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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Review: Runaway Groom by Lauren Layne

I’m not going to lie, Lauren Layne is one of those authors whose books I have a 50/50 relationship with. I have loved some of her books, and I have hated some of her books. This series has charmed me from the beginning and while this book was good, it had one big thing that had me slamming on the brakes early on and re-calibrating my mind.

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: January
For one charming playboy, getting cast on a Bachelor-esque reality TV show is the shock of a lifetime—until he finds love where he least expects it. And now the chase is on!

Gage Barrett’s reputation as a ladies’ man has been greatly exaggerated, but none of that matters after a drunken bet lands him on Jilted, a reality TV show that matches runaway grooms with wannabe brides. Now he’s stuck at a Hawaiian resort with nineteen women competing to drag him back to the altar—and one contestant who’s even more miserable than he is. Gage has no idea how feisty, independent Ellie Wright wound up in the cast, but it’s obvious she hates his guts. And if there’s one thing Gage likes, it’s a challenge. . . .

Ellie can’t believe she let her best friend talk her into exchanging her dignity for a glorified bikini contest. Still, she could use the exposure—her business is struggling—and she’ll probably be one of the first to get eliminated anyway. But Gage isn’t the shallow jerk Ellie anticipated—and he’s in no rush to send her home. As stolen kisses turn into secret trysts, she finds herself losing track of what’s real and what’s for the camera. With the wedding finale looming, this runaway groom is tempting Ellie to start believing in storybook endings.

What’s it About? A drunken bet lands Gage Barrett on the reality show Jilted which is basically a Bachelor type show except it takes a runaway groom and tries to match him up with one of nineteen eager wannabe brides. He doesn’t want to be there but when he meets contestant Ellie Wright he starts rethinking his role on the show. Meanwhile Ellie can’t believe her best friend managed to talk her into being on the show. She’s all set to hate Gage on principal but the more she gets to know him, the more she can’t resist him. And the longer Ellie stays on the show, the more confused she becomes about which Gage is the real one. The playboy or the romantic?

Overall reaction to the story? I shouldn’t enjoy this series as much as I am. A series that revolves around a show kind of like The Bachelor? I despise that show and yet Lauren Layne has crafted a witty, charming, and fun series around a fictional show called Jilted. The first book in the series was such a winner and while this one is a good one, I had one thing that I to nitpick about and that did take away from my reading experience.

Gage has absolutely nothing in common with the epic D-bags that are always on The Bachelor, he’s genuine, he’s charming, he’s intelligent, a bit broody, and he’s unprepared for Ellie. I liked him right away. He’s not perfect but he isn’t a poser looking to score with a group of attractive but not very bright women. He lost a bet and while it was a stupid bet, he honors it anyway. He doesn’t take advantage of anyone, huge points for him, and what I found humorous is that Gage kind of treats his experience on the show like Survivor. He just wants to make it out of the experience in one piece and preferably unmarried. The best thing about Gage though was his surprising vulnerability. I say surprising because it seems like every rich hero is arrogant, and has an ego the size of Everest. Gage is a really good looking guy, he’s famous, he’s rich, and he can have any woman he wants, yet he’s afraid to let anyone in because of it. If he was so inclined to fall in love, he wants the woman to want him for who he is, not what he is.

Enter Ellie. Gage’s celebrity status is a huge mark against him. She doesn’t want to deal with all the women throwing themselves at his feet, or the assumed ego he has. I loved how willing she was to score publicity for her t-shirt company. She’s definitely a hard worker and while she also had some vulnerabilities when it came to romance, she didn’t let that drive her actions. She said what was on her mind and if you didn’t like it, tough. I love truly snarky heroines who can throw some snark at the hero when it calls for it, and that’s definitely what Ellie does. She doesn’t set out to deliberately attract Gage, that’s just who she is. I loved that she didn’t fit in with all those bat crap crazy “contestants” aka candidates for psychiatric evaluation.

The romance between these two characters had to take place in secret because while the show is about Gage getting to know all the contestants, he wasn’t stupid, he knew they were nuts. He was intrigued by Ellie and I loved how the author handled that without making their sneaking around seem sleazy. Their interactions ranged from casual, to personal, to seriously sexy and all of it helped build a convincing romance that just charmed the heck out of me. The chemistry and flow of Gage and Ellie’s relationship turned Runaway Groom into a romance and took me away from the whole “But it’s a Bachelor-type-show” mind set. Which is VERY difficult to do.

Runaway Groom is the second book in the I Do, I Don’t series which is already 2 for 2 in wins. I have high hopes for the next book because Layne does a great job of taking a reality show setting and turning it from Eww to Aww.

I will say that there was one thing that caught me off guard was that Layne switched from third person in the first book, to first person in Runaway Groom. I’m REALLY not a fan of first person because I feel it deprives me as a reader of a lot of the sensory experiences that are left out when a story is told in first person. I’m only seeing things through the eyes of the character which as you know can be subjective. I prefer to watch things unfold rather than be tossed into one character’s head for the ride. That was really the one thing I wasn’t crazy about. I felt I got more out of the first book than this one. As charming as Gage and Ellie could be, I DON’T want to be in their heads like that and after experiencing the first book in third person, having this one be in first was kind of a letdown.

Click It or Skip It? Click It. Even if you hate The Bachelor click it. I promise you the main characters are not bottom of the barrel type personalities. But it is told in first person and well, I think the experience suffered a bit because of it.

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