Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: Central Park Pact #3
Published by Gallery Books on January 28, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.
But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?
Marriage on Madison Avenue is the story of the two best friends that everyone knew were in love, well everyone except for them. Audrey and Clarke have been best friends since they were kids, they’ve been with each other through everything and just skipped the part where they ever got physically close. So when Clarke tells the biggest busybody he and Audrey are engaged, she is prepared to just go with it.
I really enjoyed how this story developed. It was cute to see Clarke and Audrey literally fake it until they started to make it. It was like once they started touching, it dawned on them how nice it was to see the other person in that way and finally the physical feelings started catching up and gaining on the friendship feelings between them.
Audrey is likable. She went through the emotional ringer after finding out she’d been the other woman after her boyfriend of a year died in a boating accident. You’d think his wife and the other mistress (yes, he was THAT guy) would hate her, but in true The Other Woman style they became BFFs trying to make sure to protect each other from the jerk faces in the world. Still it is hard to find a new love while you still feel like the villain in someone else’s love story.
Clarke has been a playboy his entire life. Audrey is the uncomplicated girl he hangs out with and takes to events when he is between short term love affairs. Every girl he has dated has been jealous of her and he is starting to see what maybe they saw. Every day the fake engagement goes on, he is more reluctant to end it, since everything about it is starting to feel real.
Lauren Layne again does fantastic dialogue and fun friend relationships. I always like the group dynamic she sets up. Marriage on Madison Avenue is the third and final book in the Central Park Pact series. While all of the stories can be read as standalones, it is better to read the other two books in the series. There were some cameos from The Wedding Belles series and Oxford that were fun if you’ve read those books as well.
I do like to point out that this book only has fade to black sex scenes, completely PG-13. It really threw me for a loop when I read the first book in this series and found that out. All of the other Lauren Layne books I’d read to date always had that payout scene. I still love her books but like to bring that up in case you need something less…sexy for a book club or to read with a late teen’s daughter.
“It’s also not like guys have been banging down the door trying to woo me.”
“Maybe it’s because you use words like woo?”
“You’re the worst fake husband ever.”
“Our ill-fated love affair will end just as soon as you get off me.”
“I forgot how scary your parents’ house is,” Audrey muttered, leaning in to look at the door knocker on the West’s 80th Street residence. “Is that a lion? With its mouth open?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Audrey,” Clarke said, opening the door. “That’s not a lion. It’s clearly the spitting image of my mother.”
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