To Have and To Hold by Lauren Layne Book Review

Updated: Aug 15, 2021

The Have and To Hold

by Lauren Layne

Published by Pocket Books

Book #1 in The Wedding Belles Series

Discovering her fiance is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin's business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya's fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiance is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning... is theirs?


Some Steaminess Romance Feel Good

Honesty time, I would have never read The Wedding Belle's series if it wasn't for the fact that it's written by one of my favorite romance authors, Lauren Layne. Something cheesy about weddings I guess.

Yes. I'm married. In case you were wondering.

To Have and To Hold is the first of The Wedding Belles series, and centers around Brooke Baldwin, newest wedding planner that works at the Wedding Belle's, an exclusive wedding planning service in NYC. She is adjusting to a new start in her life. From California, originally, and a former business owner, she left after becoming headline news, when her fiance was arrested at the alter, before they were about to exchange vows, and learned the day she was supposed to marry the love of her life that he was a famous con man.

The other "Belle's" seem to be fun, and quickly become friends and confidante's with Brooke. Alexis, the owner, seems very refined and modern. Maybe sometimes cold, but she obviously cares about her business, employee's, and clients. Heather is fun and bold. Jesse is the classic, fun receptionist. As fate would have it, Alexis and Heather are dealing with a wedding crisis, so Brooke's first clients is Maya Tyler and her fiance Neil.

Enter the Tylers! Seth Tyler, the brides brother, is horrified about his sisters very fast engagement, and feels in his guy that there is something off about Neil. As the only family Maya has, and in typical big brother fashion, he tags along to Maya's first meeting with Brooke, to actually meet Neil, but also to learn anything he can about him. Seth is a bit of a control freak, and from what I can tell, a bit of an introvert, so he doesn't handle situations where he has no control very well, meaning ... well, sometimes he acts like an asshole. Maya is bubbly, kind, and a romantic. Neil is ... well. Eh. He wanted press at his wedding. Gross.

So Seth and Brooke meet, and it doesn't go well. It also leads to one of the things that bothers me in this book: I call it insta-lust. I get it's normal for people to be attracted to one another, but Seth and Brooke, despite not getting along at first, take it to a whole new level. It makes me cringe a bit when automatically there is a connection described between two characters that seems unrealistic for two people who literally just met.

After a couple wedding planning sessions of Seth tagging a long and bringing Maya's excitement level way down, Brooke makes a deal with him: she will update him daily with anything wedding related, and any observations about Neil, if he will back off. He will only agree if there is a weekly dinner. Despite her reservations of having dinner with a clients brother, she agrees.

Gotta say, that first dinner they have, I gotta love the sexual