/15
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
However, I actually enjoyed the second book in the Redemption series much more. Crushed follows the third friend, Michael, to Texas where he’s trying to squeeze his way into his newly discovered half-brother’s life to get to know his biological father. Michael only recently learned that his mother had an affair and that the man she had the affair with is his father. That man has no idea Michael exists and Michael, who’s angry and bitter and hurt, goes to Texas to kind of ruin his life. In Texas Michael works as a tennis instructor/personal trainer to mostly middle-aged women who want to get in his pants (and at the beginning of the story many succeed). Michael coaches Kristen, a hot 20-something who is also his half-brother’s girlfriend. At first Michael wants to steal Kristin away from his half-brother (and Kristen is kind of a conniving, mean girl so it’s not as terrible as it sounds), but then he meets Kristin’s sister, Chloe.
Chloe is going into her senior year of college and she’s also been the sister in the background. She’s overweight and more introverted and when Michael first approaches her he challenges her by asking if she’s really living the life she wants to live. Maybe it’s because of my field, but I really enjoyed the way that Michael and Chloe’s friendship built (and developed into something more) and how Michael helped Chloe to lose weight not to look like her “hot” sister, but to be healthy and lead a full life. Chloe is also hilarious. The story alternates between their perspectives and even though Chloe seems more introverted compared to her sister she’s really very friendly, smart, observant, and funny. The story does veer into the melodramatic towards the end, but I still loved the characters and their journey.
Title: Only With You
Release Date: 07/29/14
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
The last Lauren Layne book I read was actually one I forgot about. Only With You is much more of a traditional 30-something characters, told in the third-person mass marker romance. And it’s not a bad one, but it’s just not as interesting and well done as the other three books I’ve talked about here. The premise of the story is cute, Sophie is a smart girl who’s never been able to commit to a career or a guy and works as a cocktail waitress. When she’s in Vegas for a bachelorette party she ends up in an elevator that breaks down with a very attractive, stern businessman who, much to her horror, mistakes her for a prostitute. When she goes home to Seattle it turns out that her sister is actually casually dating that guy, Gray, and they’re both mortified (Gray doesn’t actually proposition her, he actually tells her something like he’s not looking to buy). Sophie then ends up becoming Gray’s PA at work and they hate each other and then hate leads to passion, etc. etc.
I did really want to like this, but I kind of just didn’t. Mass market romances aren’t really my thing so it kind of feels unfair to judge it, but it had issues outside of just its format. Gray is very cold and stern, he got his heart broken and he’s very sealed out to the world. Sophie is very much a free spirit who wants to expand Gray’s world and make him feel again. Because their personalities were polar opposites the two characters often felt like caricatures rather than characters. Also, and maybe I need to take it less seriously, but the whole Gray being Sophie’s boss and how the romance unfolded just made me uncomfortable. I would suggest passing on this one and sticking with the three Lauren Layne books I really enjoyed.
I also tried to read After the Kiss, but it suffered from a lot of the same issues as Only With You so I gave up after only a few chapters.
One Year Ago: Mini Reviews
Two Years Ago: Book Review: Deceived