Love on Lexington Avenue
by Lauren Layne
Published by Gallery Books
Book #2 in The Central Park Pact Series
There are no good men left in New York City.
At least that’s Claire Hayes’s conviction after finding out her late husband was not the man she thought he was. Determined to rid her home of anything that reminds her of her cheating husband, Claire sets out to redesign her boring, beige Upper East Side brownstone and make it something all her own. But what starts out as a simple renovation becomes a lot more complicated when she meets her bad-tempered contractor Scott Turner.
Scott bluntly makes it known to Claire that he only took on her house for a change of pace from the corporate offices and swanky hotels he’s been building lately, and he doesn’t hesitate to add that he has no patience for a pampered, damaged princess with a penchant for pink. But when long workdays turn into even longer nights, their mutual wariness morphs into something more complicated—a grudging respect, and maybe even attraction...
Victim of affair, Widow
Love on Lexington Avenue is the 2nd book in the Central Park Pact series. It is centered around Claire, the widow of the the three woman who made the pact to look out for each other, so they wouldn't end up with another cheating bastard.
I wasn't sure if I would like this one, at least as much as I liked Passion on Park Avenue. I found Claire was very hesitant, and a little boring to read in the first book, so I was thinking that would continue into the next. I'm very pleased with giving this book a chance. Claire a chance.
I always got the sense that Claire was hurting far more than she let her friends know. Not only does she lose her husband, whom she did love, but she learned that he was cheating on her. Not with one woman. With two. More even. And we get details on his death, which was all the more embarrassing. Claire put so much effort into trying to be the perfect wife, and all it got her was a cheating douche. I get why she is hesitant around men. Why she refuses to have a relationship again. And not JUST because she thinks men are dogs. She hasn't fully gotten over her husbands death, and while she considers his mistresses her best friends, she still hurts about being a fool. She wonders what she did to make him stray, and decides she is boring.
Despite her wanting no love, a woman has needs. Enter Scott. Grumpy contractor, Oliver Cunningham's good friend, and the man Claire hires to renovate her brownstone townhouse to her tastes. His blunt personality and dry, sarcastic sense of humor puts Claire at ease pretty quickly, and she lets some of her personality out, that she has hidden away in her quest to be perfect wife and widow. Their back and forth bickering over the house made me start to really like Claire. Scott did too, but like Claire, after finding out his ex-fiance was cheating on him, at their engagement party of all things, he also swore off love, and was all about the one night stands. Their blossoming friendship leads to Claire asking for his help in that department, as she wasn't experienced in flirting, or how to even go about getting a one night stand.
The whole thing is charming in a way. If maybe not the most original plot. Girl asks for help seducing men, man helps her, she's successful, but doesn't go through with it, because she learns she needs to like the person she is sleeping with. Which leads to the inevitable man and woman sleeping together, falling in love, fighting it tooth and nail, and then ending up together anyway.
Oh well, because if not original, the story itself was fun, and Claire and Scott were super fun to read. I loved how both their characters grew, both overcoming their past issues, and opening themselves up to the possibility of love. For Claire, it was faster. She fell hard and fast, with Scott's not so gentle push to get her to get rid of her ex's stuff and move on. For Scott, it took him running away to his next job across the world, and the fact that Claire wasn't giving up on him. She was still his friend. She understood. It took time for him to realize he couldn't live without her.
I also loved that the friendship between Claire, Naomi and Audrey has gotten so much stronger. Its not just the pact they made. They look out for each other in all aspects. We get small looks into Naomi's relationship with the dashing Oliver, and how in love they are. It was hinted at in Passion on Park Avenue, but all signs are pointing to how the next book (Marriage on Madison Avenue, out January 28th, 2020), will focus on Audrey and her best friend Clarke.
Love on Lexington Avenue was a great book. My only dislike was that same with Passion on Park Avenue, which was lack of adult content. Which I know. Is silly. The story makes up for it's lack of sexual content, and doesn't need it to make it an interesting read.
Scott: "That work?"
Claire: "You think I keep a broken coffeepot on my counter?"
Scott: "How'm I supposed to know? Your knocker's a summer storm away from blowing off."
Claire: "My ..."
Scott: "Front door knocker. Not knocker knockers."
Scott: "How old are you?"
Claire: "No wonder you don't have a girlfriend."
Scott: "Who says I don't?"
Claire: "Um, everything about you?"
Claire: "Why is it, that every woman of childbearing age is expected to be beholden to her uterus?"
Scott: "Whoa. Hey. I have absolutely zero interest in your uterus."
Oliver: "I'm an adult male who loves jigsaw puzzles, and I got a hot billionaire girlfriend."
Claire: "Nerds are in right now."
Claire: "What do you get off on?"
Scott: "Do you have any tops that don't belong at a PTA meeting?"
Claire: "Sorry, we can't all look like we're grunge-cool, straight out of the nineties, with a dash of farmer."
Scott lifts a thong out of her dresser. "Please tell me you're wearing one of these right now."
Claire: "Well, if you do your job right, it'll be some other man's job to find out."
Scott: "Tonight's about you."
Claire: "Right. Me getting some."
Scott: "Don't call it that. Not if you actually want to get some."
Claire: "Bobsie, you're supposed to warn me when your dad wakes up on the wrong side of the bed."
Scott: "Remember, you signed over complete control to me."
Claire: "Seriously? It's my kitchen. I at least need to be prepared. And for the record, I signed it over to you for wingman assistance, and I ended up with a slobbering dude who kissed like a dog."
Scott: *pointing at Bob* Apologize.
Claire: "Sorry, sweetie. No offense."
Scott: "Coffee in the middle of the day is first-date stuff, not booty-call stuff."
Claire: "Wait, what? You mean he didn't invite me to coffee to hump in the Starbucks bathroom?"
Naomi: "Yes! A burn pile. Now that is a gesture and a fitting fuck you, buddy."
Audrey: "You mean a fitting goodbye."
Naomi: "Nope, I do not mean that. I want his stuff to burn the way he is burning."
Clarke: "Okay. The house only has five bedrooms, so -"
Naomi: "Only five? It's practically a shack."
Clarke: "Luckily, two of our six-some is making sexy bacon in the bedroom -"
Audrey: "Wait, what?"
Clarke: "Your friends Oliver and Naomi are having sex, Audrey. Keep up."
Audrey: "What's that have to do with bacon?"
Clarke: "Bacon is the only thing that comes close to being as good as sex. Am I right?"
Naomi: "I can think of at least ten other things. A really good dinner roll dripping with butter, dark chocolate with sea salt. Homemade macaroni and cheese, especially if it has bread crumbs on top. Tacos -"
Oliver: "Tacos! You'd choose tacos over sex?"
Naomi: "Clarke was talking about food almost as good as sex. And don't think I haven't seen the look on your face when you eat that pizza from Don Antonio's. It's awfully close to your sex face."
Claire: "Do I have to be around for this conversation?"
Clarke: "No kidding."
Claire: "Say, 'Bye, Dad! See you tomorrow!' Scott, your turn. Say bye to your girl."
Scott: "Bye to my girl."
The second the words were out, Scott's world tilted on its axis as the truth rolled over him. The FaceTime window went black as Claire ended the call, off to primp for her party, off to live her life, but Scott didn't move. Not when his computer stayed inactive for so long the screen went black. Not when his coffee turned cold the mug still frozen in his hand. Bye to my girl. He hadn't been talking to the dog. He'd been talking to Claire. Claire was his girl. His woman. And he didn't want to have to say bye to her. Not ever again.
Scott: "Don't you dare tell me it's too much. Because I want everyone who sees this, and that includes the astronauts on the International Space Station, to know that you're taken."
Claire: "Are you kidding? That sucker took months of planning. I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor."
Naomi: "And Scott's labor?"
Claire: "Eh. Maybe a little. I guess he did some stuff. Built the kitchen, redid the bathrooms, changed all the flooring, painted all the walls ..."
Audrey: "But you pinterested hard."
Claire: "I did. I really did. Thank you for noticing."
Naomi: "Really? Says the one who's been looking like the personification of the heart-eyes emoji for the past few weeks?"
Check out book 1 and book 3 of the Central Park Pact below!