November 4, 2016

Hi, Hello & Welcome

Happy Friday everyone!

In case you missed my note yesterday, the Weekly’s coming a day late today because I’ve been a bit under the weather. One of those bugs that’s not quite a full-blown sickness, but just enough of something to leave me feeling like I’m in a bit of a fog.

Still not 100% today, but I went to bed early last night and slept for a solid nine hours and am feeling much improved.

Also, I woke up to the sweet news that the hubs had stayed up late finishing For Better or Worse and loved it. I mean, of course he has to say that, but it still makes me smile since that book is one of my absolute favorites.

Okay, onto the Weekly … today I’ve got a bunch more “life stuff” for you than book stuff.

Partially because that’s what’s been dominating my week, and also because while there are a LOT of you that are really only in on the Weekly for book updates, I’ve also been getting some gentle nudges that The Weekly’s been ALL books lately, not enough LL, so I’m trying to make up for it with this week’s post! 

I’ve got the scoop on my Halloween, that time I met Nora Roberts, and how I spent way too much money at ULTA.

For you book-only die hards, I've got a look at Walk of Shame and Someone Like You



What I’m Working On

Walk of Shame, and still loving it. Here's a look at what I wrote just this morning!

I shake my head and bend to pick up my bag. “Have fun at the gym, Mulroney. I hope you choke on your wheatgrass.”
I’m still blinking back tears, but at least I manage to walk away with my head held high. 
He catches up with me before I can make it to the elevator, his fingers wrapping firmly around my bicep and pulling me back around. “Georgiana.” 
“What?” I snap, turning around. “What can you possibly say that you haven’t said a million times already with every scowl, with every eye roll, with every *you’re ridiculous*. You think I’m stupid and worthless, I *get* it.”
The guy’s expression is one tangled knot of emotional constipation. “That’s not what I think.”

That Time I Met Nora Roberts

I mentioned last week that I was headed to Boonsboro to Turn the Page bookstore to do a signing alongside Nora Roberts.

I was very excited.  And …

It exceeded expectations.

For starters, Nora is just down-to-earth and lovely. I was kind of expecting that though, because I’ve heard how nice she is.

What I wasn’t expecting … she’s funny as hell.

I guess I should have seen that coming as her books have all sorts of sharp wit in them. But I just … I don’t know, I really enjoyed her. I enjoyed the whole day, really!

The book store and town are charming, the staff of the store and Nora’s “people” are the kind of people I’d love to grab a glass of wine with. 

At the signing table I was alongside Carla Neggers, Hank Phillippi Ryan, who I enjoyed so much, and I finally got to meet Tiffany Snow who was my champagne and pizza buddy (everyone needs one of those). 

And then, of course, there was Nora. I managed to play it cool for the first part of the signing. I chatted with her husband, casually met her with a breezy, “So nice to meet you!”

Then the signing was over and I quietly made my move. I roamed the shelves of the store (which seem to hold every Nora book ever) until I found The Reef, which is the first romance novel I ever read after I picked it out of my mom’s Costco haul when I was 14, thinking it was a mystery. It was a mystery, but it was a romance too, and I remember thinking, “Oh this is sooooooooo much better than Sweet Valley High.” 

Anyway, so I took The Reef and asked Nora’s assistant if she thought Nora would sign it. Five seconds later, I was chatting with Nora, getting the book signed AND getting a picture.

I don’t mean to get weepy, but guys, this was a real moment here. Not only did I get to meet a legend as a reader, I got to sit alongside her as an author. In all my early writing days, daydreaming of what it would be like when I “made it” I don’t think I even dreamt that big! 

And with that, I really have to say such a huge thank you to my assistant Lisa who made this happen. I didn’t even know it was a possibility, and one day I got this email that was like, “By the way, you’re doing a signing at Nora Roberts bookstore.” No prob, Lisa. Just excuse me while I faint.

Anyway, here are some pics of the signing! 

(BTW, Nora was dressed up as Black Widow for Halloween, although I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she dressed up this bad-ass every day)

A quick favor

So, here’s some fun news on the personal front …

My husband is writing a cookbook! 

Now, this might be the point where some of you longtime LL-fans are like, “Wait a sec … isn’t he a recruiter? And a web designer? And didn’t he just recently take up stand-up comedy? Now he’s a cookbook author?” 

Yes, to all. Well, not so much on the recruiting front anymore. But Mr. Layne has been described as a “modern Renaissance man,” and it’s pretty much true. This guy does everything, and when he discovers a hobby he enjoys, he doesn’t dabble, he goes all in. 

He’s been a kitchen whiz for years (honestly, my average breakfast is usually a fried egg with brown butter sauce, sautéed sweet potatoes and braised spinach with pistachios and feta, like it’s no big deal).

And then we saw that Jessica Lemmon’s husband John (pretty much the nicest guy ever) wrote a fun beer-centric cookbook (Beer Makes Everything Better), and we were like, “We want to be them, so …”

Anyway, Anth’s cookbook won’t have anything to do with beer (although you’ll definitely find some cocktail recipes in there), but he’s still shaping exactly what the focus would be and would love some input! 

Here’s a SUPER quick survey … it’ll take you under 2 minutes, and would help him out a ton! 

PS: If you’re an author/blogger in need of a website, he and I have a web design company called Last Word Designs. We specialize in author-sites, but lately have been taking on more and more “other” projects! Email us at if you’re interested (our website’s under construction, which is why I’m not sending you there) 

Judith McNaught e-books

The other day I was on iBooks, checking out the top 100 romances (I buy Kindle books, but I browse for my TBR on iBooks because I find it easier to “shop”), and did a double-take at what I was seeing there:

The Judith McNaught’s books were all over the freaking place. 

A surprise, because,

a) many of these books are 15+ years old and

b) last I knew, most of them weren’t available in e-book.

But it was a pleasant surprise, because Judith McNaught books dominate my top 10 list of favorite romances of all time.

Simply put, there’s nobody quite like her. Her books are the most emotional I’ve ever read. Like, this woman is the QUEEN of making you have a belly-flip at the “dark moment.”

Some quick research told me that all of her books have recently been given new covers and released in digital, and … well, let’s just say I quickly bought every single one for my Kindle. No joke. 

If you’ve never read her, you should. Admittedly it’s a different style than the current books out there, but I’m not sure “dated” is the right word — they’re just rich, emotional treats. I really love them all, but gun to my head, if I had to choose my favorites:

Perfect (contemporary — or at least it was contemporary when it was first published ;-) My #1 Romance of ALL TIME.) 

A Kingdom of Dreams (medieval, and an emotional roller coaster. Brace yourself) 

Once and Always (Regency - say goodbye to your heart) 

Now, again … I warn you, these books were written years ago, and the style’s quite different than what’s popular today, but I promise if you just go with it, you’ll have ALL the feels.

My Halloween


Remember last week when I told you that I’m pretty “whatever” on Halloween, most years letting the holiday come and go without doing a damn thing?

This year I actually did something.

I may not be a Halloween fan, but I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and what better excuse to celebrate Harry Potter than Halloween?!

Mind you, not a big blow-out or anything. I wasn’t THAT into the holiday.

But we did have my sister over for a marathon (and by marathon, I mean that we made it through the first movie, and Allie and Anthony fell asleep).

But it was for a good cause that we didn’t get started until late to watch the movie, because we were doing pictures with costumes, and HP themed-snacks and cocktails!

I was a Ravenclaw (later informed by sister and husband that I was Cho Chang, which is pretty much the only brunette female in Harry Potter?!).

My sister pulled off a mean Hermione.

Anth was HP himself.

Bailey was Malfoy. Her favorite character is Hedwig, but we simply couldn’t find an appropriate owl costume for dogs, so we settled for slicking her head fur back and putting on a Slytherin scarf.

There are LOTS of pictures and recipes, so I put them all on a separate page!

Ulta Make-Up Haul

(warning, if you don’t care about makeup or beauty products, skip this section, I’ve got a look at LINCOLN below!) 

When we headed to Boonsboro last Friday for the Nora Roberts signing, I casually prepped the hubs for the fact that I needed to stop a Ulta (there are none in NYC) so that I could get some orange nail polish for my Halloween look. This was the truth, but only part of the truth.

There were MANY other things I intended to get at Ulta, and I managed to walk out the door spending way too much money (he and Bailey had an extended date in the neighboring PetSmart which I found adorable).

BUT … bonus, I’m telling you guys my impressions of my haul in case any of you are similarly on the verge of a make-up spending spree!

Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics

Like so many make-up junkies, I’ve long been impressed/obsessed with Urban Decay’s “Naked” eye-shadow palettes — they’re the ultimate in neutral “every day” eyeshadows. But eventually I decided not to replace Naked 2. I loved the colors, but finally had to embrace that I was more of a “matte” eyeshadow kind of girl, and the Naked palettes have mostly shimmery colors. Instead I opted to repurchase a single of my favorites (Tease, a light gray-taupe for all over the lid, and Blackout to use at the lash line).

Then I heard that they were releasing a new Naked palette with all mattes. I was so excited! My dream come true!

It’s one of the main reasons I went into Ulta, but ultimately I was disappointed.

For starters, when I opened the palette, it was sort of a mess. One of the colors had cracked and gotten all over the others. I should have returned it, but this was the day of my signing and I needed some eyeshadow pronto.

Plus, the one that cracked was a brick red color I’d never EVER wear (to give you some idea, I used it to create Anth’s “Harry Potter” scar on Halloween) so it’s not like I was going to miss it.

Anyway, while the quality of the shadows are up to Urban Decay’s usual standards, the colors were just … not workable for me. Generally speaking, they’re way too warm for my coloring, almost everything looks yellow/orange/red on me, which is not flattering around the eye area.

I was hoping for more cool-colors (like Tease, from Naked 2) and there are only a couple of those and I don't LOVE them.

There are two purple colors, which I know are supposed to work nicely with brown eyes, and they’re nice enough, but not the neutral smoky look I usually go for.

If you like warm mattes, you’ll love this, but if you want an every day palette that you “can’t go wrong with,” this is not it.

LL Rating: C

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Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in Snappy Sorbet

This bright color was perfect for the Halloween-look I was going for, although I don’t know that I’d recommend the shade unless you’re a huge fan of orange. That said...

I was pretty impressed with the formula!

I bought it more for the color than the “Insta-Dri” feature, but it did dry very quickly. I expected to pay for this feature in other areas … dingy finish, quick-to-chip, but all-in-all I found this to be a pretty good nail polish!

Even without a top coat, I got 3 days before the first chip and it went on smoothly.

LL Rating: A-

It Cosmetics Superhero Mascara

I rarely change up my mascara routine—I’m pretty loyal to Maybelline and Lancome, depending how spendy I want to be. But Rachel Van Dyken was adamant I try It Cosmetics, so I gave it a shot.

RVD did not steer me wrong. This mascara is AMAZING. One coat goes on super smooth and gives you falsie-looking lashes!

Mind you, this is not for those of you who like the “natural” look, as this is pretty dramatic. But with all my big black hair, I like my mascara to match, and this does the trick.

LL Rating: A



Anastasia Beverly Hills Highlighting Duo Pencil

Anastasia is best known for being THE eyebrow whiz in make-up land, but I’ve been intrigued to see them expanding beyond the brow in recent years! I’ve been using their brow powder for years (nothing else compares), so I decided to give this highlighter a try.

I went with the Camille Sands color (sort of a pinkish champagne color, as opposed to the other option which is more gold). I love it.

One side is a little bit shimmery (but not glittery) for the inner corner of the eye and highlighting the brow bone. The other is more matte and perfect adding a sophisticated highlight to the cheekbone without sparkle.

LL Rating: A- 

Why the A- instead of the A? It's REALLY good, but I'm not entirely sure I couldn't find something similar for cheaper.



Anastasia Beverly Hills Pro Pencil

I know, I know, it looks just like the one above, and I’m sure my husband is like, “Jesus, how much of the exact same product did she buy?!”

But NOT the same product. This one can also be a highlighter, but it’s more a more neutral/skin-tone shade. I use it to outline my eyebrows (a great way to define and clean up your brow area without getting the “drawn on” look that we all dread.

The real magic though comes from it’s concealing power! 

I’ve been a longtime sufferer of occasional cystic acne on my chin (yep, we’re getting REAL here), and though I’ve learned to handle the zits pretty readily, they still leave little dark pigmentation marks that take forever to fade and are IMPOSSIBLE to cover up without using loads of makeup that looks fake.

This pencil is magic. Just a quick swipe covers up the dark marks completely and blends perfectly so you can’t even tell there’s makeup there. Best of all, you can throw it in your purse and reapplication throughout the day takes about 2-seconds, mess free. 

(I bought Base 1, which is the lighter of their two shades, but if it was summer time and I even a tiny bit tan, I’d definitely need Base 2)

LL Rating: A+


Two strike outs for Urban Decay for me, which is a bummer, because I usually love them! 

I was looking for a new lipstick for fall—I’m a neutral lip girl all the way, and was looking for something MLBB (my lips but better) but a little less light pink than what I was wearing in the summer (Dior Addict Fluid Stick in Kiss Me). 

Naked is one of the hallmark colors of Urban Decay’s new lipstick line, and the picture they had on the model was exactly what I wanted — a sort of rosey neutral that wasn’t too bright.

Normally I’d have tried it on in the store, but I’d already tried on 5 other colors and was starting to get that scary clown look. So I trusted the swatch on my hand, the color in the tube, and the picture of the model.

Mistake. I’m taking this one back. The formula’s fine, but the color’s really bad on me. It looks way too light and orangey. Honestly, it’s SO different on the tube versus once it goes on my lips. I wish I would have repurchased Rapture from their “Sheer” line which stays more true to its description of “dusty rose.” 

LL Rating: B-


Cover Your Gray 2-in-1 root cover up

I bought this on a whim — the Nora Roberts signing fell just 2 days before my hair appointment (poor planning on my part) and my grays were definitely … present. I figured for one day I could “cheat” and cover up the grays with something.

This product seemed exactly what I needed.

It was totally worthless. I tried both sides, and neither covered a single thing. I’d have been better off using my friggin mascara.

LL Rating: F

Sneak Peek: Someone Like You

Anyone still with me? Here’s a reward for those of you who are only on the Weekly for the book stuff:

A look at Lincoln who’s only a month away!!!!

“About crashing and burning with us North Carolina girls. You’re afraid you’re New York charm won’t translate.”
“I *know* it won’t translate,” he said, meeting her eyes in the mirror.
“How’s that?” 
He watched as she stood and walked towards him. He turned to face her. “Because not counting Whitney, who I don’t know well enough yet, I know two North Carolina women, who look an awful lot alike, neither interested in the legendary Mathis charm. The first never even saw me, too wrapped up in my boss. The other …”
She lifted her eyebrows. “The other?”
“The other had me friend-zoned the moment she saw me.”
“Which is lucky for both of us,” Daisy said, not bothering to deny it. “Seeing as you’re unavailable.” 
*You’re unavailable.*
She hadn’t said he was unavailable, *past* tense. He supposed he should be relieved. He *was* unavailable. But he couldn’t deny the fissure of displeasure that rippled through him at her early dismissal.
But then she stepped towards him and before he could register her intentions, had looped the tie around his neck, moving even closer as her quick, adept fingers pulling the tie into a tidy half-Windsor knot.
Then she froze, and he realized she was every bit as surprised as her gesture as he was. 
“I’m so sorry,” she said, her gaze locked on the tie. “I just … habit. Gary, I used to—“
Lincoln’s hands came up, resting gently on her elbows, wanting to settle her. “No complaints here, Wallflower. You did it better than I could do myself.”

Until Next Week

Thanks for your patience with my tardiness on the Weekly. See you all next week! 

NewsLauren Layne