Passion on Park Avenue
By Lauren Layne
Read by Nancy Wu and Sean Patrick Hopkins
(Part of The Central Park Pact)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (May 2019)
Runtime: 7 hours and 55 minutes
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
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…
“Strong characters and relatable situations elevate Layne’s bighearted contemporary…[which] digs into class differences, emotional baggage, and the reality of dealing with aging parents” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). With the sexy combination of charm, heart, and snark, Lauren Layne’s new series is perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne. https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Passion-on-Park-Avenue/Lauren-Layne/The-Central-Park-Pact/9781501191572
I have to say one thing first: this is the second weirdly classified book I have come across in the past couple of weeks. While there may be some light moments in the book, this is not really a romantic comedy: It deals with, infidelity Alzheimer’s disease and childhood trauma and poverty followed by success. Sure it is a romance and the funny friends add lightness to the romantic trials the couple undergoes.
This romance is not so steamy; I was expecting much more in the way of heat, but I enjoyed the story, including its mention and use of Anne of Green Gables. But, for a fan of that tale, Naomi holds on to a grudge against a child protecting his own parents, albeit at great cost to her life, for an overly long time. She loved the book but didn’t seem to take its lessons to heart until almost too late.
Not bringing up their past immediately, or shortly after, on meeting the person is one of the devices upon which many a novel is written, so I cannot really hold it against the book. I was glad the story wasn’t written in the first person, but because it was not written in the first person, I was confused by the use of both a male and female narrator. But they are both good narrators.
The three women, Naomi, Claire and Audrey become friends by making the best of a bad situation;: failing to attend their lover’s/husband’s/boyfriend’s funeral. And, some of the book sets up the next two books in the “The Central Park Pact” series: Marriage on Madison Avenue and Love on Lexington Avenue. And, as in life, the friendship between the women provides the levity that makes the story more fun than a book about the above mentioned sad and sorry variables.
Other light moments are brought about in interactions between Naomi and a TV producer who wants to date her and more. For two professionals: an architect and the CEO of a company worth billions these two seem to have a lot if spare time — CEOs are often portrayed as having tons of spare time (or of being evil-doers). I’ve known a few and they have so little spare time they hardly have time to read a book, much less take time to hang out doing elder care. But, Layne is not the only author doing this so I guess I have to accept it as convention.
If you are expecting a comedic tale then you may be disappointed but nor is it a dirge. I enjoyed it and would be happy to read/listen to the next two books as well.