Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Mini-reviews: Sex, Love & Stiletto series by Lauren Layne

Eva and I had a lot of fun reading Layne's Love, Sex and Stiletto series over a few days, that we decided to do mini-reviews for the four books.

After the Kiss (Love, Sex & Stiletto #1)
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Publication Date: September 28th 2014

The star columnist of Stiletto magazine will do anything for a story. Anything . . . except fall in love. Julie Greene loves flings, steamy first dates, sizzling first kisses, and - every now and then - that first sexy romp between the sheets. But when Julie gets assigned the hardest story of her career - a first-person account of the shift between dating and "I do" she'll need a man brave enough to give a total commitment-phobe a chance at more. Mitchell Forbes, a devastatingly hot workaholic who tends to stay in relationships for far too long, is the perfect subject for Julie's "research." But what Julie doesn't know is that Mitchell is looking to cut loose and that Julie, notorious for avoiding love, is exactly the type of no-strings fling he's looking for...

The first book in the series and I think it was a good start to this series - we are, more or less, introduced to all the main players and in a fun way.  Before starting this book, I had no idea this series revolved around a magazine, Stiletto, which I imagine is sort of a Cosmopolitan equivalent.  So, Julie and Mitchell are the definitive opposites attract trope.  They start spending time with each other for less than truthful reasons - Mitchell, for a bet and Julie, for a story.  Of course, you can imagine how this truth that they neither tells the other ends.  And yet, this book was probably the most fun because Julie and Mitchell are so different - she is more of a fun-loving party girl and he is a serious nerd.  I liked them together a lot and Mitchell is, even after reading all four books, the guy with the softest spot in my heart from this series. My only serious complaint about this one, really, is how serious Julie and Mitchell got at the end - the end felt a bit over the top, cheesy and unrealistic to me in terms of the characters we've met throughout the rest of the book.  Still, a good, solid and fun start!  What did you think, Jasprit?
I kind of knew how things would end for Mitchell and Julie from the very beginning of the book, despite getting with each other because of a bet, the predictability of After the Kiss, really didn’t take any of the fun away from the book at all. When I first came across Mitchell he didn’t seem like my typical guy at all, he seemed a little set in his ways and like a bit of a bore. But they say opposites attract and this couldn’t have been truer for Mitchell and Julie. I loved how their time together, bought out different sides to them and with them actually trying things they wouldn’t usually do (running for Julie and a night out clubbing for Mitchell). Both were such funny situations watching play out, but also went onto show just how deep their feelings had developed for one another.  Again there was a lot of non-communication or “plans to tell each other things” that never happened and so this did bring out a lot of drama and heartache which could have been avoided. But like Eva mentioned earlier, things did go up a whole another notch for their relationship far too quickly for my liking, not that it wasn’t apparent which way things would go for Mitchell and Julie, but I just like my books to leave me with a few things to think about instead of neatly wrapping things up far too quickly. 

Love the One You're with (Sex, Love & Stiletto #2)
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Publication Date: October 28th 2014

Her mission: six-months without men. But he has other ideas. As Stiletto magazine's foremost relationship expert, Grace Brighton should have seen it coming - her boyfriend has been having an affair right under her nose. Jake Malone is one great story away from editor, and the company challenges him to a little friendly competition with Grace Brighton - who has a better read on the opposite sex? Only Grace isn't the pushover that he anticipated, and Jake sees something in her he never expected. Can the city's number-one heartbreaker convince a woman who's given up on love that he's worth the risk?

I had a lot of fun getting to know Julie and Mitchell in After the Kiss, so when I found out the second book would be about Grace I wasn’t so sure as I didn’t know Grace’s character that well, but once again Layne was able to turn things around and Grace quickly become a favourite. Layne so far has had a unusual set up when it comes to our characters getting to know one another, In Love the One You’re With Grace and Jake are told to go on five dates with one another, write an article about said date for their respective magazines and then let the readers decide and vote who was really falling for the other. It was a strange situation for our characters to find themselves in, but Layne really made it believable and work for me. Especially as Jake and Grace got to know each other more and the sexual tension started simmering right through the roof. Whereas in After the Kiss it took me a while to like Mitchell, I was a fan of Jake from the very beginning; he was charming, funny and just oozing sex appeal! Also after everything that Grace had been through she’d deserved a decent guy. And then when the trip to Wisconsin happened, I was utterly convinced Grace and Jake was perfect for one another. Their scenes together were smoking hot! The only thing that bugged me was the little doubts that they allowed to cloud their judgement and each other’s feelings for one another. If only they openly discussed their feelings, a lot of heartache could have been prevented along the way. That being said Jake and Grace quite quickly took top spot for favourite couple for me in this series so far! Over to Eva now to see how she got on with this book...
Jake was a bit too slick for me from the beginning but I will admit that Grace and Jake's meet-cute was fun.  I agree with you Jasprit that I was interested to see how Layne would develop Grace because her character in the first book is hung up on her boyfriend of many years (who just can just tell is going to be bad news).  Without getting into what happened in that regard, the magazine assignment for Grace and Jack was pretty laughable , at first as it turned into a way for each to one-up and embarrass the other on each date.  I agree that the trip to Wisconsin was the highlight of this one for me and the turning point.  I wasn't fully on board with this ship until that moment!  The ending, again, felt way too crazy serious and rushed to me but that's romance for you.

Just One Night (Sex, Love & Stiletto #3)
Publisher: Ebury Digital 
Publication Date: December 17th 2014

New York's hottest "sexpert" has been living a lie - and it's up to one man to keep her honest ... all night long. Riley McKenna knows sex - good sex, bad sex, kinky sex. Her articles in Stiletto magazine are the publication's most scandalous - and the most read. But when Stiletto's fiftieth anniversary issue requires her column to get a lot more personal, Riley is forced to confront a long-hidden secret: her own sexual experience is limited to one awkward college encounter. Now Riley is about to call in the favour of a lifetime from the one man who's always held her heart...

This was the only book I already owned prior to deciding to do this series/buddy read! I had heard it fell into the brother's best friend trope (one of my favorites) so I purchased it earlier this year but hadn't had a chance to get to it. I will say that I'm glad this wasn't the start of the series because it was my least favorite and I'm not sure I would have continued had I read it first. For some reason, I just didn't get Riley. Sam was okay but a huge part of the book was both of them, especially Sam, so focused on keeping whatever they have from Riley's brother. When it's revealed, as it inevitably would be, it was a big let down. Each of these books centers around the MC doing something kind of personal and/or outrageous for a story in the magazine. Without giving anything away, Riley's story and reasoning seemed the least tenable to me - I was just a big put off and bored by this one, especially compared to the fun of the other books in the series. I'm pretty sure this was also Jasprit's least favorite but I'll let her take it away with her thoughts . . .

Like Eva mentioned, the brother’s best friend trope is another favourite of mine too, and with the excessive bickering between Sam and Riley in the previous book and threats of Riley’s brother kicking off if Sam ever made a move on Riley, made the build up to their relationship that much more delightful to see unfold. Sam was such a great guy, always looking out for Riley and her family, things were tough with his own family, so having Riley’s family around made him appreciate them that much more. And I could get why he wasn’t confident enough in his own ability to succeed, he put so much pressure on himself to make Riley’s family proud, that he just wouldn’t allow himself to take the risk and put himself out there. I really liked this vulnerable side of Sam that we got to see, whereas Riley just came across a bit in your face and brash for my liking, and I just didn’t get that connection with her that I did with the previous characters. Their relationship however I was a huge fan of, the build up was great, but the whole nature of it being forbidden and keeping it hidden from Riley’s brother (the part I was most eager to see unravel), ended up being a whole lot of build up for no reason. And then once again we had the whole plot where things were resolved quite easily and wrapped up nicely once more. Unfortunately like Eva this was my least favourite of the series so far.

The Trouble with Love (Sex, Love & Stiletto #4)
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: March 3rd 2015

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 Trouble with Love actually featured another of my favourite tropes; second chance romances. And although I had started this series not really liking Emma, (that may have been because I liked the original three ladies that worked at Stiletto and didn’t want anyone else jumping on the bandwagon), she really grew on me as the series progressed. Especially when I found out about the curveball that she was hiding, I needed more of her and Alex Cassidy and their back story immediately. What I liked about their previous relationship was that we were just given snippets throughout the series about it and never really knew what the complete truth was either, usually this sort of thing bugs the heck out of me, but I really loved this aspect, that when I finally went to pick up this book, I just couldn’t wait. Alex Cassidy my gosh was smoking hot (I did keep recalling this guy from the show Power which was super annoying when thinking about Alex, but Alex really was all around the much better guy!). The relationship between Cassidy and Emma was one of my favourites, I loved how they could go from being standoffish to having so much heat, the banter was also great and their back story and where they found themselves today really went on to show that their being together was meant to be. Also the ending of this book wasn’t the typical fashion that we’d come to expect with the last couple of books, this I was a huge fan of! Over to Eva and her thoughts...

I agree that this was definitely my favorite of the series and such an awesome slow-build (relatively speaking for this series, HA) second chance romance! This trope is also one of my favorites and was done well here! Although we didn't know what happened completely between Emma and Alex in the past, it was always lurking and hinted at in all of their interactions. It was a bit unbelievable that they would fall into this situation together, working together in a city thousands of miles away from where they met, but it just worked. Alex and Emma were so great together that I was rooting for them so much! My one qualm was Emma's family and, particularly, her father and twin sister that played a big part in her first break from Alex. Not that Alex was not also in the wrong for that, but it's always upsetting when family creates drama and it's unresolved for so many years. I was glad when everything was revealed and worked out. This book also had the best (most realistic) ending of the series! And now, I think it's time to read the spin-off to this series, the Oxford series!

Thanks for reading our series joint review!!


  1. Jasprit, we are on the same wavelength. I, too, am on a Lauren Layne bender. I finished the Oxford series and am on the second book of this series. So far, I'm enjoying everything! I'm looking forward to reading Riley's and Emma's stories!

  2. Pheeewwww, so much Lauren Layne in one post! Between you, Nick, Genesis, and Nereyda, it's amazing I haven't read one of Layne's books yet. I'm not a huge fan of second-chance romance or the brother's best friend tropes, but I think the idea of the fives dates would be fun. The first or second book would appeal to me the most - though I like the cover of the fourth book the most. :D Wonderful reviews, Jasprit!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  3. Thanks for sharing. I haven't read any of these, but I'm glad you enjoyed them all for the most part. That's awesome the last book was your favorite - I suppose it means the books got better, eh? haha I love second chance romances too!

  4. Yay, I'm so glad that you ladies loved this! Frankly, it's my favorite series that Layne has written so far and I just love the strong female friendships at the core, not to mention the focus on career women who are ambitious and driven in addition to everything else that they are. Wonderful mini-reviews, ladies! :)

  5. I have seen so much rave about this novel, going to add it to my TBR now :) I'm glad you enjoyed it! Keep in touch x Benish @ Beenazai

  6. Yay! Book 3 is my least favorite of all the LL books. I just do not like Riley, she's...too much! Book 4 is my favorite! Probably one ofmy favorite LL books. I hope you like the Oxford books! Book 2 isn't my favorite but I love book one and omg Lincoln!

    Nereyda│ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist

  7. Lovely reviews Jasprit :D I'm glad you liked these four books. <3 Not for me, sadly, but you do make me curious about a few of them :D Yay for reading all four. <3


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