Updated: Jan 17
Made in Manhattan
by Lauren Layne
Published by Gallery Books
Violet Townsend has always been a people pleaser.
Raised in the privileged world of Upper East Side Manhattan, she always says the right things, wears the right clothes, and never rocks the boat. Violet would do anything for the people closest to her, especially her beloved grandmother. So when she asks Violet to teach the newly-discovered grandson of her friend how to fit in with New York City’s elite, Violet immediately agrees. Her goal? To get Cain Stone ready to take his place as heir to his family company…but to say he’s not exactly an eager student is an understatement.
Born and raised in rural Louisiana and now making his own way in New Orleans, Cain Stone is only playing along for the paycheck at the end. He has no use for the grandmother he didn’t know existed and no patience for the uppity Violet’s attempts to turn him into a suit-wearing, museum-attending gentleman.
But somewhere amidst antagonistic dinner parties and tortured tux fittings, Cain and Violet come to a begrudging understanding—and the uptight Violet realizes she’s not the only one doing the teaching. As she and Cain begin to find mutual respect for one another (and maybe even something more), Violet learns that blindly following society’s rules doesn’t lead to happiness…and that sometimes the best things in life come from the most unexpected places.
Made in Manhattan is Lauren Layne's newest contemporary release. It is a dual POV book, centered around Violet, a rule following, people pleasing member of New York's elite, and Cain, the long-lost grandson of Violet's grandmothers best friend. When she comes to Violet and asks her to introduce Cain to the New York elite, and help him gain their approval so he can one day take over the family business, she immediately says yes. But she isn't prepared for Cain's disproval of New York, the elite's rules, and his gruff persona. And he isn't expecting the sweet woman in front of him to actually stand up to him. While Violet teaches him and in's and out's of New York elite, he also teaches her things she never dreamed of - such as happiness isn't always gained by following the rules.
You know I love me some Lauren Layne. I think even after these last few years of binge reading, her Stiletto and Oxford series' are still one of my top reads for contemporary romance. While Lauren Layne has been laying low the last couple of years, she is still writing. With it's bright pink cover, it's hard to miss her newest book. Made in Manhattan is classic Lauren Layne. Perhaps too much. Don't get me wrong, I love Lauren Layne's romances. And I enjoyed this one (even if romances centered around makeovers make me internally cringe). My problem is that her books are all starting to feel repetitive. I know the New York setting is her thing, and I don't mind that. The setting doesn't bother me. What's starting to feel all too repetitive it that characters. Always high up there in society. Similar personalities. It's getting a little ... boring and uninspired.
That being said, I did enjoy this book. The characters were likeable enough. I do enjoy a grump/sunshine trope. It was classic Lauren Layne romance, with a touch of steam - a big difference from her last couple of books that were the dreaded fade to black. But if you want a romance novel with more descriptive sex, you won't get it here. It's the type of steam that I would consider "classy", but definitely not reflecting the popularity of hot, consuming smut that many readers want nowadays. It's not a bad thing. Not every reader wants those descriptive scenes, but as a romance reader who does enjoy the detail, going to books like this seem very ... tame. But that's on me, not Lauren Layne. My personal preference doesn't mean EVERYONE prefers the same thing.
Made in Manhattan was a light, enjoyable read. It's not Lauren Layne's best. I think its definitely forgettable in her long list of published work. But if you are looking for a lighthearted romance, especially one that features grump/sunshine and opposites attract tropes, you will enjoy this one.
Cain: "Think you've handled me, have you?"
Since she guessed his proximity was deliberately meant to make her ill at ease, Violet forced herself to lift her face all the way to his and meet his gaze dead-on.
It was a mistake.
Up close, she could see his lashes were thick and curled with surprising gold tips. Up close, he smelled like mint and soap, without any hint of cologne.
It was irritatingly appealing.
Cain's gaze was doin some exploring of it's own, his eyes taking their time, starting at her hairline and moving - slowly - all the way down to her feet, as though seeing her truly for the first time.
When his eyes snapped back to hers, she felt a pull low in her stomach. Uh-oh.
Violet: "Haven't I?"
Violet said, relieved her voice wasn't as breathless as she felt.
Violet: "Handled you?"
His smile was slow. Predatory. He moved even closed until she could feel his body heat.
Cain: "Careful, Duchess. Look at me that way again, and you'll be the one who's handled, and not the least bit gently."
She sucked in her breath at the unapologetically sexual undertone.
Cain: "Don't worry. I guarantee you'll like it."
Violet: "Button your pants."
Cain: "It's my house. Get out if you don't like how I'm dressed."
Coco made her presence known to Cain for the first time, letting out a bark as though backing up her mistress's assertion.
Cain's eyes dropped to her bag, horrified.
Cain: "What is that?"
She rolled her eyes
Violet: "It's a dog."
His scowl was skeptical
Cain: "In what world, Oz?"
Coco made a whining noise, and Violet frowned at Cain as she pointed at the little Yorkie.
Violet: "You hurt her feelings."
Cain: "I'm already exhausted by all the sleep I'll lose tonight over that fact."
Violet exhaled patience.
Violet: "New York manners dictate that you invite me in."
Cain: "Manners everywhere dictate that you shouldn't break into someone else's house."
Violet: "Touché and agreed. Perhaps you're not a lost cause afterall."
Violet: "Don't forget, we're expecting a fashion show out here."
Violet called out sweetly as Cain pulled the heavy black curtains to the dressing room closed. His hand back through the opening, middle finger extended.
Violet: "Do you want me to come in or not?"
Cain: "I'm not sure."
He rubbed his neck
Cain: "You look cranky."
Violet: "I look cranky? Your name should be in the thesaurus under brooding."
Cain: "Are you going to help me find a new place or not?"
Violet: "Sure, okay. But why? This one is free."
Cain: "I don't want free. I want my place. Even if it wasn't his, I'd hate it. It's cramped and dark. The neighbors are snobs."
Violet: "I'm a neighbor."
Violet: "Okay. So you're looking for an area where the neighbors are more like you. How about the Bronx Zoo?"
Cain: "Why did you order me so many damn suits?"
Violet: "It's actually not that many. Don't forget, if you get the job, you'll be wearing them daily, or at the least, every weekday."
Cain: "Well, now, see, that's the beauty of being head of the company, right? I can wear whatever the hell I want, and it doesn't have to be suits if I don't fucking feel like it."
Violet: "Good point. I'll just go ahead and see if they make custom dungarees in your size."
Cain: "Make sure you get them extra large. Down there, if you know what I mean."
Violet: "How could I possible know what you mean?"
She frowned in fake confusion.
Violet: "You're so subtle and not at all cliché."
Cain: "Does Keith know how often you ogle my bare chest?"
Violet: "No. I don't want to embarrass Edith, so I've been keeping it quiet how often you struggle to dress yourself."
Keith: "Are you okay?"
Violet: "I ate some bread, Keith. It's not like I started hearing voices."
He smiled, and there was a touch of pitying condescension in his expression that rankled.
Keith: "It's the Cain thing, huh? It must be wearing on you. I know it has on me. Did you know he joined a video conference with London today with no tie and his top button undone?"
Her eyes went wide
Her voice was scandalized.
Violet: "No tie? What did the FBI say?"
Emily: "Mommy? Does Daddy ever get you birthday presents?"
Violet: "Of course. You saw me open them in May."
Emily: "Oh. That's right. What was the first present he ever got you?"
Violet: "The first? Piano lessons."
Emily: "Piano lessons! For your birthday?"
Violet: "Actually, no. It was the day after Valentine's Day."
Emily: "Why the day after Valentine's Day, Daddy?"
Cain: "Because we were busy on that particular day."
he said, rubbing his bearded chin affectionately on the top of his daughter's head.
Cain: "But I bought the gift a long time before that."
Cain: "The first time I ever heard her play 'Heart and Soul.'"
Marla: "Why did you buy her lessons then? Was she bad?"
Cain: "No. No."
Cain met Violet's eyes across the room.
Cain: "Because I knew even then I loved her."