Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact Series #1)

Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact Series #1)

by Lauren Layne

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Overview

“Perfect for readers who love the dishy women's fiction of Candace Bushnell.” —Booklist

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps.

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

“Strong characters and relatable situations elevate Layne’s bighearted contemporary...[which] digs into class differences, emotional baggage, and the reality of dealing with aging parents” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). With the sexy combination of charm, heart, and snark, Lauren Layne’s new series is perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501191589
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 05/28/2019
Series: Central Park Pact Series , #1
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,483
File size: 6 MB

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 WeeklyGlamourThe Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Passion on Park Avenue




  • SATURDAY, JULY 21

    Naomi Powell figured there was no good way to discover that the man you’d been dating for three months was married to someone else. But of all the possibilities, learning about the existence of a Mrs. Brayden Hayes via the cheating bastard’s obituary?

    Definitely the worst.

    The taxi pulled to a stop outside Central Presbyterian, and Naomi nearly lost her nerve, her instincts screaming for her to tell the cabbie to take her back to the Lower East Side.

    Instead, she handed the driver a twenty, shoved open the door, and stepped onto ritzy Park Avenue as though she belonged there. She pulled her Gucci sunglasses out of her bag and slid them onto her nose—the overcast July day didn’t quite warrant the shades, but she was walking into a funeral. People would hopefully think the purpose of the sunglasses was to hide red, puffy eyes rather than what it really was:

    A disguise.

    Screw that, Naomi thought furiously, pushing the sunglasses back up into her dark red hair and marching with purpose toward the stately Gothic-style church. She didn’t need a disguise. At twenty-nine, Naomi had spent most of her lifetime dealing with people trying to make her feel inferior, and she’d be damned if she let a turd of a playboy succeed from beyond the grave.

    She had just as much right to be here as anyone else. It’s not like she’d known he was married. She hadn’t even known he lived in Manhattan. Naomi wasn’t sure she knew a single damn thing about the real Brayden Hayes, but even around all her anger, she still wanted the chance to say goodbye.

    The man had made her life better, for a while at least. Even if he was making it a hell of a lot worse now.

    She sighed and slid the sunglasses back onto her face. Not to protect herself, but to protect Brayden’s wife. Naomi had no idea if Claire knew of her existence, but on the off chance she did, Naomi didn’t want to make this any harder on the woman than it already was.

    Naomi walked up the steps to the church as Brayden’s obituary rattled around in her brain, the way it had for days. The victim of a tragic yachting accident, Brayden Hayes is survived by wife, Claire Hayes . . .

    A yachting accident. Really? Really?

    Wasn’t death by luxury boat just a little too good for a womanizer with the morals of a lump of coal?

    The only saving grace of the situation, and Naomi had had to look really hard to find one, was that Claire and Brayden hadn’t had any children. Thank God for that. It was the only thing that had kept Naomi from breaking completely when she’d learned of Brayden’s double life. She knew all too well the havoc a philandering asshole could wreak on a child’s life.

    Naomi stepped into the dark, quiet church and walked toward one of the back pews. Several people turned and looked her way, and her footsteps faltered.

    On a rational level, Naomi knew they were merely turning instinctively at the sharp click of her Louboutin stilettos against the church floor. Some maybe even recognized her as the Naomi Powell from the latest 30-under-30 list, or from her interview on the Today show.

    But everywhere she looked, Naomi saw only disdain. As though they could see beyond the conservative Chloé dress to her Bronx roots. As though they knew she was the other woman. The very identity that had destroyed her mother and that Naomi had sworn to avoid.

    She sucked in a breath, trying to gather the defiance that had turned her from a nobody into one of the city’s wealthiest women. She tried to gather the confidence that had earned her a spot on every “women to watch” list in the nation. But today, she didn’t feel like a bright up-and-comer in the business world. Today she felt small. Worse, she felt dirty.

    Naomi watched as a woman pursed her lips and turned away, as though unable to look any longer upon Brayden Hayes’s whore. That’s what he’d made her. A lifetime of trying to avoid her mother’s footsteps, and one Upper East Side scumbag had turned her into her own worst nightmare.

    Naomi didn’t even realize she’d turned around and left the church until she felt the warm summer breeze whip at her hair. Didn’t register what direction she was walking until she hit the eastern edge of Central Park.

    Only then did she let herself truly breathe, sucking in big lungfuls of air. But she didn’t cry. Naomi had promised herself a long time ago she’d never cry because of a man.

    She was hardly dressed for a stroll, but the trees and winding path calmed her as she entered the park. A welcome respite from the nearby neighborhood and all its snobbery. In Central Park, it didn’t matter what street you lived on, what borough you came from. Central Park belonged to all New Yorkers, one glorious shared backyard.

    The park was mostly quiet. Most tourists entered at the south side, so she saw only a couple of joggers, a few elderly couples out for a walk, two moms on a stroller date, and . . .

    Naomi did a double take at the blonde sitting alone on a park bench, and her stomach dropped out. Are you kidding me with this right now, God?

    The first thing Naomi had done after the shock of reading that Brayden Hayes was freaking married was to google the crap out of his wife, desperate for an indication that the Times had been wrong about his marital status. That it was a misprint or he was divorced. The paper hadn’t been wrong. There really was a Mrs. Brayden Hayes.

    And she, too, had chosen Central Park over Brayden’s funeral.

    Nearly even with Claire Hayes now, and with the sunglasses still providing Naomi anonymity, she dared to sneak a look at the other woman out of the corner of her eye.

    Brayden’s widow looked pretty much like the picture Naomi had rummaged up online: a thirty-something Upper East Side WASP. Like Naomi, she wore oversize sunglasses, the Chanel logo glinting in a stray ray of sunshine. Naomi’s trained eye pegged the basic black sheath as St. John, and the basic black pumps Louboutins—identical to Naomi’s.

    But unlike Naomi, Claire had a genteel poise about her. Like she’d never said darn, much less dropped an f-bomb. Naomi would bet serious money that Claire Hayes didn’t eat Kraft Macaroni & Cheese straight out of the pan when she was stressed and that Claire had never been so poor that she’d actually once considered taking home a neighbor’s discarded mattress, bedbugs be damned, simply because it was free.

    Claire’s placid expression betrayed nothing as Naomi passed her, the glasses too large to reveal any emotion on her face. For that matter, Naomi wondered if women like her experienced emotion at all. It didn’t seem it. The woman was the picture of calm, except for . . .

    Her hands.

    Brayden’s widow’s hands were clenched tightly in her lap, the fingers of her right hand white-knuckled around the fist of her left hand. But it wasn’t the subdued pink manicure that captured Naomi’s attention. It was the bright red crescent moons beneath the nails.

    Naomi had a lifelong bad habit of acting before thinking, and she did so now, crossing to the other woman and sitting beside her on the park bench.

    “That’s enough now,” Naomi said, using her CEO voice, calm and commanding.

    Claire didn’t move. Naomi wasn’t even sure the other woman heard her.

    Naomi hesitated only for a moment before slowly reaching over and prying the nails of Claire’s right hand away from her left hand. Little streaks of blood were left in the wake.

    Claire looked down in confusion, as though just now registering the pain.

    “Does that Givenchy have any Kleenex?” Naomi asked, nodding toward Claire’s clutch on the bench.

    Claire didn’t move for a long moment, then taking a deep breath, she calmly reached for her purse, pulling out a travel-size package of tissue.

    “We’re wearing the same shoes. Same dress, too,” Claire said, dabbing at the blood on the back of her hand with a tissue, using the same casual indifference of one dabbing up a drop of spilled water.

    Naomi nodded in agreement, though Claire’s St. John was a knee-length mock turtleneck, and Naomi’s Chloé was a boatneck that hit at midthigh.

    For a long moment, neither said anything.

    “I’m supposed to be at a funeral,” Claire said, balling up the tissue and dropping her hands back into her lap.

    “Why aren’t you?”

    Naomi was genuinely curious. She knew why she wasn’t at that funeral. But the widow being a no-show . . . that was some serious Page Six–worthy gossip right there.

    Claire opened her mouth to respond but shut it when a pretty young woman with dark brown hair walked past them. Naomi waited for the other woman to pass and, when she gave the brunette a closer look, realized the other woman was walking a bit too slowly, as though tempted to approach. She looked vaguely familiar. Naomi was fairly sure they’d crossed paths at a couple of events, though Naomi couldn’t put a name with the face.

    Brayden’s widow, however, could. Claire went rigid beside Naomi, even as she called out to the other woman, “Audrey.”

    Unlike Claire and Naomi, the brunette wasn’t wearing sunglasses, and Naomi saw her round eyes go even wider. “You know who I am?”

    “You’re Audrey Tate. I did a little digging after you called the house that night,” Claire said quietly. “I know you were sleeping with my husband.”

    Naomi’s head whipped around in surprise, and then surprise escalated to shock as she realized Claire wasn’t talking to her.

    What the . . .

    Audrey let out a hiccuping sob and walked to the bench, and Naomi almost laughed when she saw the other woman’s shoes. Black Louboutin pumps identical to hers and Claire’s.

    “I didn’t know,” Audrey was saying in a rush as she sat beside Claire and stared at her with a pleading expression. “I didn’t know until you picked up the phone that night that he was married. I swear to you, he told me his wife had left him, that he was separated . . . I never would have— You have to believe me. I didn’t know—”

    “Oh, honey,” Naomi interrupted, half-sympathetic, half-horrified. “You’ve got to get it together.”

    Audrey stopped her sniffling and gave Naomi what she probably thought was an icy glare, but the impact was diminished by the red nose and puffy eyes. “Respectfully, you don’t know the first thing about what’s going on here.”

    “Well now, that’s the thing,” Naomi said, looking down at her manicure. “I sort of do.”

    Both women were studying her now.

    “Who are you?” Claire asked.

    Naomi studied the other woman for only a moment before acting on the same instinct that had taken her from Bronx high school dropout to entrepreneurial superstar; she sensed that Claire Hayes was the sort of woman who deserved the truth. The full truth.

    Naomi pushed her sunglasses on top of her head and looked at Claire. “I’m Naomi Powell. The other other woman.”

    Audrey’s mouth fell open, but Claire didn’t react beyond a slightly too long blink. “What?”

    Damn. She’d thought she’d been pretty clear.

    “Your husband was putting his pickle into one too many sandwiches,” Naomi announced plainly. “Well, two too many if you count her.” She jerked her chin toward Audrey.

    “Did you just compare . . . pickle . . . oh my God, sandwiches,” Audrey said, lifting a hand to her forehead.

    Claire’s head dropped forward, her chin resting on her chest, and Naomi winced. Perhaps she could have phrased it slightly differently . . . sticking his noodle in the wrong casserole? Cucumber into multiple salads?

    But Claire Hayes surprised her. Her shoulders were shaking, not with tears but with silent amusement. Then she tossed her head back and looked at the sky, letting out an audible laugh.

    “I hate to be the one to tell you this,” Audrey told Claire, “but I don’t think he’s up there.”

    Now it was Naomi’s turn to let out a surprised laugh as she realized she’d underestimated the brunette. She may look like a lanky Hepburn, but this Audrey had an edge beneath the sweet, doe-eyed appearance.

    “Shouldn’t we be at the funeral?” Claire asked. Probably more to herself, but Naomi answered anyway.

    “Nah. I mostly showed up to tell God not to allow that one through the pearly gates, and as Audrey pointed out, I think He probably already figured that one out.”

    “I never thought I’d be here,” Claire said tiredly, lifting her fingers to her temples and rubbing absently.

    “You mean sitting on a park bench with your husband’s mistresses while his funeral goes down just a couple blocks over?” Naomi asked.

    Claire laughed. “Yes. That. I just keep thinking I know I should be sad, but instead all I can think about is how stupid I was, and that’s before I knew there were two of you. How did I not see it?”

    “We were just as stupid,” Audrey said, setting a hand on Claire’s arm. “He was my boyfriend for a year. I just thought he traveled a lot.”

    “Three months,” Naomi said, pointing at herself. “He told me most of his business dealings were in Hong Kong and that he had to work most nights. I totally bought it.”

    They all fell silent, lost in their own memories of the man, and Naomi was struck that despite the fact that this was perhaps one of the weirdest meetings in the history of female encounters, it didn’t feel as odd as it should. Far from resenting the other women, she felt almost comforted by their presence. Claire’s and Audrey’s very existence was proof that Naomi wasn’t the only clueless one. That she wasn’t alone in being a victim of a heartless man’s games.

    Who would have thought that strength in numbers applied to a dead man’s philandering?

    Naomi straightened slightly and turned toward the others. “I have a confession.”

    Claire lifted her eyebrows. “Worse than the fact that you were having adult sleepovers with my husband?”

    “Who I didn’t know was your husband,” Naomi clarified, waving her finger at Claire. “But no, my confession is that while I’m really mad at Brayden, I’m even angrier at myself. For letting him fool me.”

    Audrey nodded. “Same. I mean, it’s a little more self-loathing than anger, I guess, but . . . I just can’t stop thinking about how I didn’t see it. And if I didn’t see him being a snake, how will I ever spot another man being a snake?”

    Claire looked down at her hands, running the pad of her finger along the small cuts caused by her own manicured fingers. “I’m not worried about it. After all this, I’m pretty dead set on turning into the old lonely lady with cats.”

    “Nope,” Naomi said firmly. “We are not going to let him do that to us. I’m not really a long-term relationship girl, but I do like a male companion, and I have no intention of letting Brayden sour me on . . .”

    “Pickles?” Audrey suggested.

    “I was going to say sex, but yeah. That, too.”

    Audrey’s smile was fleeting. “But I am the long-term relationship girl. I want the ring and the babies, and the—”

    “Please don’t say white picket fence.”

    “Oh God no.” Audrey shuddered, then pointed to her shoes. “These red soles are meant for Fifth Ave, not the burbs. But I still want the fairy tale, and I just . . .” She swallowed. “It’s harder to believe these days.”

    “So let me get this straight.” Naomi turned to Claire. “You’re going to turn into a cat lady, and you’re giving up your Disney princess dreams,” she said, turning toward Audrey. “All because of a guy.”

    Claire and Audrey exchanged a look, and Naomi pressed.

    “Ladies, I know we just met, but let’s face it, we have the same shoes and we were screwed over by the same guy, so as far as I’m concerned, we leapfrogged a few steps in the female-bonding process.”

    “Perfect, I’ll invite you over for a slumber party,” Claire said, starting to stand.

    “Hold up.” Naomi put a hand on her arm. “I’m not suggesting we get matching tattoos, just that we can help each other.”

    Claire stared at her but sat back down. “You want me to help my husband’s mistresses—do what, exactly?”

    “We watch each other’s blind spots as it relates to men. Left to our own devices, obviously we’re no good at seeing a guy for who—and what—he really is. But what if we combined forces? Help each other spot another Brayden.”

    Naomi knew it was spontaneous, a little bossy, a lot nuts, but it felt right. And Naomi had made a name for herself trusting her gut.

    “Respectfully, I don’t even know you,” Audrey said, running a hand over her dark ponytail. “I get your point, but why would I have two strangers do a gut check on a guy I like instead of my friends?”

    “Because who knows better how to spot another woman getting scammed than three women who just experienced it?” Naomi pointed out.

    Audrey bit her lip and looked at Claire. “You know, I don’t hate this plan?”

    Claire fiddled with her watch, and Naomi’s gaze tracked the motion. “Cartier.”

    Claire looked up. “Yes. How’d you know?”

    “I know designers. I also know that I have the exact same watch at home.”

    Claire’s eyes went wide. “Brayden . . . ?”

    Naomi nodded.

    “Me, too,” Audrey said, almost inaudibly.

    Claire stared down at the watch on her left wrist, and Naomi knew they had her.

    Naomi extended her right hand. “Hands in, girls, we’re making a pact, high school–style. May neither of you ever fall victim to a cheating bastard again. Not on my watch.”

    “And to helping each other find the right man. That’s on my watch,” Audrey said, placing her palm on top of Naomi’s hand.

    After a moment of hesitation, Claire set her hand atop Audrey’s. “Oh, what the hell. I’m in. To no more assholes.”

    Naomi had never been a girl’s girl, and she certainly wasn’t the type to get all fluttery about fate. And though she’d been half-joking with the whole pact thing, something odd happened in the moment the three of their hands met. As though they were bound together now not by Brayden, but by something bigger. Something important.

    And Naomi was suddenly certain that this moment with Claire Hayes and Audrey Tate was somehow going to change everything.

    As they all let their hands fall away, Audrey let out a long sigh and looked eastward in the direction of the church. “I guess we should make an appearance, huh?”

    Naomi stood and flicked her sunglasses back onto her face with one finger. “Screw it. Let’s go shopping.”

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    Passion on Park Avenue 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
    Anonymous 3 months ago
    I loved the lead character and all of the references to Anne of Green Gables!
    gaele 4 months ago
    Absolutely adorable – Layne has taken another redheaded heroine with a take charge attitude and brought her a never-hoped for chance at happiness! Naomi has taken her idea for an accessories company that collects and sources unique pieces from her small Bronx apartment into a very successful enterprise. A surprise to her after the life she knew with her mother fell apart and existence became a series of one-bedroom apartments, hotel rooms and sleeping rough. But, with the need to move into larger office space and finding the “perfect’ Tribeca apartment, the time is right for new beginnings. Of course, she’s still stinging from the death of her ex-boyfriend: less the death than finding out he had both a wife and another girlfriend. At his funeral. Or rather, after ditching his funeral for a walk in Central Park and coming upon his widow and the other – other woman. Funnily enough, the three find that friendship between them is a far better option than anger at one another – consolidate their anger against the cheating, lying man who still has managed to upset their lives from the grave. Yet an unexpected twist in Naomi’s life happens when she gets a call for her interview with the co-op board for a building at 517 Park Avenue, the same building where her life with her mother started to unravel. Discovering that the interviewer was her 10 year old nemesis Oliver instantly reduced Naomi to the spiteful little girl who wanted to get back at the bully. Soon she finds herself with two apartments to choose from, and an unreasonable attraction to Oliver, her new neighbor in her 517 Park apartment. A pre-war building, the residents are mostly older, with Oliver and Naomi being the only under 50’s in the building, but Oliver’s time and availability are limited, not that she’s asking. He’s caring for his father now fully consumed with Alzheimer’s, having help to care for him during the days, while he takes nights and weekends. But, Oliver’s father Walter, after a chance encounter with Naomi, likes her, and it seems to take a bit of the bite from Naomi’s anger, fueled by her mother’s lack of adult sense, to blame everyone but herself for their decreased circumstances when she was 10. Naomi and Oliver are lovely together, and the moments between Naomi, Claire and Audrey (the wife and the other-other woman) are lovely, as are the insets of Naomi’s PA Deena – a Jersey Housewife if ever there was one. Slow friendship, a coaxing out of more, and plenty of moments that illustrate the stressors of caring for an aging and ailing parent, unfinished business, and plenty of ‘running scared’ from Naomi as the ‘not quite fitting in” voices in her head vary in their insistence. They are well-matched but not in the “oh he will fix everything” sort of way, with a genuine interest in one another, Oliver’s recognition of his own bad behavior as a child, his actually READING all of Anne of Green Gables through to discover what ever became of Anne and Gilbert, and the steps the two make on their way to something more is classic Layne – engaging, funny, heartwarming and with a depth that sneaks up and takes your breath away with the gentleness with which she handled the difficult moments in their lives. 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.
    wendm_ccbh 4 months ago
    Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne started off like a scene from Sex in the City and I loved it!! Now a little background information... Naomi is a fighter. She has worked hard to be where she is right now. Her story is more than the typical rags to riches. She gets hit with a blast from the past, Oliver Cunningham. Cue the tension. Naomi's mother worked as the housekeeper for the Cunninghams. They lived at 517 Park Avenue and though Naomi crushed on Oliver when she was 9 years old, Oliver would tease and torment young Naomi. Now, after 20 years of not seeing each other, the attraction is there as well as Naomi's blatant hatred. Naomi Powell. Girl boss and ballbuster. Bronx born and raised. Our heroine is fiery, successful, strong, resilient, and intelligent. She's cruising through the hierachy of NYC society and becoming somebody. She's formed an unlikely friendship with two women, Claire and Audrey, and she's been sought after for a TV show about her life by a well-known TV producer. What is the worst that could happen? Oliver comes from old money. High bred. He never expected to be bulldozed by Naomi's mere presence. He's completely taken back by her. And sparks fly, especially when those two become neighbors #drama. Passion on Park Avenue was an entertaining and sassy, back and forth, enemies-to-lovers romance. Lauren Layne provides the perfect mix of life, drama, friendship, love, and sexy chemistry. This novel is perfect for fans of Sex in the City! My first read by this author, but I can say it won't be my last! I cannot wait for the other books in the series. Bring on Claire's story
    Anonymous 7 hours ago
    Lauren+Layne+has+done+it+again%21+Loved+this+book+and+the+characters+that+this+author+brings+to+life.++I+love+the+reference+s+to+Anne+of+Green+Gables%2C+too.++Lauren+Layne+knows+how+to+grab+you+in+the+feels+and+make+you+swoon.++If+you%27re+not+reading+her+books%2C+you%27re+missing+out+on+some+super+great+reads%21%21%21+I+highly+recommend+her+Stiletto+and+Oxford+series%21++Lauren+Layne+is+a+MUST+read+for+me%21%21+
    BetweenMyBookendz 3 days ago
    Naomi Powell has a passion for style in her bones, Louboutins on her feet and a giant chip on her shoulder. This successful accessory company mogul may have a company worth a billion dollars, but her inner eye can still see her other-side-of-the-tracks upbringing. Although Bronx-born and raised, she lived on Park Avenue for one year when her mom was a live-in housekeeper for the Cunninghams. That year on Park Avenue, and how it abruptly ended, profoundly changed Naomi. When out of the blue Naomi gets an opportunity to go back and live at that same Park Avenue address, Naomi makes a decision that once again may profoundly change her life. First off, this book has the best opening chapter for a series! Ms. Layne brilliantly sketches out how the Central Park Pact comes to be. Mixing up betrayal and death with a big dose of wit and laughter, we get to bond with three women who are all different yet in many ways the same. It is their stories that will make up this series, and I cannot wait for the next one! As for Naomi’s journey, she finds herself facing her former childhood nemesis Oliver Cunningham. Except he really isn’t the “Ollie” of old anymore. No, this Oliver seems new and improved to Naomi except he doesn’t remember the “Naomi Fields” of his childhood. A childhood, it turns out, left Oliver scarred as well despite the wealth and trappings of Park Avenue. As Naomi and Oliver “frenemy” their way through the story, they both learn that the truth under the surface can be brutal and wonderful. What I loved the best was that Naomi got a chance to grow, and Oliver got a chance to shine. And together, they both got a chance to truly live and love! As I said, I cannot wait for the next story in this series!
    2kasmom 22 days ago
    Naomi has always wanted one thing: an address in the Upper East Side. Only it takes more than address to have the New York Elite accept her. She is already a strong and powerful woman in her own right, owning a jewelry empire as she does. What more can she do to get where she wants to be? Oliver has always had a thing for Naomi. They grew up together of a sort, as her mother worked for his family. She does not want an association with him at this point, though. She wants to be accepted on her own merits. Can he convince her to try a little with him? This story felt kind of off to me for some reason. I liked the characters and the story just fine. It just seemed to start off slower than the pace is usually from this author. Overall I liked the struggle and story. ***This early copy was given in exchange from Netgalley and its publishers.
    lilmo 3 months ago
    I've read quite a few of Lauren Layne's books - and have enjoyed them. However, his one was a disappointment. I found the plot gimmick of her getting an apartment in the building where her mother worked in as a maid (because her mother signed her onto a waiting list) and (unbeknownst to her) - somewhat contrived. The relationship between Naomi and Oliver was a trifle unbelieveable. He was her childhood nemesis, but he grown up and into a nice attractive and successful guy who can't understand why Noami doesn't like him. I question why he kept trying to figure her out. She has become a corporate giant - wildly successful, but is still holding a grudge for what happened to 20 years earlier - tedious and a bit of a stretch! Also anyone familiar with posh NYC buildings, would know that all doorways are manned - and ill tenants would not make it out to the sidewalk in their underwear!. Overall, not wort the $11.99. I
    Samantha1020 3 months ago
    This was such a fun and enjoyable read for me! I don't read a ton of contemporary romances but this book has me reconsidering that. One of my absolute favorite tropes in romance is the (I'm not sure what this is exactly called but this is what I'm calling it) hate to love romance. I adore when the main characters despise each other but ultimately can't fight their attraction to one another! It's my favorite so it was a sure fire thing that I was going to enjoy this book with that kind of set up. I think one of the reasons that I enjoy this type of trope so much is that it usually means that there isn't any kind of insta-love which is my least favorite romance trope. The romance between Naomi and Oliver was a slow burn of the best kind in my opinion. Also, just to let other readers know - this is a book that I've been recommending to readers who want a romance without the steamy scenes. I just wanted to throw that out there for any other readers who are looking for that kind of romance! In this book, Naomi remembers Oliver instantly from her childhood when they meet for the first time but Oliver doesn't remember her. This leads to some humorous moments as Oliver can't figure out why Naomi seems to despise him on sight. Especially as he is as attracted to her as he is annoyed with her for the way she is treating him. The chemistry between these two was just absolute perfection so I couldn't get enough of reading it. I also really enjoyed the friendship that Naomi had between two other ladies which is the kind of setup of this trilogy. I don't want to give too many details on how they become friends, but I'm now eager to read both of their books so I can see them get their happy ever after as well. This was just a fun read for me even though there were some serious aspects to it. Oliver's father has Alzheimer's disease which plays a prominent part in this book. The disease isn't glossed over and it is something that Oliver is constantly dealing with throughout the book. I really liked the end of this book and am eager to get my hands on the next book in this trilogy. Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and am looking forward to reading more by this author. This is actually the second book that I've read by Lauren Layne - the other book that I read was Cuff Me which had more of a suspense vibe to it than this book did. Two very different books but both books that I enjoyed immensely. Looks like I have another author whose backlist I need to catch up on! Also, I can't believe that I haven't mentioned this before but how gorgeous is that cover? I love it! It was almost a shame that I read this book on my e-reader so couldn't experience that cover in its' full glory. Ha! I would recommend this book to fans of romance but also to readers who are starting to get on board with the new wave of romantic comedies that are becoming so popular as of late. This book was just a plain fun read at times and I think that there are many other readers who will enjoy it as well. An easy book for me to recommend! Bottom Line: A fun and enjoyable read that has me excited for the next book! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher. Thoughts are my own.
    Anonymous 4 months ago
    Three and a half stars. Three women meet in Central Park, Naomi Powell, self made millionaire has just found out that her new friend with benefits is married, how did she find our? His obituary. On her way to the funeral she chickens out only to strike up a conversation with what turns out to be her lover's wife, and shortly afterwards his girlfriend of over a year. Bonding over their bad taste in men they vow to help each other find true love. Naomi had a hard life growing up after her mother was kicked out of her housekeeping job in one of the swanky apartments on Park Avenue, without references she found it impossible to get another housekeeping job and the two of them had to sleep rough for a while. She has never forgiven the Cunningham family who sacked her mother for the lies they told and their inhumanity. Through a twist of fate Naomi finds that she has applied for an apartment in that very same apartment building, at first she wants nothing to do with it but when Oliver Cunningham interviews her she suddenly wants to get some closure by confronting the Cunninghams once and for all. Oliver Cunningham's life has changed drastically since he was a boy, he rejected his family career to pursue architecture and did everything he could to avoid his manipulative, cheating father. But after his mother died his father fell prey to dementia and now Oliver has to share the care for his wayward and forgetful father with a nurse. He doesn't understand why the beautiful redhead wants to live in his stuffy apartment building, or why she seems to dislike him on sight, but he finds her feisty and intriguing. I liked this but I didn't love it, three days after reading it I could barely remember the characters or the plot. Pleasant enough beach reading but doesn't have the memorable characters of some of her other novels.
    BookAngel_Emma 4 months ago
    Naomi is the embodiment of the American dream; rising above her lowly beginnings to create a successful business and take ownership of all areas of her life. However, under the surface, Naomi has the emotional scars obtained in childhood that subconsciously control her ability to form meaningful relationships. Although Naomi’s relationship with her mother was strained due to the events of their past and the bitterness her mother harbored, Naomi maintains a deep sense of loyalty to her mother following her death. Leading to an unexpected surprise from her late mother as a way of laying the past to rest. Even though the incidents in the past shaped the person Naomi has become, she hasn’t lost any of her empathy and compassion despite being the sole beneficiary of her mother’s venom. It is her innate ability to accept people that enables her to deal with her own emotional baggage. What originally starts as a quest for justice transforms into a journey into feelings and an unexpected partnership. Oliver is a very different person than he was as a boy. He is very self-aware and has been from a young age, sadly not in time to redeem himself with Naomi as a child. However, his charm and tenderness will melt the coldest of hearts, Naomi’s included Ultimately, we have to understand that people can change especially through the events they experience in their lives. Passion on Park Avenue also deals with the subject of dementia in the narrative and its effect on family members caring for a relative afflicted with this awful disease. As someone who has been in that position, I have to say while the subject matter presented a traumatic point for me, Lauren dealt with it realistically but with sensitivity and understanding of the conflicted emotions experienced. The friendship formed between Naomi, Claire, and Audrey, while originating from extremely unusual circumstances was one of my favourite parts of Passion on Park Avenue. I am eagerly awaiting their individual stories.
    IreneC 4 months ago
    4 stars Passion on Park Avenue is the first book in the new Central Park Pact series by Lauren Layne and I really enjoyed it. The storyline is well written, heartfelt, the plot heald my interest from start to end, I enjoyed getting to know all the characters, watching them connect and open themselves to love. Oliver and Naomi are both strong, likeable and at times frustrating characters that touched me watching them come together, they have a strong connection, they amused me with their banter and they made me smile and swoon with their love story. Overall, Passion on Park Avenue is a good/solid start to the new series and I'm excited for the next book Love on Lexington Avenue due to be released September 2019.
    PNWBookworm 4 months ago
    This was a really fun romantic comedy about not only the relationships we form but also the importance of our friendships. If you are a fan of the enemy to lovers trope then this will be a great read for you! I found all of the characters to be likeable and relatable, the writing to be well done and the plot to keep me reading. Overall I really enjoyed it and I think it will make a great summer read!
    wtfareyoureadingFR 4 months ago
    If you are a person who longs for the days when new episodes of Sex In The City were just a click away. If you are a person for whom the phrase "girl power" is more than just "catchy". And if you are a person who prefers their romance with a healthy helping of " heart". Lauren Layne's Passion On Park is the perfect fit for you. The self-made Naomi Powell may be the CEO of the next "big thing" that the fashion accessory game has ever seen. And her money may run very long, and very green as a result. But both she and the upper crusts of the Upper East Side apartment building that she is trying to move into are well aware that her blood runs a whole lot more red than the blue that they are used to. With no one knowing this better than her neighbor and HOA board member, Oliver Cunningham. The kicker being that he can't see just how far back their history goes. But by the same token. Naomi can't reconcile the boy that she knew from her past, with the man who seems determined to make her his future. Leaving readers to answer the question of. Can there be a happily...? Or will the ghosts of the past be enough to chase away any hopes for a brigher future for these two? Lauren hits one out of the park on all bases with this first book in the Central Park Pact series. It's funny, heartwarming, and even heartbreaking at times. But never a book that one wants to put down. My only gripe. That there wasn't more girl time involving Audry and Claire. Seeing as that is what is so effectively alluded to at the absolutely unforgettable beginning to both the book and series. That fabulous beginning, and a phone call or two, is just about the limit of the "girl's squad" interaction. Before it then becomes all Naomi, all the time. But let me be the first to say that time is a great one right down to the very last second.
    Kristy_K 4 months ago
    Cute and fun with a touch of angst. Interesting premise and good use of the enemies-to-lovers trope. I liked Layne’s 21 Wall Street Series better, but this was still a quick, easy read that had you turning pages and escaping for a few hours. I felt that Naomi's grudge was a little overblown (they were children when it happened, and I think blaming Oliver for everything was a little much). Still I enjoyed the tension it created between the two. We are introduced to two of Naomi friends who I assume the next books in the series are about and there are hints of who their love interests will be, which I hope pan out. I received an advanced copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.
    AMA09 4 months ago
    I have never read anything by Lauren Layne. I was given an opportunity to read a early copy of this book and I really enjoyed this story. The beginning alone had me hooked. This was a fun and cute story. I am a sucker for all things NYC and this story definitely feeds into my love of books based in The Big Apple. I will now be looking to read ALL the words by Ms. Layne this is absolutely must read!
    Jean Nudell 4 months ago
    Another winner from Lauren Layne! I love the premise of this series: that instead of turning on each other, three women formed a friendship instead of fighting each other when they discovered they had all inadvertently been with the same man. The romance between Naomi and Oliver was so great, the perfect slow burn. The additional layer of Oliver dealing with being a caretaker for a sick parent was also interesting, and felt very real. This is a perfect summer read; a book that’s easy but still has some depth. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
    adet 4 months ago
    PASSION ON PARK AVENUE is the perfect New York City Rom-Com. Naomi Powell is a quintessential badass, who has her own business, a lovely apartment, and the will to prove her worth among the Upper East Side, especially to her childhood nemesis, Oliver Cunningham. Lauren Layne brings the sassy banter, undeniable chemistry, and power of friendship to a whole new level in PASSION ON PARK AVENUE. This one is worth cheers-ing over a bottle of Champagne in mugs over and over again.
    ljtljtljt 4 months ago
    Lauren Layne is one of my favorite authors. Since I prefer the city landscape to the small town environment, Ms. Layne's books are always on my radar. Passion on Park Avenue is the first book from her brand new series, Central Park Pact, and it can be enjoyed as a standalone. Naomi Powell's life thus far is a rags to riches story. She started out with nothing and is now CEO of an accessories company that she founded from her studio apartment. The company is expanding rapidly, and as a result, both the company and Naomi are worth billions. Naomi has never forgotten her past and how horribly she and her mother were treated by the Cunningham family when she was a young girl. Park Avenue is her new address, where the patriarch of the Cunningham family still resides, along with his son, who did not tell the truth way back when. Naomi needs some closure, and wants to show those at this posh address how successful she has become. Oliver Cunningham has always had it easy. He was born into wealth and is a successful architect in the firm that he founded. Oliver turned out to be a decent and honorable man, despite being raised by elitist and contemptible parents. Naomi is not his type, however, there is something about her that causes him to work tirelessly to win her affections. I really liked this well-written story, however, the lack of spice between Naomi and Oliver was very disappointing. They had a wonderful chemistry that was never fully explored. The subplots were entertaining, especially Naomi's two new friends that she met under very unfortunate circumstances. I can't wait to read their stories. Overall, this is a clean romance with very exciting characters. Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
    Cynthia181 4 months ago
    I won a copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways, I was not required to give a favorable review. This is a great story of a woman who's single mom raised her the best she could be held a grudge against the one family who she was a housekeeper for at 517 Park Ave. The husband was having an affair with her. The mother & daughter shared a room, and there son wasn't very nice, but when the wife found out she threw them out after denying that he started the affair, they ended up on the street that night with no money. Now 20 years later her mother is dead, Naomi and made something of herself and has a very successful business. But she is in the process of moving her business and her apartment when she get a letter about a interview for an apartment at 517 Park Ave. She knows she didn't fill out the paperwork, but her mom did, and guess who her first interview is with, the son Oliver. He doesn't remember her, but she remembers him. They have a lot to overcome. Plus she has made friends with the widow, and other mistress of the man she was sleeping with when he died. They have become friends. I loved it.
    StephPhillips 4 months ago
    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I'm not even sure where to star with my review. This story has a lot of things happening. Our main character, Namoi, has had many changes in a short time. Boyfriend passing; business booming; business moving locations; and apartment moving. Though she has to choice between two apartments to choose from. One her deceased mother set up for her to interview for and one she recently acquired. The funny thing is Namoi never thought she'd be back on Park Avenue as a homeowner. Especially not neighbors to the boy - now man - who tormented her during her brief stay in the same complex. To say the man doesn't match up to the boy she once knew is an understatement. Naomi has a hard time reconciling Oliver of today with the one who tormented her as a kid. The new Oliver is HOT! She thought he might follow in his fathers footsteps but it seems as if Oliver is totally not what she expected him to be. Y'all know what they say about assuming right? HA! So there's this man (Oliver) and this woman (Naomi) and they are really great together but there's this cavern. A deep cavern of pain from sins of old; expectations; and reality. You'll be rooting for these two to get their acts together. They really are the "perfect" couple. I enjoyed reading their story and hope you will as well. This is definitely one walk on the upper east side you'll want to take!
    Sandy-thereadingcafe 4 months ago
    PASSION ON PARK AVENUE is the first instalment in Lauren Layne’s contemporary, adult CENTRAL PARK PACT romance series focusing on three friends: Naomi Powell, Audrey Tate and Claire Hayes-three woman who would discover there were all in a relationship with the same man. This is thirty year olds, successful business-woman Naomi Powell, and architect Oliver Cunningham’s story line. Told from dual third person perspectives ( Naomi and Oliver) PASSION ON PARK AVENUE follows Naomi Powell days after the death of Braydon Hayes, a man whose infidelities would bring three strangers together, forming a friendship that would push them closer together. Six months after the death of her mother Danica Fields, millionaire business woman Naomi Powell would be invited to join one of the wealthiest apartment units on Park Avenue-the caveat- it is the same apartment building where her life had spiralled out of control twenty years earlier, when her mother was caught having an affair with the man that she worked for. Fast forward twenty years, wherein, Naomi will come face to face with her past in the guise of thirty year old Oliver Cunningham, the son of the man that destroyed her mother’s life. What ensues is the enemies to lovers relationship between Naomi and Oliver, and the potential fall-out as Naomi is reluctant to reveal the source of her animosity towards Oliver and the Cunningham family, a reluctance that is about to blow up in her face. Naomi Powell wanted retribution for her mother. Six months after her mother’s death, Naomi would discover that Danica Fields put into motion Naomi’s path for revenge, revenge that would stutter when Naomi comes face to face with her childhood nemesis. Oliver Cunningham has no idea why his new neighbor despises the ground upon which he walks. With her unwillingness to reveal the source of her animosity, Oliver can only presume that the woman with whom he is falling in love has suffered greatly at the hands of a previous love. The relationship between Oliver and Naomi is a frenemies to lovers romance wherein Naomi battles between head and heart knowing that torment and loss her mother suffered at the hands of the Cunningham family. Oliver’s attraction to Naomi is instant but our heroine tries to keep her distance from the man with whom she will fall in love. The lone $ex scene fades to black and is mostly implied. We are introduced to Audrey Tate and Claire Hayes; Naomi’s assistant Deena; Audrey’s best friend Clarke West; Oliver’s father Walter Cunningham; his caretaker Janice; Oliver’s friend and fellow architect Scott Turner. Claire and Scott’s story line is next in LOVE ON LEXINGTON AVENUE. PASSION ON PARK AVENUE is a story of betrayal; of vengeance; of broken memories, heart break and loss; secrets and lies; forgiveness, romance and falling in love. The premise is captivating and emotional; the slow building romance is sweet; the characters are energetic, colorful and lost.
    gabby2846 4 months ago
    Every Lauren Layne book I've read has been an enjoyable experience. Passion on Park Avenue is no different. I adored this book! Loved the slow burning enemies to lovers feel, the wonderful back and forth banter, and the delicious tension that developed between the main characters. It was such a cute, fun read. I couldn't get enough. I'm pretty sure I loved Oliver right away. He seemed like a really good guy who is very loyal to his family. Sexy, smart, funny and a family man what's not to love. I will admit it took a while to like Naomi. I'm not sure what it was about her but for the first half of the book, she rubbed me the wrong way. Also, I'm not big on revenge. So her plans to stick it to those who treated her poorly when she was younger made me cringe. I did really come to like her in the end. She became more real and caring. My only complaint of this book is that I wish the big reveal would have come sooner. And Oliver's reaction was a giant let down. Of course this didn't make me want to stop reading. In the center of this story is the friendship that is formed between three women who find out they were sleeping with the same man. I am obsessed with their pact and their friendship. Instead of being catty or turning against each other, they rallied together and encouraged one another; building a lifelong bond. I can't wait to see more of this friendship bloom. Book 1 in the Central Park Pact series is a hit. I'm eager and excited to read the other girls's story.
    Readaholic19 4 months ago
    I was so excited to start the first book in a new series by Lauren Layne. The start of Passion on Park Ave was a little slow, but that very well be me because it’s a new series with all new characters and I didn’t know any of them yet. I loved how Naomi, Claire and Audrey met! I’m not sure I would be so understanding in real life, but LL makes it work. Without giving away the plot too much, I loved the complexity and backgrounds of both Oliver and Naomi. I will be honest and state that it took me some time to warm up to Naomi, but I fell fast and hard for Oliver! Both of them have their own demons that they have to work out, but I loved their backstories for making them who they are. I’ve read A LOT of LL romances and I will say that this novel isn’t so heavy on the sexy times as some of her previous reads. But it doesn’t take away from the novel either. I honestly can’t wait for the next book in the series and I’m hoping that it’s Audrey and Clarke’s love story - so much spark in the few moments they were together in this book! **ARC provided by NetGalley and the Publisher in exchange for my honest review. Special thanks to TastyBookPR for giving me the opportunity to read this book. All opinions are my own**
    Ellesea-Loves-Reading 4 months ago
    As my number one go-to author, any novel by Lauren Layne is a must read for me and this, I'm happy to say is exceptional.  Naomi Powell is a self-made businesswoman and CEO of one of the biggest jewellery businesses in the country. Yet despite her success and wealth, she's shunned amongst the affluent residents of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. When fate brings an invitation and a chance to live in a building where she spent time as a child, she grasps the chance to attend the interview. Surprisingly, she's accepted and it doesn't take long to come face to face with her childhood nemesis. Only he's now grown-up, handsome, charming and can't remember the girl he once tormented.  Oliver Cunningham was born into an affluent family and as an adult is rich and successful in his own right. To the outside world, he's every woman's dream but little do they know the secret he holds and the sacrifice he's making. When a new, young neighbour moves into his building, he's instantly attracted to her. Only, she's not very friendly. Can he change her mind and more importantly, will she run a mile when his secret is exposed?  I love the unique and imaginative way we are introduced to Naomi and the two women who become significant in her life. It's tragic but hilarious how these women became acquainted due to a link none of them knew about before their chance meeting in Central Park. The result captures the essence of friendship as they turn a bad situation into a positive one. As I've come to expect from this author, these women work and help each other find 'the one' as they bond over similar experiences against the glamorous Manhattan skyline.  Whilst retaining all the elements I love about Ms Layne's writing, this novel has a more grown-up feel to it. Besides the slow burn romance brewing between the protagonists, there's a powerful message about the realities faced by many people with ageing parents who need extra care due to health issues. It's a tricky topic and the author manages to balance this and evolving romance perfectly. Even injecting humour into an otherwise challenging situation for the protagonists. It highlights how circumstances can alter a person's life, resulting in selfless sacrifices and the need for compromise to fulfil basic requirements. It's a sobering dilemma for two people with far too many differences between them and yet Naomi and Oliver find their way eventually.  To sum up, I'm hooked on this Central Park Pact series and can't wait to find out the fate of Claire and Audrey and read about their journeys to a happily ever after.  Lastly, I'm very much a reader who is more drawn to the blurb than a book cover when deciding what to read, however, this cover is perfect for Passion on Park Avenue makes my heart sing and the kind I love to see on my own bookshelf...love it!  ***arc generously received courtesy of Gallery Books via NetGalley***
    astroyic 4 months ago
    Sweet Romance! Naomi and Oliver were great characters. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them connect and learn about their histories. Oliver is kind, caring and so not what Naomi remembers or perceived him to be. Naomi is strong and feisty, I loved her spunk. She is not the same little girl that she was when Oliver knew her as a child. When she moves into his building after her mother passes, it is to show them what she has become. But as their attraction and interactions grow, Naomi isn’t ready to confront this new Oliver about what happened in the past. Together they had some amazing interactions. I loved their building heat between the two and it was great watching them work through their struggles as they figure everything out. I also liked how sweet and caring she was with his father, and how much she grew emotionally through this story. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.