Desert Isle Keeper
Ready to Run
I’m an unabashed Lauren Layne fan, and this book only adds to that love. A hybrid of The Bachelor franchise and the fabulous Julia Roberts movie Runaway Bride, Ready to Run tells the story of ambitious producer Jordan Carpenter and reluctant contestant Luke Elliot. Of course, Luke’s runaway groom antics have more to them than meets the eye and Jordan has to learn the difference between real people and fictional characters. Along the way the two of them learn the hope that comes with trust, and the joy that comes with happily ever afters.
Jordan Carpenter’s job depends on finding a lead for the new reality show, Jilted, which is going to feature a man who has left someone at the altar (or multiple someones) and help him to find his true love. She’s been scouring the internet and has finally found a perfect candidate in a small Montana town and schleps herself out there after the dude ignores all her phone calls.
Luke Elliot has left ladies at the altar on three occasions, but has less than zero desire to talk about it, much less be on national television. He’s been intentionally ignoring Jordan, so he is less than pleased when she shows up on his doorstep and disrupts his life. Much to his further chagrin, his friends find her fascinating and invite her to stay.
The premise is simple, and you’ve probably already decided if you’re in or you’re out on this one. Romance fans know which authors, tropes, and set-ups they gravitate towards and thus I see one of my jobs as a reviewer to confirm if the payoff works with the premise. If I can convince someone to step outside of their boxes, then I’m thrilled, and that’s a bonus. So let me assure the first group: this book pays off all the promise the premise sets up and I have a feeling the rest of the series will do the same. For the second group: if you’ve never given Ms. Layne’s works a chance before, this is a great place to start.
The rhythms of this book are pitch perfect for contemporary romance, but what makes this thing really sing the sense of the town that Ms. Layne creates. These folks were friends before we showed up and they’re building lives for long after we leave. As Jordan gets to know them, we do as well, and I cannot wait to spend more time with them. This is especially true for Luke’s first two brides, who are now dear friends. For folks who are super averse to small towns, I think this one may surprise you. It highlights the inner-connectedness for sure, but also highlights the downsides of everybody all up in your business and the pain that can cause.
I also adored how Jordan – who sells ‘love’ for a living – has to learn what it really means. Love is patient, and vulnerable, and trusting, and always looks different than we think it’s going to. I really enjoyed getting to know Luke – the gentle giant of a hero who has put others before himself his entire life, but has to decide if Jordan is worth his now being a little bit selfish.
Honestly, Ready to Run is the literary equivalent of the perfect after-work cocktail: comforting, a little surprising, and injects the night with joy. I loved it, y’all.