Book Review: TO HAVE AND TO HOLD by Lauren Layne

Every once in a great while, a book comes along that not only inspires you, but also invigorates you. You finish that book with goals and dreams bouncing around in your head. You have new aspirations and a thirst to DO something. Something bigger than you’ve ever done.

I’ve read all of Lauren Layne’s books, and all her books have made me sigh happily or squeal with delight at the wonderful piece of fiction I just couldn’t put down… but this was different. Why? I’m not sure. I can’t quite put my finger on it since I just finished reading it a whopping ten minutes ago, but here’s my hypothesis:

The women in this book are fierce. Not in an alpha-b!%*h sort of way, but in an independent, motivated, winner-takes-all kind of way.

They KNOW what they want and what they don’t. They work hard, they sacrifice, and even though they suffer along the road to glory, they don’t let that stop them. They get there.

Now, I know you’re thinking ‘Nicole, what are you blathering on about? You just read a romance book about two people defying the odds and hooking up. Not a self-help book on how to boost your potential.’ But hear me out…

Brook had her happily ever after jerked out from under her. Her groom-to-be? Gone. Her fairy tale wedding? Ruined. Her career? Left in shambles.

But did she lock herself in a closet with a dozen sleeves of Girl Scout cookies and a five gallon bucket of Häagen-Dazs? No! She got off her butt, flew across the country, applied for a highly-coveted job with a successful group of wedding planners, and went about her life. Was it perfect? No, not at first. But she KNEW it could be. She knew if she worked hard enough, success and security and all the things she knew she wanted out of life would eventually come around.

Was she planning to fall @$$-over-face in love with a rich hotel mogul? Definitely not. But that’s exactly what happened. And it happened because things in life, especially the good things, happen when you least expect them to (at least, according to John Lennon).
She was throwing everything she had into a career and a life in NYC. Meanwhile, Mr. Right just happened to come along.

Was it because she was busy swiping her little heart out on Tinder? No.
Was it because she was pouring hard earned money into mini-skirts and tube tops to wear to the bar on ladies night? No.

It was because she was molding herself into a bold, fierce, independent woman. A woman she could be proud of. A woman worthy of a real man. A man like Seth Tyler.

Again, you’re probably thinking ‘Nicole… You’re rambling. This isn’t a review. It’s a monologue-turned-rant.’ But bear with me…

After I finished reading, I tossed my kindle on the bed and went straight to my computer. And I typed out a list of goals. These goals started off small. Like, ‘organize office’ or ‘cancel Netflix subscription’. (Ultimately, I scratched that one, seeing as I have two children who watch Netflix while I’m working, but nevermind that…) But eventually, they grew until I had things like ‘finish 5 book series before Halloween’ and ‘send latest book to 100 bloggers’ and ‘pay off student loans before 2020’.

Why am I just now doing this?
Because this book INSPIRED ME. Now, I like to think I’m an organized and motivated person, but really, I’m not. However, I am a passionate one. But every once in a while, I get in a rut where I just don’t have the energy to be passionate. And before I read this book, I was in one of those slumps. But then, I turned on my Kindle and started reading. And as I was introduced to this delightful cast of people, I found that passion reigniting. I found that I wanted to get off my butt and get things done. I wanted to be like Brooke and Heather and Jessie and even Seth. I wanted to have DRIVE.

I fell in love with these characters, and throughout the course of the story, they pushed me to do better. To BE better.

Was that was Lauren was aiming for when she wrote this book? No. Probably not. She probably didn’t think that a small town girl from Missouri (who was an English major in college but ultimately dropped out before she could graduate with her bachelors because she got married, divorced, and had a kid) would follow her as an author and one day be struck with an overwhelming need/urge/obsession to CHANGE her life because of a book.

But that’s exactly what just freaking happened.

Like Brooke, life has thrown me some curveballs. But unlike Brooke, I settled.

Do I love my life? Yes.

Is it everything I want it to be? No… No, it’s not.

But maybe it can be.

How the heck did I get all of THAT out of one book?

Who knows.

But I did.

And maybe, just maybe, you will too.

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