To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I used to say, I don’t ever read contemporary romance. Since this is the second I’ve read, I shan’t be able to say that any more!
I heard about this on the
Caffeinated Book Reviewer
blog and liked the idea. So I got a copy. Then I read it.
So, here we go. This is your traditional formula romance, so I wasn’t expecting Great Literature. I wasn’t even expecting the complexities of plotting and characterisation that I’d expect from Great Fantasy, or Great Sci Fi, which are the genres I usually read. This is formula romance: it’s supposed to be mind candy; it’s supposed to be a fast, fun read that gives you a happy pink feeling. And sometimes, that’s what you want out of a book. My star rating reflects what I expect from the book.
So, four stars.
Brooke is a wedding-planner, who’s just had the embarrassment of her professional and personal life when her fiance got arrested by the FBI at the altar. Upon which, she discovers he’s a con man – and she didn’t even know his real name.
Cue the end of Brooke’s business, and she flees up to New York to join a firm of wedding planners who’ve just lost a member to marriage. Her first wedding to plan is for Maya, a hotel heiress – and it’s being paid for by Maya’s brother, Seth, who suspects the groom is a wrong ‘un.
Insta-lust between Brooke and Seth, and the bone of contention is obviously Maya’s wedding.
What I Liked
The failure of Brooke’s business wasn’t her fault, and she’s trying to make a new start. The story did not require her to do something unutterably stupid and then get rescued from the consequences by a man.
Brooke wasn’t perfect – she was capable of saying, and doing, mean things in a fit of temper. Then she would apologise. Brooke might have been a bit too determined to look on the bright side, but she wasn’t so nicey-nicey that I wanted to smack her.
To be strictly fair, she’s not the kind of woman I’d probably spend much time with, but I could see that she was a decent person, and I wanted her to be happy.
Seth, I really liked. He had drive, commitment, and control; I do like a rational man. He wasn’t your typical chest-beating alpha male, so lots of extra points there. There was a certain amount of Mr Darcy to him – he’s the responsible, hard-working, control-freaky one who could do with learning to lighten up a bit.
Relationship: Brooke and Seth
This is make-or-break for me. I’ve read romances where I’ve just thought, “This is going to last, like, six months after the end of the book. The sex might be great, but you’ll bore each other to death.” Not so with Brooke and Seth. They’ve each got enough spine to stand up to each other, and their differences are complementary. Brooke tends to look on the bright side too much; Seth tends to be rather more of a cynic. They can each learn from each other, smooth each others’ rough edges, and have the kind of give-and-take that makes a relationship work. I think they’ll make it. 🙂
Also, this is not one of those books where you think, “If this were real, he’d be arrested for harassment or sexual assault.” You get insta-lust, but at least it’s mutual.
I loved that bit right at the end. You’ll know it when you get to it.
This is a romance; it’s about the characters and their relationship, not about the actual plot, which is kind of fortunate because there wasn’t much of a one. But it worked.
Layne can write. The book whizzes along, with cute banter between the characters. The editing could have been a bit better – tell me once, you don’t have to tell me again a few pages later – but it wasn’t enough to spoil the enjoyment of the story.
What I Didn’t Like
Given what had happened to Brooke, I thought she’d be rather more suspicious of Maya’s fiance. Maybe the author was trying to get across that Brooke’s method of dealing with the issue was basically to ignore it and try to pretend it not only never happened but could never happen, but if so, that didn’t come through quite strongly enough to work properly. I was more like, WTF? Hello? Pollyanna.
There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about Seth. Apart from his name.
The big thing that triggers the “boy loses girl” part of the book, I was left thinking, WTF? (again) Why is this such a big deal? Sounds like a sensible course of action to me. Then I thought, maybe it’s me? But no, it’s me and a bunch of other reviewers.
I really enjoyed this – hence the four stars. It’s like candy-floss: sweet and sugary and insubstantial, but great fun while it lasts. It does what it’s supposed to do: give you a nice, happy pink feeling. The world needs books that just give you a happy pink feeling without demanding much in the way of intellectual effort or being put through the emotional wringer.
Will I read another book by Lauren Layne? Quite possibly. There are two more in this series, apparently – the next one doesn’t attract me quite as much as the third.
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