Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Ready to Run
by Lauren Layne
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Stand alone in I Do, I Don't series
Jordan Carpenter thinks
she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: firefighter Luke Elliott, a known player who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan, but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.
Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy Rom-Com Feel Good
This is another quick read while I lay in bed with world's most annoying cold. Ready to Run is the first book in the I Do I Don't series, a series about grooms and brides who left someone at the alter. While it is a series, it seems like they are going to be stand alone books.
Ready to Run is cute. Not in a bad way. It has this Sweet Home Alabama vibe to it (although very obviously a very different story), and I ended the book with a smile on my face. But it is just ... cute. Good story, but I doubt I would ever reread it.
The romance itself is sweet. Small town - turned city girl Jordan is forced to hunt down Luke, a man who has left three women at the altar, and therefore a perfect candidate for a new reality series she is working on called Jilted. The premise: the runaway groom gets to know 24 women, and at the end, married one of them live on TV.
Cheesy, I know.
Luke is very much against signing up for the show, and Jordan is convinced she can convince him ... so she rents a houses for the month and pretty much gets all up in his business. Well, not just her. The whole town does. They welcome Jordan with open arms, and encourage her to not give up on him, much to the chagrin of Luke. Soon, not only is Jordan drawn back to small town charms, but the attraction between Luke and Jordan intensifies until they start sleeping with one another.
It all goes to hell when Jordan's bosses, accepting the fact that Luke won't do the show, let Jordan know that Luke's third bride, the mysterious Eva, who Luke refuses to talk about, contacted the station and is willing to confront Luke, in front of cameras, and be on their spin off show. Luke accuses Jordan of sleeping with him to soften the blow, which breaks her heart, because at this point she loves him.
When she goes to tell him she quit her job because she refuses to work for people who thinks this is okay, she walks in on him finally admitting to his friends what happened with Eva. He caught her the morning of their wedding in bed, with his best friend. His best friend, who dies in a fire before he could patch things up with him. He ends up pushing Jordan away completely, and by time he figures out what he wants, she is gone. Not back to NYC though. But to her hometown, the place she had avoided for twelve years, as it reminded her of the most painful thing she has ever gone though; the death of her family. Luke, knowing that she mentioned wanting to visit home and find closure, hunts her down. Standing in the yard of where her childhood home was destroyed by a massive tornado, he declares his love and proposes. Eight months later, they get married.
Its cute. It's sweet.
I get Luke's reluctance to trust Jordan. Jordan literally came to his hometown to pry into his life, and get him to do a show he didn't want to do. Let's be fair ... the first two weddings, were not his fault. The first wedding was a shot gun wedding. His high school girlfriend found out she was not pregnant, and they mutually decide to not marry. Good friends to this day. The second bride, on their wedding day, confesses she is in love with her best friend ... who is a woman. He takes the fall, so she could keep her sexual orientation to herself, till she was ready. The third ... well ... can't blame the guy for running from that bride. And the fact that the woman he loved and his best friend since childhood betrayed him like that? Can't even be disappointed in his character.
I love Jordan's arc in book. Starting out as a sweet, sassy, closed off New Yorker, she lets the people of Lucky Hollow draw her in, reminding her why she loved Keaton, the small town she grew up. By acknowledging she was ready to go back home for closure, she opened herself up enough to fall in love ... something she wouldn't do before, because when people you loved left, you were destroyed. Her backstory with her family is tragic.
One of the things I liked about this book was how different it was from other romances. You don't get very many runaway groom stories, and while I did get the whole sweet home Alabama vibe from it (successful, blonde small town girl, turned city girl, with the gay best friend), there was plenty of elements that make it stand apart. 4.5/5
Top 3 Favorite Moments
1. When they run into each other running, and go for a race. Afterwards, he invites her for coffee, and when he ends with them arguing ... again ... he kisses her.
2. The Kissing Booths. I love that Jordan willingly volunteers for the kissing booth, and because she does, Luke, who just finished telling Vicki no way in hell would he do it, ends up volunteering himself. It leads to some funny kisses and quips between the two.
3. The first time they have sex, and the morning after, when they get to know one another a bit more, and she cuddles with his traitorous cat.
Where to Buy:
Simon: "I'll have you know it's been two and a half months since I last had relations."
Jordan: "Oh gosh, really? Here, hold the wheel while I cry on your behalf."
Jordan: "The GPS doesn't know where the hell we are. Can you guide us there the old-fashioned way?"
Simon: "Oh, sure. Let me just get my compass, lick my finger, and stick it in the air ..."
Charlie: "Ha. Knew it."
Charlie: "You've got a boner for the hot blonde."
Simon: "Did you get an English cucumber? I could slice it up, make low-calorie chips?"
Jordan: "You're eating the cheese on a cracker like a human being. Your baker would want it that way!"
Simon: "Gluten makes me puffy!"
Simon: "Jesus. That is one hot firefighter."
Jordan: "Tell me that wasn't a deliberate pun."
Simon: "No, but ... oh Jesus. Every last one of them belongs on a naughty calendar."
Jordan: "If you don't get ahold of yourself, they're going to have to turn the hose on you."
Jordan: "You have a small white cat named Luna and a big friendly golden retriever named Winston. You do understand why I at least have to try to recruit you, right? It's too much."
Luke: "She barely lets me pet her, even though I rescued the homeless wench from a fire."
Jordan: "Please tell me you're joking. You saved Luna from a fire? And then kept her?"
Luke: "You wouldn't know it from the way she treats me."
Simon: "Yes, and I watered that weird plants in the corner."
Jordan: "It's fake, Simon."
Simon: "Shit. Well, okay, I'll try to swing by later, make sure there's not a leaky mess."
Jordan: "He kissed me."
Simon: "You sly dog, Carpenter! Was it hot and against the wall? Please say yes."
Jordan turns her head away.
Simon: "Oh God, it was! I was joking, but it totally was. Oh, this is delicious, darling."
Luke: "She'll be there till the sun comes up and the birds come out. They'll sit in that tree, she'll scream bloody murder at them for twenty minutes, Winston will then bark at her, I'll yell at Winston ... Obviously you'll want to stay; it's a real treat."
Jordan: "What would be my role, yelling at you?"
Luke: "Impossible. Women never yell at me; I'm too charming."
Jordan: "Weird. I have yet to see that part of you."
Luke: "True or false. You're sitting there in my T-shirt, in my home, before dawn."
Luke: "Like I said. I'm charming."
Hailey: "Oh, honey. I know that look."
Jordan: "Yes, I've recently learned that you probably know that look firsthand."
Hailey: "He told you."
Jordan: "Uh-huh. Because you didn't. What happened to girl power? Sisters before misters?
Hailey: "Oh, hi, honey. I was just telling Jordie how marrying you ruined my life."
Tim: "Sounds about right."
Hailey: "I could have been on TV. As Luke's bimbo castoff, searching for my one true love."
Tim: "Do it. The kids and I will pretend not to know you. Come back to us when you're rich and famous."
Hailey: "Sadly, I love you all too much."
Jordan: "Is this how you got three women to agree to marry you? Kissing them against your truck?"
Luke: "Chicks dig it."
Jordan: "Oh, do we?"
Luke: "You tell me."
Luke: "Fine. If I buy you chicken tenders and a glass of that crappy white win they insist on serving, you promise to put out later?"
Jordan: "You do know how to woo a girl."
Luke: "I need a yes, City."
Jordan: "Take me on a date, Country."
Isobel: "Seriously though, do you think everyone's not blaming you for Jordan-gate?"
Luke: "It has a name?"
Stacey: "Are you kidding? It was the most interesting thing to happen to this town since some asshole left three different women at the altar."
Luke: "I'm so glad I accepted this dinner invitation."
Jordan: "Well, you're not safe."
Luke: "How do you figure?"
Jordan: "You're a firefighter who ditches brides on their wedding day."
Luke: "Okay, about the first. I'm the most careful firefighter you'll ever meet."
Jordan: "And the second? That whole runaway-groom bit?"
Luke: "My questions first. You quit your job. Got another lined up?"
Jordan: "Not yet. Going to live on savings for a while, just until I can figure things out."
Luke: "In New York? Because if yes, I've heard good things about the NYFD"
Jordan: "You'd consider ... moving to New York?"
Luke: "I'd consider giving you and me a chance. If that means New York ... Winston and Luna will adapt."
Jordan: "What if I told you I'd be up for giving small-town life another shot?"
Luke: "I love you, City."
Jordan: "I love you too. Although we might have to rethink the nickname."
Luke: "Ask me the other one again. The other question."
Jordan: "About your habit of ditching brides on their wedding day?"
Luke: "Used to. I used to do that."
Jordan: "What about in the future?"
Luke: "Try me."
Check out the next book in the I Do, I Don't series