A note from Lauren Layne
So, we're trying something a little different this week. While you'll still get an email to your inbox every Thursday, instead of the actual content being a part of that email, you'll click a link to come ... here.
Why the change?
Simply put, MailChimp was pissing me off. It's great for collecting email addresses for newsletters, great for notifying people about new stuff, but the actual user interface wasn't cutting it for me. It would take me hours (yes, hours) to format everything every single week, and even after all that, I still felt like it looked like it crawled out of 2003.
Plus, it was hard to put the "archives" on my website so that people could easily review "past issues."
New plan? Same great (yes, I said great) Weekly content, but it'll "live" on my website. I know it's an extra "click" for you guys to access the content, and I don't love that, but honestly this will give me SO much more flexibility in providing fun stuff, and it won't make me drop all sorts of un-ladylike words every time I try to send out The Weekly.
Today's issue? All about To Have and to Hold. We're officially under the "1-week mark" of my countdown, and I have all the happy butterflies of knowing you guys are so close to meeting Seth and Brooke.
Scroll down for the book's mood-board, playlist, early reviews, and an excerpt!
But first ...
Before we get into To Have and to Hold goodness, I have an exciting personal announcement to make. Well okay, not mine, but my husband's.
Mr. Layne is starting a new career venture: stand-up comedy.
I know, whaaaaaaaat?!
He's been taking classes for several weeks now (yup, they have classes for that sort of thing!) and his graduation performance was this past Monday, and he absolutely killed it.
I know stand-up's not for everybody, but I'm mentioning it here because a lot of his set was about being married to a romance writer (along with a few probably-not-inaccurate impressions of LL).
If there are any comedy fans, he's releasing his 5-minute set to his newsletter subscribers, so if you want to see him in action, you should sign-up! His newsletter also comes out every Thursday (we're cute like that), and for the next couple weeks, each newsletter will include the password so that you can view his comedy bit!
(also, even aside from his romance-themed comedy bit, his newsletter cracks me up every single week, and he has some excellent recipes of what we're eating that week!)
Early Reviews of To Have and to Hold
What To Have and To Hold's all about
To Have and To Hold is the first book in my Wedding Belles series, which my publisher has been describing as Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner. I'd totally agree with that description, but would add one more detail ...
This series is also a bit like my Stiletto series. It's different characters, obviously, different premise. But I knew when I was coming up with a series idea that after New York's Finest and Oxford, I really wanted to get back to a more feminine series. One about career women trying to find their way in New York.
Since I'd already done (and loved) the women's magazine world, I racked my brain for an equally fabulous setting/career, and came up with ... wedding planners!
Book One features Brooke Baldwin, a former celebrity wedding planner from LA whose reputation is in tatters after she gets left at the altar of her own wedding in rather spectacular, front-page fashion. Desperate for a change of scenery, she heads to NYC (as one does) to join up with the elite Wedding Belles.
Her first client? A lovely, if slightly-spoiled hotel heiress.
Except that the bride's uptight brother is firmly against the wedding, and he's holding the purse strings.
Now Brooke will have to convince Seth to stay out of the way of his sister's happily-ever-after. And he'll have to convince her that the happily-ever-after she should be chasing is her own ...
Mood Board for To Have and to Hold
So, this is the first time I've done this, but I do mood boards for all of our Last Word Designs website projects, and it's my favorite part of the whole process, so I thought ... why not do one for a book?!
Please feel free to save the image and share on social media!
I just finished reading my NetGalley copy of To Have and to Hold and LOVED it. I think it's my favorite book of yours yet! I do have a question ... Seth was CHILLLY to begin with (which I personally love), and I have to ask ... was this a deliberate nod to Mr. Darcy?
Hi Kimberly, thanks for taking the time to write! You're so right, Seth is absolutely a modern Mr. Darcy. I'm not sure that I put conscious thought into writing him after Darcy the way I did with Gray from Only With You, but I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to write about a bubbly, optimistic heroine, and a sort of awkward, reserved hero. This opposites-attract trope is one of my favorites to write, because it creates such delicious longing early on when the hero wants the girl but doesn't know how to talk to her, much less woo her.
These heroes also make for pretty awesome "resolution" scenes. Seth's groveling, "get her back" speech at the end of To Have and to Hold is one of my finer moments, if I do say so myself ;-)
Got a question for LL? Email email@example.com!
In honor of the Wedding Belles, I thought I'd share the collage I put together of my own wedding. I can't believe it'll be ten years in December?!
Excerpt from To Have and to Hold
Brooke reached for the door handle, jerking it open just as a male hand lifted and slammed the door shut again.
“I never lied to you about who I was,” he said, his voice low and angry. “About what I was.”
“And who and what is that, exactly?” she shot back. “A cold, rigid control freak who not only refuses to let himself be happy, but doesn’t seem to want it for his sister either?”
“Cold, am I?” he said, his breath warm against her cheek. “You sure about that?”
Brooke’s heart was thumping now, and she jerked at the door handle again. His big hand stayed where it was, keeping the door closed. Locking her in.
Her hand dropped to her side, and she inhaled. “Let me go.”
She saw his fingers flex slightly, as though wanting to remove his hand, but incapable of it.
“I’m trying,” he growled.
“Try harder,” she said, her voice urgent.
“Why?” he shifted slightly closer until the center of his wide chest crowded against her shoulder. “Scared of what might happen if you stayed?”
Brooke opened her mouth to deliver a tart response only to realize that her face was too flush, her mind far too addled to come up with a worthy lie. The truth was she was terrified what was going to happen if she didn’t get out of this room. Terrified that she was going to cross some terrible professional line that she’d never recover from.
Seth’s lips touched her cheek. Not a kiss, exactly. Just an erotic touch that sent fire rippling from the spot his lips touched to lower on her body. Spots she wanted his mouth to touch. And linger on.. And linger.
To Have and to Hold Playlist
Some of LL's favorite things from around the web!
For the Record | I'm a longtime Jennifer Aniston fan (HER HAIR!) and I loved every part of her blog post fighting back against the ever-present pregnancy rumors.
The Double Ponytail | I am determined to nail this look. Some day. Not any time soon, apparently, but the quest continues.
Yogurt Toppings | After years (okay fine, decades) of hating yogurt, I'm finally coming around (although not Greek yogurt, I can't). The key? It's all about the toppings!
Scrappy Little Nobody | Anybody else on the Anna Kendrick bandwagon? She has a new book coming out!
Watermelon Goodness | I didn't really need another reason to love watermelon, but here it is anyway.
The Wedding Belles - collect them all!
Because they look pretty all lined up next to each other!
What LL's Reading
In honor of my To Have and to Hold issue of The Weekly, I thought it would be extra fitting to talk about the book that I'm reading right now...
Also titled To Have and to Hold, although this one came out last Tuesday, and is by Serena Bell.
Serena's one of my favorite contemporary authors--definitely a must read if you like your books smart, emotional and a little meaty. She doesn't shy away from tough topics, but does so in a way that always makes me feel ALL THE FEELS. I'm absolutely loving this one, and it may give my previous favorite of hers (Yours to Keep) a run for its money!
That's all UntIL next week!
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