The Trouble with Love: A Sex, Love & Stiletto Novel

The Trouble with Love: A Sex, Love & Stiletto Novel

by Lauren Layne

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As Lauren Layne’s salacious Sex, Love & Stiletto series returns, a jaded columnist discovers a steamy way to get over an old flame: falling for him all over again.

As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.

After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.

Praise for The Trouble with Love

The Trouble with Love is a heartwarming read I devoured in one sitting and haven’t been able to stop smiling over since.”New York Times bestselling author Violet Duke

Lauren Layne’s New York Times bestselling Oxford Novel series can be read in any order:

Don’t miss any of Lauren Layne’s hot reads:



The Redemption series: ISN’T SHE LOVELY  | BROKEN | CRUSHED

The I Do, I Don’t series: READY TO RUN | RUNAWAY GROOM

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101883433
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/03/2015
Series: Sex, Love, & Stiletto Series , #4
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 237
Sales rank: 12,477
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Lauren Layne is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance novels. Prior to becoming a writer, she worked in e-commerce and Web marketing. In 2011 Lauren and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where she decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite Lauren’s ardent assurances to her husband that it would take only three). Since then, she’s gone on to publish ten books, including those in the bestselling Sex, Love & Stiletto series, with more stories always in the works. Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and their spoiled Pomeranian. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Emma had considered calling in sick.

The flu. Cramps. Measles. Dysentery. Mental health day. Whatever.

At the very least, she probably should have waited until after the morning rush hour. Or perhaps snuck in the back door of her office building along with the water cooler delivery guy.

But Emma Sinclair was not a fan of letting life’s little hiccups inconvenience her.

Although . . .

She supposed one could argue there was nothing so little about the fact that her apartment had gone from completely normal to entirely flooded in less time than it took her to curl her eyelashes.

And as for the fact that said water catastrophe had resulted in her entire building losing power . . . well, that was pretty much just a straight-up apocalypse.

Still. There were worse things than coming into work with your hair soaking wet and your makeup nonexistent, dressed in a hot-pink bridesmaid dress from your cousin’s wedding that was the only dry item in your closet thanks to its protective plastic covering.

Emma had barely bothered to look in the mirror before she’d dashed out of her apartment chased by a string of F-bombs from her frazzled landlord. But then, she didn’t need to look in the mirror to know that her look was one part too glamorous for the office, one part street rat.

Besides, who needed a mirror when you had friends like Julie Greene?

Emma was digging through her bag for the badge that would let her pass through security at the Ravenna office building where she worked, when Julie strolled up behind her, Starbucks cup in hand, smile firmly in place as always.

“Hi, Em . . . aaahh,” Julie said, breaking off in horror as she took in Emma’s appearance.

Emma gave Julie a droll look. “You like?”

“I don’t even understand what’s happening here,” Julie said, her voice mystified. She held out her Starbucks cup. “Here. Take my caramel macchiato. You need it more.”

Emma started to give a dismissive nah, that’s okay, but on second thought, accepted the offering. Her friend was right. She did need it more. The Incident had happened mid coffee-brew, which meant Emma was running on a caffeine deficit.

She took a sip as Julie continued to stare at Emma’s outfit in dismay.

“Explain?” Julie said.

Emma sighed. “The apartment above me had some sort of water disaster. My entire apartment looks like the set of Titanic, minus the nubile Leo.”

Julie eyed Emma’s wet hair. “So, is your hair wet from, like, dirty pipe water?”

“No,” Emma said, taking a last sip of Julie’s coffee and handing the cup back as she located her badge.

“Fortunately, I’d showered before the pipe burst and I managed to dodge the worst of the spray. Unfortunately, drying my hair wasn’t an option.”

“Right. That whole electrocution thing,” Julie said as they swiped their badges and headed to the elevators.

“Um, yeah, I couldn’t have gotten electrocuted even if I wanted to,” Emma said, punching the Up button. “The power went out.”

Julie’s brown eyes bugged out. “Seriously? Flooded and you have no power? Is everything ruined?”

“Of course not. I still have this lovely dress,” Emma said, pulling the hem of her dress out to the side, curtsy style. She pretended not to notice the way the two girls who had been gossiping happily as they crossed the elevator lobby immediately quieted when they spotted her.

The dress would have been a distraction all by itself. The drippy wet bun was also atypical for a swanky office building in which sophisticated and polished was the unofficial dress code for women.

But a lack of makeup made everything worse. Much worse.

Not that Emma was really a glam type of girl, but she had a distinct disadvantage of having very fair eyelashes, despite her medium brown hair. And her eyes’ shape made it worse. They were both large and tilted upward in a semi-distinctive manner. Bambi eyes, her mother had always called them.

But without eyeliner and mascara, she was more Lord of the Rings’ Gollum than adorable baby deer.

“You know, it’s a good dress, if a bit out of place for work,” Julie mused, as they followed the two gossiping girls and a middle-aged man yapping into his phone onto the elevator. “Sexy. A little slutty even. Go you!”

“That’s great, Jules. Slutty was just what I was going for on a random Wednesday morning at the office.”

“Well then, you should have called me. We’re the same size–ish. I could have lent you something.”

“I’ll be taking you up on that tomorrow,” Emma said as Julie hit the button for the twelfth floor. “Everything I have will need to be dry-cleaned at best, burned at worst. But this morning, I couldn’t make it from Upper East over to Upper West in the middle of traffic and still make it to the office in time.”

The elevator doors had just started to close when a male hand stuck between them, activating their sensors so that the doors reopened.

Great. Really freaking fantastic.

A lesser woman would have groaned in dismay at the sight of the man in front of her.

Emma merely straightened her shoulders, ignoring Julie’s softly uttered “Oh, dear.”

It was him.

The man was gorgeous in the sort of way that made women stop and stare. The tall and lean athlete’s body was as impeccably dressed as ever in a trim, perfectly tailored black suit. No sign of a tie today, although there often was one.

His dark hair was perfectly styled, the clean-shaven face showing off a strong jaw and symmetrical lips.

And the eyes . . . green today, although they often could burn blue.

But Emma didn’t have to look at the man to know all of this.

She knew it all from her memories. Bad memories.

He didn’t falter at the sight of Emma and her low-cut cocktail dress and ugly wet bun.

In fact, he didn’t look at her at all.

Nothing—not surprise, not even acknowledgment—fluttered across his features at her presence.

The man was in control.


Julie shifted to the corner of the elevator to make room for him, and he nodded briefly at her before turning so that he and Emma were standing shoulder to shoulder.

The doors closed, and Emma lifted her eyes to the little screen that indicated the floor number.

He mimicked her posture, his eyes also focused on the spot where the L became 1, then 2 as they ascended.

“Emma,” he said politely, not looking at her.


“You’re looking well.”

“And you,” she said, her tone smooth. Monotone.

“You didn’t get dressed up on my account, I hope.” His voice never lost its casual politeness.

She didn’t so much as glance at him. “Oh, do you not like it? I’ve been so hoping a fancy dress is all it would take for you to ask for my number.”

The elevator stopped on the seventh floor, and Emma and Cassidy stepped to the side so the man in the back corner could exit. In sync, they moved immediately back into their previous positions as the door closed.

They still had not looked at each other.

“You know, it’s a little bright for my taste,” he mused, as though they’d never been interrupted. “I like more subdued colors on a woman. Say . . . white. I always like to see a woman in a white dress. Do you own one?”

Julie cleared her throat, although Emma couldn’t tell if it was a warning or a laugh.

The elevator stopped at 12. Emma’s stop. Finally.

“Excuse me,” she murmured to Cassidy as she stepped off, her voice sugary sweet.

Julie followed her.

And much to Emma’s dismay, so did Cassidy.

“Wrong floor, Cassidy,” Julie said sweetly, with a pretty smile for the wretched man.


“Not today it’s not,” he replied.

“Ah,” Julie said. “Got a meeting with Camille?”

“I do.”

Camille Bishop was the editor in chief of Stiletto magazine, and Julie and Emma’s boss. Since Cassidy was the editor in chief of Oxford magazine, Stiletto’s brother publication, it wasn’t strange that he occasionally stopped by the twelfth floor.

Didn’t mean Emma had to like it.

“See you ladies around,” Cassidy said with a smile for Julie. Emma barely warranted a glance. “Oh, and Emma, just a friendly reminder that winter’s right around the corner. Careful you don’t catch a cold with that wet head.”

He moved away before Emma had a chance to respond. Or give him the finger. Not that she would have bothered.

“Friendly reminder, my tush,” Emma muttered, glaring briefly at his back before she and Julie headed toward the office they shared.

“I think it’s sweet. Maybe he cares,” Julie said, linking her arm in Emma’s.

Emma grunted in response. “Give me the rest of your coffee. I need it.”

Customer Reviews

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The Trouble with Love: A Sex, Love & Stiletto Novel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The final Stiletto girl gets her happy ending. The books each stand alone, but if you are going to read them all, read them in order. I enjoyed discovering the truth about Emma and Alex's past. All these books manage to be funny, emotional and just sexy enough. I'll read the spinoff Oxford series too!
TheSassyBookster More than 1 year ago
Oh, where do I begin? THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE is classic Lauren Layne: sexy and fun characters, sassy dialogue and filled with emotion. One would imagine that New York City was far enough from North Carolina and so well-populated that the chances of running into your ex-fiancé/fiancée would be slim to none, but that’s not the case for Emma and Alex as they end up working for sister publications located in the same building and even sharing a circle of friends! Polite disinterest and ignoring each other has worked quite well for both of them but that too takes a hit when Alex becomes Emma’s interim boss and unfortunate circumstances cause Emma to become Alex’s temporary neighbor. The other stories in the series were mostly fun, flirty and entertaining but this story was very emotional and sucked me in from the beginning. Working together, living next door to each other and even hanging out together with their friends strains the icy reserve between them and feelings long-buried rise to the surface. The range of emotions are those that anyone can identify with: betrayed trust, shattered dreams, heartbreak, feigned disinterest, renewed hope, the fear of being hurt again, and so on. Emma and Alex are characters that can easily be identified with, as is their story. I love that Ms. Layne does not downplay Alex’s feelings and that we get his perspective as well, which is quite different from Emma’s. Most of all, I love that Ms. Layne did not take easy way out to happily-ever-after for Emma and Alex. They both had to acknowledge their roles in their break-up, work through the pain and choose to trust again in their quest for a second chance at love. Their circle of friends enrich the story by being supportive, offering advice and providing humorous interludes. My favorite part of the story: Alex’s SOS group text to his friends when he finds himself out of ideas to win Emma back! *I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
celticmaggie More than 1 year ago
I love this series from Lauren. She has me hooked with all her people. This story line just went in an all new direction. Alex Cassidy is Emma's ex-fiancee. Boy, you couldn't think up how much of a spoiler this is. Then Camille goes on an extended vacation and leaves her staff of Stiletto under Cassidy. He gives Emma a hard story for a Christmas read in Stilleto Magazine. It makes one wish there is such a magazine. The headache is Emma's apartment flooded and she stays in Camille's flat. So of course Cassidy is across the hall. They are still upset from 6 years ago. He thinks one way while she sees it another way. And we won't even mention her father and the mess her twin sister is in. You will have to read this story for yourself as you couldn't believe it anyway. I hope you choose to read this book. Enjoy your reading!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1st time reading Lauren Layne book and I am a FAN. Fun, sweet addicting book that if I was really obsessed could have finished in a day @ the beach. Did not have to read entire series to ENJOY this book sssoooo much!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sdeets More than 1 year ago
Absolutely LOVED this one! For me it was the best in the series. You laughed, cried, held your breath, felt their loss, felt their hope. Loved, loved, loved this one. I highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing Series! I have truly loved every single one of her books.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so glad Emma and Alex got their own story!
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jeniNY More than 1 year ago
LOVED IT!!!! Emma Sinclair knows heartbreak better than most, that’s why she writes about it. She is one of the female columnists at Stiletto magazine. Along with her closest friends at the magazine, she writes from personal experiences. However, even her friends don’t know the whole truth about the devastating day the love of her life broke her heart and left her at the altar. Now he becomes her temporary editor and chief and he assigns her to write a story that will either help her get over him or completely break her heart all over again. Alex Cassidy was a star athlete in college until one day a knee injury forces him to reevaluate his life goals. He decides to give journalism a shot. He ends up in a magazine in New York City a dream job as editor in chief of Oxford magazine for men. By some horrible twist of fate the sister magazine Stiletto hires his former fiancé. They broke each other’s hearts seven years ago and now they decide to be an adult about it and ignore each other. Yes, that will work right? A supposed coincidence puts her in the apartment next door to him and Alex can’t help wondering if the girl he fell in love with is still there under all that ice. He finds himself determined to chip away at her chilly exterior, in the process falling for her all over again. My Review: I absolutely loved this story. Wow, really great character development. I am always worried when I get books that are in a series I have never read. Sometimes when an author says you can read the book from a series as a standalone it feels like its missing something and I don’t get the full effect of the story. However, in this book of four of the Stiletto series, Lauren Layne has developed such well-rounded characters at no point did I feel lost or not understand where the story was headed or where it had been in previous books. For me she managed to keep me informed about the pasts of the other characters in the series without making it boring or confusing. The background characters were so much fun and relate able, Cassidy’s friends and Emma’s friends lending much needed advice and sometimes comic relief. As I found out more and more about the heartbreak both Emma and Cassidy suffered from their failed wedding seven years ago I became very emotional. This book made me laugh, it made me cry and ugly cry. I highly recommend this book and I am looking forward to going back to find out how the other couples in the series got their happily ever after. Just added this author to my favorites list. RECEIVED AN ARC FROM NETGALLEY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW
JensReadingObsession More than 1 year ago
I've been reading quite a few second chance romance lately, and this one is one of my favorites.  It made me laugh and it made tear up a bit at times. I loved the dual POV and all the tension between Emma and Cassidy.  There is some back and forth between them as expected, but for me, that makes the HEA that much better.  The cast of characters is great - I loved all the girls so much that I am going back and reading the previous books. Highly recommended for second chance romance lovers! ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Maria-Rose More than 1 year ago
In this lovers to enemies to lovers story (Is that an official romance trope? I think it should be!), Emma and Alex experienced a devastating breakup years earlier that gouged scars in both their hearts, scars that have healed over but never been forgotten. Now in the same circle of friends and working for sister magazine companies, they endure each other's company with studied indifference. When Alex is put temporarily in charge of Emma's magazine Stiletto, he challenges her to write a story about ex-boyfriends, knowing full well that he is on that list. In truth he's looking for some answers to what happened to them and hopes this will be a way to find them, and move on with his life once and for all. But finding themselves spending more and more time together it's easy to forget the past - until it rears it's ugly head again. This time will they be able to heal the heartbreak and rediscover their love for each other? I loved this story! Seriously, from the moment I started it I had a grin on my face, reading avidly as Alex and Emma circle each other like sharks in a pond, knowing that eventually they would have to deal with the sexual attraction between them and no longer ignore the past. Emma is a strong, no-nonsense woman with valid reasons for closing herself off to Alex. Her past relationship with him has affected all future relationships and in researching her ex-boyfriend article she learns some truths about herself, truths that are difficult to swallow. Alex is an engaging figure as a friendly, forthright man, equally damaged though by the past and determined to put Emma behind him once and for all. Yet when they are in the same room together the indifference they feel is an act - they are constantly aware of each other and this ratchets up the sexual tension until they come to a point where it can no longer be denied. It's a slow pull exonerably forward, deliciously written so that the reader anticipates it with every situation they find themselves in. That's my favourite part of any romance and Lauren Layne is a master at that. The eventual love scenes between them are steamy and intense. But they don't solve the ultimate problem, which is discovering the truth behind their breakup, a truth that reveals the culpability of both of them in what happened. I confess that I shed a few tears as the truth of their breakup was revealed. There are several secondary characters in the story, co-workers and friends of Alex and Emma that make the story a delightful read. Witty banter is part and parcel of these groups of friends and there were several laugh out loud moments. As I was reading, the men who work for Oxford, Stiletto's sister company became more and more intriguing to me and I was thrilled to discover at the end of the story that there is a series planned with them as well. That promises to be a winner! Overall, the story kept me engaged from the first page and I read it all in one shot, not being able to put it down until Alex and Emma got their happy ending. 5 stars for a fabulous read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Normally I hate the characters that keep their emotions very close to their chests. I hate when things happen because of miscommunication. I usually scream in frustration at the characters, "just talk to each other already!" But in this case their interactions was a slow build. Their cold indifference toward each other became a sensual game of sorts. They have so much baggage that they need to resolve issues. I love the slow reveal of their past. It's as if it's a mystery. God! This is a great story. The reason they broke up was both their faults I think. There was such loneliness coming from them especially her. Damn, the ending was a little rushed or tied up in a bow too neatly. It kind of disappoints me since the rest of the book was great. I especially loved the secondary characters from the previous stories. And I can't wait for the next series of Oxford men...hmm I wonder who will be next...commitment-phobic Cole or love-em-and-leave-them-smiling Lincoln?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago