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.