To Have and to Hold

To Have and to Hold - Lauren Layne Please note that I gave this book 4.5 stars but rounded it to 5 stars on Goodreads.

I previously read the novella and decided to give this series a go since I really couldn't stomach anything more than romance novels this weekend.

The first book in the series follows new Wedding Belle wedding planner Brooke Baldwin. After a scandal has Brooke fleeing from California to New York, she is decidedly done with any romance. Having a wedding to plan with a hotel heiress should be a piece of cake for Brooke, but then she meets the bride's brother Seth Tyler and finds herself thinking about him and wondering how they would be together.

Seth for his part is not worried about getting married anytime soon, after misjudging where he was in a past relationship he has decided that marriage and him don't mix. Focused on making sure his sister isn't about to marry someone she should not, Seth decides to use Brooke to keep an eye on the groom. Of course he starts thinking about how good he and Brooke would be together and pretty soon romance follows.

Well this is a romance first for me. I loved the hero (Seth) more than the heroine in this book (Brooke). I liked that Layne chose to do a third person story with alternating POVs between Brooke and Seth. A lot of times romance books choose to focus on just the women, or if they do include the men I find most of them pretty freaking unappealing. But for some bizarre reason Seth really got to me while reading. He blames himself for his father's death and wants to keep his sister safe from what he perceives is a fortune hunter. When he starts to fall for Brooke, he wants to do what he can to keep her safe and that means making sure her past doesn't have a way of harming her future.

Though Brooke is all about the happily ever aspect of weddings and being angry at Seth for not trusting his sister's groom to be, when you find out her backstory I had a hard time with her head in the sand approach. I didn't want Brooke to be cynical, but she was naive about way too many things and didn't ever really seem to get closure on her past. I also thought it was weird that no one in Brooke's past really seemed to keep in touch with her. I always find it odd in books when a character moves that no one from families or close friends calls to check in on them unless it's integral to the plot.

I thought the secondary characters were hit or miss. Seth's sister Maya was very well developed as was Seth's best friend Grant. But I actually thought the other wedding belles (Heather and Alexis were not that developed) were barely in this story, which didn't make a lot of sense since books #2 and #3 are about them. Also I had a hard time with Brooke's boss Alexis giving her the go ahead to get involved with the guy who was paying for a potential wedding. The whole thing smacked of being unprofessional, and when things blow up (of course they did) it causes a lot of problems for all people concerned.

I liked the writing and the sex scenes were great. And I definitely got chemistry vibes from the characters of Seth and Brooke which is great. The flow was a bit lacking though in the middle I thought. I think the antagonism between Brooke and Seth ran too long and also we don't get enough opportunities to look at Brooke's past besides a phone or text from her parents. So when those things happen in the story, it just made it stop a bit for me.

The ending of book #1 definitely had me excited for book #2.