Review: Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps. 

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Passion on Park Avenue will be available May 28, 2019.

I’m a big fan of Lauren Layne and always look forward to her books. While Passion on Park Avenue was enjoyable, I have to admit I found it a little underwhelming.

I’m going to start with the things I liked:

-I loved Oliver. He was smart and sweet and loyal and I just adored him. I liked his dedication to his family, even though they had their issues. I liked the romance between him and Naomi, even if it was frustrating sometimes.

-I liked Naomi’s new friends, Audrey and Claire. We actually don’t see as much of them as I expected, but I’m interested in both of their upcoming stories.

-While Lauren Layne is one of my favorite Romance authors, my usual complaint with her books is that there are always a few scenes more graphic than I care for. I’m so happy to report that that was not the case with this book! There’s innuendo and suggestive talk, but there are no sex scenes and I really appreciated it. I thought it put the romantic focus much more on emotions and actual relationship details instead of just physical stuff and I found it much more meaningful.

Ok, so now onto the things that didn’t quite work for me:

-For a good long while in this book, I did not like Naomi at all. She just came across so shallow to me. Everything was just about status and money and expensive stuff and I just couldn’t care about it. Also, her big revenge plan was to move back into her old apartment building and then let her mom’s former employer and his son know who she was and how she had as much money as them now. I wasn’t really sure what that would accomplish? It’s not like she was buying the building and kicking them out. Or buying their business out from under them. It just didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

-I also thought Naomi was an odd choice for the first book in the series. She was that brash character that always speaks her mind, even if it could be hurtful. The kind of character that is usually the main character’s best friend that you don’t really like until she gets her own book and then you get to know her better. I did eventually like her, but it took me awhile. I’m much more interested in Claire and Audrey’s stories (particularly Audrey and Clarke).

-One of the subplots include the development of a tv show based on Naomi’s rags to riches story. I found that interesting, but thought it could have been explored much more than it was.

Overall, I did enjoy Passion on Park Avenue. I liked the friendship and Oliver and how the romance focused more on the relationship than on the physical stuff. I felt like not a whole lot really happened in the story, though, and it took me a really long time to start caring about Naomi, so I’m giving this a little lower rating than I do most Layne books. However, I am definitely looking forward to the next books in this series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: February 2019

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne. Read February 1-2. 3 Stars. 

After reading a lot of mixed reviews, I went into this one cautiously and I think that helped. I mostly enjoyed it, but I did have some issues with it. I felt like Thorne tried just a little too hard to make Darcy the complete opposite of nice, people-pleasing Lucy from The Hating Game. She was a little too much sometimes. I did like the general storyline of the romance between childhood friends and Darcy’s relationship with her twin brother. I just felt like so much of the story was overtaken with Darcy’s pervy thoughts about Tom. I thought it really cheapened the love story. Overall, I liked the beginning and the end, but most of the middle I just kind of got through. I have to say, though, my favorite part of the whole thing was that there was bonus content that included an epilogue for The Hating Game. This may not be one I would want to read again, but I’d still be interested in more from Thorne in the future.

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The Foxe & the Hound by R.S. Grey. Read January 31 – February 4. 3 Stars

This one was just ok for me. I thought it was going to be a fake relationship story, but that plot line only lasts about a chapter, which was disappointing to me. I liked the characters and the dog and there were some funny moments, but overall I don’t think this is one that will leave any kind of lasting impression for me.

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Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West. Read February 5-6. 4 Stars. 

Another enjoyable Kasie West book. I liked the movie set atmosphere and the characters and the romance was cute. The movie scenes left a little to be desired for me, though. If you like West’s other books, you’ll like this one, too.

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Text Me Baby One More Time (Text #4) by Teagan Hunter. Read February 10-11. 3.5 Stars. 

Another enjoyable book in the Text series. Hunter’s writing is really addictive which makes these pretty fast reads. When the main characters of this book appeared in previous books I didn’t really care for either of them at all, so I was happy that I did like them here. I liked their texting past and the whole hate-to-love thing. This series is a little more full-on Romance Novel then I usually read and I feel like as the series goes on they keep getting more explicit, which I don’t love, but it was still a fun read overall.

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King of the Friend Zone (Power of the Matchmaker) by Sheralyn Pratt. Read February 17-20. 3 Stars. 

This was just ok for me. Esme kind of infuriated me about half the time. I liked Hunter a little more, but he was a bit of a hothead, so I didn’t love him as much I had hoped for. The whole magic cookie lady thing was a bit odd. This book has been on my TBR for quite a while, so I’m glad I read it, but it’s not one I would be interested in reading again.

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Dizzy by Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry. Read February 20-23. 3 Stars.

Parts of this were cute, but for the most part a whole lot of nothing happened. I also found the whole plot surrounding the couple getting married odd. They’re in college (sophomores or juniors, I can’t remember) and get engaged and then decide to take a semester off to plan the wedding and get married. And all the parents are just fine with it. And there’s no talk about where they’ll live or how they’ll support themselves – although the guy’s family is super rich, so I guess he has a trust fund to take care of them? It just seemed really irresponsible to me. I think it would have made more sense if they had just graduated college. Anyways, this was another book that’s been on my TBR for a long time and I’m glad to get it off the list. 

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A Curse so Dark and Lonely (A Curse so Dark and Lonely #1) by Brigid Kemmerer. Read February 25-27. 3.5 Stars

I enjoyed this one. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairytales, so I’m always up for a good re-telling and I thought this did a decent job of that. There were times it felt really reminiscent of A court of Thorns and Roses, but I ultimately thought this one was better written. I liked Rhen and Grey a lot. I completely despised Harper for about the first half of the book, though. I really have a hard time connecting with characters that are so antagonistic and needlessly reckless. She eventually got a little better for me. I did like the romance, though it wasn’t as prevalent as I would have expected. I also didn’t realize this is a series and am kind of disappointed by that. With just a couple of small changes, this could have very easily been a standalone and I would have been happy with it. I’ll read the next book, but it’s not going to make my “most anticipated” list or anything.

*****Re-Reads*****

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Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. I could not concentrate on anything, so I decided to re-read something so I could skim through it, but then I got invested and there was no skimming and I basically read this book in one sitting. Loved it just as much as the first time around.

*****DNF*****

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What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. DNF-ed at 47%. Though I have definitely enjoyed both from time to time, I’m not currently much of a fan of Historical Fiction or Fantasy. I have never really cared for time-traveling plots in particular. However, I’m a big fan of Amy Harmon and that’s why I picked up this book. Unfortunately, it was not enough for me to love it. I had a really hard time getting into the story and I decided to set it down for awhile and I read a couple of other books. I finally tried picking this up again and still couldn’t get into it. It was at 47% that I decided to stop reading and then I just kind of skimmed to the end. I didn’t really find the end very satisfying (mostly due to my time-traveling plotline feelings) so I’m glad I decided to call it when I did. However, everyone else I know has loved it and I wish Harmon nothing but the best. I’ll still definitely be picking up more books from her in the future.

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Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner. DNF at 23%. I just couldn’t get into this book at all. I think it will have a very specific audience that will love it, but I am not that audience. I found it kind of depressing and quirky and other than the very pretty cover, I don’t really have anything positive to say about it and I really couldn’t make myself read anymore. I found Sam incredibly off-putting. I found the writing in her chapters especially were just not my style.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1) by Lauren Layne – 3 Stars

Fumbled (Playbook #2) by Alexa Martin – 4 Stars

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin – 3 Stars

Top 5 Wednesday: ARCs on the Top of My TBR

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday, hosted by the Goodreads group, is: Top of Your TBR. I’ve adapted it a little bit to ARCs on the Top of my TBR.

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1. What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. After trying to catch up on all of Harmon’s backlist, I’ve discovered a couple of her books are ones that I don’t really care for, so I’m just a little nervous about this since historical fiction isn’t really my thing anymore. But I do have faith that even if it’s not my favorite Harmon book, it will still be good.

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2. Fumbled (Playbook #2) by Alexa Martin. Intercepted was a surprise hit for me, so even though this book has some tropes that are not my favorite, I’m still very excited to read it.

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3. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. This book just very recently got on my radar and it sounds right up my alley. I love stories that involve notes/texts/e-mails.

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4. Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1) by Lauren Layne. I am always excited to read a Lauren Layne book and I have high hopes for this one. I actually read a review that was complaining that the love scenes were not as graphic as other Layne books have been, but that’s a really big plus in my book and made me even more interested in it.

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5. The Escape Room by Megan Goldin. I’ve seen a lot of hype for this one and I’m really hoping it lives up to expectations.

What books are on the top of your TBR?