To Have and To Hold

Lauren Layne
To Have and To Hold
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Publisher
Pocket Books
Release Date
July 2016
ISBN
9781501135132
Series
Book 1 of Wedding Belles
Genre
Contemporary Romance

SUMMARY
USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the "queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes" (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride's dream come true…but their own.

Discovering her fiancé is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin's business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she's found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who's holding the purse strings.

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya's fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya's fiancé is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke's help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning…is theirs?

Book Review by Pip (reviewer)
Jul 02, 2016   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
102 people found the following review helpful
Brooke Baldwin's new start in New York is really an act of running away from the humiliation of a failed wedding and her new job at a premier wedding planning firm is her new and hopefully, triumphant start on a different coast. But what she doesn't count on is the domineering brother of the bride on her first case as well the rich hotel tycoon financing everything who gives her another shot at love. He also happens to be the man determined to stop this wedding, convinced that the groom isn't who he says he is.

The sniping attraction between them comes as much as a surprise to Seth Tyler, whose need to protect his family (and his own heart) rubs people the wrong way, but there is no denying that Brooke burrows her way quickly underneath that cold, icy exterior before long.

The world of wedding planning is as horrifyingly frou-frou and foreign to me as a language I've never been able to master. Ultra feminine, bridezillas and overflowing with tulle -- aspects of womanhood even I don't proclaim to understand.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD is an introduction to this world -- the business of love, so to speak -- through the rose-tinted sheen of romantic comedies, which I found both fascinating and well, so exclusive that I could only get a peek of this fictional world through Lauren Layne's writing.

But Ms. Layne's setup was good enough that I was sold on Seth and Brooke, who I thought had their own issues to deal with, although I did feel the conflict was made bigger than it really was for the sake of creating drama and tension.

I couldn't shake the feeling however, that Brooke was simply making a mountain of a molehill about Seth's hiring of a P.I., which I found absolutely nothing wrong with. Her behaviour as a consequence, seemed always like an overreaction to Seth's earnest attempts to keep the people around him happy in the only way he knew how, coloured strongly by her memories of her ex-fiancé and transferred unfairly onto Seth.

In spite of Ms. Layne's persuasion of the readers to feel loads of pity for Brooke's big wedding write-off, I found myself instead empathising with Seth more than any other character. I thought him short-changed so many times by the people closest to him because all they could see was his controlling nature which was frankly, made a bigger thing than it was. And because Seth was a more than decent character, I didn't quite like how he was made out to be the only one who'd wronged others, especially when Brooke had actually done more unforgivable things to him -- such as comparing him in some way to her ex, which had me flabbergasted.

Even if the core drama surrounding Seth and Brooke turned me off somewhat, I found myself liking the secondary characters a lot and am gratified that the rest of the Wedding Belles would have their own stories. I did wish though, that there'd been more on the conflict between the bride and Seth's best friend for instance, whose chemistry and hidden story had more to be written about. Given that this is a wedding planning series, we're somewhat left with a HFN ending at least, which made me grateful that everything wedding-related wasn't oversold.
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Book Review by Delta (reviewer)
Jul 09, 2016   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
89 people found the following review helpful
While TO HAVE AND TO HOLD wasn't my cuppa, I'm sure that it'll be a hit with those who like their romance more on the sweet side with a dash of spice.

After a disastrous almost wedding to a notorious conman, Brooke Baldwin leaves LA and heads to NYC to start a new life and a new job as a wedding consultant for The Wedding Belles. Her first client is Maya Tyler…but the only person she can see is her brother Seth. Seth needs Brooke's help exposing Maya's fiancé as a gold digger, but Brooke is naturally reluctant to deter a wedding, since she still believes in the happily ever after. Brooke tries to stay away from Seth, after all, the man is grumpy and rude and has ice in his veins, but when he kisses her, it's like magic. But with Brooke trying to make a name and reputation for herself in NYC, she has to stay away…right? Can the two of them move on from past heartbreak and their professional obligations and find true love in each other's arms?

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD is the first book in The Wedding Belles series. This was a sweet love story that didn't really do it for me. I didn't like Brooke or Seth, he was hotheaded and she constantly questioned everything he said and did. Does he like her? He must not, because he stepped away. Oh he kisses fabulously! That kiss felt like goodbye. GAAH! I can't stand heroines who second guess everything from beginning to end…grow a pair, darlin'! And Seth, he was grumpy most of the time, and then he'd go sweet, then he'd back off and be rude, and so on and so on. The book could've been cut by 1/2 by removing the redundancy.

The plot wasn't bad, it has a lot of potential actually, but the execution drove me bananas. I had a very hard time staying focused on this book because it was set on repeat, and what was there was rather unexciting. There were a few lukewarm sex scenes, for the most part the sweet sweet lovin' was pretty quick and to the point. The climax was…well, anticlimactic to be honest. There was just nothing exciting in TO HAVE AND TO HOLD and I won't be picking up the next in the series.

Bottom Line: An all around eh read with barely likable characters and redundancy galore.
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