The only good thing that came from the surly stranger assuming Sophie Dalton was a prostitute was that it happened in Vegas, not back home in Seattle. So as humiliating as it was, at least she’d never have to see him again. Until her sister brought him home for dinner.
The Verdict: Such a fun book! I figured a story that included some uptight businessman mistakenly assuming that his future love was a prostitute would be funny, but I had no idea!
Sophie’s a little aimless, having never managed to figure out what she wanted to be when she grows up. Only problem is that she’s been grown up for several years, and she’s still job-hopping, suffering through too many Sunday dinners with her judgmental parents and perfect sister, and clearly unable to figure out what she wants to do with her life. But the last straw might have been when a perfect stranger looked at her like she was trash, informed her that he didn’t pay for sex, and then walked away. Being mistaken for a prostitute is pretty much rock bottom. But as much as the surly man’s observation may have humiliated her and made her question herself, Sophie’s no shrinking violet. So when a unexpected meeting brings them face to face again and has him awkwardly roped into politely offering her a job, Sophie jumps at the chance. That’ll show him, right?
Grayson isn’t exactly a charmer, and his brusque ways aren’t just a misunderstanding or some backwards attempt at convincing people he’s a professional. He’s just socially stunted. Yes, a woman in his past hurt him badly, and yes, he makes every effort to remain unattached and unavailable to have his heart broken again. But underneath that emotional armor is a disconnected, lonely man who has no idea how to charm a woman, much less how to manage a meaningful relationship. That Sophie is his exact only compounds the problem. She’s talkative, outspoken, sarcastic, and she challenges him at every breath. And despite the fact that she’s all wrong for him, he can’t help but want her.
The romantic development takes some time, a feat that most authors can’t seem to pull off without making it boring, but Lauren Layne has clearly mastered it. I was so enjoying the build up and the banter, the deeper glimpses into Gray’s mind and endearing awkwardness that Sophie tried to hide, that it never dawned on me that the characters hadn’t even kissed yet. Where most romance novels play hate at first sight by making both characters almost incapable of controlling themselves around each other, in Only with You, Sophie and Gray are more complex, better developed, and certainly more three-dimensional. And while tense and exciting and sometimes hilarious, the scenes aren’t at all predictable.
Of course, Gray and Sophie are perfect for each other, each with their own faults and challenges. But what I liked best was that there was no need to “fix” them. It would have been easy for Gray to perhaps raise Sophie in the opinions of her family, or for Sophie to have magically convinced him to open up and cut loose. But rather than change the characters to suit some idea of perfection, Lauren Layne allows them to remain true to themselves, albeit much happier when they finally get their happily ever after, and shows that opposites do, in fact, suit each other just fine without standard romance novel modifications.
Only with You is a charmingly funny story with wonderfully developed characters and a strong focus on romance in every day life, even when the sexual tension is through the roof. If the next book in the series is even half as enjoyable, I’m all in.