Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles!
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
The Wedding Belles #1
Releasing July 26th, 2016
Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true…but their own.
Discovering her fiancé is an international conman just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Burke’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet, if slightly spoiled, hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse springs.
Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister’s fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiancé is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning…is theirs?
It’s not as though Brooke had meant to start dating a con man. She certainly didn’t intend to get engaged to one.
But that’s the thing about con mans. The good ones were good at, well . . . the con.
And Clay Battaglia had been a good one. The best, actually, if you took the word of the FBI agent who’d debriefed Brooke and her family—while she was still in her wedding dress.
Turns out that while Brooke had been happily building her wedding-planning company, Clay had been quietly and competently been getting away with every white-collar crime in the book. While she’d been planning their wedding, he’d apparently been knee-deep in yet another Ponzi scheme.
Brooke hadn’t even known what a Ponzi scheme was when the FBI had told her.
She did now.
Following Clay’s arrest, she spent weeks researching white-collar crime. Wanting to know what he’d been up to all those times he’d quietly kissed her forehead late at night and told her he needed to make some phone calls for “work.” Wanting to know what her life would have been like if the FBI hadn’t taken him down before they’d exchanged vows.
Still, while Brooke would be ever grateful that she’d learned the truth before she’d become Mrs. Clay Battaglia, she’d be lying if she didn’t admit that the timing of it had stung just a little bit.
If they’d only taken him down a day before. Heck, even an hour before.
Just moments after Brooke kissed her father’s cheek and prepared to marry the man she loved at the wedding she’d poured her heart into, the FBI stormed—yes, stormed—the church.
Clay was in handcuffs before she even registered what was happening.
Numbly she watched as he listened to his Miranda rights at the precise moment he should have been listening to the vows she’d spent months writing.
And as reality slowly sunk in, Brooke waited. Waited for him to look at her. To look at her and say that it was all a lie. All one big misunderstanding, and that they’d be on their way to Bermuda as planned by tomorrow.
He didn’t even apologize.
No, the man she’d loved for two years with every fiber of her being merely smiled at her and then shrugged.
There’d been plenty of photos taken that day, but that was the one that made it onto the front page of every major newspaper on the West Coast.
“The Greatest Con of All.” “Arrested by Love.” And her personal favorite, courtesy of her very own LA Times: “White-Collar Bride.”
The stories all read pretty much like you’d expect. About Clay, mostly, and the litany of accusations against him, but also about Brooke.
The papers had stopped short of defamation, but the implications were there. She was clueless and ditzy at best, a potentially overlooked accomplice at worst. Completely oblivious to the fact that she’d been sharing a roof with the most nefarious white-collar criminal in a generation—or pretending to be.
None of that had bothered her. What had bothered her was that she’d been a fool. Self-absorbed, naive, and downright blind.
Brooke had been dodging dumb-blonde jokes for most of her life, but the debacle with Clay was the first time she thought she might really, truly be deserving of the title.
She hadn’t been surprised when new clients had stopped calling. Hadn’t been surprised when current clients canceled. Nobody wanted to hire that wedding planner.
Brooke had even been relieved, at first. In those first weeks after Clay’s arrest, she hadn’t been able to handle any talk of weddings. Not her own, and not other people’s.
But the worst part of all of this, the part that kept her up long into the lonely nights, wasn’t the negative effect on her career. No, the worst part was that sometimes, in the very darkest corner of her soul, she feared that she might still love Clay, at least a little. Sure, her brain knew that all the things she’d loved about Clay had been a lie. Her brain understood that his name wasn’t even Clay.
But her heart? Her heart was having a harder time forgetting the way he always let her be the little spoon and tuck her cold feet against his warm calves. Or the way he’d brought her coffee in bed every morning. Or the way she’d come home after a long day with the worst sort of bridezilla and Clay would make them cocktails and sit on the deck with her, and watch the sunset and laugh.
She’d imagined that all their nights would be like that. All the nights for the rest of her life, with maybe with a couple of kids thrown into the mix eventually.
There wouldn’t be any more nights on the patio watching the sunset with Clay. Wouldn’t be any patio at all, because Brooke’s real estate broker had made it quite clear that she should be counting herself lucky to get a dishwasher in New York—a patio was out of the question.
So no patio. No Clay, or whatever his real name was.
No man at all, really.
No falling in love.
Not ever again.
“She may be fighting it just as readily as he was, but there was heat between them. A heat that was once against threatening to burn him. To burn both of them.”
I knew this book (and series) was going to be good, and I was right!
Brooke Baldwin is the newest member of The Wedding Belles. They are a successful wedding planning business…and she was needing the new beginning. Seeing as her own happily ever after was ruined by finding out, at the alter, that her husband to be was a con artist, she welcomed the distraction of a busy schedule.
Of course fate had other plans when her first client’s brother charged straight into her life, and mind, and she was reluctant to let him get away.
“A bit of a reverse-Cinderella thing we have going on here.”
“Reverse indeed. Since I’m no prince.”
“You sure about that?”
Seth Tyler’s life had been blindside when his father passed away just eight short months prior, leaving him as the CEO of the family hotel business. With just him and his sister, Maya, by themselves now, he knew he had to step up as the man of the family-the protector. So he was blindsided once again when his little sister announced her engagement to a man she barely knew.
Add all that to the fact that he was also very attracted to his sister’s wedding planner, Seth’s life, as he knew it, would never be the same.
Brooke and Seth’s attraction was off the charts! Lauren is great about taking two characters fighting their feelings and turning it into an epic love story. The buildup was sooooooo good!! I kept wanting to scream, “Just do it already!!” Hehe;)
“I wanted to know what you wanted.”
“I think you know exactly what I wanted, Ms. Baldwin. What I still want. And perhaps more to the point…I think you want it, too.”
Their cat and mouse game was on point! The banter between these two was great. I also LOVED the inner monologues of Seth and Brooke. I can’t tell you how many times a laughed out loud at them.
I also liked being introduced to the rest of the series characters!! They’re all so fun and I can’t wait to read their stories!!
Lauren Layne has done it again with another great series!! These Wedding Belles sure know how to create one amazing love story…even if it’s their own;)
“Take me home, Baldwin.”
“You know, for a rich, savvy guy, you can be a total dork.”
“I like to think it reveals my vulnerable side.”
“Do you have a vulnerable side?”
“I do. Her name is Brooke.”
“You know I’m already going to sleep with you, right? You don’t have to woo me with romance.”
“No? In that case…Take me upstairs so I can f*** you. Hard.”
Lauren lives in New York City with her husband (who was her high school sweetheart--cute, right?!) and plus-sized Pomeranian.
Five years ago, she ditched her corporate career in Seattle to pursue a full-time writing career in Manhattan.
She writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush, and in her ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.
When not bringing The Sexy, she likes to blog about her Instagram addiction, and why mean girls are the worst.