Series: Central Park Pact #1
Published by Gallery Books on May 28, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps.
For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.
The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…
Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.
I was provided a review copy by Gallery Books; this did not influence my opinion of the book.
‘Naomi Powell had brought him back to life, made him realize that he hadn’t died with his mom, or with his father’s diagnosis; he’d just been living that way.’
I hesitate to call this a ‘sweet romance’ because for many, ‘sweet’ has a negative connotation. But I found this a sweet, heartwarming story with endearing characters.
Lauren Layne pens a story about three women who form an unlikely friendship after they discover they’ve all been deceived and used by the same person. ‘Passion on Park Avenue’ is the first in a series of three books which focuses on Naomi Powell. Claire and Audrey’s stories will finish the series.
Bronx-born Naomi Powell worked hard all her life to prove her worth. Once a resident of homeless shelters and the streets, she now lives and works amongst the Upper East Side elite.
Intent on proving to the family who turned her world upside down when she was nine-years-old, Naomi moves into the building where it all began. She makes plans to confront the Cunningham men who made her life hell, and she intends to show once and for all that they didn’t break her with their harsh words and vile treatment.
Oliver Cunningham is doing his best to get through each day. He has devoted the last few years to taking care of his parents; his mother before her death and now he’s taking of his father who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Oliver is a good man with a heart of gold and a sense of duty and responsibility. Putting his life on hold to care for his parents was never in question; even though he readily admits his father was not a good man before he became sick.
Relationships for Oliver have been put on the backburner, but when Naomi Powell interviews to move into his building, he’s surprised by his attraction to her. She’s feisty and apparently dislikes him if her words and actions were anything to go by. Oliver loves puzzles and plans to uncover Naomi, piece by piece.
From Oliver’s swoon-worthy actions to Naomi’s spunk and feistiness to the tender moments with Walter, I fell in love with these characters. Equally, I loved Claire and Audrey and cannot wait for their stories! This book is filled with great banter and dialogue.
The only reason this wasn’t a 5 star for me is I felt like Naomi’s secret was drawn out too long. I had wished it would have been dealt with sooner so that the story could have developed more. But I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it!!
Enjoy The Excerpt!
The first thing Naomi had done after the shock of reading that Brayden Hayes was freaking married was to google the crap out of his wife, desperate for an indication that the Times had been wrong about his marital status. That it was a misprint or he was divorced. The paper hadn’t been wrong. There really was a Mrs. Brayden Hayes.
And she, too, had chosen Central Park over Brayden’s funeral.
Nearly even with Claire Hayes now, and with the sunglasses still providing Naomi anonymity, she dared to sneak a look at the other woman out of the corner of her eye.
Brayden’s widow looked pretty much like the picture Naomi had rummaged up online: a thirty-something Upper East Side WASP. Like Naomi, she wore oversize sunglasses, the Chanel logo glinting in a stray ray of sunshine. Naomi’s trained eye pegged the basic black sheath as St. John, and the basic black pumps Louboutins—identical to Naomi’s.
But unlike Naomi, Claire had a genteel poise about her. Like she’d never said darn, much less dropped an f-bomb. Naomi would bet serious money that Claire Hayes didn’t eat Kraft Macaroni & Cheese straight out of the pan when she was stressed and that Claire had never been so poor that she’d actually once considered taking home a neighbor’s discarded mattress, bedbugs be damned, simply because it was free.
Claire’s placid expression betrayed nothing as Naomi passed her, the glasses too large to reveal any emotion on her face. For that matter, Naomi wondered if women like her experienced emotion at all. It didn’t seem it. The woman was the picture of calm, except for . . .
Brayden’s widow’s hands were clenched tightly in her lap, the fingers of her right hand white-knuckled around the fist of her left hand. But it wasn’t the subdued pink manicure that captured Naomi’s attention. It was the bright red crescent moons beneath the nails.
Naomi had a lifelong bad habit of acting before thinking, and she did so now, crossing to the other woman and sitting beside her on the park bench.
“That’s enough now,” Naomi said, using her CEO voice, calm and commanding.
Claire didn’t move. Naomi wasn’t even sure the other woman heard her.
Naomi hesitated only for a moment before slowly reaching over and prying the nails of Claire’s right hand away from her left hand. Little streaks of blood were left in the wake.
Claire looked down in confusion, as though just now registering the pain.
“Does that Givenchy have any Kleenex?” Naomi asked, nodding toward Claire’s clutch on the bench.
Claire didn’t move for a long moment, then taking a deep breath, she calmly reached for her purse, pulling out a travel-size package of tissue.
“We’re wearing the same shoes. Same dress, too,” Claire said, dabbing at the blood on the back of her hand with a tissue, using the same casual indifference of one dabbing up a drop of spilled water.
Naomi nodded in agreement, though Claire’s St. John was a knee-length mock turtleneck, and Naomi’s Chloé was a boatneck that hit at midthigh.
For a long moment, neither said anything.
“I’m supposed to be at a funeral,” Claire said, balling up the tissue and dropping her hands back into her lap.
“Why aren’t you?”
Naomi was genuinely curious. She knew why she wasn’t at that funeral. But the widow being a no-show . . . that was some serious Page Six–worthy gossip right there.
Claire opened her mouth to respond but shut it when a pretty young woman with dark brown hair walked past them. Naomi waited for the other woman to pass and, when she gave the brunette a closer look, realized the other woman was walking a bit too slowly, as though tempted to approach. She looked vaguely familiar. Naomi was fairly sure they’d crossed paths at a couple of events, though Naomi couldn’t put a name with the face.
Brayden’s widow, however, could. Claire went rigid beside Naomi, even as she called out to the other woman, “Audrey.”
Unlike Claire and Naomi, the brunette wasn’t wearing sunglasses, and Naomi saw her round eyes go even wider. “You know who I am?”
“You’re Audrey Tate. I did a little digging after you called the house that night,” Claire said quietly. “I know you were sleeping with my husband.”
Naomi’s head whipped around in surprise, and then surprise escalated to shock as she realized Claire wasn’t talking to her.