Updated: Jan 17
Yours to Keep
by Lauren Layne
Published by Montlake Books
Book 2 in the Man of the Year Series
Pro baseball shortstop Carter Ramsey is about to be Citizen magazine’s Man of the Year, but the only title that matters to him is out of reach: World Series MVP.
Benched by a recent injury, Carter retreats to his hometown to recover. His ten-year class reunion and a potential reconciliation with the sweetheart he left behind could be perfect distractions. Until another old acquaintance throws Carter a curveball.
Olive Dunn admits that her former high school science partner is still a handsome charmer. But she wasn’t swayed then, and she won’t be swayed now. Because Olive remembers Carter’s little shortcoming: he tends to bail the moment it suits him, without a backward glance. Best to keep her feelings strictly platonic while he’s in town.
Except the entitled boy she knew is a changed man: solid, reflective, and generous. As they ease back in to their familiar friendship, things take a surprising turn, and Carter and Olive must decide if what they have is a passing flirtation or a real shot at love.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy #ContemporaryRomance Cute and light
Yours to Keep by Lauren Layne is the second book in her Man of the Year series, and centers around Carter, a pro-baseball player, who after suffering a possible-career ending injury, is left to wonder what life has to offer after baseball. When he finds out his high school sweetheart will be back in his small hometown for their ten year high school reunion, he decides to go and see if rekindling their romance could be the answer. Enter Olive, another girl from Carters high school days, but not a girlfriend. His science lab partner, who is now the high schools beloved biology teacher. Olive is chatty, quirky, and describes herself as strong rather than dainty. His high school sweethearts, and the models he has dated in the past, exact opposite. That doesn't stop their friendship turning into something more, that leaves them both wondering ...
Okay, so one thing I can always count on from Lauren Layne, is a happily ever after, cute and fluffy story. I've been really into fantasy/romance books, that can get dark and emotional at times, so I was looking forward to reading another book from Lauren Layne. While Yours to Keep isn't my favorite of her work, it doesn't disappoint. It's not overly original (but most romance isn't). Her characters were a lot of fun to read, their banter with one another, and even others, would often have me smiling or laughing. If you liked Chloe from Lauren Layne's Crushed, you will love Olive. Just as quirky and funny. The story was interesting enough that I didn't find myself bored, but the premise of it seemed so unrealistic I just rolled my eyes. Spoiler -------> the whole 'if we're still single in 10 years, lets get married', and both him and his ex planning to go to the reunion to see if that deal was still on? Super weird. <-------.
Carter and Olive were a fun couple of characters to put together. The whole academic/nerd and jock falling in love is a tale as old as time, but the true strength of this book is in these characters, and their playful, sarcastic conversations. There is nothing better than picking up a book, and enjoying a lighthearted read with two good people falling in love. I was expecting a bit more steam (as this is supposed to be one of her steamy works), but it's wasn't bad. Just not enough of it. The romance was top notch though.
If you are looking for a lighthearted, romantic read that will put a smile on your face, Yours to Keep is a short and sweet story that will do just that.
Where to Buy
Caitlyn: "Mom told me the good news. Man of the Year. Does that come with a ring that I should kiss when I'm blessed by your presence? Also, please tell me they Photoshopped your ugly face. No way to I have that many more eye wrinkles than you when you're four minutes older."
Caitlyn: "The way I see it, that magazine is the nly way Unborn is going to be able to recognize her uncle."
Carter: "Well, this is a thrilling bonus to your pregnancy. A new way to guilt me."
Caitlyn: "Yes, for sure. AJ and I were on the fence about starting a family, but then we're like, 'You know what, this would make such a great Carter guilt trip, let's do it ...'"
Caitlyn: "Everyone is playing like they're too cool for a dorky reunion."
Carter: "Wow, you're really selling it."
Carter: "Go ahead. Lay your closing argument on me."
Caitlyn: "Trust me, I'm dying to. But Mom told me not to get involved in your personal life."
His eyebrows went up
Carter: "Really? Because just a few hours ago I listened to her tell me her theories on the relationship between jock straps and male infertility."
Caitlyn: "Don't be gross."
Carter: "Olive? Olive Dunn?"
Olive: "Have we met?"
Carter: "I'd say so."
He reached out and removed his sunglasses at the same moment a smile broke over his face.
Olive: "Oh, hell."
Olive: "The Carter I remember couldn't go thirty seconds without smiling and charming everyone in his path. This one, though .... let's just say I'm not charmed."
Carter: "Busybody does not even begin to describe you."
Olive: "Heard that."
Carter: "You were supposed to."
Olive: "Still, it must suck."
Carter: "Having a broken arm? A little bit."
Olive: "Being dependent on people to help you is annoying."
Carter: "What? Oh. Yeah. Though that's not the worst part. It's more not being able to do the thing I love most in the world."
Olive: "Oh, you mean ..."
She made a crude gesture with her hand, and Carter let out a surprised laugh and shook his head
Carter: "Not that."
Olive: "Ah. That thing you do with the other stick and balls."
Olive: "Please. Of course it's him. He's one of a kind. God and the angels had to retire his model after Carter was born because Earth could only handle so much glory."
Jakey: "That's Olive for you. A handful, but the good kind of handful."
Jakey: "That came out sexual. If Becky's behind me, just shoot me now and end my misery."
Olive: "Nope. We're listening to the doc on this one. When the cervix talks, we ladies must listen. 'Tis biology's idea of hilarity. Hey, did you know my uterus is just a little bit - wonky? Twisted? Shoot, what was the word that Dr. Khalid used? Janky? No, that doesn't seem right ..."
Carter: "Annnnnnnnd that's my cue to drop these off and make a very fast getaway, preferably toward some experimental memory procedure that will let me forget I've heard any of this."
Caitlyn: "I cannot believe you're taking his side. But you guys ganging up on me does rather nicely set up the reason why I summoned you here today."
Carter: "Oh, is this what you call this text? A summoning? Because if you read the actual words, it sounds more like a death threat."
Carter: "You're sexting Randel Wade? The Randel Wade?"
Olive: "I'm not sexting anyone."
Carter: "But that's a different Randel, right? Not the starting quarterback for the Bears?"
Olive: "Wouldn't you like to know."
Carter: "Holy shit, it is that Randel. How the hell did you pull that off? Did you interfere in his life, too?"
Olive: "Yeah, because that's what I do. Stalk pro athletes."
Carter: "I help you with the reunion, you see what it's like to be a pro ball player."
Olive: "Yes, well, I'd be delighted to play catch with you later, but right now I have work to do."
Carter: "We'll 'play catch' at some point, but you owe me five practice rounds, and the first starts right now."
Olive wrinkled her nose and looked at him skeptically
Carter: "You know what percentage of my time is spent with a ball or bat in my hand?"
Delighting in the double entendre, Olive lifted her eyebrows and gave him a slow smile
Olive: "Color me very interested in those statistics."
Olive: "You think my ass is fine?"
Carter: "I think it will be once I get done with it."
Olive batted her eyelashes and fanned her face
Olive: "Why, Mr. Ramsey. You presume too much."
Carter: "Quit ogling me."
Olive: "Take it easy, Captain America. You're the one who insisted on straddling my face."
Carter: "Captain America?"
Olive: "You're not hot enough to be Thor."
Carter: "Where is AJ? Did he finally spot your horns and go running for the hills?"
Mom: "Caitlyn, honey, have some grapes with the crackers. Babies like grapes."
Caitlyn: "Yeah? Then how come they don't like wine?"
Tracy rubbed a hand over Caitlyn's baby bump
Mom: "Just a couple more months. Then I can babysit, and you and AJ can have all the wine you want, so long as you pump."
Carter: "That's my cue."
Mom: "I'm just saying, it's a lot of time with her, and Olive is a very attractive woman."
Caitlyn: "Great boobs."
Carter: "And now we're back to boobs."
he said, tapping the bottom of the kitchen table frantically
Carter: "Is there no panic button here? There should be if I'm subjected to talking about boobs with my mom and sister."
Caitlyn: "Not even great boobs like Olive's?
Carter: "I am not interested in Olive's boobs. If there's no panic button, do you at least have anything stronger than this beer?"
Olive: "What! Come in! Jeez!"
A moment later Carter entered, holding a bottle of wine
Carter: "Such a gentle, welcoming greeting."
Olive: "Go down a bit easier? Come on. How could I not swing for the fences?"
Carter: "An oral sex reference and a baseball reference. Careful, or I'll fall in love with you."
Olive: "Sit. Tell me all your secrets: third nipple, weird sex fetish where you get really turned on by shampoo, your favorite food is raw beets, and you eat them before every meal."
Olive: "I'm liking you more and more. Maybe."
Carter: "I like you, too. Maybe."
Carter: "Sorry, Teach."
he said with a grin, extending a long leg to pull out a chair with his sneaker. He swung a leg over it, sitting on it backward, good arm braced on the back of the chair.
Olive gave him a look.
Olive: "Cool move. Will the rest of the T-Birds be joining us?"
SherryLee: "Young man, that is not how a gentleman sits with a lady."
Carter: "Good thing I'm not in the presence of a lady, then."
Carter: "Really? I watched you down an entire Gatorade in three gulps yesterday, and do not try to pretend that burp wasn't you."
Olive: "Are you sure? It has caffeine."
Carter: "I'll take my chances."
Olive: "You know, with the steamy look you just lit me on fire with, she's going to think it's your imaginary babies I'm threatening with my latte."
Carter: "Don't worry. I'll make an honest woman of you, Dunn."
Olive: "I'll need a ring first. My daddy always told me that no boy would buy the cow when he could have the milk for free."
Carter: "So babies are a part of your future?"
Olive: "I hope so. I want kids. In a perfect world, I'd have them the old-fashioned way. True love, husband, babies. Preferably in that order. But I'm also practical. If that doesn't happen, I can adopt or go the sperm-donor route."
She batted her eyelashes at him
Olive: "I don't suppose your tadpoles are available. I'd just love to raise the next Babe Ruth."
Carter: "Based on what I've seen of your hand-eye coordination, no child of ours would stand a chance at athletic superstardom, even with my superb genes trying to get their say."
Olive: "Which means they'd be well-rounded delights. Just like me."
Carter: "Oh, well in that case, when do we get started?"
Olive: "Don't get excited. This would be a strictly dirty magazine, your little soldiers into a cup and frozen situation, no bumping your uglies up on mine."
Carter: "There you go again, adding a touch of gentle sensuality to everything."
Carter: "What about the fancy golf club?"
Olive: "Oh yeah. We totally have the budget for that. Right along with the caviar and imported champagne."
Carter: "I'm so excited to raise our sarcastic children."
Olive: "Right. How long will that last?"
Carter: "About three hours. Three long, glorious hours, future mother of my children."
Olive: "There's literally no carrot he could dangle in front of my nose that would get me exited about that game."
Carter: "Not even new microscopes for your class?"
Olive: "Okay, that, yes. I'd join a softball league for that. I'd become your ball girl for that - ooh, sex pun!"
Carter: "You're annoying."
Olive: "I'm right."
Olive: "I feel like I should warn you, I've never really hugged a man other than my dad before. Not in a platonic way."
Carter: "Um, okay."
Olive: "So this will very likely be awkward for both of us."
She was wrong. Carter instinctively put his good arm around her and pulled her as close as he could. It wasn't awkward. It was exactly what he needed.
Carter: "Who would you be if you were famous?"
Olive: "Little old me? Why, I could never be famous."
She said in a faux-breathy voice
Olive: "I'd be happy just being by the side of my famous baby daddy! He plays baseball!"
She set her hand to her chest as she said it, batting her eyes dramatically at him, fully expecting him to roll his eyes in return.
Instead, he caught her gaze with his, and for one baffling moment, she could have sworn they were thinking the exact same thing: What if?
Olive: "Are you trying to bond? Why are you being weird?"
Olive: "I'm coming up. If you've got lady company, now's the time for her to throw on one of your shirts that will no doubt inexplicably dwarf her, making her look all flustered and delicate."
Carter: "Well, damn, Olive. Brilliant idea. Really useful hindsight advice in my current predicament. Quick, get the time machine!"
Carter: "I knew it."
Olive: 'You know nothing. Out of curiosity, what do you think you know?"
He leaned forward, closing the distance between them once more
Carter: "That you're very aware of what's under this towel."
Olive refused to let her gaze drift down, but oh, how she wanted to.
Olive: "What's that? More misplaced ego?"
His smile grew
Carter: "Nothing misplaced about it."
Olive: "Calm yourself.
she said, boldly stepping toward him and giving him a deliberately disinterested pat on the cheek.
Olive: "Because I know something, too."
Carter: "What do you think you know?"
Olive: "That whatever's under that towel is very aware of me, too."
Olive: "It's so annoying."
Carter: "What is?"
Olive: "All your hidden depths."
Carter: "Starting to fall for me now, are you?"
Olive: "Let's not get crazy."
Carter: "Your aim is impossibly bad."
Olive: "It isn't that bad."
Carter: "You threw the ball behind you instead of toward me. I barely knew that was possible."
Carter: "A bee got in here this morning."
Olive's eyes went wide
Olive: "Not a bee! I hope it doesn't come next door, I haven't built my bomb shelter yet."
Olive: "If you think I'm going to fall for that ploy where the guy teaches the girl how to play sports by pressing up against her back in a doggy-style position, I'll warn you now - I won't."
Carter: "Okay, this time when I toss the ball, don't worry about hitting it. You can swing, or not swing, but your only mission is to watch the ball the entire time it comes over the plate, okay? Don't worry about anything else other than staring at the ball the entire time it crosses the plate. Pretend the ball is someone who just told you that science is stupid, and then burn it with the heat of your death gaze."
Olive: "So this is a keep your eye on the ball thing."
Carter: "Well, aren't you just sharp as a tack. Now shut up and do what I say."
She poked her finger again into his side and he grimaced, moving away. Olive narrowed her eyes.
Olive: "Did that hurt?"
Carter: "Of course not. It just ... Stop it."
Her eyes went wide
Olive: "Oh my God. You're ticklish. Carter Ramsey's six-pack is ticklish!"
Olive: "Figures. You're trying to turn me into a Hawks fan."
Carter: "Wrong. I'm trying to turn you into a Carter Ramsey fan."
Olive: "Unfortunately, I think I already am."
she grumbled under her breath.
He leaned down until his face was just a few inches from hers, grinning.
Carter: "What was that?"
Olive: "I said I hate you?"
Olive: "I owe you an apology. This baseball thing is really hard."
Carter: "Well, to be fair, you've been making it way harder than it should be. I've never seen a third baseman - woman - run quite so much."
Olive: "The damn thing just keeps going between my legs."
He popped another pistachio in his mouth and grinned down at her.
Olive: "Yeah, yeah. I heard it."
It was a spontaneous kiss, driven by instinct and pure glee. A playful kiss between friends.
Only, the second her lips touched his, something shifted, low in Olive's belly. And worse, deep in her heart. It was more than the hot pull of sexual awareness, though there was definitely that.
It was a whisper. A quiet voice uttering the simplest, and most powerful, or statements. You belong here.
Olive: "It wasn't like a Twilight kiss, more like a playful smack."
Kelly: "Liv, if your bar for epic kisses is a teen movie about vampires, we really need to find you a man."
Olive: "I've never felt that thing."
Kelly: "And you feel it for Carter?"
Olive: "I don't know. It's nothing ... It's not at all what I thought it would feel like."
Kelly: "How so?"
Olive: "Shouldn't it feel ... nice when you think about the other person?"
Kelly: "What's it feel like?"
Olive: "Sort of like a roller coaster. The kind where you feel like you're going to puke, but then for some stupid reason, you still want to do it all over again. And I don't even like roller coasters."
Olive: "What is this, high school?"
Carter: "God, I hope not. I was an idiot in high school."
Carter: "I don't mind the being-famous part. It's the fact that nobody seems to want to see beneath the fame that gets to me."
Olive: "I've seen beneath it."
Carter felt something strange in his chest
Carter: "I know."
Olive: "It's terrible."
Carter burst out laughing, relishing how this woman could make him feel things he'd never felt before and make him laugh like he'd never laughed before, all within the span of ten seconds.
He rested his forehead on hers
Carter: "God, I wish I'd found you in high school."
Olive: "Nah. We weren't ready for each other yet. Teenage Olive and Carter were pretty great, but Adult Olive and Carter are really great."
Carter: "Really great together."
Carter: "Will you watch?"
Olive: "Watch what?"
Carter: "My games. The ones that I play, when I'm back. The ones that I coach. The ones I announce."
Olive: "Mmm. Not at first. I think it might be a little raw."
Olive: "Yeah. Turns out I like you a little bit."
Alabama: "Everyone like Olive. If there were a homecoming queen for grown-ups, she'd be it. Was she homecoming queen in high school?"
Joe: "Nah. We were too dumb and stupid to see the good ones back then."
Carter grabbed her hand
Carter: "Olive. Wait."
Her breath caught and she turned back around
Carter: "I've got to go. But know that I'll always ... My time here in Haven, with you, it's been ..."
He blew out a frustrated breath
Carter: "Olive, I think I -"
Olive: "Don't, Carter."
she whispered, feeling the tears threaten to create white stripes down her green-glitter face.
Kelly: "Okay, sweetie, let's limit to no more than three pieces of cheese going into your mouth at the same time. Men aren't worth losing all our dignity."
Olive: "His career is everything to him."
Caitlyn: "It was everything to him. But everything you've described, I have to think he's come to care about you, too."
Olive: "Maybe. But I care about him too much to ask him to give anything up for me."
Kelly: "There. That's love."
Fast facts about the man beneath the uniform
Favorite wine: Zinfandel, especially shared with good neighbors
Favorite color: Green, particularly in glitter form
Favorite animal: Haven Lions
Favorite possession: Jody
Favorite school subject: Science. Because it's damned important. And because I met a girl there my senior year. I think I love her.
Carter: "How'd you know where I lived?"
Olive: "I faked a rash, then sweet-talked your dermatologist dad into giving me the address."
He laughed, because it was so Olive.
Olive: "What kind of rash?"
Carter: "Very intimate. You don't want to know."
Carter: "How intimate? I might."
Carter: "Olive. I can't let you -"
Olive: "I'm not Felicity. I'm not telling you I'm skipping college to follow you around and be your groupie. I'm not an eighteen-year-old girl in puppy love looking to do whatever it takes to be near her boyfriend. What I am is a very smart woman who's figured out how to have the life I want with the man I want. And that man is you."
Carter: "One. Two."
Check out the rest of the Man of the Year series