Updated: Aug 23, 2021
by Lauren Layne
Published by Loveswept
Standalone in I Do I Don't series
Gage Barrett’s reputation
as a ladies’ man has been greatly exaggerated, but none of that matters after a drunken bet lands him on Jilted, a reality TV show that matches runaway grooms with wannabe brides. Now he’s stuck at a Hawaiian resort with nineteen women competing to drag him back to the altar—and one contestant who’s even more miserable than he is. Gage has no idea how feisty, independent Ellie Wright wound up in the cast, but it’s obvious she hates his guts. And if there’s one thing Gage likes, it’s a challenge. . . .
Ellie can’t believe she let her best friend talk her into exchanging her dignity for a glorified bikini contest. Still, she could use the exposure—her business is struggling—and she’ll probably be one of the first to get eliminated anyway. But Gage isn’t the shallow jerk Ellie anticipated—and he’s in no rush to send her home. As stolen kisses turn into secret trysts, she finds herself losing track of what’s real and what’s for the camera. With the wedding finale looming, this runaway groom is tempting Ellie to start believing in storybook endings.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy Rom-Com Feel Good
Runaway Groom is the second book in the I Do I Don't series by Lauren Layne, but can be read as a stand alone. Runaway Groom centers on Gage Barrett, a successful actor who loses a bet, and because of his pride, is forced to accept a role in a new reality show called Jilted. He will be forced to spend time with 24 women, and at the end, marry one of them.
For someone who likes romance novels, I don't like The Bachelor. I guess there is something to be said about the fact that Big Brother has more successful marriages to come out of it then The Bachelor. Drives me nuts. The whole idea of it is cheesy, so I wasn't sure if I would like this book. But I love Lauren Layne's books, and this one did not disappoint!
While the whole reality tv bit is dumb, it helps that the protagonists of the book also think its dumb, and have their own reasons for doing it. While at first, Gage seems like a womanizing dick, it's explained away when you find out the only woman he ever loved, left him, shacked up with his brother, and they just had a baby. Named with the same name they discussed naming their daughter one day.
As Ellie says, that's ice cold.
He obviously wants to settle down. To have a family. But it seems he has given up on the idea after his ex left him. Enter Ellie, who is contestant #21 out of 24 contestants, and one of the VERY few who are sane. He is immediately drawn to her because of her indifference. She isn't there to marry the guy. She is there to promote her company (luxury t-shirts) ... so while all the other women are dressed up, she comes out in jeans and a t-shirt ... and grabs his whiskey and drinks it down in one shot before saying hi. I loved it.
There relationship grows from there. Their banter with one another is so much fun, and their attraction to one another grows because, while she is meant to play his "spy" and give him a heads up on the crazy women, they also talk. They secretly text. They get to know one another. The only two things in the way: Ellie's obvious commitment issues stemming from her mother's new man of the month romantic life, and the other contestants on the show.
I mean ... if I had to watch the man I loved be kissed by other women ... I know I would want to leave too. The fact that Gage knew the only way to show Ellie that he loved her, was in it for the long haul, was to give her what she wanted and let her go home, is sweet. A man who is used to getting what he wants, when he wants ... that couldn't be easy. Their friendship continuing after the show is done filming cements their feelings for one another.
The ending was perfect. I loved that she watches the finale to see him get married for closure, only to find out he loves someone else. When he shows up at her door minutes later, he confirms its her.
The epilogue shows them married for a year, about to watch the finale for the new season of Jilted. It hints at maybe another book, this time on a runaway bride, but I haven't seen anything yet about it!
Runaway Groom was surprisingly great. It really focuses in on perception, and how it can affect how we treat people. If Ellie could get over the whole actor thing, they would have ended up together much earlier. Ellie and Gage's chemistry was a thrill to read, and it wasn't hard for me to fly through the book, because I couldn't wait to see how they ended up together. 4.5/5
Top 3 Favorite Moments
1. When Ellie takes Gages whiskey and drinks it before introducing herself
2. When Gage is supposed to write down a random number, and the woman closest to that number gets a one-on-one drive with him back to the Villa, he writes Ellie's name instead, and the host plays along.
3. Gage eliminating Skylar because her being moved to Ellie's room made it harder for her to meet him at night.
4. (bonus!) Gage and Ellie escaping the show, and staying the Four Seasons ... holy sex ... seriously ... wowsers.
5. (bonus!) Gage and Ellie texting one another every day after the show is done filming, and he is off filming a movie.
Where to Buy:
In my wildest dream, I'd never imagined that the Runaway Groom to be "won" was the hottest name - and body- in Hollywood. Sorry, did I say wildest dream? I meant worst nightmare. I have about as much use for a diva actor as I do for a third tit. - Ellie
Marjorie: "Because he was captivated by you."
Ellie: "The word you're looking for is surprised. Surprised because my tits weren't hoisted up to my chin like everyone else's."
Ellie: "I know why I'm in this closet. Why are you?"
Gage: "Cleaning fetish. Brooms and buckets really do it for me."
Ellie to Gage: The closet. NOW.
Gage to Ellie: Can't. How about the closet, midnight?
Ellie to Gage: Fine. Only because it'll be easier to dispose of your body in the dark.
Ellie: "If you're planning to bury my body, there are witnesses."
Ellie: "I didn't shave my legs. Serves you right for getting handsy."
Ellie to Gage: You were supposed to send me home.
Gage to Ellie: Midnight. You can yell at me in person.
Ellie to Gage: You mean so YOU can APOLOGIZE in person
Gage to Ellie: She was collecting my hair, Wright.
Ellie to Gage: Fine. Midnight.
Gage: "You were acting weird. You ignored my texts. You wouldn't even look at me on the boat. Or at dinner."
Ellie: "I never look at you. Your ego shines so brightly, it hurts my eyes."
Gage: "Would you just fucking admit it?"
Ellie: "Admit what?"
Gage: "You were jealous."
Gage: "No? They kissed me."
Ellie: "Yeah, well, I didn't exactly see you shoving them away."
Gage: "I'm an actor, Ellie. Kissing for the camera is part of my job. It'll always be part of my job."
Ellie: "I know that! I get that. What I don't get is why we're talking about it! I didn't ask you not to kiss them. I didn't even bring it up, you did! You can kiss whoever you want. You should kiss the women. If you're going to freaking marry one of them, you should kiss all of them, you should - "
Gage captures my face with both hands, derailing the rest of my rant with a kiss so unexpected and demanding that I gasp against his lips.
Paisley: "If you could only see the happiness on your face right now. 'Just friends' my ass."
Gage: "Damn it, Ellie, quit wriggling. You're like a cat."
Gage: "You know there are cameras trained on us right now, right?"
Ellie: "Good. I hope they catch it on film when I drown you for making me float out here with Jaws."
Gage: "Now, now. You can't create your clothing empire from jail."
Ellie: "Sure I can - I'll just have to deal in orange jumpsuits. Also, how much longer until I can sip a pina colada on the beach? I'd rather have sand in inopportune places than stand on a floating board on a wave."
Gage: "Oh, honey. Stand? It's adorable you think you've even gotten close to that. Also, these inopportune places you speak of - can I see them?"
Ellie splashed water in Gages face
Gage: "Silver lining: since they couldn't figure out a way to easily mic us out here, there's no audio for this art of the filming."
Ellie: "Yeah, that makes up for the fact that I'm floating amidst the sharks."
Gage: "you're cute when you're grumpy."
Gage: "You know, you're on vacation. It's perfectly acceptable to drive around wearing nothing but a swimsuit with a famous celebrity."
Ellie: "Oh, gosh, you don't say. Maybe I should just go entirely topless and leisurely rub some tanning oil all over my tits."
Gages stifles a tortured groan.
Ellie: "you are such a guy."
Gage: "It's your fault. For making me stop at second base. I want more."
Ellie: "Hmm. At what point do you get your fill? Third base? Home run?"
Gage: "Well, here's the thing about me, Wright. I like to round all the bases many times per game, and I love to play many games in a row."
I'm not here with Gage Barrett because he's Gage Barrett. I'm here because he's him - he's funny and sweet and cocky, and ... Oh, damn it. Damn it, Ellie. I'm here because I'm a little bit in love with him. - Ellie
Gage: "Best be careful - you're looking at me as though you like me."
Ellie: "I do like you."
Ellie: "Yeah, well, I'm not your girl.:
Gage: "Aren't you?"
Yeah. Okay. You go ahead and say it. I'm a dick, and this is not my finest moment. But damn her for making me feel shit I haven't felt in forever. There's a reason I haven't let anyone get close, haven't let myself enjoy more than a quick fuck. This is why. Because it sucks when they don't feel the same way back. - Gage
Ellie: "I'll never forget you, avocado eyes."
Gage: "Damn straight."
Gage to Ellie: How's business? Meeting at that L.A. boutique go well?
Ellie to Gage: Yeah, the girl places a huge order. Better than I could have expected, although mostly she just wanted to know if you were a good kisser.
Gage to Ellie: And you said ...?
Ellie to Gage: 6 out of 10
Gage to Ellie: Take it back, Wright.
Ellie to Gage: Good night, Hollywood.
Ellie to Gage: How's your shoulder
Gage to Ellie: My shoulder?
Ellie to Gage: TMZ said you injured it during a stunt today.
Gage to Ellie: I can't decide if I'm flattered or appalled that you read that shit.
Ellie to Gage: So, you didn't hurt it?
Gage to Ellie: No, I did. Dislocated it.
Ellie to Gage: Gage! Are you okay?
Gage to Ellie: Will start to feel better once I learn you've finally watched The Godfather.
Ellie to Gage: Sure, I'd better get right on that. Wouldn't want you to be too injured to film those hot pirate-wench sex scenes.
Ellie to Gage: Cab we strike that from the record?
Gage to Ellie: Strike what from the record?
Ellie to Gage: Excellent.
Gage to Ellie: But Ellie ...
Ellie to Gage: ??
Gage to Ellie: Filming sex scenes REALLY isn't what it's like when you see the final movie. The lights are bright. There are fat dudes eating burritos staring dispassionately at your junk, which is covered by a sock. And its hot here, so they put deodorant EVERYWHERE.
Ellie to Gage: Everywhere?
Gage to Ellie: Everywhere.
Ellie to Gage: Annnnnnnnnnnd, I'm out.
Ellie to Gage: I didn't watch. Actually, I don't think I'll watch any of the rest of them.
Gage to Ellie: Ah.
Ellie to Gage: ...? You realize there are about a dozen ways that single syllable can be interpreted, right?
Gage to Ellie: I get it. You don't want to watch me mack on other women.
Ellie to Gage: "Mack on"? Actually, keep that up. Makes it easier to not mind in the least that you're a few episodes away from getting married.
Gage to Ellie: Quit fishing.
Ellie to Gage: You're really not going to tell me?
Gage to Ellie: Not my fault you were the only eliminated contestant not to show up for the finale. You signed the contract, so you remember just how cutthroat the "don't discuss a single detail until the episode's been released" provision is. It all but threatened to cut off my dick if I talk about the finale.
Ellie to Gage: But it's meeeeeeeee. They'll never know. I won't tell anyone, swear.
Gage to Ellie: Are you whining right now?
Ellie to Gage: Is it working?
Gage to Ellie: Not even a little bit?
Bethany: "Won't you come in? Can I get you some wine? Popcorn? My daughter?"
Ellie: "At the end of the show, you told both Brooklyn and Paisley that you were in love with someone else."
Gage: "Yeah, you. I love you. The all-the-way, forever kind of love, Ellie."
Gage: "Shut up. Shut up and marry me, because God, do I want to marry you, and I knew it the second you let me get to second base in a closet. Marry me because I honor my commitments and there's no commitment more important to me than this one."
Ellie: "But - "
Gage: "You know what? Think about it. Take all the time that you need, but wear this while you do. Get used to it. Get used to me. Because I'm not going away. Not now that I know you love me back."
Ellie: "I really do. Almost as much as I love this diamond."
Gage: "What do you say? Will you be Mrs. Barrett? Or be Mrs. Wright, I don't care. Just be mine."
Check out the first book in the I Do, I Don't Series