Central Park Pact trilogy // by Lauren Layne

Wow, it’s December and I’m still reviewing books from October!!! HA! Okay, new goal… to be caught up before 2021! :-D

  • Passion on Park Avenue
  • Love on Lexington Avenue
  • Marriage on Madison Avenue

These books have been on my radar for a while, so when I saw the first one on Book Outlet for only a few dollars, I snatched it up and checked the other two out of the library. They were perfect for reading in between my batch of 87th Precinct books.

This series begins with a premise that sounds like something I wouldn’t read, but somehow makes it work. Naomi is on her way to a funeral when the book opens – a funeral for her boyfriend. Except when he died she found out that he had actually been married the entire time. Full of rage, at the last minute she realizes she can’t actually go to the service, so she just keeps walking, right into Central Park. There, a woman is sitting on a park bench… a woman Naomi recognizes as her dead boyfriend’s wife. Naomi talks to her, and weirdly the two of them feel a strange bond – both of them had trusted this guy, and he had been lying to them both. When a third woman arrives – another girlfriend – the three of them spontaneously decide to form a pact to help keep each other from being so stupid about men again.

Fast forward a few months later, and somehow the three of them have become friends. The story focuses on Naomi, who grew up poor but has become a successful businesswoman who owns her own company. Through a series of circumstances, she ends up being neighbors with her childhood nemesis, Oliver, and the story rolls from there.

//published 2019//

Overall, the first book was a fun one. When Stephanie reviewed this one, though, she said she thought Naomi was a strange choice as the heroine for the first book because she’s basically the annoying friend that you don’t really like until later in the series, and that is an absolutely perfect description. Naomi feels really self-centered and annoying for a lot of the book. Her entire “plan” for getting “revenge” on Oliver not only doesn’t make sense, it isn’t even really a plan. However, I really liked Oliver, so he basically sold the book for me.

//published 2019//

Book number two focuses on the wife, Claire. She’s obviously having a difficult times coming to grips with the fact that not only is she a widow, she’s kind of glad her husband’s dead because he was a lying jerk. She’s beginning to realize that she’s spent her entire life doing what she was “supposed” to and isn’t even sure who she is as a person. While I did enjoy her journey to self-discovery, or whatever you want to call it, I also was (VERY) mildly offended by the concept that “vanilla” people are just people who haven’t really discovered who they “really” are. I’m here to tell you that I’m pretty vanilla and pretty happy. At any rate, I overall liked Claire and 100% shipped her with Scott. My other annoyance was how at the end she and Scott elope, and everyone’s like, “ha ha you did that so backwards, you got married first and then moved in together!!” Because only weirdos do that, apparently. ::GIANT EYE ROLL::

//published 2020//

Book three is about the other girlfriend, Audrey. I’m always here for a fake relationship trope, and Layne does it really well here as Audrey and her best friend, Clarke, pretend to be engaged for a variety of reasons. This was probably my favorite out of the three because I really liked Audrey and Clarke a lot, and loved watching them come to realize they wanted to be more than just best friends. The whole story was just so daggone adorable.

One thing I liked about this series as a whole – sometimes Layne writes books with explicit sex scenes, but that wasn’t the case here. While I wouldn’t exactly say these were “clean” because there is a lot of innuendo/chats about sex, there weren’t any bedroom scenes, and I appreciated that.

Overall, this trio of books was great fun and just the fluff I was looking for at the time. 3.5* for Passion on Park Avenue, and 4* for the others. Recommended if you enjoy relaxing romance.

November Minireviews – Part 3

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough.  Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it!  Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up.  For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.

Whittling down the pile of reviews!!!

Jessica’s First Prayer by Hesba Stretton – 3.5*

//published 1867//

I’ve mentioned Lamplighter before – a small publishing company that reprints very old books with strong moral stories.  This one is a very slim volume about a homeless girl and a church-going man who learns the value of living his faith in a real way.  While a bit saccharine, there really is an excellent and thoughtful lesson here.

Golden Sovereign by Dorothy Lyons – 4*

//published 1946//

Regular readers know that I have a life-long addiction to horse stories of all kinds.  I’ve collected a few of Lyons’s books over the years, and sincerely wish that I could find more as I really like them, so if you have any sitting about your house that you want to unload, let me know.  :-D  Anyway, this one is apparently the third book in a series, but I didn’t have any trouble following along.  Connie is finishing her high school career and looking to the future – college and starting her own stable raising palominos, with her beautiful young stallion, Golden Sovereign, as the foundation.  Towards the beginning of the book, she also purchases a run-down mare at a horse sale, convinced that the mare’s lineage is better than her condition.  There’s a bit of a mystery about the mare, and also about Sovereign’s behavior (although I’ve apparently read far too many horse books, as I immediately knew the source of Sovereign’s bad temper!), and a lot about training Sovereign and going around to horse shows.  If you enjoy horse stories, you’ll probably like this one, as it’s a fairly classic formula.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Adventures of Sally by P.G. Wodehouse – 4*

//published 1922//

The usual Wodehouse froth, although this one was a bit more of a romance than his stories normally are.  Sally is quite likable, and the ups and downs of her life make for entertaining reading, with a bit dollop of Wodehouse humor.

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – 4*

//published 1812//

So I’m still really enjoying my life over on Litsy, and have recently joined a book club there called the #LMPBC – the Litsy Postal Mark-up Book Club.  Four people join each group, and each person choose a book to read and make notations in, and then once a month you mail the book to the next person until you get your own book back, full of notations from the other three people in the group.  Each group is a different theme/genre of book, and I joined the Classics and Romance groups.  I’m really looking forward to reading the books coming my way!  At any rate, Swiss Family Robinson was my choice for my Classic, and it was interesting to read it for the first time since my childhood.  Overall, it was a fun and interesting read, but the family did have just an inordinately ridiculous amount of good luck, and even the synopsis on the back cover informed me that it would be impossible to find an island with all of the animals described in the story!  In fairness, the book was written with education for young minds as the primary purpose, so if you think of it as an entertaining way to learn some lessons, it fits the bill.

The Prenup by Lauren Layne – 3.5*

//published 2019//

This was my pick for #LMPBC’s Romance group.  I’ve been meaning to read a Lauren Layne book forever, and this one employs my favorite trope – marriage of convenience.  Overall, I really did enjoy this story BUT there is a second woman!  That really brought down my enjoyment a great deal, because it was really hard to ship the main characters when the dude is also engaged to someone else.  While they never physically cheat, there are a lot of feelings/scenarios that just shouldn’t have been happening when he was committed to someone else.  I especially get annoyed when pseudo-cheating is justified with the whole “well the other woman sucks” concept – like, doesn’t matter if she sucks or not.  He still made the commitment.

Still, it was also a funny and lighthearted read, so I definitely think I will be trying some more of Layne’s works in the future, and I’ll be interested to see if my fellow book club members are aggravated by the almost-cheating bits of the story like I was.