I Do, I Don’t #1


Lauren Layne

✮✮✮ 4 STARS ✮✮✮

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.

“I don’t care how much money’s on the table. I don’t care if your ‘handpicked’ women are all Victoria’s Secret models with degrees in neuroscience who run charities in their spare time. I’m not, nor will I ever be, interested in being a part of your show. So you can prance your high heels and your tight ass right back to New York City and leave me and my town in peace.”

Jordan is a heroine with a history we only learn about rather late in the story. We don’t know what made her the way she is, just that there seems to be something in her past that she has never processed to a degree that she can trust people to stay with her. She always chooses the safe path, keeping people at arm’s length, never letting somebody in too deep.

Physically, she’d been perfectly stable. Emotionally, she’d always had one foot out the door.

Jordan is a city girl who loves her home in New York very much but as you read along you meet the Jordan who comes from a small town and realizes how much she misses the familiarity, the people who know one another well enough to have them stick their noses in your life.

The people of Lucky Hollow in Montana sense the small town girl in her and welcome her in their fold from the start. It helps that one of their own doesn’t seem to be able to take his eyes off of Jordan, whether he looks at her in anger or with desire. I really liked Jordan, she was ambitious but she didn’t sell out her own grandmother just to reach her goal. She has a gentle heart that bruises easily when you know which button to push. And I loved her general attitude towards the people in town, deep down she is a simple and nice small town girl with the dreams and wishes of one.

Trouble was, Jordan was getting the distinct impression that Luke Elliott thought everything worth caring about in life had long past slipped away.

Not much is known about Luke’s past brides and why he left them at the altar. He is just as closed-off as Jordan when it comes to the other gender but as the story unfolds you realize that not everything is as it seems. Luke is quite the grumpster and I wanted to kick him a couple of times, especially around the 85% mark when he still didn’t get his head out of his butt – he gave me a major case of whiplash there.

“You make me want things I haven’t let myself want in a long time.”
He studied her, then shook his head. “That’s it? That’s all I get? You tell me you’re dredging up the worst part of my life, and I get some vague crap about your self-discovery.”

But there were also times when was utterly charming and sweet – his abrasive attitude wasn’t always unwelcome and I totally loved how it ramped up the sexual chemistry between Luke and Jordan. I would have liked to see more grovelling at the end.

“Well, that makes two of us, Small Town. Because you don’t know yourself either. Enjoy your solitude and your attitude problem.”

The whole town of Lucky Hollow and its inhabitants charmed me. I loved the well-meant meddling, the fun they all had playing matchmaker for Jordan and Luke. They were one of my highlights in this story.

“Jordan. Where’d she go?”
“I have no idea ,” she said, holding his gaze. “Back home, I imagine.”
Home. That felt wrong. It was wrong. Home wasn’t New York. Home was . . . with him? The thought felt both ridiculous— he’d just met her—and yet not ridiculous at all.
“You’re so dumb,” Isobel muttered, shoving in a mouthful of lettuce.

The blurb had me at “firefighter” so I was eager to check this book out! I love Lauren Layne’s writing – she puts her heart in it and it shows. This story has her signature banter and snark and some angst-packed situations but it never gets too much.
Ready To Run is a lovely start to a new series by this author and I am looking forward to reading the next installment!

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