Review: Hard Sell (21 Wall Street #2) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

He’s a Wall Street wolf. She’s been hired to tame him. From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes a wildly sexy novel of business and pleasure.

Twenty-eight and filthy rich, Matt Cannon is the youngest broker on Wall Street. He may be a “boy wonder,” but he’s every inch a man. Ask any woman—any night. But when Matt’s latest fling makes scandalous headlines, his clients get anxious, and his bosses at Wolfe Investments level an ultimatum: keep his assets zipped, get a “real” girlfriend, and clean up his act. Only one woman can help Matt with something this hard.

For PR genius Sabrina Cross, the best fixer in Manhattan, playing Matt’s steady is going to be a challenge, even if it’s just for show. They already have an explosive history, she can’t stand the cocky party boy, and worse—she can’t stop thinking about him. So who’ll dare to break her “no touching” rule first? Because when that happens, Matt and Sabrina’s game of let’s pretend will get so hot it could set both their reputations on fire.

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

Hard Sell will be available September 4, 2018. 

I love Lauren Layne books. They are always the perfect choice to get me out of any reading slump. Hard Sell is the second book in the 21 Wall Street series and I think I enjoyed it even more than the first.

I love both Fake Relationship and Hate-to-Love stories and this book utilized both. In the first book of the series Matt and Sabrina were side characters and I wasn’t really sold on the idea of them being in a relationship, but I did end up really liking them together here. They’ve kind of had this dysfunctional thing for a few years and it was a slow burn to actual love and romance and I was here for it. I thought they were really well suited for each other and I liked how their friendship evolved, along with the romance.

Like all of Layne’s books there were a couple of scenes that were a little more graphic than I like, but other than that I enjoyed pretty much every moment of the book. I like the cast of characters and I am really looking forward to getting a book focusing on Kennedy and Kate. One thing I would’ve liked to have seen a little more, though, is Kate’s job. She’s a “fixer” so I felt like there were endless possibilities for a little extra fun or drama, but there’s really not much done with it.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hard Sell. Layne is easily one of my favorite Romance authors and I just love her more with each book I read. I definitely recommend this to Romance fans. While it is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: July 2018

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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Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson. Read July 1-3. 3 Stars. 

This wasn’t bad, but it didn’t live up to the hype for me. I developed a theory about how the two storylines were connected fairly early on and it ended up being right. When that was finally revealed to be true I kept expecting something else shocking or twisty to happen at the end of the book, but nothing did. So I guess if you didn’t figure it out early it would appear as a fun twist, but it was just kind of ho hum for me. I did like the different POVs, though, and I really liked Gabe, even though he frustrated me many times.

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Sirens (Aidan Waits Thriller #1) by Joseph Knox. July 4-6. 4 Stars. 

This book is dark and kind of messed up, but I really enjoyed it. Short chapters and a fast pace made it a pretty quick read. I wavered a little bit with what to rate it because I found myself sometimes not really understanding what was going on and the writing seemed a little scattered at times. However, I liked that Knox was able to take a rather cliched storyline (addict/kind of dirty cop main character, drugs, murder, etc.) into something that really did seem unique. I thought the mystery was pretty well done and it kept my interest the whole time. I’m definitely looking forward to more from this series.

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My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. Read June 27-July 7. 2 Stars. 

I am so disappointed!!! My Lady Jane is one of my absolute favorite books and I have been looking forward to My Plain Jane for so long. Unfortunately it just fell so short of my expectations. The humor that I loved in the previous book felt so forced here. This book got a couple of chuckles out of me, but much more eye-rolling. I also didn’t love the Jane Eyre-Ghostbusters mash-up. I felt like the story really dragged and it did not keep my attention. I actually read two other books in the time it took me to finish this one. I had originally really liked the idea of having Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre both be characters, but I didn’t end up liking either of them. Alexander was probably my favorite POV of the three, but I didn’t really care that much about him either. I’m just overall really underwhelmed and disappointed with this one.

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Catch Him if You Can (Accidentally Yours #2) by Jennifer Shirk. Read July 19-21. 4 Stars. 

This book was so cute! After reading a number of mysteries/thrillers lately I was really in the mood for something light and sweet and Catch Him If You Can was exactly what I needed. I found myself smiling through the whole book. Full review to come closer to release date. 

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I Knew You Were trouble (Oxford #4) by Lauren Layne. Read July 22-23. 3.5 Stars.

This wasn’t my favorite Lauren Layne book, but it was still enjoyable. I liked Nick. Taylor took awhile to grow on me, but she wasn’t bad. I was looking for something light and quick to read and this was perfect for that.

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Hard Sell (21 Wall Street #2) by Lauren Layne. Read July 27-28. 4 Stars.

I love both Fake Relationship and Hate-to-Love stories and this book utilized both. Full review to come closer to release date. 

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Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren. Read July 28-29. 3.5 Stars.

I’ve had some mixed reviews with the Christina Lauren books I’ve read so I’m never really sure what to expect when I pick one up. However, I do know that there will be some addicting writing that will make the book hard to put down and Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating was exactly that. Full review to come closer to release date.

Review: I Think I Love You (Oxford #5) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A game of seduction between two best friends goes deliciously wrong in an irresistible Oxford Novel that brims with wit and sexual tension. Library Journal hails Layne’s work as exemplary contemporary romance.”

Brit Robbins knows that dating in New York City is hard—she just hoped to have it mastered by age thirty. But after yet another promising suitor says they have no sparks, Brit decides it’s time to torch her dating game and try a new plan. And who better to coach Brit through the art of seduction than the guy who first gave her the “let’s be friends” card?

Hunter Cross has always figured there’s nothing his best friend Brit can do to surprise him. But Brit’s request is a surprise he doesn’t see coming—and one he’s definitely not prepared for. Hunter and Brit have always been careful to keep things perfectly platonic, but the fake dates and faux flirting are starting to feel like the real deal. And soon Hunter realizes he has taught Brit too well. Not only has she become an expert at seduction, the man becoming thoroughly seduced is him.

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

I Think I Love You will be available July 10, 2018. 

To be honest, the synopsis for I Think I Love You almost scared me off. Anything where the plot sounds like it’s centered around a physical relationship is not generally my thing. However, I’ve learned that when it comes to a Lauren Layne book, it’s always best to give her the benefit of the doubt and I’m once again glad I did. While there were a few of the too-graphic scenes I don’t really appreciate, there weren’t more than her other books I’ve read have had.

One of my favorite Romance tropes is Friends-to-More and I Think I Love You utilized it really well. I loved Brit and Hunter’s friendship. I’m really glad that we got to see them together as friends before they really began to fall for each other. I was expecting the “lessons in seduction” to be kind of cringe-worthy and they really weren’t. It was mostly Hunter reinforcing to Brit that there wasn’t anything wrong with her and she just needed to be relax and be herself.

This is the last book in the Oxford series, which is also connected to another book series from Layne. However, this is the first book from either series I’ve read. There were a lot of side characters that were kind of hard for me to keep track of, being unfamiliar with the couples from the previous books, but I think fans of the series will be pretty happy with the cameos. They did make me want to go back and read some of the books I’ve missed.

Overall, I really enjoyed I Think I Love You. It was a quick, cute read (I read it in a day) with likable characters. Lauren Layne continues to be one of my favorite Romance authors and I’m really looking forward to whatever she writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 2018

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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The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth. Read June 1-3. 3 Stars. 

I think maybe I’ve just read too many books like this lately. The writing was fine and I liked all the POVs we got, but I just didn’t really like the characters or their problems. I did like the twist. I had several guesses and none of them were right, so I’m giving an extra star for that twist.

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline. Read June 3-6. 3.5 Stars.

I liked the structuring of the novel. Chapters alternated between Noah and Maggie’s POVs and the timeline was played around with, too, very effectively. However, I just felt like for the most part the pace was very slow and once the conclusion to the trial was reached the timeline stayed more linear and it kind of threw me off. I absolutely hated Maggie, too. I just found her so unlikable. The end of the book picked up a little, but I thought the developments were kind of unbelievable. However, it was still an enjoyable book and it did have a nice twist that I was hoping for.

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Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington. Read June 9-10. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was a lot more angsty and heavy at times than I was expecting, but it worked. I liked the alternating POVs and timelines and thought it was used effectively. I loved Cam. I liked Vee in the “Then”, but found her kind of hard to like in the “Now” until towards the end. I thought the romance was super cute (though angsty for awhile). I loved the reality competition show angle and would’ve liked to have seen even more of that. Overall, this was exactly the cute weekend read I wanted and I will be checking out more from Pennington in the future.

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I Think I Love You (Oxford #5) by Lauren Layne. Read June 12-14. 4 Stars. 

To be honest, the synopsis for I Think I Love You almost scared me off. Anything where the plot sounds like it’s centered around a physical relationship is not generally my thing. However, I’ve learned that when it comes to a Lauren Layne book, it’s always best to give her the benefit of the doubt and I’m once again glad I did. While there were a few of the too-graphic scenes I don’t really appreciate, there weren’t more than her other books I’ve read have had. Full Review to come next month.

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The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4) by Katerina Diamond. Read June 15-16. 4 Stars. 

Last year I read and fell in love with the DS Imogen Grey series and The Promise was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I’m so happy to report that it completely lived up to my expectations. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Other Woman by Sandie Jones. Read June 16-18. 2 Stars.

I thought the synopsis for this sounded kind of like a Lifetime movie and I was expecting a really fun, guilty-pleasure type of read. Unfortunately, it fell short of my expectations. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris. Read June 20-21. 3.5 Stars. 

After all the mixed reviews I’ve seen on this, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I found it really enjoyable. The short chapters and alternating timelines or POVs gave it a steady pace and helped make it a quick read. I did have a couple of theories going for awhile before I finally settled on one which ended up being right. I was ok with it, but when it came time for the explanation of how it all happened to be revealed I found myself kind of disappointed. It just seemed a little far-fetched and I thought it could have been done in a more fun-crazy way. So even though I enjoyed reading it, I have to dock a little bit of points from my rating for the ending.

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Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. Read June 22-24. 2 Stars. 

Well, I really did not care for this book. Unlikable characters and an entirely predictable plot made it a struggle to complete and I wish I didn’t waste my time on it. Full review to come next month. 

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Our House by Louise Candlish. Read June 24-26. 4 Stars.

Our House is one of my most anticipated books of the summer and while it wasn’t quite what I expected, I definitely enjoyed it. Full review to come closer to release date.

********Back on the TBR********

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The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. My hold for this finally came in at the library, but I just never got to it before it expired.

Review: Hot Asset (21 Wall Street #1) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A sexy agent hounds Wall Street’s hottest new wolf in an exhilarating novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot: seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he’s met his match in Lara McKenzie—a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.

An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case—the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading—could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one. Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger.

She’ll do anything to prove he’s guilty. He’ll do anything to prove he’s not. But it’s only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now, taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It’s become a pleasure—and there’s more at risk than she ever dreamed.

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

Hot Asset will be available May 22, 2018. 

Lauren Layne has become one of my favorite Romance authors and I enjoyed Hot Asset just as much as I expected to.

I thought the insider trading plotline was interesting. I don’t think I’ve read a Romance with that particular angle before so it was something a little fresh, even though the rest of the plot played out very standard Romance. I would’ve liked just a little more information on how Wall Street works and the ins and outs of the SEC, but I did appreciate that there wasn’t information overload with it either.

I liked Lara and Ian as characters and also as a couple. They have a mutual respect for each other and their work ethics. I do wish that it would’ve taken just a little longer for them to fall for each other, though. While Lara didn’t let her feelings get in the way of her investigation, she did willingly put herself in some compromising positions multiple times and it felt a little more silly-schoolgirl than professional investigator. I also really enjoyed Ian’s group of friends. I’m looking forward to their books, especially Kennedy and Kate’s.

Overall, I enjoyed Hot Asset. I liked the setting and the characters and the romance. I thought about giving this 3 or 3.5 stars, just because, while enjoyable, it was a pretty standard, straight-forward romance. However, other than the couple of sex scenes, I don’t really have any other complaints about the book, so I’m bumping it up to 4 stars. I would recommend this to Romance fans, especially fans of Lauren Layne.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Romance Novels

I wasn’t really interested in today’s Top 5 Wednesday prompt, so I decided to borrow a topic I missed from when I was on hiatus. So for me, today’s topic is: Favorite Romance Novels. Straight up romance novels aren’t usually ones I reach for very often, but there are a few that I love.

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1. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I love almost everything about this book. It’s so funny and cute.

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2. Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren. Can you tell I like Hate-to-Love stories?

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3. Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne. Honestly, I could list pretty much every Lauren Layne book I’ve read. They’re always so cute.

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4. Wrong Brother, Right Match by Jennifer Shirk. This book reminded me so much a Hallmark Christmas movie.

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5. The Best Man by Kristan Higgins. Kristan Higgins is my definite go-to for romance novels and this is just one of my many favorites by her. She appears to be shifting her focus over to Women’s Fiction, which at first really annoyed me, even though they’re just as good as her romances. I’m coming around to it, though.

What are some of your favorite romance novels?

Reviewing the Unrevewied: February 2018

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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The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon. February 16-17. 4 Stars. 

Love. Love. Love.  Amy Harmon writes beautiful books.

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My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris. Read February 17-18. 3 Stars. 

love this concept! I read through the book several times choosing different scenarios and feel like I only scratched the surface on the possibilities. Full review to come.

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Then She was Gone by Lisa Jewell. Read February 18-19. 4 Stars. 

Lisa Jewell does it again. I was so consumed by this story that I finished it in under 24 hours. Full review to come.

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Honeysuckle Dreams (Blue Ridge Romance #2) by Denise Hunter. Read February 19-21. 3.5 Stars. 

I enjoyed this, though the added drama at the end did bring it down a bit for me. I liked the characters for the most part and the Marriage-of-Convenience theme. I look forward to continuing the series. Full review to come.

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Runaway Groom (I Do, I Don’t #2) by Lauren Layne. Read February 21-23. 4 Stars. 

Such a fun book. I really liked both Ellie and Gage. I enjoyed the “The Bachelor” type setting, too, though I thought it could have been played up a bit more. I’m really looking forward to the next one.

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What You Want to See (Roxane Weary #2) by Kristen Lepionka. Read February 24-25. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was well-paced and well-written, with a really interesting mystery. I also love that this book is set in Columbus, OH and I recognized a lot of the areas mentioned. I definitely recommend this series to Mystery fans and am looking forward to reading more from Lepionka in the future. Full review to come.

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

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After finishing Iron Gold I fell into a book slump and decided to re-read the original trilogy, which I failed to do prior to reading Iron Gold. I still loved them all the second time around (third time for Red Rising). I had forgotten how completely epic Morning Star really is.

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Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks #1) by Miranda Kenneally. This was recently free on Kindle. I pretty much have all the same issues with this book as I did the first time I read it. However, I think I may have enjoyed it slightly more this time around. It’s a pretty quick read.

********Back on the TBR********

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Books from the library that I never started before they expiredFragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda, A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis, and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

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Books from the library that I started and couldn’t get into: Fake Wife by Stacey Lynn, Moonlight Sins by Jennifer Armentrout, Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. I usually love a good fake relationship story, but I read several chapters of Fake Wife and just couldn’t get into it. I think I want to try it again someday, though. I read about a chapter and a half of Moonlight Sins and again, just couldn’t get into it. I used to love everything by JLA, but all but one of her last several books have been ones I didn’t like or didn’t finish. I’m not sure if I’ll ever give this one a chance again. Truly Devious seems promising, but I was in a mood when I started it and then I realized it was the first book in a series and not a standalone, so I think I’ll wait until more books are published before I read it.