I’m always, always thrilled to read a new book from Lauren Layne. She is one of those authors that just hits my sweet spot as a reader. Great romance, fun storylines, and characters I can connect with and feel empathy. Passion on Park Avenue is mostly a hit for me in all those elements.
Naomi Powell is not having the best of days. She is attending the funeral for the man she has been seeing for the last three months. Sad enough, right? Unfortunately, Brayden happened to be married and Naomi didn’t realize that until she saw his obituary. Now she feels angry at him and herself. She never pictured herself as the mistress. Well… when she walks in Central Park to avoid the funeral, she happens to meet not only Brayden’s wife, Claire, BUT his other mistress. Talk about unusual circumstances. The three decide to make a pact that they will help each other avoid a similar fate in the future, falling for the wrong man. And they also quickly become friends.
Naomi is an in demand businesswoman. She owns and operates Maxcessory and well, to say it is successful is putting it lightly. But her carefully constructed facade crumbles around her when she receives a letter in the mail saying she has been accepted for an interview at 517 Park Avenue for an apartment. Naomi is shocked. 517 Park Avenue is where her mother’s life fell apart. Her mother was a live-in made for the Cunningham family but when she got caught sleeping with Walter Cunningham, Naomi and her mom were thrown from the apartment and her mom’s name was blacklisted. Naomi does not have positive feelings about the building or about the man who interviews, Oliver Cunningham. He is the son of Walter and he also happened to witness Walter and Naomi’s mom having sex. Oliver does not recognize Naomi though (and it doesn’t help that she changed her last name). All he sees is a prickly red-head who seemingly does not care for him at all and in fact, is actively loathing him during the interview. Why does she even want to live at 517 Park he can’t help but wonder.
Well, suffice it to say, in a nutshell, Naomi moves in and her apartment happens to be right next door to Oliver’s. Oh let the sparks fly!
The ONE thing I wish this book had done was to have Naomi say near the beginning who she really is rather than let Oliver find out by accident. He is understandably hurt given their past connection. And oh yeah, he is also hurt because Naomi has been a friend and kind presence in his life as he watches his father battle Alzheimer’s. Yes, the same father who ruined Naomi’s mom’s life. I wish, wish, wish this has been addressed sooner because I think the story could have been just as great (if not better!) with this discussion and misconception out of the way.
That being said, gosh did I love the chemistry between Naomi and Oliver. They have that spark in SPADES and it really jumps off the page. Lauren Layne is just such a fun writer and she has a way of really growing a relationship via sarcasm, bonding over expensive alcohol in mugs, and well, hot kisses.
I liked Naomi’s business acumen and her dedication to her staff and growing her business. This isn’t just a side-note storyline in the book. Naomi’s life is full with friends, work, and a growing attraction.
I have not had to see someone suffer through Alzheimer’s so I cannot attest to how accurate Walter’s struggle and Oliver’s choices are, but they felt painful to me. It is NOT an easy disease as everyone knows and even with Oliver’s wealth and resources (putting him in a privileged position for his father) you still see him struggle and deal with losing his dad. They never had an easy relationship to begin with so Oliver is feeling not only the guilt of words left unsaid between them while his dad was still healthy but now, seeing him decline and having to deal with a somewhat different dad.
All in all, I really did like the entire story this book presented. We get to know the other two women also, Naomi’s friends, but they do not dominate the story, just give you a taste of their personality and what may come for them. I am excited for books 2 and 3.
Lauren Layne’s Passion on Park Avenue isn’t a perfect book but it is pretty darn near close for this reader!
Passion on Park Avenue is available now.
PASSION ON PARK AVENUE
By Lauren Layne
Book 1 of The Central Park Pact series
On sale May 28, 2019
Trade Paperback – Price: $16.00 – ISBN: 9781501191572
eBook – Price: $11.99 – ISBN: 9781501191589
For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.
The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…
Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than two dozen romantic comedies. Her books have sold over a million copies in nine languages. Lauren’s work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, The Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City.