Review: Heart & Seoul (Jen Frederick)

Heart & Seoul
Author: Jen Frederick

Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Women’s Fiction, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick comes a heart-wrenching yet hopeful romance that shows that the price of belonging is often steeper than expected.

As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn’t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she’s reminded that she doesn’t look like anyone else in her family—not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat’s new wife and new “real” son.

At the age of twenty-five, she thought she had come to terms with it all, but when her father suddenly dies, an offhand comment at his funeral triggers an identity crisis that has her running off to Seoul in search of her roots.

What Hara finds there has all the makings of a classic K-drama: a tall, mysterious stranger who greets her at the airport, spontaneous adventures across the city, and a mess of familial ties, along with a red string of destiny that winds its way around her heart and soul. Hara goes to Korea looking for answers, but what she gets instead is love—a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara home…or destroy her chance of finding one.


If I had a relationship status with this book, it would say “It’s complicated.”

As an adoptee, I am always fascinated by books about adoptees. I’m always looking for something I can identify with in them. Heart & Seoul was a little different of an adoptee read for me since I’m not a Korean American adoptee. I connected with many thoughts Hara had, but obviously not all. I’ve read some information about what it means society wise to be a Korean adoptee a few times. In my early childhood, I spent a lot of time with two different families with white parents and Korean adopted children. I never really thought about how different their experience as adoptees would be compared with mine until I reconnected with one of them through social media. Their thoughts and feelings about their adoption are way different than mine. I knew how they grew up and wanted to better understand their feelings. That was one of the reasons I was excited to read Heart & Seoul, along with the fact that I am a fan of Jen Frederick’s previous book.

Heart & Seoul was an emotional read from the start with Hara losing her adopted father. Her desire to search for her birth parents, and the reasons why, were easy to relate to. The journey she went on to Seoul was fascinating. I loved learning about Seoul, the customs, and some of the history of adoption there. Hara’s emotional journey was fraught with ups and downs. Her losses and gains were tough and had me hoping for a happy ending for her.

Since I brought up happy ending, I want to point out that this NOT a romance novel. You’re not going to come away with an HEA or HFN with this book. I didn’t realize this going into this book. Honestly, the ending is why I didn’t give this book 5 stars. I needed more resolution. Things ended too abruptly for me. The entire time I was reading Heart & Seoul, I kept thinking how different this book was from anything else I’ve read from Frederick — until I got to the drama and climax. That was exactly what I would expect from a Jen Frederick book. It shouldn’t have been shocking to me, but it was. That being said, I still enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it.

Review: The Last Night in London (Karen White)

The Last Night in London
Author: Karen White
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Karen White weaves a captivating story of friendship, love, and betrayal that moves between war-torn London during the Blitz and the present day.

London, 1939. Beautiful and ambitious Eva Harlow and her American best friend, Precious Dubose, are trying to make their way as fashion models. When Eva falls in love with Graham St. John, an aristocrat and Royal Air Force pilot, she can’t believe her luck—she’s getting everything she ever wanted. Then the Blitz devastates her world, and Eva finds herself slipping into a web of intrigue, spies, and secrets. As Eva struggles to protect her friendship with Precious and everything she holds dear, all it takes is one unwary moment to change their lives forever…

London, 2019. American journalist Maddie Warner, whose life has been marked by the tragic loss of her mother, travels to London to interview Precious about her life in pre-WWII London. Maddie has been careful to close herself off to others, but in Precious she recognizes someone whose grief rivals her own—but unlike Maddie, Precious hasn’t allowed it to crush her.  Maddie finds herself drawn to both Precious and to Colin, her enigmatic surrogate nephew.  As Maddie gets closer to her, she begins to unravel Precious’s haunting past—a story of friendship, betrayal, and the unremembered acts of kindness and of love.


Before I start this review, I have to talk about the author’s note. I have read all of Karen White’s books. Two on my list of favorites are Falling Home and After the Rain. It’s been years since I read those books and that is the only reason I have for not remembering who Maddie Warner was! Now, you don’t need to have read those two books to enjoy this one, but it sure had a delayed emotional impact on me when I made the connection! Now for the review…

The Last Night in London is one of those books that had my attention from the prologue. That chapter set up a story and mystery that had me questioning everything and everyone in the 1940’s setting. I was as curious as Maddie was to unravel the story in 2019. Even when I thought I knew, I don’t know that I knew what had happened with Precious, Eva, Graham, and Alex. It was frustratingly good to try and figure out.

As for the 2019 end of the story, I really enjoyed that part too. Maddie was a frustrating character when it came to her own life. She had her reasons, which I understood, but I wanted her to get over it. I loved how she played detective with Precious’ family to find out what had happened to her during the war and after.

Overall, this was another winner by Karen White. I love how she mixes past with present in her books, neither story winning me over more than the other. Both sides or timelines always keep me intrigued. She has done this with all her previous releases and again with The Last Night in London.

Review: The Idea of You (Robinne Lee)

The Idea of You
Author/Narrator: Robinne Lee

Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. For Solène, it is a reclaiming of self, as well as a rediscovery of happiness and love. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most. 


Robinne Lee is a talented author. Her words and sentences were beautiful without being flowery. There was this tone that carried throughout the entire book. I don’t know how to explain it other to say that it made me feel everything Solène was feeling. Lee is also a talented narrator. Her voice was Solène’s voice. She brought her character to life in the best way.

As for the story… Well, it’s about an almost 40 year old divorcee who meets a 20 year old boyband member when she takes her daughter backstage at his concert. Solène and Hayes embark on a clandestine affair that is somehow both sultry and sweet. Hiding things from her loved ones and the world isn’t easy, and Solène has to deal with what that means for herself and those closest to her. There are a lot of uncomfortable emotions and choices to be made. I couldn’t help but love Solène and Hayes despite their flaws. Solène’s POV is the only one in the book, and I kind of wanted Hayes’ too, but this book was more powerful with just Solène’s.

I want to say more about my thoughts and feelings, but I don’t want to give anything else about this book away. I guess I’ll wrap up with a couple of things. 1. That ending. If you have read this book, you know what I mean. Can I get a book from that point in Hayes’ POV? 2. In some ways, this is a romance. In other ways, it’s not. I wouldn’t want to slap the women’s fiction tag on it because that is not what it feels like to me. The Idea of You crosses over genre boundaries for me with its tone and subject matter.

Review: The Ex Talk (Rachel Lynn Solomon)

The Ex Talk
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Publication Date: January 26, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sparkling romantic comedy debut.

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.


I had a hard time figuring out my feelings about The Ex Talk. There were things I really loved about it, but the things I didn’t nagged at me. Here is what I loved and what I didn’t about this book.

What I loved:

  • The Seattle vibe. A lot of the times books set in Seattle focus too much on the well known landmarks and not on the actual vibe the city and the people have. The Ex Talk hit the vibe spot on.
  • The enemies to lovers trope. The banter was real, people. So was Shay and Dominic’s chemistry. I loved it!
  • The public radio thing. I liked both the setting part and The Ex Talk show itself.
  • Shay’s reactions to the conflicts she encountered.
  • The evolution of all the different types of relationships Shay had.
  • Overall, the writing was very good.

What I didn’t love:

  • The whole lying about being exes for the radio thing. That ethical conflict bugged the heck out of me, even if it made for an interesting story.
  • There was a section of the book from 15% to about 30% that I had to push myself to keep reading. I don’t know what was up with the section. Maybe too much set up toward the plot? All I know is that once I got back on track at 30%, things flew again for me.
  • Shay was annoying at time. She could be very self-centered.

Honestly, I think if things hadn’t gotten slow for me for a chunk of this book, I might have rated it higher even if I didn’t love everything about it. It was a good, unique book.

Audiobook Review: The Five Stages of Falling in Love (Rachel Higginson)

The Five Stages of Falling in Love
Author: Rachel Higginson
Narrator: Christine Marshall
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Audible Studios
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The Five Stages of Falling in Love is a Contemporary Romance.
Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief.

Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady’s prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her?

Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days.

When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn’t just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she’s capable of ever giving again.

As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there’s more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there’s more to life than death.


The Five Stages of Love has been on my TBR since it was released. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get to it. I’m seriously regretting that now. This book was heartbreakingly good.

Liz is has lost her husband and the father of her four young children. She’s simply trying to make it through the day when Ben moves in next door. As Liz moves through the stages of grief of Grady, she begins to develop a friendship with Ben. As their friendship morphs into more, Liz has to navigate her feelings over losing Grady and what it means to fall for Ben.

Like I said before, this book was heartbreakingly good. Liz’s grief was overwhelming at times, as it should have been. Listening to her navigate her understandable feelings was hard, but it was also rewarding. The way she worked through things and picked up the pieces of her life was inspiring. It might have taken time, but also felt natural. I loved how her feelings grew organically for Ben. I adored how Ben accepted Liz for who she was at any given moment, and also how he bonded with her children. The only thing I could have wanted from this book that wasn’t included was Ben’s point of view. I don’t blame Higginson for not including it, though. It might have distracted from the growth of Liz’s character.

The Five Stages of Falling in Love was a very beautiful story of grief and love. It broke my heart several times, but also put it back together. It touched me in ways I wasn’t expecting. I would highly recommend it. It is now my favorite Higginson book.

Review: Snapped (Alexa Martin)

Snapped
Series: Playbook, #4
Author: Alexa Martin
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

With the stakes this high, it’s no longer just a game for the quarterback in this romance by the author of Blitzed.

Elliot Reed is living her best life—or pretending to. She owes it to her dad’s memory to be happy and make the most of her new job as Strategic Communications Manager for the Denver Mustangs. Things are going well until star quarterback Quinton Howard Jr. decides to use the field as his stage and becomes the first player to take a knee during the national anthem.

As the son of a former professional athlete, Quinton knows the good, the bad, and the ugly about football. He’s worked his entire life to gain recognition in the sport, and now that he has it, he’s not about to waste his chance to change the league for better. Not even the brilliant but infuriating Elliot, who the Mustangs assign to manage him, will get Quinton back in line.

A rocky initial meeting only leads to more tension between Quinton and Elliot. But as her new job forces them to spend time together, she realizes they may have more in common than she could’ve ever imagined. With her job and his integrity on the line, this is one coin toss that nobody can win.


I was a little nervous prior to starting Snapped. I’ve enjoyed the Playbook series up until this point, and the reviews I have seen for this fourth book are very mixed. People seemed to either love or dislike it, so I wasn’t sure how it would hit me. Snapped started out with a letter from Martin about how the book and she relates to Elliot, the NFL, and the racial injustices/inequalities in it. I appreciated this letter because it enhanced how I saw the character and what was going on. It made me forgot about the worry I had and just dive in.

I enjoyed the experience of reading Snapped more than I thought I would. It didn’t really feel like a romance, more like women’s fiction for the most part. That didn’t bother me because I was immediately pulled in with the writing and story. Based on the subject matter it covers, I was imagining it being a heavy read. It had its heavy moments, mostly at the climax of the story, but was overall not too angsty. The build up to the climax did make me uncomfortable, but it was supposed to. Martin did a great job making me feel the tension Elliot was feeling. Did I love feeling that tension? Not really, but I pushed through.

What I liked the most about this book was Elliot and the self-discovery she went through.  I could feel her fears, frustrations, sadness, and hope. I can’t comment on how true to life her experiences were as I’m not biracial, but I’m hoping maybe they mirror the author’s enough to be authentic to readers who are.

Quinton was a gem of a character. I loved how he stood up for his beliefs and didn’t back down. I only wish I would have gotten dual point of view because I would have loved to hear his thoughts straight from his own head. It would have made this book and its topics that much more powerful.

I feel like I need to warn readers who are fans of the series at this point. I know I mentioned how this didn’t read like true romance novel to me (and it’s definitely not a rom-com). There’s a lot of getting to know each other, working together, and building rapport between Elliot and Quinton through most of the book. Things don’t truly progress further until about 70% and then it feels like fast forward was hit. I do wish the romance was heavier at the beginning, but the progression to the start of a relationship did feel natural.

Overall, Snapped was a good addition to this series. Each book has gotten a little heavier in subject manner, and this one continued that trend. I wish there had been a little more romance throughout the book, but I wouldn’t want it to take anything away from the important, relevant issues touched on. It also set up what I’m guessing is going to be book #5, which I am very interested in reading.

Review: Beach Read (Emily Henry)

Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.


Okay. I am going to apologize, but this review is going to start out with a bit of a rant. Beach Read is a classic example of why the illustrated cover trend needs to go. When I look at this cover, I think cute and happy romance. Then, I read the blurb and it confirms cute and adds funny to the happy romance. I seriously thought I was going to be reading a rom-com. People, I have not been this bamboozled by a cover and blurb since Meet Cute by Helena Hunting. The marketing for Beach Read is ALL wrong. This story does have a romance and there are some funny moments, but this is NOT a rom-com. It’s women’s fiction. Beach Read is an emotional journey filled with ups and downs. Plus, the cover and title don’t even fit the book. There’s not really much beach or a beach read involved. I struggled the first 15% of this book because I was expecting a rom-com. I was in the mood for a rom-com. I seriously debated DNFing. I had to put the book down for a day and come back to it with adjusted expectations. That’s the only thing that saved it for me. If this book hadn’t had such a sunny cover and a blurb that sounded more fun than emotional journey, I don’t think this all would have been an issue.

Okay, end rant. Let’s move on to the actual story. Emily Henry is a talented writer. She takes the characters (and reader) through some pretty heavy stuff while managing to add in some funny and romantic moments. This kind of gave the story a feel of being out on a lake — up and down with the waves of happiness and sadness. I really enjoyed the mix of emotional journey, mystery, romance, and familial relationships this book tackled.

January was a mess of a character. I understand why she had to be this way, but I kept thinking she felt more like a teenager than someone close to thirty. The way she avoided what needed to be dealt with was both annoying and understandable. I liked how she grew over the course of the book.

Gus was a lot of a mystery because we don’t get his perspective. It didn’t do him justice not to have his POV. It made him come off as a bad guy more than once. That being said, I loved it when he and January were in a groove together. They were a great couple who totally clicked.

So, yeah. I ended up enjoying Beach Read way more than I expected while I was in that first 15%. I enjoyed the journey it took me on and felt its impact at the end. Fans of the women’s fiction genre are going to like what this book has to give.

Review: What You Wish For (Katherine Center)

What You Wish For
Author: Katherine Center
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From Katherine Center, the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel full of heart and hope.

Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.

When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.


Katherine Center is one of those authors who manages to impress me with each new book she releases. Somehow, she is able to take the saddest, most serious topics and write an inspirational and upbeat story about them. That’s what she did with What You Wish For.

Sam Casey is someone who has been through a ton of crap in her life. She’s finally managed to get to a point in her life where she’s truly happy with her situation and then everything changes. I loved Sam’s positive outlook on (almost) everything and how she’s willing to take charge and fight for what is most important. Sam was quirky, but her quirkiness wasn’t odd or crazy. It was relatable in the way she explained herself. I loved how she accepted herself and her insecurities. I especially loved how she dealt with her feelings for Duncan, then and now.

There’s so much more to this story than just Sam’s life. There’s a huge part of this story that involves her school community. I won’t go into it because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I loved it. I loved how Duncan was woven into that, how Sam and her friends came together. It was all fun to read about.

I honestly am not sure what else to say about What to Wish For. It was just such a good reading experience. It shows once again how talented of an author Katherine Center is and why I will continue to reach for her books when they are released.

Review: How Lulu Lost Her Mind (Rachel Gibson)

How Lulu Lost Her Mind
Author: Rachel Gibson
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson comes the story of a mother-daughter journey to rediscover the past before it disappears forever.

Lou Ann Hunter’s mother, Patricia, has always had a passionate nature, which explains why she’s been married and divorced five times and spooned enough male patients to be ousted from three elderly care facilities. She also has Alzheimer’s, which is why she wants to spend her remaining months or years surrounded by memories at her family’s decrepit old plantation in Louisiana with her only daughter.

Lou Ann, a.k.a. Lulu the Love Guru, has built an empire preaching sex, love, and relationship advice to the women of America—mostly by defying the example her mother has set for her. But with her mother suddenly in need of a fulltime caretaker, Lou Ann reluctantly agrees to step out of the spotlight and indulge her mother’s wishes, even if it means trading in her Louboutins and Chanel No. 5 for boots and mosquito repellant.

Upon arrival at Sutton Hall, Lou Ann discovers that very little functions at it should, least of all her mother’s mind. She is haunted not only by creaky floorboards and things that go bump in the night, but also by the living ghost sleeping downstairs. Every good day Patricia and Lou Ann have treasure hunting in the attic seems to be followed by two days of meltdowns and cold shoulders. And as Lou Ann adjusts to this new and inevitably temporary dynamic, she is forced to confront the fact that her mother’s fate is completely out of her hands—and the end may be coming quicker than she even thought possible.

Heartrending at times and laugh-out-loud funny at others, How Lulu Lost Her Mind is the book for anyone whose mom has ever made them cry—whether tears of joy, regret, frustration, love, or all of the above. Fans of Emily Giffin, Kristan Higgins, and Jill Shalvis won’t be able to forget it.


I have been a fan of Rachel Gibson’s contemporary romance novels for a long time. She’s one of the first authors I really got into and binged on back in the day. When I saw she was releasing a book in the women’s fiction category, I was both intrigued and slight disappointed. So many of my longtime favorite romance authors have been moving over to this genre. It makes me a little sad. That being said, once I got started on How Lulu Lost Her Mind, I knew I was in for something special.

How Lulu Lost Her Mind was a gem. It was all about character growth for Lulu. She got to reexamine her relationship with her mother, her job, and her feelings. All of that was done in a beautifully described setting. I have to admit that I didn’t love Lulu at first due to her nature, but she quickly grew on me.

The rest of the characters were just as fabulous. I loved Patricia, Lindsey, Simon, and Raphael. Patricia added both funny and heartbreaking parts. Lindsey added a special friendship aspect. Simon added just the right tough of romance to the story. And Raphael… Well, that parrot was something else.

How Lulu Lost Her Mind was a heartwarming tale that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Rachel Gibson’s foray into women’s fiction was a smashing success!

Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue (Lauren Layne)

Marriage on Madison Avenue
Series: Central Park Pact, #3
Author: Lauren Layne
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne, the “queen of witty dialogue” (Rachel Van Dyken, New York Times bestselling author), comes the final installment of the Central Park Pact series, a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that’s perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren.

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?


Lauren Layne ended her popular Central Park Pact series on a high note with Marriage on Madison Avenue. Audrey and Clark’s romance was other readers might have been wanting since the very beginning on the series, but it was one I didn’t know I needed until I read it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good friends to lovers romance. I also know Lauren Layne excels at that type of story. I just didn’t pick up romance vibes between Audrey and Clark prior to reading this book.

That’s actually a cool statement because Audrey and Clark didn’t feel the vibes until Marriage on Madison Avenue either. Nothing like a little fake engagement between best friends to put things in perspective. I loved the way they navigated their new feelings for each other and how their relationship changed with this engagement. The only thing that would have made it better for me was if the book had been in first person instead of third. I would have connected to it even more than I already did.

Marriage on Madison Avenue was a very sweet fake relationship romance between best friends. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Lauren Layne. I can’t wait to read what she’s got coming next!