the duet

I DO I DON'T

This series is a bit of an outlier in the Lauren Layne book world. For starters, it's actually not really a series at all! The two books do contain a common element: they're centered around a reality TV show. Jilted is basically Bachelor, except the bachelor is a man with a rep for leaving women at the altar. And the finale doesn't end a proposal, but gasp—a wedding!

But Ready to Run is the story of a show's producer, trying to recruit a a notorious runaway groom to participate, only to fall in love with him...

And Runaway Groom is set during the actual filming of the show, with an entirely different guy (and producer).

They're also one of my few books to be set far from New York City! Runaway Groom is set in Maui, Ready to Run in a fictional small town in Montana.

Think of them as two standalones that are very loosely connected!

The idea for this story woke me up. I'm not kidding. It was 3am, and out of nowhere, I was wide-awake, with a story idea so strong, that I had to get out of bed to write it down.

The general premise: Runaway Bride (the Julia Roberts movie) meets The Bachelor. A series set around a reality TV show, only instead of a "regular" guy as The Bachelor, the stakes would be even higher. Because not only would it end in a wedding instead of proposal, but the guy in question would have a bad reputation for leaving women at the altar.

To this day, I have no clue where the idea came from. I like Runaway Bride well enough as a film, but I hadn't seen it in 10+ years, and I've never seen an episode of The Bachelor.

And yet the idea persisted so hard, that I emailed my editor in the middle of the night asking if I could write it. She said yes, with the caveat that they wanted to call the series I Do I Don't instead of my proposed "Jilted." I said sure, and got right to work!

I'm incredibly proud of the results, but real talk: these are not my bestsellers, by a long shot. It crushes me a little, to be honest, because I believe they're some of my best work. Ready to Run is the only of my books to be named by Apple as a Best Book of the Year. Not just best romance, but it was one of their ten best books, out of all the books published, for the entire year. 

And Runaway Groom is one of my personal favorites; it's actually the only of my books that I go back to re-read, just for fun, just for me.

Are they for you? I have no idea! If you like small-town romances with a full cast of characters, you may enjoy Ready to Run. If you're in the mood to go to Maui and like your books with a bit of jealousy and banter, you may enjoy Runaway Groom.

BEHIND the SCENES

 Fast FACTS

Ready to Run is third person, dual POV. Runaway Groom is first person, dual POV.

Rated R with explicit sex scenes and adult language.

If you read them out of order, you'll follow along just fine.

WHAT ABOUT THE THIRD BOOK?

Yes, originally this planned as a trilogy. The third book, Just Run With It, even had a cover. I opted to cancel it, with my publisher's blessing.

I loved writing Runaway Groom, a lot. But keeping track of all those reality show contestants (20+) was really stressful, and I wasn't looking forward to having to do it again, no matter how much I loved the premise of Just Run With It!

There is a silver lining about the cancellation. Because it left me with an outstanding/undelivered book on my publishing contract, I was able to write a final Oxford book that otherwise wouldn't have happened!

This was the image used on the cancelled Just Run With It cover!

ABOUT the COVERS

The designer and publisher did a great job with these covers. The bright, "friendly" colors was exactly right for those stories. I love the fresh, slanted script fonts for the titles. 

But: the people/couples on the covers look nothing like I imagine Luke/Jordan and Gage/Ellie. Luke looks like a Kennedy on the cover, but in the book is a gruff firefighter. I do not enjoy cover-Gage's bizarre facial hair, and Ellie in the story is very no-makeup-girl-next-door, which isn't reflected on the cover.

 I don't blame the publisher for this at all. They were limited to stock photography, and the wedding/"runaway bride/groom" element limited us even further. 

But for total fun, I've included my version of the couples below!

mood board

READY to RUN

mood board

RUNAWAY GROOM

"ROMANTIC COMEDY at ITS FINEST."

— USA TODAY, on Runaway Groom