Huge Deal by Lauren Layne Book Review
Updated: Jan 17
by Lauren Layne
Published by Montlake Romance
Book #3 in 21 Wall Street Series
An alpha among the wolves of Wall Street,
Kennedy Dawson rose to the top of the pack by striking the right contracts at the right times. But there’s one deal that’s been giving him a run for his money—a pact to never again let his assistant, Kate, get under his skin. She may be smart, gorgeous, and sharp as a whip, but she’s definitely off-limits.
Kate Henley isn’t a banker, but she knows a thing or two about risk management—specifically, about managing her attraction to her smolderingly sexy boss. She already fell once, and Kennedy showed no sign of paying a return on her investment. So when Kennedy’s brother starts pursuing her, Kate figures she has the best of both worlds. Jack is charming, rich, very attentive, and the spitting image of his older brother.
It’s also making Kennedy think twice. But to win Kate’s heart, he’ll have to broker the deal of a lifetime…and prove he’s worth the risk.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy #RomCom Feel Good
Huge Deal is the third, and final book in Lauren Layne's 21 Wall Street series, and focuses on the last of the "Wolfes" who has yet to settle down, Kennedy Dawson, and his tiny, but feisty assistant, Kate Henley.
Holy Shit, this book didn't disappoint.
I won't lie ... I was looking forward to this book. Confession time; I have a thing for stubborn, grumpy, nerdy guys ... case in point, my husband. So I was drawn to Kennedy in the last two books, and couldn't wait to see what Lauren Layne had in store for him. I also loved Kate in the last two books. Wickedly funny, smart and driven, whenever she popped up in the story, I was guaranteed a giggle. So I was excited to start it ... and I pretty much finished it in one sitting.
I mean, I'm currently sick, in bed, which made it easier to devote 10 hours of my life to reading, but I truly couldn't put it down.
These are the types of romances I love. Two people, both in love with one another. One aware of her feelings, until hearing him say something insulting about her behind closed doors forces her to bury those feelings deep ... and one totally unaware of his feelings, but constantly does things that show how much he cares.
The progression of this story is so back and forth, so I am going to focus on each characters arcs.
Kate is a true romantic, which is surprising given her personality. No nonsense, doesn't take the guys shit, and manages their lives amazingly well. She is a believer in true love, love at first sight type romance. It takes Kennedy's model girlfriend Claudia pushing Kate to planning a surprise birthday party for Kennedy (that she knows he will hate), and Kennedy making a comment about her having no life outside of work, for her to start looking at herself, and what she needs to do to find her soulmate. So she does what any woman does who is itching for a change ... she gets her hair done, updates her make up and clothes and has a little makeover. Which usually I wouldn't like. I don't want a guy to finally notice a woman after a makeover. But she doesn't go crazy. She just enhances herself, and not for anyone but herself.
And lets be honest. Kennedy noticed her long before her makeover. Someone else who notices her before the makeover; Kennedy's little brother Jack. Jack is the opposite of Kennedy. He is flirty, and charming, and easy to talk to. I almost don't blame Kate for going out with the guy ... except I do a little. Seems a little weird to me to date the brother of someone you loved at one point. It serves its purpose to the story though. Kennedy got jealous and realized he wouldn't be jealous if there wasn't something there.
Which leads to the yacht scene. Oh boy. All that sexual tension building up, to when Jack gives the all clear to Kennedy to tell Kate how he feels. Sure, she was surprised ... but that make out session was hot.
Then life happens. Kate finds out the following Monday her father had died from a heart attack. Kennedy, who finds her an her apartment in a state of shock, gets her packed, hires a town car, takes her to her mothers house, shoo's family and friends out of the house so Kate, her mother and sister could mourn in peace, and goes home. Kate, who has always wanted the kind of love her parents had, was forced to consider he cons of giving yourself to someone completely. One day, you may be forced to live on without them. It's not something anyone likes to think about. I know I shy away from it. So I kind of understand why Kate decides she doesn't want to go through that, and pushes Kennedy away ... well, emotionally.
Starting with Kennedy, I loved the settle ways he showed he cared for her deeply, before he even knew it. After finding out that Kate's father and his buddies couldn't go on an annual fishing trip because the lodge they usually went to closed, he rents a huge house for them, just because he knew it was important to Kate for her father to be happy. He paid for her masters degree from Columbia after finding out she wanted to continue her education. Incredibly expensive, and yet, had Ian take the credit for it, because he didn't want Kate to like him because he paid for her schooling. He wanted her to like him for who he was, stodgy and all. The pact, where Kate overheard him say she was "hardly irresistible", that he initiated, not because he felt like his co-workers needed a pact to keep their hands off her, but because he needed the reminder.
It kind of sucks he didn't figure out how he felt until his brother showed interest, but I kinda get it. Props to him though, he was willing to try to get over it because it was his brother, and she was his assistant.
We learn SO much about Kennedy in the short conversation he has with his father. I loved his dad bringing up how each of his sons treated a pool at a new summer house they rented when Kennedy was nine. His brother Jack, jumped right into the deep end. His other brother had his head stuck in a book, and sat on the steps in the shallow end. But Kennedy took his time. He circled the pool, thought about how many feet were in each section of the pool. His father thought he would get in at the shallow end, being cautious. Instead, he surprised him by jumping in the deep end. Reminding Kennedy, that yes ... he doesn't jump into things. He is slow, he thinks about everything ... but when he decides to jump, he does it all the way.
Which defines the progression of his relationship 1000%. It took him a long time. He fought it. But once his brother gave him the go ahead, that he was okay for him to tell her how he felt ... he jumped all the way, and didn't look back. It's probably one of the more romantic, more realistic love stories I have read.
How hard he falls makes it so much harder to read when Kate tries to get past her longing for him by having sex with him (and side note ... oh. My. God. Super serious Kennedy is good), but pushing him away emotionally. When Sabrina tells him that maybe they have all given her too much space in dealing with her grief, and he pulls her out of the wedding to tell her that he loves her ... and she throws it back at him? Ugh. I was depressed right along with him.
In the end, it takes Kate getting a big dose of reality to come to her senses. She wanted to be alone, and she got it, surprisingly at her place of work. Kennedy's new assistant calls in sick. Kennedy took a personal day, as he is depressed about Kate. Ian is on his honeymoon. Matt took an extended couple of days off to spend time with his wife in the Hampton's. She is truly alone. To try to take her mind off of everything, she goes to file Kennedy's paperwork, and finds the file in his cabinet, dedicated to the paperwork he had showing he was the one who paid for her masters. The loneliness, and finding out he was the one who did such a kind thing for her broke through the last of her walls, and she goes to Kennedy.
When Kennedy pretty much asks what if she changes her mind again, and about to walk away, she does something so unexpected ... it kinda blew me away. She proposes to him. It's so out of the norm that I was surprised to see it in a book. The best part? When he decides to give her another chance, he keeps the ring. In the epilogue, when he proposes to her (because he is a traditional guy, and wanted the chance to propose as well), he is wearing his ring. Be still my fluttering heart.
Huge Deal was a surprising, original delight. I literally couldn't put it down. I was sad when it ended (which I always am when I truly love a book). The characters were fun to read, and I loved that it wasn't anything traumatic from their pasts holding them back. It all came down to perception. Kennedy had no clue Kate every loved him. He thought she treated him differently because she didn't life him. Kate thought Kennedy found her "hardly irresistible", but in reality, he was trying to talk himself out of trying anything with her, because she was his employee. It was about timing. When Kennedy finally jumped all in, she wasn't ready. Its so different from the other two books in the series, in which the relationships were heavily affected by the characters pasts, it was refreshing to have two people who already knew who they were and what they wanted. 5/5
Bonus: If you like the Wedding Belle's, Brooke is casually mentioned as Ian and Lara's wedding planner :)
Where to Buy:
Paperback (Amazon Canada)
Matt: "Can you fix it?"
Kate: "Done. I sent an invite to Jarod asking to reschedule for Friday, confirmed the review with the bosses, and ... Just tested Sabrina to see if happy hour works instead of lunch. She says we're good."
Matt: "I love you. You are the best. And so, so pretty. Isn't she pretty, Ian?"
Ian: "So pretty."
He liked that about Kate. She was predictable. Steady. Reliable. At least as it pertained to her job duties. On a personal level, she was a pain in his ass. - Kennedy
Jack: "Whaaaat? You mean Claudia wasn't able to plan a party for a hundred people while also juggling four charities? Well, color me shocked."
Kate: "So you've met her."
Jack: "No. Haven't has the pleasure. But we spoke on the phone a couple times, and it was ... illuminating."
Kate: "She's very nice."
Jack: "Now, Kate. Just when I was starting to like you."
Kate: "I live in the Village!"
Jack: "Yeah? Which part?"
Kate: "Sort of the border between Greenwich and West; it depends who you ask."
Jack: "I'm asking you, and be very specific. The closer our places, the more times we can have Titanic movie parties."
Kennedy: "Still with the Titanic thing? Didn't that quit working in high school?"
Jack: "I don't know. Kate, did it stop working in high school?"
Kate: "Seeing as I'm feeling quite fluttery, obviously not."
Jack turns to Kennedy and shrugged as though to say see?
Kennedy scowls at Kate.
Before Jack goes into Kennedy's office, he turns around a gestures that he is holding on and chattering.
Kate mouths I'll never let you go, Jack.
Jack: "Which one of you wants to tell me what the deal is with Kate?"
Kennedy: "What about her?"
Jack: "She's cute. Like a little tiger cub."
Kennedy: "Don't be an ass."
Matt: "Actually, I think Kate would sort of love the comparison. A predatory cat? She'd be all over that."
Kennedy gives Matt a shut the fuck up look.
Matt: "...or not."
Kennedy: "She's my assistant. Leave her alone."
Matt: "She's our assistant. And she's single."
Kennedy: "Jesus, Cannon, don't you have somewhere to be?"
Matt: "Not really. And I'm just saying, I saw them talking. They had chemistry."
Kennedy: "It's Kate. She's off-limits."
Jack: "But she's not married. Is she straight?"
Jack: "Well, then. Nothing off-limits about that."
Kennedy: "We made a pact. Kate's off-limits."
Jack: "Who made the pact?"
Kennedy: "Cannon, Ian and me."
Jack: "So not me. Right?"
Matt: "Sounds right."
Kate: "Dave's called three times. He broke his TV. Again. Needs a replacement before 'the big one', his words."
Ian: "I wonder if they have subscription models for televisions. You know, where Best Buy or some company can auto-replenish every month."
Kate: "I'll look into it."
Ian: "I was kidding."
Kate: I'll look into it. Felicia called. Apparently, your mother's refusing to let her join her book club."
Matt: "Wait, my mom isn't keen on my dad's mistress joining her book club? That's weird. What's this?"
Kate: "A different book club. Carol Madigan is Joe's sister-in-law. She lives fifteen minutes from Felicia, and they've got a book club dedicated mostly to Scottish romance novels. I think she'll love it."
Jack: "Scottish romance novels. That's a thing?"
Kate: "Definitely. Men in kilts? Delightful. Claudia called. Said to remind you not to forget to keep Saturday afternoon open."
Kennedy: "Remind me?"
Kate: "Her parents are back in town from Paris."
Kennedy: "Any chance I can get out of it?"
Kate, Ian, Matt and Jack: "No."
Kennedy: "Seriously? This from you clowns? Ian, you once literally climbed a hedge to escape to escape a woman you'd slept with. Matt, you took a city bus to avoid someone you thought you might have slept with. And Jack, don't even get me started with you and Carly Booker -"
Kate: "Don't call my cell unless there's blood."
Ian: "Hot date?"
Kate: "Well ... It's been brought to my attention that I don't have much of a life outside the office aside from my friendships with Lara and Sabrina, and I'm not sure that even counts, since they're crazy enough to marry my bosses."
Kate: "Remember, tell Allison if you need anything. Only call me if one of you kills the other, and there's blood to clean up."
Matt: "Out of curiosity, who do you think would be the offed and who would be the offer?
Kate: "You three (Jack, Matt and Ian), dead. Him (Kennedy), guilty."
Kennedy: "Hey, why am I the serial killer?"
Kate: "You're so pent-up all of the time. I figure it has to eventually come out, and when it does, it'll be in a big way.
Jack: "She has a point. You're very -"
Kennedy: "Shut up. Just shut up."
Sabrina: You going to turn that glare on me if I say happy birthday, old man?"
Kennedy: "Probably not."
Sabrina: "What if I tell you that the ice sculpture is just the spitting image of you? Though I think they overdid it on the biceps ..."
Kennedy made an exaggerated show of looking around the crowded rooftop of the Knickerbocker Hotel.
Sabrina: "Who are you looking for?"
Kennedy: "You husband. I don't want him to see me pushing you off the roof."
Kennedy: "Are those oysters?"
Ian: "Your favorite. Maybe you'll die."
Kate: "Well, I'm not going to start collecting globes and crap like you, but yeah ... I do love a good museum. Our secret?"
Kennedy: "That we're cultured?"
Kate: "I'm cultured. You're pretentious."
Kennedy: "Get your coat."
Kennedy: "Your jacket."
Kate: "I don't have one."
Kennedy: "It's March, not August."
Kate: "No, really? I had no idea. Is there a way to know such things?"
Kennedy: "Shut up. Come on."
Kate: "Oh, that reminds me, I forgot your present. And you do not do that annoying thing where you say I didn't have to get you anything."
Kennedy: "All right. What did you get me?"
Kate: "It was between a plastic bobblehead and a fake plant for your office."
Kennedy: "Both things I love."
Kate: "I thought it would be nice with all those weird wood chunks you keep around."
Kennedy: "They're collectibles."
Kate: "Yeah, okay, Ross."
Kate: "Yeah. You know, like from Friends?"
Kate: "Well, you have to admit, while on paper I'd describe you as a gentleman, the chivalry doesn't typically extend to me."
Kennedy: "That's not true."
Kate: "It's a little bit true. But it's fine. I know I drive you crazy."
Kennedy: "Well, that's true."
Kate: "Why Claudia?"
Kennedy: "Why not Claudia?"
Kate: "Wow. Romantic."
Kennedy: "You know what I mean."
Kate: "No, I don't really. When I find The One, he will have a reason better than 'why not' for being with me."
Kate: "We should get back to the party."
Kennedy: "You can't leave in the middle of a chess game."
Kate: "Oh, did I forget to mention? Checkmate."
Kennedy: "Damn it. Where's the drink cart? I need a beer."
Ian: "Yeah, I'm sure that'll help. Hell of a slice."
Jarod: "Actually, sometimes a drink really does help with this game. Gets you out of your head a bit."
Matt: "I don't think Kennedy's ever been out of his head in his life."
Jarod: "Sure he has. He's had sex, right?"
Ian: "Even then, I'm not so sure if he really loses himself. I wouldn't be surprised if there were diagrams in his nightstand with all of the carious erogenous zones labeled."
Kennedy: "You fools realize I can hear you, right?"
Jarod: "Hey, you know what you should do? Record yourself talking about your mathletics, then play it for Sabrina. See if she still chooses you."
Matt: "She will. You lost, man, fair and square."
Jarod: "I didn't fully put myself in the game. And is that any way to talk to your fairy godmother?
Kate: "Ian and Matt introduced themselves immediately. They were like cute little puppy versions of the guys we know now. Smart and charming. Not quite desperate for people to like them, just sort of determined that everyone would."
Sabrina: "A puppy is the best comparison for those two back then. They humped just about anything in front of them, like boy dogs who haven't figured out what to do with their nuts."
Jack: "Call me crazy, but if I wanted rice, I'd eat rice. And if I wanted cauliflower ... I'd die."
Jack: "Did you not tell him, sweetheart? About the engagement?"
Kate: "Nope. Not about the baby, either."
Kate: "God, you're relentless. Fine. But remember, you asked for it. So it's been a while since I've dated. Been even longer since I've made it past a first date."
Kennedy: "Okay ..."
Kate: "I'm kind of rusty at the whole, you know, physical part."
Kennedy: "Yeah, I did not want to know that."
Kate: "I told you!"
Kennedy: "You did."
Kennedy: "It won't be awkward."
Kate: "What won't?"
Kennedy: "The first kiss."'
Kate: "It might be. It's been a while."
Kennedy: "What do you do, bite the guy?"
Kate: "Yes. Definitely. Biting is my signature move."
Kennedy: "Look, just don't .... I can't believe I'm having this conversation with my assistant. About my little brother."
Kate: "What were you going to say?"
Kennedy: "Don't overthink it."
Kate: "That's your advice? Don't overthink it? From the guy who analyzes everything?"
Kennedy: "I do not. I'll grant that I tend to deliberate my words and actions, but even I know that there are some things better left to impulse and instinct."
Kate: "Like sex."
Kennedy: "How'd you go from kissing to sex?"
Kate: "Well, I don't know that I will, but I guess I'll find out tomorrow night, won't I?
Ian: "I don't even know where to start with this."
Kennedy: "With what?"
Ian: "Okay, here we go. The pact. No, we can't force your brother, who's been out of the country for the past handful of years and doesn't work here, to agree not to fall for Kate. Second, you keep calling it our pact. I guess technically it is, but Dawson, man ... really, it's your pact."
Kennedy: "What are you talking about?"
Ian: "The pact was your idea. Matt and I went along with it, because we'd had too much of the whiskey the Sams gave us for Christmas and didn't have any reason not to go along with it. But the truth is, Matt and I have never needed a pact not to hot on Kate. Not that she's not great. It just wouldn't have occurred to us. Kate's always been like a sister, from the very beginning."
Kennedy: "That's ... Wait, so this whole time you guys have been thinking it's my pact? Like, I'm the one who can't keep my hands to myself without some childish oath?"
Ian: "I mean, I haven't lost sleep thinking about it. But yeah, I guess I figured you had your reasons for creating it."
Kennedy: "I don't - Oh fuck."
Ian: "Thought so."
Kennedy: "You think I want ... whatever this is?"
Ian: "All right. So what are you going to do about it?"
Kennedy: "I don't know. Get over it."
Ian: "I think you have to. Your window closed."
Kennedy: "I never even had a window. Did I?"
Ian started to pick up his desk phone, but Kennedy reached out and slammed it down.
Kennedy: "Hell no. Who are you calling?"
Ian: "Matt. I always envisioned having backup for this moment."
Kennedy: "What moment? What am I missing?"
Ian: "You sure I can't bring Matt in here for moral support?"
Kennedy: "Ian, did I have a goddamn window?"
Ian: "All right. Fine. Yes. Kate's had a thing for you. She's been, like, halfway in love with you for years. You really didn't know?"
Kate: "I told you-"
Sabrina: "You're over him. I heard. But you said it yourself, your loins didn't get the message."
Kate: "Can we not use that word?"
Sabrina: "Okay. Genitals?"
Kennedy: "What. Word."
Kate: "Blind! You want to know what word I'd use to describe you, Kennedy Dawson? You're completely blind. You can't see what's right in front of you, and you never could. You're so damn controlled and completely oblivious to ... to ..."
Kennedy: "What am I oblivious to?"
Kennedy: "Don't chicken out now, Kate."
Kate: "Please. Don't. I just ... Can we just go back to the party?"
Kennedy: "Just ... one more question."
Kennedy: "When you kissed Jack ... was it awkward like you feared?"
Kennedy: "No? Why'd you break up with him, then?"
Kate: "It wasn't awkward. But it wasn't special. And I'm holding out for special."
She meant it as a challenge and saw from his too-quick blink that he knew as soon as he heard it. She held his gaze. Waited. And waited. And waited. Then she saw the moment he decided to turn down her challenge and stepped away from her. Her heart crumpled.
Kate: "I've got to go."
Kate opens door. It slammed shut again before she could leave.
Kennedy: "Would you just give me a goddamn minute? This is new to me. I'm trying to think -"
Kate: "That's your problem, Kennedy. You're all thought, no action -"
She gasped as Kennedy reached out, his fingers tangling roughly in her hair, tugging back so her face tilted up to his. Then his mouth took hers.
Kate: "Well, that's just great. Jack knows, and now Fitz knows. Sure would be great if Kate knew."
Kennedy: "That you're mine. They know that you're mine now."
Kennedy: "Can you see if Matt's free?"
Ian: *calls Matt* "Got a minute? Kennedy's in here looking sulky and weird ... yeah, more than usual ... I know. But yes, it is possible."
Kennedy: "They just opened A Midsummer Night's Dream. And I made dinner reservations for after, since we won't have enough time to eat before curtain time. Though I suppose we could snack on your weird grapes on a stick over there."
Kate: "Anal beads."
Kennedy: "I'm sorry?"
Kate: "For Lara's bachelorette party. I'm doing sex-themed food. Pinterest said those are supposed to be anal beads, though whether they;re close to the real thing, I confess I couldn't say. DO you know?"
Kate: "I'd tell you to make yourself at home, but I don't know how you're going to do that with the lack of grand piano and weird antiques."
Kennedy: "I'll try to entertain myself."
Kate: "Don't you dare eat my anal beads."
Loving someone - all of the way loving them - might come with plenty of Disney-worthy feels, but it also came with a shit-ton of risk. Risk that they'd leave you, and you'd be incomplete when they did. Ironically, just as Kennedy was starting to catch on to the appeal of those Disney bits, Kate saw the risks. It wasn't ideal, to say the least, but Kennedy was ready for it. He's just have to show her that the risk was worth it. - Kennedy
Kennedy: "What are you doing tomorrow?"
Kate: "Um. I don't know. More penis stuff, I guess."
Kennedy: "Dare I hope you're referring to Lara's bachelorette shenanigans?"
Kate: "My penis agenda is none of your -"
Kennedy: "No. I hereby ban the phrase penis agenda. Actually, let's just go ahead and take the word penis off the table altogether."
Kate: "What do you want me to call it? What about -"
Kennedy: "No. Just no. Are you free tomorrow or not?"
Kennedy: "Free or not."
Kate: "Fine. No. I don't have anything going on tomorrow."
Kennedy: "Good. I'll pick you up at eleven. Dress casual."
Kennedy: "There will be no penises, so don't get excited."
Kate: "I thought we couldn't use that word."
Kennedy: "Loophole. If you have said body part, you're allowed to say it."
Kennedy: "I don't know if I can keep this PG."
Kate: "So don't."
Kennedy: "Jesus. I feel like a horny teenager."
Kate: "Why'd you stop?"
The vulnerability in her voice clawed at him, and he knew she was thinking about his careless words from years earlier. Words he didn't remember saying, hadn't even meant. Hardly irresistible. Fucking moron. She was beyond irresistible. And he was beyond hard.
Kennedy: I stopped because I was about five seconds away from screwing you in the middle of Central Park."
Kate: "Screwing? There;s a word I never imagined hearing from Kennedy Dawson's mouth."
Kate: "The word screw to describe sex. It's just so delightfully improper."
Kennedy: "What word did you think I used?"
Kate: "Fornication? I don't know. I just picture you being very polite and proper and tidy about the whole process."
Kate: "You do realize you guys are crashing a bachelorette party, right?"