I have been on a binge. It’s not the type of binge where you eat all the candy and chips in the house – although that would be really fun. I have found a new author that makes me want to stay up all night, ignore my household and work just to read the words she has written on the page.
Her name is Lauren Layne and I found her books through Netgalley. I reviewed the first in the Oxford Series, Irresistibly Yours, and found it great! So, I went online and looked up the rest of the books in the series and I was captivated. The Oxford Series is an offshoot of the Stilettos series that features young 20 somethings in New York City. These gals work for the woman’s magazine Stilettos and they are the love, dating and sex columnists that rule the city. The series follows their lives and the men at the brother magazine, Oxford.
This series has it all. At times it feels like reading a romantic version of the Devil Wears Prada. Some Sex and the City love thrown in for good measure. The angsty romantic pains of the Crossfire series captures the emotions, although the sex is not as graphic and overwhelming. But what is never in question is the strength of these women. Sure, they have moments of crisis and weakness, but they are strong. They all have amazing and dynamic careers and don’t have to compromise on their intelligence (love this!!)
Each book features a different couple. At first I was worried that it would be like reading about the same women and men, just different contexts. Boy, those fears were quickly put to rest. Lauren Layne is truly gifted at creating dynamic characters that live and breathe the personalities she gives them. The characters are not one dimensional at all. I found myself loving Southern Belle Emma, smirking along with Hugh Jackman lookalike Jake and rooting for sexy Riley. Sometimes authors bring characters back from previous novels just to keep them in the story line or keep it fresh, but with these books, it never felt that way. All of the characters are friends and their involvement in each other’s lives was realistic and necessary.
I have recently written a lot about setting. What a great place to have as your backdrop – New York City. From the hustle and bustle of downtown, to the trendy Tribeca area to beautiful Central Park, each neighbourhood in New York plays a special part in each love story. The author has done her research well and has the ability to make Yankee stadium seem like the best place to fall in love.
What I loved the most about these books was how I felt as a reader. I felt all the emotions you feel when zinged by flirting, relieved at returned love and betrayed at denial. My emotions were fully invested in these characters and their stories. I wanted to know everything about their stories and how they came to fall in love. The author doesn’t make the men the scapegoats either. She doesn’t make them horrible men who treat women badly. They hurt as much as the women and love even harder. She makes the characters so compelling that you hold your breath until you know what happens.
So if you love the slow, practiced wink from a flirt and women who encourage and support each other than you will be very satisfied with this series. This is one author who I definitely plan on adding to my must be read pile! And you should too!
After the Kiss Book 1
Julie Greene loves flings. Loves steamy first dates, sizzling first kisses, and every now and then, that first sexy romp between the sheets. Comfy pants, sleepy Sundays, movie nights on the couch? Shudder. But when Julie gets assigned the hardest story of her career—a first-person account of that magical shift between dating and “I do”—she’ll need a man brave enough to give a total commitment-phobe a chance at more.
Normally, Mitchell Forbes would be exactly that man. A devastatingly hot workaholic who tends to stay in relationships for far too long, he should be the perfect subject for Julie’s “research.” But what Julie doesn’t know is that Mitchell is looking to cut loose for once in his life. And the leggy journalist notorious for avoiding love is exactly the type of no-strings fling he’s looking for. In other words, Mitchell is the polar opposite of what Julie needs right now. And, at the same time, he’s exactly what she wants.
Love the One You’re With Book 2
As a leading columnist for Stiletto, Grace Brighton has built a career warning women about rotten, cheating liars. She just never suspected her fiancé would be one of them. After Grace takes a heart-mending hiatus, her first assignment is to go on a couple of dates with a counterpart from the men’s magazine Oxford and report her impressions. Grace 1.0 may have been instantly smitten with the gorgeous correspondent, but Grace 2.0 has sworn off relationships for six months, and she’s not falling for his outstanding bod and trophy-winning kisses . . . or is she?
Jake Malone wants to get back to the fly-by-night, who-knows-what’s-next guy he used to be, and he knows exactly how to do it. Oxford is adding a travel section, and Jake—with no wife and no kids and a willingness to live anywhere, eat anything, do everything—is perfect for the job . . . except that his playboy reputation makes his new editor nervous. To get the gig, he must agree to a fluffy joint article with Stiletto. But after just one date with snooty, sumptuous, sensational Grace Brighton, Jake starts taking this assignment a whole lot more seriously.
Just One Night Book 3
Riley McKenna knows sex—good sex, bad sex, kinky sex. Her articles in Stiletto magazine are the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But when Stiletto’s fiftieth anniversary issue requires her column to get a lot more personal, Riley is forced to confront a long-hidden secret: Her own sexual experience is limited to one awkward college encounter. Now Riley is about to call in the favor of a lifetime from the one man who’s always held her heart.
Sam Compton knows two things about Riley McKenna: She’s the only woman for him. But as his best friend’s little sister, she’s also completely off-limits. Sam shouldn’t even consider her proposition: to have a one-night stand in the name of research. But the thought of another man putting his hands on Riley is more than Sam can handle, and soon he’s agreeing to one night with New York’s resident sexpot. But Riley’s full of surprises, and what starts as “one time only” soon becomes “just one more time.” And then one more. And before they know it, Riley and Sam learn firsthand that when it comes to love, there’s no such thing as just one night.
The Trouble With Love Book 4
As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.
After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.
Irresistibly Yours Book 1 Oxford Series
Hotshot sports editor Cole Sharpe has been freelancing for Oxford for years, so when he hears about a staff position opening up, he figures he’s got the inside track. Then his boss drops a bombshell: Cole has competition. Female competition, in the form of a fresh-faced tomboy who can hang with the dudes—and write circles around them, too. Cole usually likes his women flirty and curvy, but he takes a special interest in his skinny, sassy rival, if only to keep an eye on her. And soon, he can’t take his eyes off her.
Penelope Pope knows all too well that she comes off as just one of the guys. Since she’s learned that wanting more usually leads to disappointment, Penelope’s resigned to sitting on the sidelines when it comes to love. So why does Cole make her want to get back in the game? The man is as arrogant as he is handsome. He probably sees her as nothing more than a barrier to his dream job. But when an unexpected kiss turns into a night of irresistible passion, Penelope has to figure out whether they’re just fooling around—or starting something real.
Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to multiple books including the bestselling Stiletto series, with more sexy stories on the way!
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.