To Have and to Hold is book one is Lauren Layne’s new Wedding Belle’s series. Being an avid LL fan, it was a no-brainer for me to pick up this series. Not too long ago I reviewed the prequel to the series, From This Day Forward. I am a huge fan of the wedding series Nora Roberts wrote, Bride Quartet, and was hoping this series would have the same feel but maybe the more modern, New York flair LL writes with.
As with most LL characters, both the heroine and the hero are rather complex. Brooke Baldwin was a west coast wedding planner, one of the best, right up to the point where her own fiancée was taken away from the altar in handcuffs. The publicity and press coverage was huge and she felt like a fool. Felt like a fool for loving someone and not really knowing them and felt like a fool for falling for all his lies. She had really thought she found her happily ever after but all along he was in it for the money and the cover for his Ponzi schemes.
A change in coasts and a new job with Wedding Belle’s, the east coast’s premiere wedding planning company, is just what she needs. Her first job happens almost immediately and she knows she is in trouble when she opens the door to a man and feels an instant attraction. She is thrilled to find out the man isn’t the groom but things end up not being as easy as just being attracted to a nice man she can date.
The man on the other side of the door is Seth Tyler. To say Seth is a control freak would be putting it mildly.
She didn’t even try to hide the fact that she was studying him. He half expected her to start jotting notes about him in her little book.
His sister has sprung this surprise wedding on him and since he has never even met the groom and their family is worth a lot of money, he is instantly on the defensive. Their father has recently died, leaving Seth in charge of a billion dollar company. He has to be controlled, at all times, and doesn’t like it when something happens he can’t control. He promises to go along with the wedding as long as he can be involved in every step of the planning and that is what puts him on the Wedding Belle’s doorstep.
The book and the wedding planning progress and we get to know Seth and Brooke better. Normally I am more forgiving to the hero but it was Brooke I leaned toward in this book. I think LL wrote her very well. You can feel her reluctance to get involved with a man after her disaster of a wedding. She no longer trusts her own judgment and that colors how she sees a relationship with Seth. Her past influences some of her scenes with Seth and there were times I wanted to bang my head at the things she would say.
Seth wasn’t much better, though. Because of the situation with his father, his father passed away without telling Seth of an existing condition, Seth holds more tightly to everything. He is baffled he can’t control his feelings for Brooke and lashes out left and right at her. LL writes complicated very well and there is some definite push and pull to this couple.
In the end, I wasn’t sure how Seth had redeemed himself. The last chapter is sweet but how did it happen? How did Seth all of the sudden change his ways? The major conflict is over something Seth does to invade his sister’s and Brooke’s privacy, something that really didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. I wanted it to end like it did but I wasn’t sure how we got to that point. Everything also worked out with Seth’s sister. The happily ever after was neatly wrapped up for everyone but it felt a little rushed, maybe?
I did enjoy the book. LL is great at telling a story and there is an emotional factor to this one. The secondary characters are great, as usual, and there is one in particular that should have an excellent story. I think I will stay with the series in order to get to that story. I’m not sure about the next one but I guess we will see! Final grade- B-
Good thing he was a ten physically, because his personality was trending towards negative.