To Have and to Hold

To Have and to Hold

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USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the “queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes” (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true…but their own.

Discovering her fiancé 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 fiancé 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?

One-Liners
  • Wedding planner 101: the sexy brother of the bride is off-limits...
  • After a scandalous wedding of her own, a disgraced LA wedding planner seeks a fresh start in NYC with the elite Wedding Belles, only to come toe-to-toe with scandal once more when she finds herself falling for the wealthy, uptight brother of her first client.
Accolades
  • A USA TODAY bestseller

"Completely endearing characters...most definitely looking forward to the others in the Wedding Belles series. A great community of women I want to follow."

– Harlequin Junkie, Top Pick

"A fabulous story, with a wonderful couple, great secondary characters and a romance that had us rooting hard for... I enjoyed it so much, I read it in one day."

– The Reading Cafe

"A sweet, charming sexy romance that perfectly weaved passion, friendship, family, second chances, banter and love into one intoxicating and entertaining read... Highly recommend."

– Four Chicks Flipping Pages

"I was wrapped up tight in this story from beginning to end and I enjoyed the entire ride... everything that I love about reading a Lauren Layne book."

– BookBinge

"To Have and to Hold has humor, sexiness, and a great back and forth between stubborn, bold characters."

– Book Reader Chronicles

"A character-driven and sizzling romance!"

– Fresh Fiction

"I love romance and this one had all the right ingredients!"

– Mrs. Leif's Two Fangs About It

"I had a major love fest with the story, the writing, and the characters. The ladies were well represented by all the darling, witty, and kick-butt Belles...a great beginning to what promises to be a MUST READ series for adult Contemporary Romance fans." 

– Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

"Super entertaining, sweet and sexy and it leaves you smiling big time at the end."

– About That Story

Excerpts

She so desperately wanted a nice man who'd take her to dinner, buy her pretty things, and most of all, who'd hold her. Who'd pull her close, wrap his big arms around her, and just let her lean. Without plan or agenda. A kind man, a gentle man, who wanted to build a life with her. That's all she wanted. Not so much really. But Seth Tyler was /not/ that man. But he could kiss. Holy hell, could he kiss.

There was nothing Brooke couldn’t handle. She’d seen it all. Experienced it all. She was going to /own/ this…Brooke sashayed over to the door and swung it open, then promptly realized that there was one element to wedding planning that she’d never experienced, and it was a bad one. A /really/ bad one: Wild, instant attraction to the groom.

It wasn’t just his good looks that had her feeling a bit short of breath. It was the look in his eyes – the look of surprise that she knew mirrored her own. Surprise that a perfect stranger could cause such a fierce stab of want. And he was someone else’s fiance. No, her client’s fiance... “Hi, you must be Neil,” Brooke said, forcing a smile and extending a hand. “No.” His voice was low, his enunciation precise. “Sorry?” “I’m not Neil.” Brooke blew out a slow relieved sigh, then quickly tried to cover it up with a little cough. He wasn’t Neil Garrett. Which meant he wasn’t getting married. Which meant…

“You should know something, Ms…” “Baldwin,” she said evenly. “Ms. Baldwin,” he said slowly, as though tasting the sound of her name on his tongue. Then he dropped his eyes to her mouth as though wanting to taste more than the sound of her name. Brooke swallowed and forced herself not to take a step back. “What is it that I should know?” she prompted. His eyes lifted back to hers, and despite their closeness, despite the heat between their bodies, there was no warmth in his eyes. This was a man who’d long ago mastered the art of perfect, icy control. “You should know that I never do anything I don’t want to,” he said in that low, husky voice.

“I plan on being around for the details,” he said quietly. “How much of the details?” Brooke asked warily. “All of them.” She swallowed, refusing to let herself get flustered. “I think you should know how this works, Mr. Tyler. Getting involved with the details – all of them – involves more than you getting to spend time with the bride and groom. It also means you’re going to be spending an awful lot of time with me.” Seth moved closer, crowding her against the counter in the tiny kitchen until there was nothing but body heat separating them. Seth lowered his voice to a growl. “How much time with you?” Brooke licked her lips, hating that it betrayed her nervousness. And her want. “Once a week at least,” she said quietly. “More as the wedding gets closer.” “Hmm. Once a week,” he repeated. His light blue gaze flicked up to hers. “I think, Ms. Baldwin, that things could get very interesting.”

Seth liked to think he was a man who was prepared for all things. Hurricanes. Market crashes. Breakups. But twice in the past month he’d found himself blindsided. First, by his sister’s engagement announcement. Second, by his instant and slightly insane attraction to the Malibu Barbie wedding planner. And now, just as he was hanging up the phone with the Tyler Hotel’s Tokyo office, there was a third shock: the sight of his best friend and said wedding planner, having a cozy cocktail in a hotel lobby bar as though it was no big deal.

This relaxed, friendly Brooke who was currently looking at him with an unshuttered eyes…he wanted to know her in ways other than just naked ways. Wanted to know what made her laugh, what made her cry… Grant cleared his throat, and Seth jerked slightly. Right. They weren’t alone. But someday soon, maybe.

Brooke’s smile turned brittle as she picked up her drink and avoided eye contact. Aha. So he was right about those eyes holding more than just an arresting shade of blue. Brooke Baldwin had a secret. --

“Do you want –“ Brooke licked her lips and tried again. “Do you want to have another drink with me?” His eyebrows lifted. “Here? Now?” She nodded. Seth studied her in that cool, assessing way he had so perfected. Then he stood, and Brooke’s heart sank – both from the disappointment of having taken a risk that hadn’t paid off and from the strange pang she had at the thought of watching him walk away. But he didn’t walk away.

Brooke reached down and surreptitiously ran a finger over the arch of that damn sexy stiletto-clad foot. Seth gave her a knowing look. “You can take them off, you know.” “Oh gosh no,” she said, sounding horrified at the prospect. “Ms. Baldwin, you can’t tell me those five-inch spikes are comfortable.” “Of course they’re not,” she muttered. “But I certainly can’t take them off around someone who calls me Ms. Baldwin.” “All right, then,” he said, his voice coming out low and gruff as he held her eyes in challenge. “You can take them off. /Brooke.”/

Since when had a man suggesting she remove her very stylish, very expensive, very uncomfortable shoes become just about the biggest turn-on in her adult life? Since now, apparently. Because when Seth Tyler was looking at her with those ice-blue eyes, and her name – her first name – on those lips. Brooke wanted to take off a hell of a lot more than her shoes.

“A bit of a reverse Cinderella thing we have going on here,” she said, trying to lighten the mood. “Reverse indeed,” he said, seeming relieved at her response. “Since I’m no prince.” “You sure about that?” -- “Cold, am I?” he said, his breath warm against her cheek. “You sure about that?” Brooke’s heart was thumping now, and she jerked at the door handle again. His big hand stayed where it was, keeping the door closed. Locking her in. Her hand dropped to her side, and she inhaled. “Let me go.” She saw his fingers flex slightly, as though wanting to remove his hand, but incapable of it.” “I’m trying,” he growled.

Seth paused in the foyer and looked at his home differently. And for the first time in as long as he could remember, he wished for…something. Someone. A dog. Even a godforsaken cat. Or, maybe, a sassy-mouthed blond wedding planner.

“You haven’t changed your mind?” “About wanting you?” He said with a smile. “Not even close.” “And you’re okay that I don’t want…more?” His smile grew. “You /do/ realize that a woman offering no-strings attached sex is every bachelor’s dream?” “Yes, but is it your dream?”

She walked directly into his hard chest, having barely a moment to register surprise before his lips closed over hers. The kiss was slow. Taunting. As though he knew exactly what she wanted, and what she wanted was this. /Him./

“You said you were afraid you wanted more.” “Yeah?” she said, her hands slowly falling to her side. His jaw clenched. “You said…you said that after breakfast, you were afraid you’d want lunch. And that after lunch you’d want dinner.” “Right,” she said nervously. “Have dinner with me.” Oh. Oh. He took another step closer, hands still shoved in his pockets, his shoulders hunched up around his ears like he was nervous. Nervous she might say no. “I’m hungry and I’m here, and if you don’t have plans, I’d like to take you to dinner.” She swallowed. “To discuss wedding stuff?” He shook his head once. “No. Because I want more too.”

"I like you." Her eyes flew open at the simple, unexpected admission, and she pulled back slightly to meet his gaze. "Why do you sound so surprised?" The corner of his mouth turned up, his eyes locked on the spot where his thumb and forefinger rubbed against a strand of her hair. "I wasn't supposed to." "You weren't supposed to like me?" Blue eyes latched onto hers. "I wasn't even supposed to meet you. You weren't in my plans, and I like my plans."

--

"I want a relationship that may be hard sometimes but is worth it. And you, Seth Tyler, are most definitely worth it"