“Lauren Layne writes characters I want to tackle and keep as my best friends, woven into smart, sexy, utterly romantic tales of love.”—Violet Duke
When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.
Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.
Praise for An Ex for Christmas
“Charming, witty, and sexy—An Ex for Christmas was so easy to devour! It had everything you want in a holiday read including a hunky best friend and quite a few tumultuous mistletoe scenes. Honestly, who knew mistletoe could be so hot?!”—R. S. Grey, USA Today bestselling author
Lauren Layne’s New York Times bestselling Oxford Novel series can be read in any order:
I WISH YOU WERE MINE
SOMEONE LIKE YOU
I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE
I THINK I LOVE YOU
Don’t miss any of Lauren Layne’s hot reads:
The Love Unexpectedly series: BLURRED LINES | GOOD GIRL | LOVE STORY | WALK OF SHAME | AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS
The Sex, Love & Stiletto series: AFTER THE KISS | LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH | JUST ONE NIGHT | THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE
The Redemption series: ISN’T SHE LOVELY | BROKEN | CRUSHED
The I Do, I Don’t series: READY TO RUN | RUNAWAY GROOM
This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
“I’m with your mother on this one, Kell,” Dad says. “I don’t like you spending Christmas alone. Doesn’t sit well.”
“I’m not alone,” I say for the 999th time since I surprised them with this trip back in October. “Mark’s parents invited me over for Christmas Eve. Christmas Day I’m going to eat cookies all day in my pajamas. Mark can come, too. If he’s lucky.”
My dad’s in the passenger seat, and reaches over to clamp Mark on the shoulder. “Thanks, son. You know how she gets around the holidays.”
I roll my eyes. “She gets appropriately merry, and will be even more jolly if she knows her parents are having the time of their lives sipping champagne on an enormous boat while whale-watching.”
Mom sighs. “It really is a dream come true. Thank you, sweetie. It must have been so expensive.”
“You two are worth it.”
It was crazy expensive. But they really are worth it. And truth be told, up until yesterday I had been experiencing tiny twinges of melancholy at the thought of waking up on Christmas morning without them.
But courtesy of my new plan, I have high hopes that my Christmas morning will involve naked time with me and the love of my life by the light of the Christmas tree.
I don’t tell my parents that bit. Obviously.
Mark catches my eyes in the rearview mirror as though reading my thoughts, and I give him a finger-wiggle wave.
He looks away, and a few minutes later, we’re at the airport and unloading my parents’ six suitcases at the curb. Yes. Six.
Mom is hugging me over and over, telling me yet again that I can go spend time with Great-Aunt Velda in Charlotte if I get a case of “the lonelies.”
“I’ll be fine,” I soothe, fluffing her gray hair affectionately. “I have Rigby and Mark and half the town to watch over me.”
Mark hauls the last of my parents’ suitcases out of his truck bed.
“All right, Byrnes. You’re all set,” he says.
Mark knows my parents—especially my mom—would fuss over me all day, so after flagging down someone to help with their luggage, which allows time for one more hug, Mark opens the front door of his truck and all but shoves me inside.
He closes the doors, then hugs my mom and does a man-hug thing with my dad, all while I look on and wave enthusiastically.
I continue to wave as he gets behind the wheel and pulls away from the curb. I wave and wave until they’re out of sight, then slump back against the seat with the tiniest of sighs. “I hope they have fun.”
“Can’t you just check your crystal ball and find out?”
I give him a ha ha look, then punish him for his comment by fiddling with the radio until I find the station that plays nothing but Christmas songs in December. Then I add it to his preset radio stations, replacing his favorite rock station. That’ll teach him to mock me.
“So, my ex list,” I begin, rummaging around in his console for the mini candy canes I stashed there last week. He does a double take, obviously not knowing they were there until just now.
I hold one up, offering it to him.
“To the candy, or to listening to me talk about my plan?” I say, peeling the cellophane off a candy cane and sticking the non-hook end in my mouth.
“Both,” he says, turning his attention back to the road.
I honor his wishes. For about thirty seconds.
“The list is kind of depressingly short,” I say.
“I never realized just how pathetic my love life was. Did you?”
Mark checks his mirror and changes lanes. “Can we not?”
“I didn’t include any of my boyfriends before tenth grade. Do you think I should have?”
He snorts. “What, your prepubescent affair with Kyle Cameron wasn’t one for the ages?”
I ignore this. “I also crossed off anyone that was married—”
“—or anyone that was mean.”
Mark looks over sharply. “Who was mean to you?”
I smile at his protectiveness. “Jeff Downing from eleventh grade was kind of a jerk. Called me fat.”
Mark makes a growling noise. “Who else?”
“Elton Drake. Stockbroker I dated a couple years ago. Yelled a lot.”
“Just bark, right? No bite?”
I pat his arm. “Just bark. And I kicked him to the curb.”
He gives a terse nod. “All right. So, who is on the list? How many people we talking?”
“And you’re going to believe a little old lady that one of them is your soulmate, or some shit like that?”
I study his profile. “Why are you so grumpy about this? You have Sheila. Why shouldn’t I have someone, too?”
Mark scratches his cheek. “I’m not saying I don’t want you to be happy. I just think if you were going to be happy with any of those guys, you would have been. You broke up with them for a reason.”
“Well, to be fair, three of the seven broke up with me.”
I smile at his loyalty. “Totally. Which is why I need to figure out a way to show them what they’re missing. Is it true that guys think women in elf costumes are hot?”
He gives me an incredulous look. “What?”
“You know,” I say, gesturing at midthigh. “Striped socks? Short green skirt? Cute little hat?”
He shakes his head. “Times like this, I deserve an award for having a female best friend.”
“It’s not like I asked you to take me shopping for the outfit. I’m just saying if I volunteered to dress up like an elf at the annual Christmas parade, would that be hot?”
“Quit being weird.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“Because it was a ridiculous question. Starbucks?”
I give him a suspicious look. “You think Starbucks is overrated.”
“I also think I can buy my way out of this conversation with a froufrou peppermint whatever.”
“You’re not wrong,” I concede, crunching on my candy cane. “No more elf talk in exchange for a peppermint mocha Frappuccino, extra sprinkles. But . . . I do want your help on how I should approach Jack.”
“But he’s your friend.”
“Which is why I pass,” Mark says, pulling into the Starbucks parking lot. “I don’t want to get into the middle of you two. Again.”
A valid point. Jack Chance and I burned hot and heavy for about eight months in one of those volatile, fight-a-lot relationships that are as exhilarating as they are exhausting. Poor Mark had played mediator more times than I care to admit.
“Just tell me if he’s seeing anyone,” I plead. “One little answer, then I’ll leave you alone.”
In response, Mark climbs out of the truck and slams the door.
“Okay then,” I mutter.
I start to follow Mark into the coffee shop, but at the last minute I pull out my cellphone and send a quick text message. If Jack’s schedule at the sheriff’s office is anything like it used to be, he’ll be up early on weekends but off tonight.
Hey, it’s Kelly. (Just in case he deleted my phone number—like I said, things were messy there toward the end.) You free to catch up? Dinner tonight?
Must be a slow morning at the station, because his response is almost immediate: hey babe long time! dinner sounds good, where when?
I smile in triumph. How about Salt and Cedar, 7 pm?
perfect c u then.
I try not to cringe at the memory of how much his lack of punctuation and proper capitalization made me crazy.
I drop my phone back in my purse and scamper after Mark, to warn him that his two best friends will be dining at his restaurant tonight—together.
Oh, and I need to figure out how to convince him to hang some mistletoe . . .
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Balance of fun, steam and drama while capturing Christmas magic!
This story is the book form of a Hallmark Christmas movie!! And even better b/c there's no bad acting lol! I loved it!
Love all her stuff.
She’s a one-click for me. Just a side note: the main character’s parents are going on a 2 week Alaskan cruise over Christmas... there’s no such thing. ? you can’t cruise to Alaska except May through September, given the freezing weather situation, you know. She could have just changed that one word: Alaskan to Caribbean and she’d be off the hook
Ohhhhh, this was such a swoon worthy book I think I'm right in calling this a Hallmark book... it might not have been the most unique and particular book, but it was the perfect read for a lazy afternoon:) This book for sure filled my heart with happiness and hope, and I often wore a smile while reading it. I loved Kelly, the female character. She might have been a little obtuse, especially regarding her relationship with her BFF, but I forgave her because she was too cute! Like, you for sure knows a person who make you smile and say: ohhh, you're such a cute and kind person, let's be friend! Well, that was Kelly for me:) she was a little goofy, but I loved reading about her attempts to find her true love...:) And for Mark, I felt like he could have tried to make some moves without waiting so long, but ehi, everyone has its own pace! It was so funny to see how he reacted to Kelly's project, the fact that he was always in the middle of her appointments... and when he decided it was time to do something about their relationship, he sure didn't procrastinate! This books really was made me smile at its cuteness, and all the Christmas decorations and activities made me wish it was already Christmas time!!! Read it if you want to spend a cozy afternoon by the fire with a book that will make you feel warm inside❤️ *Living in Our Own Story Blog*
My first book by this author and I loved it. Wanted something lighthearted and I found it. Easy reading and great characters. Being a person that likes to read adventure and crime with some sex thrown in this one has it all including a happily ever after. Nice read.
This is a really good book. I have not read a bad book yet by this author. I look forward to more of her books.
An Ex for Christmas is a fun quick read. I had some good laughs reading this book. I also had a couple of good cries. So read with tissues nearby. The characters were lovable. The plot was good. I will recommend this book to anyone who wants to read it.
This was a fun little Christmas romance! Lauren Layne is one of my go to authors when I am in the mood for a contemporary romance. When I pick up a Lauren Layne romance, I expect to enjoy myself for a few hours with characters that just seem to fit with each other. This was a perfect example of her writing and I had a really nice time reading the story. Kelly and Mark were great. They have been best friends for the past ten years. They live right next to each other sharing a backyard and even a dog. Seriously, they share a dog...I am not sure that it even gets more perfect than sharing a dog. There is one little problem in that Kelly is convinced that her romantic future is with one of her ex-boyfriends after a conversation with a psychic at the train station. So this book was a little bit predictable. I knew that Kelly wasn't going to find her happily ever after with one of her loser ex-boyfriends as soon as Mark entered the story. They were just so perfect together and I thought that they had a really fun way of relating to each other. There was some definite chemistry between them as well. This book was filled with Christmas fun. Kelly goes all out for Christmas and this is the first year that her parents are out of town for the holiday. You will get the full holiday experience with this story with tree decorating, holiday movies, a Christmas parade, and even a bit of snow. I loved the small town holiday setting and thought it added a bit of romance to the story. I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. I thought that this was a well done friends to lovers story with a whole lot of holiday spirit. I can't wait to read more from Lauren Layne very soon. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept via NetGalley.
A fabulous kick-off to my holiday reading. I'll admit, this review might be slightly biased because Lauren Layne is close to joining my auto-buy list. For those who love holiday stories, I definitely recommend. The heroine, Kelly, is a superstitious woman who owns a Magic 8 ball to help influence every big and little decision. A psychic moment with a mysterious old woman points her in the direction of finding true love with someone she's already met. Kelly, therefore, works to use her Christmas vacation connecting with all of her ex-boyfriends, searching for Mr. SoulMate. Too bad she's looking for love in all the wrong places. This is a first-person romance, again not my favorite POV, but perfect for this story. Kelly is hilarious bumbling through trying to see which of her Ex's is "the one". Along for the ride is her best friend, Mark, and the dog they co-parent, Rigby. Not too mention plenty of hijinks with mistletoe, snow, and a parade float with elves and Santa. A quick, enjoyable Christmas read with friends to lovers trope.
Rating: 3.5 Stars Kelly Byrne talks directly to the reader. She’s someone who doesn’t seem to believe in fate. Even though she tells us otherwise. Mark Blakely has a steamroller of a friend. He certainly won’t know what hit him. This is certainly a quirky tale. I can understand a man and woman being friends but with these two I just can’t see them being more than that. Her attitude at times just seemed a little ditzy to me. I love reading this author’s work but this was one that I just couldn’t connect with. She did get me to laugh and smile and how Kelly went about finding “the one” but it wasn’t enough for me to find a connection with her. I thought Mark was too good for her and she just seemed blind as to what was right in front of her. Friends first are stories that I love to read but I just couldn’t feel it as they became more. But being a light-hearted read was nice. So by the end I was on the fence about this one. I think this is one of those cases where I just need to read the book again – maybe as it gets closer to Christmas will help. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Lauren Layne is one of my favorite authors. Going into her books, I know she is going to introduce me to a couple with whom I want to be friends - people I wish I knew in real life. And now she combines that with a frisky Christmas friends-to-lovers romance that will have you looking for mistletoe everywhere you go. A resolute believer in signs, Kelly conducts her life based in no small part on what her myriad of Magic 8 balls tells her to do. When a woman at a subway station tells her that she will find her true love before Christmas and that he's someone from her past, Kelly immediately assumes the dude is an ex. As she heads home, she writes up a list of those exes, determined to track down her true love. The first guy she runs into is her lifetime best friend Mark. It's clear that there is more to the two of them than just friends, even if Kelly can't see that. Layren Layne shows you from the start that Kelly need no look further than her back yard, but that's not the kind of girl Kelly is. She is someone who needs to learn from her mistakes, even if she breaks your heart while doing so. Since this is a Lauren Layne romance, you can expect some deliciously hot sexy times. And since it's also a holiday romance, you can expect Christmas charm wherever you go. I loved watching Kelly slowly realize what she has overlooked, and I absolutely loved how Mark tried to show her the truth. My only wish is that he'd been a little bit more developed. There just wasn't enough Mark, which isn't a complain so much as a compliment. He's a great guy. An Ex for Christmas is a fast-paced, fun, holiday romance that will warm you up - in more ways than one.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book OMG this is my first time reading Lauren Layne and IT WILL NOT be my last I LOVED this book, Not only was Kelly adorable, she was quirky she believed in fate, tarot cards, the magic eight ball. When a lady in the subway told her that she would find her true love and that it was 'someone she already knew" Kelly immediately starting thinking it was an ex boyfriend. Mark who has been her best friend for 10 years, ever since the day he started high school and Kelly was the one to show him around etc. Mark is stoic, he does not believe in any of the "crap" Kelly does and he is ALWAYS there for her. This book had me laughing many times (I LOVED the ex list and the notes on each man) When Mark and Kelly FINALLY gave into what they were feeling for each other OMG so so wonderful But Kelly was still being pigheaded about what the "physic" told her. She ALMOST missed out on her TRUE LOVE. OH and that it is a Christmas story just made it even better for me! I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this book~
SWEET ROMCOM BFF TO LOVERS ROMANCE ---- Elementary school teacher Kelly Byrne loves Christmas and is very superstitious. When this mysterious woman tells her she's already met The One and will be with him come Christmas, this sends Kelly into a tizzy and she immediately spends the next two weeks before Christmas tracking her unmarried exes and checking into those old feels for her old unmarried exes to see if they have been naughty, nice, and , for her---The One. During those two weeks, she ends up crossing off those exes after she reunites with them and finds during this time she is becoming super attracted to her very best friend , a man she never thought she would have those type of feelings for. Mark Blakely is more than just her BFF- he is her neighbor and one awesome chef. Mark takes this time while Kelly is trying to figure out who her ONE is, to prove to her that he ultimately is her one and make her see that he has always been there and has been in love with her pretty much forever. The story has its ups and downs and we see Kelly not so focused on herself finally toward the end of the story when she realizes that Mark is her True One and she takes a leap of faith and hopes she can prove she is in love with him and that she does want him in her life forever. It took Kelly getting out of the friend role and seeing Mark in the boyfriend / forever mate role to make her see he is the one for her. But there were some twists in the story and Mark was walking away after Kelly , it seemed, took his love for granted and didn’t open her heart to him. Will Kelly be able to win Mark back? Or is this the end of Kelly and Mark? I liked this sweet Best friends to lovers story. It was, at times, slow but overall had a sweet story and message. I did like the ending and felt Mark was the perfect book boyfriend. My Rating: 4.5 stars ***** “I received an advanced copy of this book from the author at no cost to me."
Lovable, happy-go-lucky Kelly was as nutty as pecan pie and just as sweet. No, she wasn’t certifiable, but her dependence on Magic 8 balls, tarot cards, and other psychic what-nots would be questionable by some, probably most. But this doesn’t stop her best friend of 10 years, Mark, from loving her anyway. The problem? She thinks one of her ex-boyfriends is The One because of a comment made by a stranger, and she sets out to make her love match her Christmas present. Mark knows he’s The One for Kelly because she’s the only one for him. They know each other better than they know themselves, and their no-nonsense friendship keeps their worlds right. Mark has most emphatically been added to my book boyfriend harem. I totally adore him and his sometimes grumpy, yet sexy, ways. I liked how he dealt with Kelly, he let her be herself, without having to pretend with her. Kelly is without a doubt a girl’s night out contender, but her refusal to rely on her own heart and mind exasperated me after a while. I still rooted for her, but I did huff and puff and roll my eyes a time or two. I couldn’t help it. Perhaps I was crushing on Mark, or perhaps she went overboard with her superstitions to the point of exhaustion. Doesn’t matter the reason, I huffed and rolled. But… I still loved her. I loved the writing – I laughed out loud a time or 50, and Hallmark Christmas movies? Golden!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne for the purpose of an honest review. An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne is a fast and fun read! I love the two main characters, the fact that they are best friends, and how their strengths and weaknesses are so intimately known by the other! It just so happens that I was blessed to marry my very own best friend, so this is a story just made for a romantic like me! Ms. Layne is a master of the romantic plot and An Ex for Christmas doesn’t disappoint! Even though I knew fairly early in the book how I wanted it to end, getting there was so much fun! The shenanigans, and Magic 8 Ball, are in full sight from the beginning to the end. The parade of exes is so pathetic that it reminds me of the saying “You can never go back again!” I absolutely recommend you get An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne, curl up with a hot cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy this wonderfully written Christmas story! I give An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne five steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee and I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! ©November 14, 2017 Patricia, Room With Books
I absolutely LOVED reading this story!! Kelly is a single girl in NYC and getting ready to head home for her favorite holiday, Christmas. Kelly is UBER superstitious and when she runs into an older woman who tells her that she has already met her forever and she will again before Christmas. So of course, Kelly has to make a list of all her exes so she can run into "the one" again. Mark has been Kelly's BFF forever. They've been super close and even help each other out. But Mark is not looking forward to Kelly's half-baked plan to get back in touch with all her exes that broke her heart. Especially when things seem to be a little sensitive between them. A great read! Lauren Layne has been one of my favorite authors for a long time. I love everything she writes and will definitely buy once I see she has a new book out.
An Ex for Christmas is a fun and adorable Christmas story. I really liked Kelly. She's funny, quirky, and drives her best friend crazy. I enjoyed the premise of her going through her list of ex's to find out if he's "The One." Though, I can see why most of them were duds to begin with. And Mark...swoon. He's an amazing best friend. I loved how he tried to throw a wrench in her plans with the ex list. You can tell how much he's always cared for her. But what I loved most is how comfortable they are around each other. And, of course, their shared ownership of the dog. That cracked me up. If you're looking for a fun and quick holiday read, this is one you should definitely pick up. It has humor, awkwardness, and it's a good time all the way around.
see my review here https://wordpress.com/post/alittleofallblog.wordpress.com/2163
A classic holiday romance style which fell flat for me. Kelly Byrne is the sort of superstitious woman who reads her horoscope, consults a Magic 8 ball before every decision and believes in fortune tellers. When a mysterious woman tells her that she's already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas - so she starts a campaign to contact all of her ex-boyfriends. Kelly lives and works in New York but also has a place in upstate New York where she spends weekends, her best friend since they were children, Mark Blakely is a local chef and has the house next door, in fact they share custody of a dog. What is blatantly clear to everyone except Kelly is that Mark is in love with Kelly and has been for years. This is my first and major problem with the book. I didn't like Kelly. I found her to be irritating, self-absorbed, selfish and (frankly) stupid for not realising how Mark felt. My dislike of the heroine coloured my feelings towards the entire book. Then towards the end, when Kelly and Mark make their feelings known, Mark did something which was almost a carbon copy of what (I think) Logan did in To Love and to Cherish, after waiting patiently for years, never telling Kelly how he felt, waiting for her to get on the same page, he can not literally wait 24 hours for her to confirm what her feelings are. No matter that he's had years to think about how he feels and to know that she is the one for him, no matter that he has NEVER said a word to her about his feelings, she has to be all-in or he walks away. Grrrh. So, I am officially over Christmas stories and its only 14 November! They are too sweet, too cutesy, too predictable. I'm off to read something brutal and gory.
Very cute friends to lovers story. I kind of figured out Mark loved Kelly from the start, but it sure took her awhile to figure it out!
I have been reading this author's books since her first release, out of them all...and there's some pretty awesome ones...An Ex for Christmas has become my favorite. It's difficult to say why succinctly, only that through her writing, Mark and Kelly came alive on the pages. Their joys, their sorrows, the laughter, and the heartbreak all became tangible, creating a bond with this reader that'll not easily be broken, even long after the book has been completed. Mark and Kelly's story is filled with lively, clever and witty banter...one of the author's trademarks...while at the same time, the dialog is fast paced, smart and emotion evoking. The couple didn't just suddenly find their HEA, it had been growing over tens years, recognized exactly when it needed to be, when Kelly was receptive to its gift. I have found Ms Layne to be masterful in creating emotions in her readers...this was done in spades in An Ex for Christmas. This ARC book was complimentary, provided by the Publisher and NetGalley. I am voluntarily providing my honest review.
Are you a sucker for all things Christmas, especially the sweet, funny, romantic movies? Or maybe you’re as addicted to friends-to-lovers stories as much as I am? If so, this is THE PERFECT Christmas story for you! It had everything I love most about that time of year, as well as the passionate, confusingly conflicted feelings that only a best friend can provoke. This is definitely a book I'll read again! I absolutely adored Kelly and Mark. Having the single point of view left a little mystery to their journey. And since I hadn't read the synopsis again before reading their story, I forgot that Mark was her destiny. It was easy to get wrapped up in the possibilities that each ex might bring, but I was slowly falling in love with everything Mark and Kelly along the way. Their story, while not completely original, was well-written, exciting, heart-breaking, and passionate. The tension was palpable and their chemistry was off the charts! All the little moments leading up to Mark and Kelly's first kiss had me on the edge of my seat, begging them to just go with what they were feeling. Lauren, I'm so glad you finally had the opportunity to write your Christmas story after all this time. I would love to see more of this pair down the road. Maybe as secondary characters in a book for Erika? ;) I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Readers Copy of this book.