Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: March 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely mine.
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.
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?”
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.
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Layne. All rights reserved. Excerpt reprinted by permission.
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!
Just so you know, the two deliciously single guys, Cole and Lincoln? They will get their stories and I can’t wait!
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