Author: Lauren Layne
Title: "To have and to hold"
Book 1 in series The wedding belles
Main characters: Seth Tyler and Brooke Baldwin
I got the ARC of this amazing story from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and I am very glad I did... don't get me wrong, this book was definitely on my radar, and I would read it either way, so imagine my joy when I got it early ;) this is the third book written by this lovely author that I've read and I have to say, that it pretty much solidified my opinion that I absolutely adore her witing style :) I cannot wait to read all other books written by her... ;) but for now, let us concentrate on the topic of this review ;) because this one... *sighs happily* I loved it so much... :) it was such a lovely and fun read... don't get me wrong, there were quite a few more emotional moments, but the overall tone of the book was... it gave me warm fuzzies ;) I know, I know... ;) but it's the best explanation I can give you about how I felt reading it :) so maybe I'll go into more details :)
I have to start with our main couple :) becuase they are like night and day :) Brooke is the day part ;) she's bubbly, optimistic, always smiling :) she moved from Los Angeles to New York after a personal scandal shattered her professional reputation as a wedding planner... now she's starting fresh, although can you really say that, if you run away from problems and shove all your negative feelings deep down, pretending that everything is good again? I get the philosophy "fake it till you make it" but Brooke takes it to a new level... don't get me wrong, I loved her... was she handling all that situation in the best possible way? not really, but she did the best she could at the time, and I can understand it... plus, I love when there is actual character development in the story, so... ;) and Seth... he's definitely the night part of the equation ;) he's more broody, silent, very controlling type of a guy... he's direct and doesn't really know when to stop pushing... he was always this way, but after the death of his father not that long ago, and him taking control over the huge family company, it got even more intense... again, I loved him... yes, he had his flaws, but I love characters who aren't perfect... it just makes them more real and human...
They meet when Brooke is hired to plan the wedding of Seth's sister... more about Maya in a moment :) he thinks her fiance doesn't have good intentions, and wants to find a way to prove it... there is definitely some instant attraction between him and Brooke, but nothing more ;) which is actually quite funny to witness, to be honest ;) it's not like they hate each other, but there's definitely some sarcastic banter going on... ;) she is definitely not afraid to tell him what she thinks ;) I'm not usually a fan of those push-and-pull sort of relationships, but I didn't mind it here :) of course, the more time they spend together, and the more they get to know each other, the more this situation changes... :) heat between them becomes an inferno and they actually discover sides of each other they like ;) and of course there's some drama near the end, although I was on Seth's side in that particular situation, and though I would prefer for it to have been resolved a bit sooner, I do understand why it took as much time as it did... and I know I'm being vague, but you don't really want to know all the spoilery details, right? ;)
Now about some secondary characters... :) let's start with Maya :) like I mentioned before, she's Seth's younger sister, and I was really afraid I won't like her... don't ask me why, because I had no logical reason for that fear :) but she turned out to be such a fun character :) then we of course have the ladies from The wedding belles company :) Heather and Alexis :) both of them are going to have their own stories, with Heather's book coming out very soon in august, and then the conclusion to the series, Alexis's story, in october :) and usually, with these sort of closed series I can pick my favourite one... the character I'm waiting to read about the most... but here? I can't choose :) it's like "I can't wait to read about Heather... she's so fun and entertaining... but then... Alexis looks all calm and put together but there was a hint or two about what's hiding under all that so I want to read about her next... but Heather... but Alexis..." :) and so on... ;) so basically I want to read both of their books like yesterday ;) there were quite a few more characters that I wanted to mention to you, but I decided to leave their names out of this review on purpose ;) mainly cause when you meet them, you'll have a lovely surprises :) the last one I will mention though is Etta :) she's Seth's assistant and I adored her :) she was sarcastic and bossy and just phenomenal.. even though in only a few scenes, she definitely left an impression ;)
I absolutely loved this story :) like I mentioned before, it was just another proof, that the writing style of Lauren Layne is just really something that I enjoy immensly and I cannot wait to get to her other books :) I think she did a fantastic job with this series :) this story works as a standalone as well, because the situation with our main couple is resolved, but it also definitely makes you curious about the future stories with people that you met here :) I adored Seth and Brooke, with their flaws and everything, and the secondary characters only added additional layers to this fantastic story :) even though there were more emotional and serious moments the overall tone of the book is definitely light and hopeful... it was such a feel good book for me :) it left me with the biggest smile on my face :) I cannot wait to see what she has prepared for other lovely ladies in this series :) so if you want a fun contemporary romance, definitely give this one a try :)
I have just a few quotes for you guys today, to show you a few glimpses into this story, but remember, they all come from the ARC version of the story, so the finished one might be slightly different :) but I really wanted to show you something ;) so enjoy and happy reading :)
Just one of many reasons why I love Brooke ;)
"Brooke Baldwin double-checked the weather app on her phone. Then triple-checked it.
Nope. The numbers hadn't changed. Twenty-four degrees freaking Fahrenheit, but *feels like twelve*. Really? Once it got below freezing, did it even matter what the *feels like* temperature was?
Brooke wouldn't know. She could count the times she'd been in subfreezing temperatures on one hand. A hand that was likely to turn into a Popsicle the second she got outside because she didn't own a pair of gloves.
Reason number 412 why moving to New York City from Los Angeles on a whim had been... an adjustment."
Part of a conversation between Seth and Etta and just a glimpse why I love her ;)
"'Have there been any calls this afternoon?' he asked, ignoring her question.
'No, none,' she said. 'We're one of the largest hotel chains on the planet, but no phone calls. No emails, either. I've just been playing spider solitaire all day."
Part of a conversation between Brooke and Seth ;)
"She gave a crooked smile. 'You looked mad when I walked in.'
Horny. Fucking horny.
He shrugged. 'That's just my face.'
She burst out laughing. 'Well, that's good to know. Here I've been thinking I just always bring out the worst in you.'
'I'm not entirely sure that's not true.'"
And another one with our main couple :)
"'Cold, am I?' he said, his breath warm against her cheek. 'You sure about that?'
Brooke's heart was thumping now, and she jerked at the door handle again. His big hand stayed where it was, keeping the door closed. Locking her in.
Her hand dropped to her side, and she inhaled. 'Let me go.'
She saw his fingers flex slightly, as though wanting to remove his hand, but incapable of it.
'I'm trying,' he growled.
And the last one with Seth and Brooke :)
"Seth linked his fingers in hers. 'Take me home, Baldwin.'
She laughed. 'You know, for such a rich, savvy guy, you can be a total dork.
'I like to think it reveals my vulnerable side.'
She glanced up at him suspiciously. 'Do you have a vulnerable side?'
'I do. Her name is Brooke.'"