Emma Sinclair and Cassidy’s lives are just tolerably messy – she told him she didn’t want to marry him the night before their wedding, and he stood her up at the altar the day of. Seven years later and four states north, she’s a dating columnist at Stiletto and he’s editor-in-chief of its “brother” magazine Oxford. They somehow find a balance of mutual indifference that leaves their friends and coworkers wondering “what the hell happened with them?”
But when Emma’s editor-in-chief Camille decides to take a sabbatical, Cassidy steps in as her temporary replacement — and interim Emma’s boss. And you can’t forget Emma’s flooded apartment; Camille’s “generosity” winds Emma up in a gorgeous apartment that happens to be next door to Cassidy. Even this could have been manageable if Cassidy hadn’t assigned Emma to revisit her past relationships in a “12 Days of Exes” piece. But once Emma started opening her cans of worms, it complicates how she tidily compartmentalized what happened between her and Cassidy.
This book is actually a fun read – I read it in one day. Once I got wrapped up in it, I struggled to put it down. The plot itself is pretty interesting — it’s a jilted bride’s worst nightmare. But how Emma and Cassidy handle their situation and interactions with each other is intriguing to watch unfold. It was refreshing to see them interact in different settings, where the power dynamic between them fluctuated. Emma and Cassidy are fleshed out in a way that seems genuine and realistic, so their actions don’t seem contrived or simply plot devices. They react in ways I’d actually expect people to respond to their circumstances, which I appreciated. One thing that really stood out to me with them is that things didn’t just “fall into place” like so many romance novels tend to do. Their relationship was awkward, they were both hurt, and unsure of how to proceed. He didn’t just sweep her off her feet and she didn’t just come running back to him. That honesty is what sets this book apart, for me.
The peripheral characters are all so likable that I could easily envision myself hanging out with them. It’s clear they have depth to them, although I didn’t see it play out in this book as much as I’d like. Given that this is the fourth book in the Sex, Love and Stiletto series, I am confident that the prior three books, which are the stories of Emma’s friends and their relationships, give the detail I’m looking for. I also like that this book seems to set up subsequent sequels or spin-offs — there’s a lot to explore with Daisy, Emma’s southern belle of a twin sister, and the ever-charming Lincoln. If The Trouble with Love is any indication of the quality to expect from Lauren Layne, I’d gladly read other books of hers.