Updated: Jan 17
For Better or Worse
by Lauren Layne
Published by Pocket Books
Book #2 in The Wedding Belles Series
When small-town girl Heather Fowler finally gets promoted from assistant to actual wedding planner, she’s determined to make it as one of Manhattan’s elite Wedding Belles. Unfortunately, her first client demands an opulent black-tie affair at the Plaza…in five months’ time. Heather’s days quickly become a flurry of cake tastings, dress-fittings, RSVP cards, and bridal tantrums. But what she’s really losing sleep over is the live music blaring from her playboy neighbor’s apartment all night.
Five years ago, Josh Tanner was an up-and-comer on Wall Street, complete with the penthouse and the migraines. But a grim cancer diagnosis made him realize there is more to life than the corner office. If only he could convince his pretty, workaholic neighbor to let loose, too. As Heather lets down her guard, Josh is surprised when he starts falling for the sweet, vulnerable woman hiding beneath those power suits. Soon, it’s Heather’s turn to convince Josh to take the biggest risk of all: love.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Some Steaminess #ContemporaryRomance Feel Good
My Ramblings are ahead, and be warned. There are spoilers.
For Better or Worse is the second book in the Wedding Belle's series, and centers around Heather, assistant wedding planner, and her neighbor Josh. While I found the first book of the series a little lacking in depth, I liked it enough to continue to the second book. YAY to me! For Better or Worse is amazing!
I like Heather. She seemed fun in the first book, but her personality really shines in this one. She is incredibly driven, going after her dreams. Passionate. Smart. Funny. She also has never been in love. Coming from a single parent household, where her Mom brought a new guy home every couple of months claiming he was "the one", she definitely has her walls up. What she does have going for her, are her professional goals, and she is finally given her chance to plan the wedding of a big client, and get promoted to wedding planner. Which would be perfect ... if she could sleep.
Enter Josh. There is no way you can read the first chapter and not fall in love, at least a little bit, with Josh. Josh is Heather's neighbor. He is in a band. They practice at night ... when poor Heather needs to sleep. Her frustration with her inconsiderate neighbor leads to pounding on his door, confronting him, and from there, they go from headbutting neighbors, who are undoubtedly attracted to one another, to friends, to more.
Problem is, Josh isn't a forever guy. Josh is a cancer survivor, and it changes his whole outlook on life. He quits his chaotic job on wall street, where he made a lot of money, to being unemployed, and playing and writing music. He see's life needs to be lived, and to have fun. Enjoy it, because life is short. Problem is, his cancer is high risk to come back. So he keeps women at a distance. One night stands only. He refuses to leave behind someone else who will grieve him. His normal routine is becoming boring though, and he is lonely ... and his new neighbor adds just a little bit more excitement to it.
One of the things I LOVED about this book, is how entertaining it was. From the first chapter, till the end, I was laughing. Josh and Heather's constant back and forth is fun to read. Their romance is slow and steady. They found each other attractive, but became friends first, and got to know each other (with the exception of his past diagnosis with cancer. Josh chooses not to tell her, because he enjoys not being "that guy" in her eyes). When they finally succumb to the sexual tension, its hot and passionate. For Josh, it's a big step, because he knows he likes her, and makes their sexual relationship an on going one. For her, even knowing that Josh doesn't want a relationship, she finally lets herself fall in love for the first time.
I don't normally get emotional with romance books, but I cried reading this one. When Josh goes to the hospital, terrified and convinced his cancer has come back, and Heather learns of his past from his mother ... ugh. What's great about Heather though, she doesn't hold it against him. She is quick to stand by him, and tells him she loves him. Josh, of course, pushes her away. His worse nightmare was that his cancer would come back, and he would leave behind a woman who loved him, heartbroken. My heart was beating until we find out that Josh's cancer is still in remission. His twin sister is the one who makes him realize why he feels like his life is boring, and that he is missing something. It's because he isn't living. He may have beat cancer physically, but mentally it's kicked his ass. By choosing to not live a normal life, he has lost.
The ending of this book is perfect. Heather's big celebrity client, was faking the whole engagement to publicity. Heather knew something was up, because the client wasn't interested in planning. So Heather, not knowing what to do, plans her own dream wedding. Josh, knowing this, asks Alexis (Heather's boss) to make sure the wedding plans are not cancelled, and not only rushes to propose to Heather a week after he pushed her away, but to get marry her the same day. It's all incredibly romantic, but also, in typical Josh and Heather fashion, is entertaining as hell.
Lauren Layne does a great job adding depth to these characters. Whereas the first of the series lacked the layers the characters needed, it's spot on in this one , and it really adds to the story. I couldn't put it down. I laughed. I cried.
Also enjoyed the little updated on the last books featured couple, Seth and Brooke. They are living together, happy, and Seth proposes at their New Years Eve party (the party that Josh and Heather seem to realize their feelings for one another). We also get a hint at the next book, and it's going to center around the mysterious Alexis and her friend and accountant, Logan.
Where to Buy:
Josh: "It's Friday night, babe. You need to loosen up. Want to come in for a beer?"
Heather: "No. What I want is for you to stop the hideous music so that when my alarm goes off in four hours, I won't have to stop by here and kill you before I go to work."
Heather: "Do I look like the type that makes delicious sweet buns?"
Josh: "You look like the type that has delicious sweet buns."
Heather: "What the hell was that?"
Josh: "The quickest way to shut you up, apparently. Should have tried it five minutes ago before you started rambling about bows and pews."
Heather: "Seriously? How the heck are you pulling off that dress right now?"
Alexis: "Is it no good? I bought it online, but the model has considerably bigger boobs than me, and I'm a little worried it makes me look like a stuffed condom."
Brooke: "So not what I thought you were going to say."
Alexis: "I think my lack of recent sexual exposure is starting to manifest."
Heather: "Hear, hear. I can't remember the last time I've seen a stuffed condom."
Heather: "Decaf coffee is like an unstuffed condom. Completely useless to me."
Sue: "But if I call first, you might tell me not to come."
Josh: "I'll just tell you to come over later. You know. After."
Sue: "After you're done wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am-ing, you mean?"
Josh: "Jesus. Mom. Did you spike your coffee?"
Josh: "You know what you need, 4C?"
Heather: "Yes. Sleep."
Josh: "Exactly. Nonfat. Not my usual jam, but I think Mom can make this work."
Heather: "Mom? I don't want pancakes."
Josh: "Everybody wants pancakes, 4C."
Heather: "Heather. My name is Heather."
Josh: "That's way too pretty a name for someone as snippy as you."
Heather: "I'm not snippy, I'm tired.
Josh: "Mom, I brought you something sour."
Sue: "The milk was no good?"
Josh: "The milk was fine. It's 4C here who's a bit curdled."
Sue: "You must be the nice girl that moved into Mrs. Calvin's place! Oh my, aren't you pretty."
Josh: "Don't get too excited. She says that to all the girls."
Sue: "I do, But I don't always mean it. Today I do."
Josh: "So would now be a good time to tell you that my band's coming over to practice tonight?"
Heather: "Let's just say that you making me more of that heavenly coffee if your best chance of me not strangling you with a guitar string."
Josh: "Damned if I don't like you a little bit, 4C, especially when you're all pissy and shit."
Heather: "You're a pig."
Josh: "Hurtful, 4C. Very hurtful."
Heather: "Are you seriously trying to seduce me with coffee right now?"
Josh: "Is it working?"
Heather: "No. I made my own coffee this morning."
Josh: "Dear God, please tell me that's a sexy euphemism for ..."
Heather: "Did you just ask me if I masturbated this morning?"
Josh: "No, I begged you to tell me that you masturbated. Willing it to be true is not the same as asking a woman if she did. That would be rude."
Josh: "I don't sleep with a different woman every night."
Heather: "Oh, so there are repeats?"
Josh: "God, no. I meant that I take some nights off."
Heather: "Gotta give the little guy a chance to recover?"
Josh: "Hey, wait, you didn't answer my most interesting question of the day."
Josh: "Did you touch yourself this morning? And, important follow-up question, did you think of me?
Heather: "Oh, for the love of - Good-bye, Josh."
Josh: "Don't bother. She's here to kill all the joy in the world."
Heather: "Not all joy, Josh. Just yours."
Heather: "So? What are you doing? What are you typing?"
Josh: "My phone number."
Heather: "I don't want your phone number. If I need to yell at you, I'll come next door."
Heather: "What, the dedicated bachelor has never been in love? I'm shocked. Shocked I say!"
Heather: "Quit flirting. You just got done telling me how falling in love with you would be the end of life as I know it."
Josh: "Oh, I don't want you to love me, 4C. Doesn't mean I don't want you to want me.
Heather: "I'll try to control myself."
Jamie: What'd you do?"
Josh: "How do you know it was me who did something?"
Josh: "Gross. Don't."
Josh: "Morning 4C. Aren't you pretty in the morning. And by pretty, I mean your hair is enormous."
Heather: "For someone who complains about his mother's lack of boundaries, you're definitely crossing some on your own."
Josh: "What can I say, a chip off the old block. Also, 4C, can we talk about your bra choice?"
Josh: "Because I've got to tell you, if we're going to do the deed, I'd like to request something other than that light brown thing in your hand. It looks like something my grandma would wear."
Heather: "First of all, its a nude bra, not light brown."
Josh: "It's brown."
Heather: "Second of all, where on earth did you get the idea that we're going to do the deed?"
Josh: "You were muttering about needing a cold shower, and I can assure you that scratching the itch is a better solution than trying to stifle it."
Josh: "Also, I just saw your ass, and ... well done, 4C. From the day I met you, I knew you had sweet buns, and we just confirmed it."
Sue: "Josh was so excited you could join us, and trust me when I say we share his enthusiasm."
Josh: "Yup. i wrote all about it in my diary."
Josh: "Hell no. I want a piece of this pie just as badly as you do. Maybe with a cup of really excellent coffee."
Heather: "You know I can't handle it when you talk dirty."
Josh: "Can you smell it? All those dark roast beans? A hit of smoke, a little bit of chocolate. The way its rich bitterness rolls over your tongue, mingling with the sweetness of the pumpkin pie."
Heather: "So this is how your coax women into your apartment? Because it's totally working."
Josh: "You look hot like that."
Heather: "Hot mess."
Josh: "Nope. Just hot. Don't let it go to your head though, you're already insufferable enough with that big ego."
Heather: "Hey, how long until your Mom gets here to make pancakes? That's what she does for your one-night stands, right?
Heather: "I am, so listen up and take notes if you need to. I meant what I said last night. I'm not reading too much into what happened. I didn't wake up in the middle of the night to watch you sleep. I didn't punch holes in all the condoms in hopes of having your love baby -"
Josh: "Jesus, 4C."
Josh: "And this is why I don't have a girlfriend."
Heather: "Seriously? You don't have a girlfriend because you're an ass."
Heather: "You happy? You get what you want?"
Josh: "Not even fucking close."
Jamie: "I know how you like to take care of sad creatures. Cats, dogs, even that weird turtle."
Josh: "Agatha wasn't weird."
Jamie: "She bit me."
Josh: "Probably because you called her weird."
Jamie: "I love you."
Josh: "I love you too."
Jamie: "I also think you're an idiot."
Heather: "You might not love me yet, 4A, but you will. You will."
Josh: "Whether it's cancer this time or later, it'll always be there. The possibility, just looming over us, over any future we might have together. My particular kind of leukemia has a high chance of reoccurence."
Heather: "Okay. Okay. Wow. So it's a shitty lot in life, but that doesn't mean you have to get rid of me."
Josh: "I'm doing it for you, 4C. You're one of the most amazing people I've ever met. And you want to get married and have lots of babies. Don't deny it."
Heather: "Of course I won't deny it. I do want that. But I want that with you, Josh."
Check out the rest of the Wedding Belles series below