Book Review: To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

It’s been so fun watching Lauren Layne’s writing evolve. This latest series, The Wedding Belles, feels new and different from her older stuff but is still fun and brings the awesome dialogue and banter that she’s so good at.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A wedding planner goes head to head with the brother of her latest bride, a control freak who wants her help exposing his sister’s fiance as a fraud. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Client Is Not Always Right
Brooke is making a fresh start in New York. She’s always been a great wedding planner, but when her ex-fiance was arrested for being a con man, her reputation and her heart took a huge hit. New York is giving her the chance to get away from that by working with the city’s premier wedding planning agency, The Wedding Belles. She’s thrown directly into her first assignment and finds herself instantly attracted to the brother of the bride, who holds the purse strings and has major control issues.

Let’s Make a Deal
Seth knows his sister’s fiance is shady, and it doesn’t sit well with him that he didn’t even know she was serious about someone much less ready to marry him. So he decides to get the wedding planner in on his micromanaging, asking her to give him details of everything she discusses with his sister. Brooke is willing to make this deal as long as he keeps his distance from the planning itself. His presence puts the bride on edge, and Brooke’s goal is to make the bride as happy as possible.

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Hard-Headed, Yet Entertaining
The two of them butt heads in the way that stubborn characters so often do, and the sexual tension between them doesn’t help. It doesn’t help that Seth has sworn off relationships since he was burned by a woman he thought he wanted to marry and Brooke has both professional and trust issues with dating him.

Seth and Brooke were fun to read, and they brought that whole “I want you but I’m not ready to be with you” conflict to the max. Their personal demons definitely played into it. Seth can’t handle what he can’t control and Brooke pretends to be happy go lucky all the time but still has a lot of pain regarding the blindside she received at her own wedding. It was a nice dose of reality that even though she knew her ex had swindled people and lied to her, she still had feelings for him when the story began, despite her anger and hurt, and that played into all the things she had to work through.

Sides and Quirks
I’m also a fan of side stories and side characters. Not only did I really like Seth’s sister, I loved the subplot of his best friend being into her. Another quirk I thought was fun? There sees to be a bit of a theme with food being thrown whenever Brooke pisses Seth off.

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The Romance Factor
There is such great angst between Seth and Brooke that it breaks the heart a little bit when they have their break-up. They both have to deal with their own personal issues before they can be together, and the way that Seth tries to get her back definitely falls under the category of “go big or go home.” 4/5

The Steam Factor
Though not overly steamy or explicit, there were a few really sensual moments. 3/5

Final Thoughts
Layne does a fine job of giving us a great story while still setting the stage for future books and allowing is to start getting to know the other wedding planners in the series. I’m excited to keep reading this series and love that each Belle has a different personality and brings something different to the business.

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