Updated: Aug 23
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 Rom-Com 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 :)
Top 3 Favorite Moments:
1. Kennedy leaving his own surprise birthday party, and bringing Kate to play chess in the park, after learning she loved to play with her grandfather.
2. Kennedy confronting Kate in the private room on the yacht, fighting with Kate, her accidentally admitting her feelings for him, her trying to leave when she waits a moment too long for him to think about what she said, and finally, him slamming the door and kissing her. Insanely hot.
3. Kennedy willing to wait Kate out after her fathers death, before making a move for a relationship.
4. (bonus)! Kennedy, who has never understood PDA, full on making out with Kate in the middle on Central Park because he was "drunk on her"
5. (bonus!) When the guys crash the bachelorette party
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