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  • Writer's pictureAnnika Pillai

you have to read sex, love and stiletto by lauren layne

I’ve been stuck in a little bit of a rut when it comes to companion novel series––I’ve read a bunch over the last few months: The Brutal Birthright series, Twisted Fox, One and Only, Bridgerton, English Prep…you get the idea. The point is that I’ve read a bunch of companion novel series, and for the most part, they’ve all been garbage. I will usually like only one book––two if we are lucky––out of the series and that’s it. I have yet to find my perfect companion novel series, and whilst this one wasn’t perfect, it was still pretty fun.

There are four books in this series and they each follow a different girl who works for the magazine Sex, Love, and Stiletto; I’ll be honest, there were a couple of duds/semi-duds, but some of other books were so good that I honestly don’t care.

After the Kiss

After the Kiss is the first book in the series, and it follows Mitchell and Julie; Julie is not a commitment girl. She does flings, first dates, and casual dating––and she likes it this way. But then Julie gets the hardest task of her career; she has to write a first-persona account of the shift between dating and “I do”––and she will need to find a man brave enough to give her––a total commitment-phobe––a chance at more. Normally Mitchell would be this guy––he’s a total relationship-guy, but after leaving a bad breakup, all he wants is to casually date. Mitchell is the total opposite of what Julie needs right now, yet he’s exactly what she wants.

This was so cute. I absolutely adored the dynamic between Mitchell and Julie––usually in these kind of books the heroine is a relationship-girl, and the hero casually dates, but I loved the role-reversal in this case. Mitchell and Julie were total opposites, but complemented each other so well. This book reminded me so much of Andie and Ben from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days in the best way possible (literally love Matthew McConaughey. That movie is my favorite movie of all time, which is probably why I loved this book so much. The chemistry between our two characters was great, and the relationship buildup was very well done. I would highly recommend this book.

Rating ➳ 5/5 stars

Love the One You’re With

The second book in the series is Love the One You’re With, and it follows Grace and Jake. Grace has just been through a really bad breakup, and is trying to reinvent herself into somebody less naive––she has also sworn off relationships. Jake isn’t really a relationship person to begin with––however, he is pretty well known for his work in the relationship section of Oxford’s magazine. He desperately wants to write for Oxford’s travel section, however his playboy reputation isn’t guaranteeing him the spot. So, his manager forces him to do a joint article with Stiletto––Grace in particular. However, the longer the two spend together, the more they start to question their initial thoughts on love, and what they really want out of life.

I thought that this was just okay? The premise didn’t intrigue me much to begin with and I didn’t think that romance was anything particularly special. Jake and Grace were cute, but ultimately pretty forgettable. Whilst the first book in this series was something that I felt was somewhat unique, this book kind of felt like something that had been done before.

That being said, there wasn’t any outward issue with this book or anything like that. I just didn’t particularly connect with the characters or the story. Still, I wouldn’t not recommend it, if it sounds interesting to you.

Rating ➳ 3/5 stars

Just One Night

This is the third book in the series and the only book in the series that I DNF’d. I don’t think that it was a particularly bad book, and I read it with the intention of finishing it…but I just never got around to it.

Anyways Just One Night follows Riley, and her brother’s best friend Sam. Riley is a writer for Stiletto and is sort of known for being sex expert…except she’s not. In fact, she’s only ever had sex once. So when her boss tasks her with writing something more personal, she enlists the help of Sam to have meaningless sex with her.

I can’t pinpoint why exactly I didn’t love this book, but I think it may just be a few things. First, I don’t really love the brother’s best friend trope, like I know that a lot of other people do. Something about it just never really does it for me. I always hate the final conflict between the brother and our hero, and I hate the way the heroine is sometimes infantilized. Now I’m not necessarily saying that’s what happens in this book, but I wasn’t obsessed.

I also didn’t love how Riley kept pushing Sam to agree to have sex with her––nothing about it was sexy, and it just left me feeling mildly uncomfortable.

I honestly put this book down, intending to pick it back up, but just never really did. Nothing was particularly egregious about it, it just wasn’t all that interesting to me.

Rating ➳ 3/5 stars

The Trouble With Love

The final book in this series is The Trouble With Love, and was one that I was particularly excited for, and boy did it not disappoint. This story follows Emma and Alex, both of whom we are introduced to in the previous books. Emma works for Stiletto, and Alex works for Oxford…and they both used to be in engaged, back in North Carolina. Fast forward seven years later, and Emma is no longer North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene––and the more time that she spends with Alex, the more he starts wondering about what could have been. Emma wants absolutely nothing to do with him––the trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.


I really enjoyed this book! The tone of this book was a little bit more heavier than the previous books, but I suppose that makes sense, given Emma and Alex’s past. The book was also a lot more angstier than its predecessors, which is probably why I liked it so much. I really connected with both Emma and Alex as characters, and I felt like the pacing and buildup of their relationship was well done.

I tend to really like the more hard-hitting romances, which I think is why I liked this one a lot.

I will say, this book did deal with some miscommunication (as I feel like almost all second-chance romances do) which I didn't love, and definitely did hinder my enjoyment of the book to a certain extent. The reason why Emma and Alex had broken up, or why they refused to talk to each other was a little bit irritating and not something that I loved. Still, despite that, I did enjoy this book a lot.

All in all, I would recommend.

Rating ➳ 4/5 stars

I literally just read Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne and loved it, so I am on a little bit of a Lauren Layne kick right now. Whilst all of the books in this series didn’t totally work for me, I still had a great time reading, and would highly recommend you check this series out.


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