A Goodreads Best Romance
“Fans of The Devil Wears Prada will flip over Love on Lexington Avenue.” —Karen Hawkins, New York Times bestselling author
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes the second delightfully charming installment in the Central Park Pact series, following a young widow whose newfound cynicism about love is challenged by a sexy, rough-around-the-edges contractor.
There are no good men left in New York City. At least that’s Claire Hayes’s conviction after finding out her late husband was not the man she thought he was. Determined to rid her home of anything that reminds her of her cheating husband, Claire sets out to redesign her boring, beige Upper East Side brownstone and make it something all her own. But what starts out as a simple renovation becomes a lot more complicated when she meets her bad-tempered contractor Scott Turner.
Scott bluntly makes it known to Claire that he only took on her house for a change of pace from the corporate offices and swanky hotels he’s been building lately, and he doesn’t hesitate to add that he has no patience for a pampered, damaged princess with a penchant for pink. But when long workdays turn into even longer nights, their mutual wariness morphs into something more complicated—a grudging respect, and maybe even attraction...
Filled with laugh-out-loud scenes that blend perfectly with the touching friendships Layne brings to life on the page, this “hugely entertaining” (USA TODAY) novel is perfect for fans of Lauren Weisberger.
About the Author
Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than two dozen romantic comedies. Her books have sold over a million copies in nine languages. Lauren’s work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, The Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
Love on Lexington Avenue
ONE YEAR LATER
TUESDAY, AUGUST 6
It all started with a cupcake.
Well, the cupcake and the cards.
Claire Hayes stared down at the lone cupcake, with its single pathetic candle and wondered why she’d bothered. Some things didn’t need acknowledgment, much less celebration. And as far as Claire was concerned, thirty-fifth birthdays were one of them.
Particularly the thirty-fifth birthday of a widow who was woefully short on optimism, whose metabolism was getting increasingly lazy, and who was celebrating said birthday alone.
At least the alone part had been her choice.
Claire’s parents had offered to come back from their retirement home in Florida to take her out to dinner, but she’d nixed that. She loved Helen and George Burchett to pieces, but the last thing Claire needed right now was her dad’s constant muttering.
I swear, Princess, if Brayden hadn’t been such an idiot as to fall off that boat, I’d kill him myself.
Nor her mother’s well-meaning but exhaustive concern over the state of Claire’s reproductive organs. Did I tell you that Annmarie’s daughter froze her eggs? She thought it was prudent, and she’s only thirty-two . . .
So, no. Claire’s parents had not been what she’d needed on this particular birthday. And though she felt guilty admitting it, she hadn’t been up for seeing any of her friends, either. Partially, because friends—the real kind—were hard to come by these days. Her once thriving social circle had all but dried up after Brayden’s death.
Some of that was on them. They’d apparently decided a widow at a cocktail party was a downer, and the invitations had stopped rolling in just as abruptly as the sympathy flowers.
But a little of her current isolation from her old social group was on Claire.
Even the well-intentioned friends, the ones who cared more about her than the gossip, hadn’t understood. Not what it was like to lose a spouse so young, and certainly not what it was like to lose a spouse who’d turned out to be downright odious.
But there were two people who got it. Two friends who understood her in a way Claire’s old social set never could. In fact, Naomi Powell and Audrey Tate had been the only people with whom Claire would have considered ringing in thirty-five.
They’d have been here in a heartbeat, and her husband’s girlfriend and mistress, more than anyone, would have understood the melancholy tone of this particular “celebration.”
And yet, some nagging part of Claire wondered if they would truly all-the-way understand.
Naomi Powell may not have known that Brayden was married any more than Claire had known that Brayden was cheating, but that didn’t change the fact Naomi had been the hot, adventurous mistress. The Jessica Rabbit type of seductress that men were drawn to when they weren’t satisfied at home. Men like Brayden, apparently.
Audrey might have understood a little more. Naomi had thought of Brayden as a fling, but Audrey Tate had loved Brayden, had confessed to Claire that she’d hoped—even assumed—she’d marry him some day, unknowing that the title of Brayden Hayes’s wife was already in use. The sheer pain of the betrayal, Audrey understood.
It was the way Audrey and Claire had emerged from Brayden’s betrayal where they were different. Audrey, with all the hopeful optimism of a woman in her twenties, was still convinced that Prince Charming was out there.
Claire? Not so much. Sometimes a toad was just a toad, no matter how properly he was kissed.
Her lone birthday candle now dripping green wax all over vanilla frosting, Claire blew it out with an irritable puff and turned to the other harbinger of her birthday blues:
The stack of birthday cards.
She’d thought the smattering of text messages and emails that had been trickling in all day had been depressing enough. Most of them had simply said Happy Birthday, resulting in balloons exploding all over her iPhone. Others had contained a chipper Happy BDay, Girl! from women she hadn’t heard from since her last birthday.
But these—the cards that had been appearing in her mailbox for a few days now—they felt like they were from a different lifetime. Claire hadn’t even realized people under the age of sixty still sent paper cards, but alongside the expected cards from some distant relatives, there were plenty of cards from people Claire’s age.
They were well-intentioned, she knew that. They were meant to let her know someone was thinking of her, but part of her, the new bitter, jaded part that had emerged since Brayden’s death, couldn’t help but wonder . . .
Had these so-called friends sent paper cards because they were a one-way communication? As a way of acknowledging her birthday without having to interact with all of her tainted, depressing widowness?
They were all expensive, as was the way of the Upper East Side elite. Glitter and rich, heavy card stock abounded. Personalized heartfelt messages did not.
Cheers to another year, Claire.
Best wishes, Claire!
Enjoy your big day!
She swallowed, fighting a wave of despondence at the realization that these generic birthday messages were the grownup version of “Have a great summer!” scrawled in a high school yearbook.
When had she become that woman nobody thought about until her birthday popped up on their calendar? Oh yeah, her. Poor thing. Better send a card . . .
Claire shoved away the cards and resumed glaring at the cupcake. She plucked the candle out of it and sucked the frosting end.
So. This is thirty-five.
Claire’s only consolation was that thirty-five couldn’t possibly be worse than thirty-four. A year ago, she’d still been dealing with the aftermath of planning her husband’s funeral. Not great. The fact that she hadn’t attended the funeral she’d planned? Worse. Much worse.
Claire had made it as far as the top of the steps of the church. Even as her brain had dictated she play the role of grieving widow, her heart had commanded something else:
Screw Brayden, and the mockery he’d made of her marriage.
And so she’d run. Figuratively. More accurately, she’d teetered as fast as her stilettos would carry her. And so, while family and friends had gathered to say farewell to Brayden, Claire had been sitting on a bench in Central Park.
Ironically, it had been that day, in that spot, as she’d sat both hating and missing Brayden, that she’d met Audrey and Naomi. It had been there that the three women had made a pact not to fall for another man like Brayden.
But what Claire hadn’t said that day—what she still hadn’t told them—was that she had no intention of falling for another man. Period. She’d done the big white wedding. She’d promised to love and cherish. And damn it, she’d honored those vows. No one had told her that it would be one-sided. Nobody told her that lurking beneath the veneer of a relationship, hiding under the label of “love,” was a whole steaming pile of crap.
Did that make her bitter? Ab.So.Lutely.
And she was just fine with bitter.
Claire swiped her finger along the side of the cupcake, scooping up some of the frosting that the wax hadn’t gotten to. The familiar flavor of vanilla rolled over her tongue. She scowled. Of course it was vanilla. It had long been her favorite flavor. Of cake, ice cream, coffee.
Vanilla frosting, vanilla cupcake . . .
She narrowed her eyes at the cupcake, irrationally angry at the baked good for not being exciting. She could have gone with Naomi’s favorite: red velvet with cream cheese frosting, flecked with spicy little flecks of cinnamon. Or Audrey’s: double-chocolate everything, all the time, the richer, the better.
Claire gave a rueful smile when she realized that the trio’s respective favorite cupcakes paralleled their looks. Naomi’s red velvet matched her vibrant red hair. Audrey’s chocolate fetish perfectly matched her silky dark hair.
And Claire . . . vanilla.
She lifted a hand to her shoulder-length blond hair. Not platinum; not really gold, either; just a flat, WASP-pale yellow. Shoving the plate aside in annoyance, Claire stood, and desperate for something to distract her, she went to the kitchen counter, determined to lose herself in her latest obsession:
Her house renovation.
For three years, Claire had been itching to overhaul her New York City home. Location-wise, she was living the dream. A three-bedroom brownstone on Seventy-Third and Lexington Avenue was about as elite a Manhattan address as you could get. She and Brayden had inherited the property from Brayden’s grandmother.
The problem was, it looked like Brayden’s grandmother still lived here.
And while Claire and Brayden never truly felt the pinch of money pains, they hadn’t had an unlimited bank account in the way of a lot of their peers. Brayden had been more preoccupied with looking like they had money than actually having it. Most of his salary had gone to extravagant gifts, designer labels, expensive dinners at the trendiest restaurants, whatever it took to play the part of upper-crust New York.
He’d encouraged Claire to do the same; to buy the Givenchy and Chanel, to sip the most expensive champagne when out with her friends, but never to invite those same friends back home.
Brayden’s income had been generous by most people’s standards, but they weren’t rich rich. Not enough to live the high life when out and about, and have money to put back into their house.
As a result, Claire’s home looked old. Not in the distinguished Vanderbilt way, but in the tired way, I wonder if there’s a lava lamp upstairs sort of way. There wasn’t. But Claire was betting the carpet was the same as when lava lamps had been in vogue.
It was the kitchen she hated most. Small and cramped, more of a hallway than an actual room, with awful beige laminate cabinets, a Formica counter, and a stove far older than Claire. The rest of the house wasn’t quite as bad, but it needed some work. For starters, Claire would like to have words with whoever had decided to put dark yellow carpet throughout the entire downstairs. And she was pretty sure whoever had picked the dark red- and-green floral wallpaper had been color-blind, if not all the way blind.
The woodwork was too dark and the outdated furniture too light, resulting in a mismatch of styles. The modern white sofa that belonged in a trendy Swedish nightclub was horribly out of place in a room that looked like it should be in a Gothic horror movie.
But not anymore, Claire thought, as she began shifting through her pile of paint swatches, tiles, and wood samples. After months of planning and allocating funds from Brayden’s life insurance, tomorrow kicked off her official plunge into renovation.
Even though she knew her home would be a work zone for several months, she welcomed it. She couldn’t wait for hammering and drilling and muttered swearing. Sure, it was turmoil, but Claire needed it. Craved it.
And yet . . .
She narrowed her eyes at the samples she’d chosen for the kitchen. Cherrywood cabinets and floor to match. Contrasting white granite countertops. Stainless-steel sink. A muted eggshell paint color for the walls. Just a couple of days ago, Claire had been thrilled with the choices. They’d seemed timeless. Elegant without being stuffy. Modern without being trendy.
But now, through the lens of that damn cupcake, all she could see was . . . vanilla. Every single sample, every color, every texture was precisely what was expected.
Slowly, Claire began shuffling through her color selections and textile samples for the other rooms of the house. Her motions became increasingly more frantic as her brain registered what her eyes were seeing.
White. Off-white. Soft white. Snow white. Simply white. Ultra white. Warm white. Paper white. Cream. Beige. Eggshell. Ecru. Cream. Ivory. Oatmeal. Powder. Coconut. Snow. Bone. Linen. Lace. Porcelain. Dove.
For the love of God, one was actually called vanilla.
The worst part wasn’t the blandness, though that wasn’t great. The worst part was the gut-level knowledge that this pile of blah was exactly what everyone expected of her. It’s what she expected of herself.
Claire had always thought of herself as steady. Had prided herself in her reliability, but what if there was a dark underbelly to that constancy.
What if instead she’d fallen into a pit of boring? And worse? What if she didn’t have the foggiest clue how to climb back out again?
Panicked now, Claire snatched her cell phone off the counter.
“Claire?” Audrey’s voice sounded puzzled when she picked up. “Are you okay?”
Translation: Why are you calling instead of texting like usual?
Claire took a deep breath. “I bought a cupcake today. Guess what flavor it is?”
“Oh, it’s a cupcake emergency,” Audrey said with such understanding that Claire knew she’d called the right person. Naomi would have rolled with the direction of the conversation, too, but Claire knew that Naomi’s nights were spent cuddled up with her sexy boyfriend, and cupcake phone calls might be slightly less welcome.
“Hmm, okay, you bought it for yourself?” Audrey was musing. “Then it’s definitely vanilla.”
Claire’s heart sank. “Yeah. Yeah, it’s a vanilla cupcake.”
“I’m confused,” Audrey said slowly. “I feel like I both passed and failed a quiz at the same time.”
“No, it’s not you,” Claire said rubbing her forehead. “Out of curiosity, what is the zaniest cupcake flavor you can think of?”
“Well . . . Magnolia has this absolutely decadent flourless chocolate cupcake that’s—”
“Not chocolate,” Claire interrupted. “I mean, it can have chocolate in it. But I don’t want the standard flavors. I’m talking about a cupcake that breaks all the rules.”
“Do cupcakes even have rules? Are you at a bakery having a decision crisis, or is something else going on here?”
Though she didn’t blame her friend for the confusion. Claire wasn’t the type of person to call at nine at night with a dessert-related emergency.
For that matter, Claire wasn’t the type to have any emergency. She was a problem solver. She was the one other people called when they needed help, advice, or just a listening ear. The friend who could tell you how to get red wine out of silk or who would gently but firmly tell you that no, a bob wouldn’t really suit your face shape.
In her marriage, she’d been the rock, the one who’d made Brayden a drink at the end of the day and then patiently listened as he unloaded about his brainless coworkers, his small-minded boss, the barista who’d gotten his order wrong.
The roles had rarely reversed, and Claire had never minded—or even noticed, really. Not until Brayden had died. Not until, on the heels of that death, Claire had learned that the stable foundation upon which she’d built her entire life hadn’t been nearly as steady as she’d imagined.
Because Brayden hadn’t just died. He’d left the world naked and drunk and falling off a boat while a twenty-year-old college student waited for him on the dock so they could do exactly what it was that cheating men and carefree twenty-something girls did together.
His autopsy had revealed that he’d hit his head and was unconscious when he went into the water, unaware that he was drowning. Unaware that his quietly dedicated wife once again would be tasked with cleaning up the mess and picking up the pieces.
And she had. She’d gone through all the stages of grief. She’d shed her tears, vented her anger, talked through her confusion.
She’d put her life back together, damn it.
So why did she feel so flat?
“Claire?” Audrey said tentatively.
Claire’s attention snapped back to her friend. “It’s my birthday today.”
“What?” Audrey’s voice was borderline outraged. “How could you not—”
“I wanted to celebrate alone,” Claire said quickly. At least she’d thought she had. “It’s just that . . . well, I was sitting here, feeling a little sorry for myself, and thinking about how eight new wrinkles popped up last night. And I was looking down at this little plain vanilla cupcake. And the thing is, Audrey, I picked that flavor. I went to the bakery with the intention of buying myself a birthday treat, and out of all the options, that’s what I selected. I think it’s the only one I saw. And now, I don’t know. I’m just wondering . . . am I boring, Audrey?”
Am I boring, and is that why Brayden went to find someone not boring? Someone like you?
She didn’t say it out loud, but she suspected Audrey heard the unspoken words, because her friend was quiet for a long time.
“Strawberry lemonade,” Audrey said.
“Molly’s Cupcakes on Bleeker. They’ve got a bunch of fun flavors, but I was there last week, and strawberry lemonade is one of their summer features. It’s not wild. It’s a traditional flavor pairing, but it’s unexpected for cupcakes and it totally works. It’s sweet and tart and it sticks with you. It’s memorable.”
“Strawberry lemonade,” Claire said thoughtfully. “I like strawberries. And lemonade.”
“See! You’re not boring! You’re strawberry lemonade! Do you want to head down there right now? I can come over, we’ll grab a cab . . .”
Claire laughed. “I love the enthusiasm, but I think my days of going down to the Village on a Tuesday night are behind me. Especially considering I have a contractor coming by at seven tomorrow morning to give me a quote for the renovation.”
Audrey let out a tiny sigh of resignation. “Yeah, okay. This weekend maybe?”
Ordinarily, Claire would have nodded in agreement, relieved that her friend didn’t push. But hearing the complete lack of surprise in Audrey’s voice at Claire’s refusal affirmed Claire’s worst fears.
She wasn’t just boring. She was predictably boring.
Claire’s gaze flitted over the pile of generic birthday cards. The pale, lonely cupcake. The pile of uninspired swatches and neutral samples that indicated even her house renovation, a process that by its very nature signaled change, would somehow end up . . . the same. Her house would be more modern, yes, but if she stayed the course of white and off-white, it would be what everyone expected of her. Vanilla.
An urge washed over Claire, strong and unfamiliar, and as a lifelong rule follower, it took her a moment to register what she was feeling: rebellion.
She wanted to surprise people. She wanted to surprise herself.
“Actually, Aud?” She told her friend. “About that cupcake date. Let’s do it.”
“Now?” Audrey asked in surprise.
“I’ll be at your place in twenty. We can share a cab.”
“Yes! You’re sure though?”
“Absolutely,” Claire said. “I’ll see you in a few.”
Claire started to head toward the stairs to change her clothes but backtracked to the kitchen.
And tossed the vanilla cupcake in the trash.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Claire is the widow, wife to the philandering husband Brayden, who left her with more emotional baggage than junk in the spare room. Fortunately, her horrible discovery also came with a bonus in the shape of Aubrey and Naomi – both of whom were also ‘dating’ Brayden. None of them saw his deception or duplicity, and the three have made a pact to ‘screen’ all potential men to save their new besties the heartbreak. With Naomi finding her love first, and Aubrey still living in the ‘happily ever after, meet your soulmate’ cloud while not really extending herself, it is Claire who has decided to redecorate her brownstone, and take more chances with her life. In all respects. Enter Scott – best friend of Oliver (Naomi’s love interest) and a well-known contractor in his own right. Although Scott is one of those men who never stays in one place for long, he’s instantly seeing just HOW Claire’s house can be improved, even if he finds Claire attractive if a bit frigid. What he can’t (and won’t ) do is make a play for Claire. Female company is nothing he’s hurting for – it’s more keeping them at one night, or no attachments that creates his problems. And Claire, friend of his best friend’s girl and all buttoned up is not a girl one plays with. Sure, she’s saying she wants to ‘experience’ life, but she’s not really cut out for it. Just look at the way she’s taken to his dog, and his dog to her – and how she seems to delight in teasing him….. Oh this was fun – I love the friendship between the three women, the honest responses and Claire’s struggle with the simple loneliness and aimlessness of her life. As a wife, she had charities and shopping, with ready made friends. But as a widow, everything seems forced with the few friends who ‘try’ to stay in touch, and only Naomi and Aubrey seem to ‘ger’ her struggles and the grief that morphs from anger to hopeless. That and she’s tired of ‘safe’ choices, from clothing to men to…..well, everything. And Scott is just what she needs, and his dog is even more important as time goes on – from ‘girlie sleepovers’ to snack time and the series of ‘girly’ toys that Claire gets for her, Scott can’t help but find her attractive and open – even as she calls him on his own reluctance to commit. Of course, they figure it out – and see what everyone was ignoring or trying to protect her from being hurt. This is a series that not only gives a solid dose of laughter and friendship – but plenty of hope for everyone . Layne uses her humor, her deft characterizations and a story that isn’t too outrageous to be plausible to move into the ‘girl power’ support of true friends, taking a chance and love can bring. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
4.5 STARS! Love on Lexington Avenue is the second installment in the Central Park Pact series by Lauren Layne. This charming second chance romance follows a young widower and a brooding contractor. Claire Hayes has just turned 35 and she has come to the realization that she's vanilla and... boring. She needs some strawberry lemonade in her life. Determined to rid her home of any reminders of her past, Claire sets out to redesign her home and make it her own. Enter Scott Turner, the gruff, brooding, and rather rude contractor assigned to take on Claire's project. However, sooner rather than later Claire realizes she's in way over her head with this particular project and man. Scott Turner needs a change of pace from the corporate world and he's more than ready to take on the challenge of Claire's house. He makes it perfectly clear that he will not put up with a damaged pampered princess on his job site. Cue in the sexual tension and chemistry. The more time Claire and Scott spend together the more their attraction for one another grows. They are two very different individuals, scorned previously by love, yet they find love where it's least expected. Yes! The sweet, sweet angst. Thank you, Lauren for another wonderful story. I'm so freaking ready for Audrey and Clarke's novel! It may just be my favorite
On the day of Brayden Hayes’ funeral, three women who knew him intimately meet in Central Park: the wife, the mistress, and the girlfriend. They didn’t know of each other before his death, but form a strong bond post-mortem. The result? A pact that they will protect each other from any more womanizers. In Book Two of the Central Park Pact series, we get to know Claire Hayes, the widow. A year after her husband’s death, she takes a hard look at her life and realizes that it’s boring vanilla. So, the first step towards adding color and vitality is to renovate her dated brownstone and purge it of every reminder of her late husband. Scott Turner, a sexy, gruff, ill-mannered contractor, is doing his friend a favor, agreeing to meet with Claire. When he sees the challenge in front of him and a woman who intrigues him, he takes the job. It’s a refreshing change from his typical corporate and high-end hotels jobs, even if he has to tolerate a spoiled, damaged debutante. As he transforms the house and she makes over herself, their skittishness and sniping morph into respect and then undeniable chemistry laced with a healthy dose of witty, snarky banter. Layne is a queen of contemporary, sexy, steamy romances set in New York City. She injects just enough conflict and tension to keep us guessing, but the bumpy road to HEA is so worth the trip. Stay tuned for Book Three in which Audrey, “the girlfriend”, may finally realize that her Prince Charming is right under her nose. I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Gallery Books through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
The widow, the mistress, and the girlfriend of the dead guy make a pact to save each other from the wrong guy. Claire (the widow) has mourned for a year and is now going to remake the brownstone she shared with her husband. Realizing she has been looking at the same bland design that the house is currently in, she decides it is time to radically change the house and add color to it. Enter contractor Scott who wants a change from his usual big office/complex work. They fight. They get to know one another. They do not want to be attracted to each other. It does not work that way. I liked this story. It can be read as a standalone but I want to read the first book in the series before the last book comes out. It is fun. Claire does not want the spotlight but she wants people to look at her, see her. In Scott she finds that person but she wants to try her wings. Scott agrees to help and he is not much of a wingman. But Claire is a smart woman. I liked her. I liked her strength and vulnerability. I rooted for Claire. I wanted her to get what she wanted and not what someone else wanted her to have. I loved the scene at the beach when they finally empty the one room. A classic! I look forward to the next book.
Scott and Claire meet because he agrees to take on her brownstone remodel. Clair wants everything changed, no evidence of the life she shared with Brayden, her now dead husband she discovered was cheating on her with not just one woman, but multiple. After being burned Claire resolves to be single, not wanting to risk her heart, but she’d maybe like a fling. However, as the story progresses it becomes clear to Claire that she’s not built for a fling where the heart isn’t involved, and I think for most women this is true. It is for me at any rate. Scott and Claire spend a lot of time together since he’s a hands-on type of contractor. He’s abrasive and brutally honest, giving his opinions on Claire’s decisions both for her house and her life even when it’s clear she’s not asking for advice, well at first, anyhow. Claire gives as good as she gets, though, and there’s quite a bit of fun verbal sparring. As the renovation progresses, they become close, their personal lives intersecting as they share common friends, and Claire finds herself more and more attracted to Scott, and vice versa. Of course, Scott is the no-strings attached sort of guy after having a bad relationship experience and because he wants to be free to take jobs anywhere in the world he likes without any personal obligations. Why are guys always like this? Don’t they think of being old and alone in the future? Whatever, you know this is a romance, so he won’t hold to that, but it’s something I wonder about. I think my heart went out to Claire the most in this series, because she was the wife after all, and she was clueless to her husband’s cheating. Plus, he died and so Claire never got to confront him, she was angry and grieving at the same time when it first happened. I was pleased to see Claire moving on and not letting the past dictate her future happiness. I really wanted a HEA for Claire! I absolutely loved the ending!
In the second installment of The Central Park Pact, Claire Hayes, whose husband died while cheating on her with at least two other women, who have since become her best friends, is ready to find not love, but "companionship". Claire takes a hard look at herself and her life and decides she is a "vanilla", someone who is very boring and extremely predictable. She is not one to take many chances. She decides she want to be more like a "strawberry lemonade", someone who sparkles and is unpredictable and a little looser. Then she decides her Upper Eastside apartment needs a redo to wash away the memories of her late husband and there will be no dull or boring colors...all pinks! Enter Scott Turner a very handsome highly acclaimed contractor and his dog Bob, (who is a girl). Although they try to work amicably, Scott cannot wrap his head around Claire's eccentric renovation ideas. And as they begin to clash, sparks begin to fly just as Claire decides it's time for her to step back into the dating world and experiment with one night stands, something which Scott is not exactly pleased about. But he doesn't understand why. Will Claire be able to change her boring ways? Will Scott be able to incorporate Claire's pink themed demands? Will they be able to come to some sort of compromise? What about those sparks! And...what about Bob? Although Love on Lexington Avenue is the second in the series, and I have not read the first book, Layne nicely recaps the basics of the first book in the first few pages and catching up and understanding was easy. The story is quite cute and funny and it kept me interested and highly entertained. I hope there is another installment.
2.5 Stars I struggled a bit with this one. It took me a while to get into and while I like both Claire and Scott, I had a hard time connecting to their story. I still loved all of the side characters just as much as in the first book and hope Audrey and Clarke’s story is next. I received an advanced copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.
Second in the series about three women who discover that they were all seeing the same man, at his funeral! Clare Hayes is the unfortunate widow of the philanderer. Now a year after his death she is coming to realise that she is lonely, living in an ugly, old-fashioned brownstone on Lexington Avenue, her life is boring and beige, heck even her favourite flavour is vanilla. All her society friends fell away, not entirely their fault, and she has nothing to occupy her days any longer. So she decides to use what little money she has from her husband's estate to renovate the house. But then she realises she has chosen shades of beige and cream and white to decorate her house - no colour, no personality - just like her. Scott Turner is a wealthy successful property developer but recently he has become a bit jaded with high-rise corporate behemoths and is looking to reenergise himself. Despite his better judgement he is instantly drawn to the ugly brownstone, he can see how good the structure is, and how wonderful it will look when renovated, even if the owner is some spoilt trophy wife who wants to decorate the entire house in Pepto-Bismol pink. He's renovating this house despite the owner! I love a secret millionaire, grumpy contractor, opposites attract and this one has it all. After a couple of books that didn't really do it for me Lauren Layne has come back with a sassy, sweet, snarky romance that ticked all my boxes.
Love On Lexington Avenue is the second book in the Central Park Pact series. I haven't read the first book, Passion On Park Avenue, but after enjoying this book so much, I am definitely making time to read it soon! Love On Lexington Avenue follows widow Claire Hayes as she attempts to move on with her life following her husband's death. I love how this book dealt with the very real but tough situation of widowhood, especially young widowhood since Claire is only 34 when her husband passes away. Part of her journey involves remodeling their brownstone which brings contractor Scott Turner into her life. Scott has been hurt in the past, covered it up, and moved on without actually dealing with what happened. His rough, tough exterior exterior rubs Claire the wrong way. These two annoy each other and squabble and before long Claire is having fun annoying Scott and Scott enjoys sparring with her. Claire is also trying to get back into the dating scene before she realizes she doesn't want to be with anyone besides Scott and Scott is insanely jealous every time Claire tries to connect with another man. Scott isn't big on commitment which is fine when Claire thinks she's just looking for a fling, but before long real feelings develop. I majorly LOVED this book! Claire is such a strong woman, determined not to get hurt again by a man. I cheered for her through the entire book as she dealt with the betrayal of her husband, realized her feelings for Scott, and redefined her life. I loved the celebration of female friendship through Claire, Naomi (book 1), and Audrey (book 3). These ladies are confident, independent, and look out for the best for each other. And Scott -- completely my type apparently because I swooned so hard over this hero's rough edges covering up his tender heart. This book follows two characters who want to tear down the walls around their hearts and move out of their comfort zones but find it scary, which is something that I think we can all relate to in one way or another. This book fades to black on the romance scenes but Lauren Layne builds the tension and crafts the setting so masterfully that I didn't miss the details at all. The sarcastic banter in Love On Lexington Avenue is laugh-out-loud funny and a delight to read. I have found a new favorite author and I cannot wait to go back and read book one in this series and then book three when it is released in January 2020! |Thank you @gallerybooks @_lisafilipe @NetGalley for the eARC #partner|
Love on Lexington Avenue was an absolute charming read that had me reading cover to cover only to find I want Audrey’s story Lauren Lyme. *grins* Claire a socialite, widow needs to rid herself of the awful cheating dead husbands memory. How she goes about that is fun, heart felt and a whole bunch of yummy sexiness. Claire was a delightful surprise in that her grew so much throughout the book. I felt her healing, undying friendship with Naomi & Audrey, as well as the pull she felt when it came to the flannel wearing Scott. Scott is as unique as he is frustratingly sexy. I felt Claire’s pain, but I think Lauren Layne did a brilliant job in making Scott just so. Scott always kept his heart out of the running after having it ripped from his chest, there was no chance of his heart getting pulled into the love trap again. Right? Scott and Claire have this sizzle about them from the beginning, but the direction that it takes is both fun and intense. Scott’s feelings on the color pink is “priceless” *grins*. Both Claire and Scott have more in common then they care to admit. Can they both find the inner healing so they can see what is right in front of them? Audrey, Naomi, Oliver, Clarke and the wonderful Bob just made Love on Lexington Avenue that more charming. They all are a huge part of Claire and Scott’s lives it’s only fitting they help them over the bumps in life. Love on Lexington Avenue was an adorable read by the wonderful Lauren Layne. The plot was strong with amazing characters. A true story that even on the road to love anything is quite possible; just not easy. Rated 5 Stilettos and a Recommended Read by Deb !
Great read! Love this series and Love Lauren Layne! Love all her books. Always well written and great story lines. Can't wait for the next book!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4.5 STARS First off, this is the second book in the Central Park Pact trilogy. I did NOT read the first book, however, Love on Lexington Avenue can be read as a standalone because I never felt lost. This story centers on Claire who, finding out that her now-dead husband was cheating on her with not one, but two women, finds her life flipped upside down. She quickly finds friendship and camaraderie with the "other women" - Naomi and Audrey- and they make a pact to not let each other date men like him ever again. One year after his death, Claire decides that she is done being stuck in a drab "vanilla" existence of living day to day. In her process of rediscovering herself and her life outside of being a widow, Claire decides to renovate her house to make it more her style and less of her dead husband's. On the recommendation of Naomi's beau Oliver, she hires Scott, a gruff and handsome contractor to get the job done. He and his dog Bob soon become a big part of her life, which screams COMPLICATED! She knows he doesn't do serious, and will be leaving town as soon as her home project is finished. I highly enjoyed this book! The dynamic between Claire and Scott was dynamite. Their dialogue was so fun to read, and both characters were deep and relatable. Claire was flawed yet brave, and Scott was gruff but kind. The story made me laugh out loud a few times, and I even got teary-eyed at others. It was the perfect read I needed right now. I also really liked that although it is a romance novel, it hit deeper emotional levels with messages of reinventing yourself after struggles, or times of burden (in this case a double whammy of spouse death/spousal betrayal). The vanilla vs. strawberry lemonade analogy was fun and relatable because I think everyone feels stuck in a rut or "vanilla" every now and again in our lives and want to feel more "strawberry lemonade." I also really love a well-written romance that doesn't need to be vulgar or sexually descriptive to be steamy and romantic, and Lauren Layne does this VERY well! Just the right amount of sizzle mixed with all the emotions to make a well rounded and beautifully written story. I highly recommend this if you love a good contemporary romance. I am super excited now to read the first book, and look forward to reading Audrey and Clarke's story next! *Much thanks to Gallery Books, and NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!*
This is the second book of a trilogy that follows three women, Naomi, Claire, and Audrey, who find out that they were all with the same man after his untimely death. This book takes place approximately a year after the first one and is about Claire, his wife, learning to move on and find herself again beyond being a widow. She's starting with renovating the house she shared with her husband with the help of one cynical contractor, Scott. Claire and Scott's story was absolutely adorable. I love a good grumpy hero and seeing Claire bounce back from not only the death of her husband, but the news that he had been cheating on her. This book really got to my emotions and it's not easy for writing to do that. The only thing with this series is that it seems rushed. I found this book better than the first, but the characters still lack distinct voices and the progression of events doesn't always feel natural. The ideas are there, but the execution just could have been fine tuned. Thanks to Gallery Books and Netgalley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4.5 stars I really enjoyed Love on Lexington Avenue by Lauren Layne. The storyline is well written, well paced and it held my attention from start to end. Watching Scott and Claire come together had me smiling, swooning and crying, so many feels reading their story. They're passionate characters who have been hurt in the past, so opening themselves to love takes time, patience and understanding. Love on Lexington Avenue is a wonderful addition to the Central park Pact series, I've loved both books and I'm looking forward to Audrey and Clarke's book next in Marriage on Madison Avenue.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars Claire Hayes is a widow who has found two new friends. She met them at her husband's funeral, only to learn that Naomi Powell and Audrey Tate were involved with him at the same time she was married. The three form a pact and develop quite a close bond. Claire wants a fresh start on life. She decides to rid her apartment by getting rid of anything that would remind her of her husband. She also decides to redesign her home and hires contractor Scott Turner. Scott is quite an accomplished builder and this job is merely a distraction from the overwhelming corporate work that he usually does. Claire and Scott knock heads in the beginning. He finds her a bit pampered and spoiled and she finds him a bit gruff. However, they share a mutual attraction that soon begins to change both perspectives. With their shared chemistry they quickly realize that despite their pasts they actually have a chance at more than just a physical bond. Instead, their hearts become full in a wonderful way. It was quite enjoyable to see Claire rise from past hurts to find love and fulfillment. After what she went through she clearly needed something far more than she ever imagined. I loved watching Claire and Scott go past being friends and their business dealings to opening themselves to the opportunity for a future together. Lauren Layne hit the mark again with this book. As I truly enjoyed the first book in the series, I was eager to read this one. Each story, however, does well as standalones. But the pact is unique so reading the books in order might produce a better reading experience. The first book in the series was Passion on Park Avenue, and the final book is Marriage on Madison Avenue, due for publication in January. Many thanks to Gallery and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.
I love Lauren Layne's romantic comedies and on Love at Lexington Avenue, she doesn't disappoint bringing a totally unlikely couple that has captured the reader right from the first meeting. Claire's self-esteem is pretty low after all she has found out about her late husband so she is willing to make a radical change in her life starting with her home. When she meets the contractor indicated by her friend Oliver for the job, she wonders if Scott will actually do what she asks to make her house a new home for her. Scott is the rude type of guy but since he wants to do something different with his profession, he takes the challenge of facing Claire's dubious taste for color. Between fun fights and moments of cuteness, the couple ends up connecting and even living always fighting for something, they begin to get fond of each other and when Claire asks him to help her in other matters beyond the house, the chemistry between them explodes. I loved the story so much and how Lauren Layne showed the growth of both beyond bringing the characters from the previous book and adding an element I love, a super cute pet. Now I'm looking forward to Audrey's story and I really wanted something for Brett too. 5/5 stars
Lauren Layne has written another entertaining novel with Love on Lexington Avenue, her second book from the Central Park Pact series. The foundation of this story is the unique friendship that develops between three women as a result of tragic circumstances. Claire Hayes is a 35-year-old widow. On the day of her late husband's funeral, she learns that he was romantically involved with two other women. A year after her husband's death, Claire is ready to renovate her very dated New York City apartment. On the advice of a friend, she hires talented contractor Scott Turner for the job. Scott is a New Yorker, however, his expertise is requested all over the world. He loves a challenge and there is something about Claire's space that calls out to him. While Claire is refined and elegant, Scott is a bit rough and gruff around the edges. Over the course of the renovation, they get to know each other and become much more than employer and employee. Love on Lexington Avenue is another winner from talented author Lauren Layne. This intriguing romance captured my attention from the very beginning with its engaging plot and lively characters. Claire and Scott are well-defined, which made it easy for me to form a connection to them. I liked their flirty banter and the slow burn of their budding relationship. This book may be enjoyed as a standalone. Complimentary copy provided the publisher via NetGalley.
I really liked the first book in this trilogy, but I loved the second book so much more! Claire and Scott were a wonderful match. In the year since Claire's cheating husband's death, she hasn't really moved on with her life. She kind of stalled out. She feels like she is forgettable and plain and that includes her food preference (vanilla) and her clothes. She decides to renovate her townhome, so that has kept her busy planning, but once it starts she realizes she needs more in life. We met Scott in the first book, as he is the contractor friend of Oliver's. They butt heads right away as Scott is blunt, honest and straightforward. I love that Claire decides she needs to have no-strings sex and that she chooses Scott as her wingman. (like that is going to end well.) I also like how when Claire does meet the other men, we don't see much of those scenes. We get to focus on Scott and Claire and their growing relationship. Their relationship was just supposed to be that of contractor/client, but the more they are together, it turns into something more. Both are very cautious as they have both been hurt in the past. (Hello cheating dead husband, Brayden!) This was such a pleasure to read. I can't wait for book three with Audrey and Clarke. Thank you to Tasty BookPR, NetGalley and Gallery Books for an electronic arc in exchange for an honest review.
Claire is the betrayed wife of the philandering Brett, having only learnt the truth after his death. With a very odd connection to Audrey and Naomi via the aforementioned Brett, they set out to overcome the deception they were unwittingly a part of while avoiding the pitfalls of falling for the same type of man again. Claire is completely lost, having the realisation her life as she knew it was a lie. Claire also doubts herself, as any partner of a cheater would, everything from the way she looks to her choice of paint colour. In order to move forward with her life, Claire has thrown herself into the renovation of her townhouse. Enter, Scott, builder extraordinaire and friend of Oliver (Passion on Park Avenue). He also has a lot of emotional baggage along the same lines as Claire, however, Scott has let it rule his life to the point of becoming a recluse. He uses his work and travel to avoid making connections and laying roots. However, it has also left a void in his life he hadn’t acknowledged until he met Claire. While Claire and Scott initially appear as complete opposites it is soon apparent that there is a connection between them that neither has experienced before and ease to their interactions, even when they are at loggerheads. It is as if they instinctively know what the other needs without their desires being voiced. Alas, the timing between Claire and Scott counts against them, the ghost of Brett hovering in the background and clouding the path to the future. Yet, it is the budding emotions between Claire and Scott which give Claire the push she needed in order to exorcise Brett’s ghost from her life. I completely love the friendship between Claire, Audrey and Naomi, even more so because of the foundation for it. The guys also have their own bond and add to the strong emotional support system for all of the characters and not just the ladies. Love on Lexington Avenue is a whirlwind romance and a reflection of coming to terms with the way in which your life can take a completely unexpected turn when you least expect it. The cuteness factor is upped by the inclusion of Scott’s dog, Bob
Love on Lexington Avenue finally got me out of my reading rut! Lauren Layne does it again with a quick and light hearted read based in glitzy Manhattan. As I was devouring the chapters, I was laughing out loud, and I would highly recommend for a great end-of-summer read! In the second book of the Central Park Pact series, Claire Hayes is recovering from her cheating husband's death, and trying to find herself again with the help of her friends, Naomie and Audrey. As a favor to a friend and a break from his regular work, Scott agrees to renovate Claire's apartment. At first, Claire thinks Scott is abrasive and rude, but Scott turns out to be a charming and philanthropic gentleman. Are they both willing to risk it all to follow their hearts?
We met Claire Hayes in the first book in this series. Claire is the widow of Brayden, the man who was having an affair with a few different women. Outside of Brayden's funeral, Claire meets Naomi and Audrey, two of these women and a great friendship begins. It's been a year since Brayden's death and Claire thinks she is ready to move on with her life. First up is renovating her brownstone. When Naomi's boyfriend Oliver recommends his friend Scott Turner for the job you just know there will be fun. Scott has always been chasing something in his life, but he just doesn't know what it is. He prefers to keep life simple, including only one night stands. Imagine his surprise when he first meets Claire and she is not the old widow he thought she would be. She is also not the typical Upper East Sider. As Claire and Scott spend more time together they fall into an easy rapport. Claire even starts telling Scott how she wants his help to get her back into the dating world starting with finding just a one night stand. At first things are fun until Scott realizes that he may want Claire for himself. It will take a huge leap of faith for this wandering loner to realize that maybe what he has always been looking for is standing right in front of him! I just adored Claire and Scott. Claire's life was stuck in a rut and she desperately needed to redefine herself. I loved how she just jumped right in....sometimes a little hesitant but she still did it. I also really loved Scott. I love a man who can work with his hands....one of my weaknesses! I loved their banter back and forth and quite a few times I found myself laughing out loud! These two together were perfect and I just adored their happy ending.
Finding out about her husband's infidelities on the day of his funeral really threw Claire for a loop. From that experience, however, she's gained the friendship of the "other" women; Naomi and Audrey. The bond between the three women is strong, but Claire still wonders how she could have been so deceived by someone that she loved. Her husband's death causes her to take a long look at her life, and Claire has discovered she lives a very beige life. Ready to break out of the mold, Claire decides, for starters, on a complete renovation of her brownstone. She's also ready to get back in the dating game. Not specifically to find another husband, but, basically, to get her groove back. Claire has no idea where to start as it's been awhile since she's dated, but right now she's got her hands full dealing with her new contractor. Scott only agreed to check out Claire's house as a favor to a friend, his skills are typically reserved for corporations and high-rises and his job keeps him from staying in one place too long as he likes it. But when he arrives at Claire's, the renovation calls to him. He sees the potential in the dilapidated old home. Now, if only he can keep Claire from making everything pink! Seriously though, Scott and Claire are almost like two sides of the same coin. Both have past relationships that hurt them, and shook them to their core. That changed them on a fundamental level. While Claire is actively trying to turn her life around, Scott hasn't noticed that anything is wrong until he meets Claire. These two are supremely drawn to one another, but unsure of where the future may go, or if they want it to go anywhere. Lauren Layne handles the whole idea of this one person (in this case Claire's deceased husband) having such an effect upon the people in their lives in such an unassumingly profound way. For Naomi (mistress #1), there was anger, for Audrey (mistress #2) there's unshakable hope, and Claire (wife) she's left almost bereft of an identity. She was a wife for seven years, a girlfriend before that, now she's a widow, but she's a widow to a man she obviously barely knew and for which there's no love lost now. Wondering if there was something wrong with her (there absolutely wasn't) that made her husband cheat. It's heartbreaking to have the entire perception of your marriage and your life called into question, but Claire is such a strong character. I loved seeing her move forward with the life that she wants, not a life she thinks she needs in order to get over her husband, but truly finding the life that suits her. In amongst this self-discovery is Scott. Claire and Scott start out with this opposites-attract thing going on. They butt heads over their differing ideas for Claire's home. Scott does not sugar-coat his opinions which, I think, after being lied to for so long, is a breath of fresh air for Claire. Their chemistry is off the charts. You could feel the sparks from their first interactions, but I loved the fact that their romance was such a slow-build. Not only because it just made me read like a fiend, but I appreciated that it didn't overshadow the growth the Claire had to do on her own. Scott as well, to a smaller extent because the main focus is, of course, the three women on the group, but I felt like the connection between Scott and Claire's past relationship experiences - and how they each handle things differently - is a testament to how right they are for one another.
I read Passion on Park Avenue a few months ago and immediately fell in love with the trio of ladies bonding over their misfortune of having known the same man (ahem, very intimately). Naomi was the mistress (her story is Passion on Park Avenue), Audrey was the girlfriend and then there was the wife Claire. Claire feels so much humiliation - not just because her husband was cheating on her with multiple people - but because she thought what they had was real. She thought that she was the perfect wife because her husband loved her for who she was. It's only right then, that she's going through a bit of a crisis. She wants to spice up her life and add in pops of color (specifically pink) to what she thinks is a rather dull life. Enter Scott Turner, the contractor who she decides will help her remodel her home. I love grumpy heroes, and Scott fits the bill perfectly. He doesn't lavish Claire with fancy words and tells her exactly what his opinions are on her house and other matters that she doesn't really care for. Scott is honest and straightforward and I love that about him. The relationship between Claire and Scott gradually morphed into something more than a contractor and his client and I enjoyed the ride. Both of these characters have a lot of feelings that are left unresolved, because of people in the past that have hurt them. They are so complicated, but loving and both of them always have such good intentions. Once I picked up this book, I read it over the course of a day and literally could not stop reading it. This book was a solid 4.5 stars for me. I can't wait for Audrey and Clarke's story! **ARC kindly provided by TastyBookPR, NetGalley and Gallery Books in exchange for my honest review**
The second book in the Central Park series. This one focuses on Claire Hayes, the widow of the cheating husband Brayden. Determined to erase her past with him, she sets out to redesign her boring and outdated UES brownstone house and make it something of her own. A brand new start for Claire and her home. What she didn't expect was to fall for her sexy, successful, rough around the edges contractor, Scott Turner, and his big goofy dog. This series is quickly becoming one of my favorites of all time. The way Claire and Scott built their relationship made my heart swell. The dialogue in the book is so charming and witty. Also, any book with strong female friendships - I'm here for it! I love how they support each other and lift each other up. Even the men in the book just seem like super nice guys. The romance is cute but what really got me with the story were the friendships established. Can't wait for the third one on Audrey!
Oh how I Loved this sweet, charming and adorable, second chance romance. This had it all and I didn't want to stop reading. Ms. Layne's writing always manages to bring you right into the scene with her characters. Her descriptive use of language makes each scene very realistic and the emotions the characters are feeling, so believable. I really have enjoyed this series so far and Claire’s story has been my favorite. Although this is a series, each story is a stand alone but I would encourage you to read them in order. Claire is bored her husband has been dead for a year, so she decides to remodel her Upper East Side Brownstone to make it her own. Scott Turner is a good friend to Claire’s friends Naomi and Oliver, and he offers to do the remodel for Claire. But these two are opposites in every way. Where Claire is refined and polite Scott is blunt, callous and downright rude. Both of them have been burned and are somewhat jaded and broken from their past relationships. But being thrown together on a daily basis, it doesn’t take them long and they are getting on each other’s nerves. Especially with an attraction and chemistry that is off the charts. But when Claire asks for Scott’s help to hook up and have a fling with someone else, although he knows he isn’t good enough for her, he still wants her. Will their attraction and chemistry be enough to help them find a HEA? You will need to read this to find out. I loved every minute of this Fantastic, Adorable, Charming, and Completely Enthralling Romance!