The word charm is pretty much synonymous with Lauren Layne in my world. I have never NOT been charmed by her work, and Passion on Park Avenue is the most recent way she’s charmed my face off.
This latest work of genius, Passion on Park Avenue begins by introducing us to three lovely ladies who find out at the most inopportune moment that they all have been seeing the same man. One was married to him, one was dating him, and one was his regular booty call. Instead of going to battle against each other, these three women fight to help each other move on from this philandering husk of a man.
Enter Naomi and Oliver. She’s a successful single woman with a Cinderella-storied past. He’s an overwhelmed professional trying to balance work and caring for his father, who, as an Alzheimer’s patient, needs round the clock care. She remembers their past. He does not. As you can imagine, this complicates their new neighborly relationship.
I am consistently amazed by how often Lauren Layne can delight and inspire me. Her heroes and heroines are supremely real and relatable, even when I can’t immediately recognize myself in either character. And that, for me, is the mark of a truly great romance. When my own experiences don’t dictate how I relate to the characters, but somehow, I just feel like I can understand everything about where they’re coming from.
And that’s kind of the case in Passion on Park Avenue. On paper, I have very little in common with Naomi Powell, but that doesn’t stop me from tearing up as she reflects on where her life has taken her. I don’t know anything about it would feel to experience how Oliver’s life has progressed, but I can feel kinship with him as he does his best by his family.
And it’s pretty hard to stay unaffected as you read Naomi and Oliver’s story unfold. They have a palpable kind of chemistry that is fun to watch grow more and more potent as they try to deny their attraction to each other.
I love that Naomi is the most vocally frank of the three ladies that make up the friendship at the core of this new series. I think it’s important to get her story first, as she had the least feelings attached to Brayden Hayes. She wasn’t his wife. She wasn’t his girlfriend. She is the most free to step out into the world and find someone who truly appreciates what she has to offer.
I cannot contain my excitement about the Central Park Pact series. The setup for how these three ladies have chosen to be friends rather than catty acquaintances is intriguing and unique, and turns all those ‘other woman’ expectations on their head. They were all sleeping with the same man at the same time, but they’ve decided to leave the blame where it belongs, on the philanderer. I cannot wait to see how their friendship evolves over the next two books, and how supportive Naomi, Claire, and Audrey can be for each other as true, lasting love brings them all the happiness they deserve.