Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: Death of parent (off-page); Death of child (off-page); cheating; pregnancy
Nothing makes me happier than a new Lauren Layne book. It’s been a long time since I read a book in one sitting, yet somehow every time I read a book in one sitting, it’s a Lauren Layne book. I’ve been a Lauren Layne fan since I read Blurred Lines back in 2015, and ever since then, I’ve been anxiously awaiting each new release of hers. As soon as Made in Manhattan was available, I had to dive in! I loved this book so much that I stayed up until 3 am to finish it even though I had to work the next day. No regrets.
Violet Townsend has always been a people pleaser. Growing up on the Upper East Side of New York, she always knows what to say and how to act. So when the newly discovered grandson of her surrogate grandma appears, she immediately agrees to help him fit in with New York City’s elite so he can inherit a billion-dollar family business. Born and raised in New Orleans, Cain Stone wants nothing to do with New York society – he’s initially interested in the potential paycheck. He has no desire to spend time being shaped and molded into the suit-wearing, museum-going men of Violet’s acquaintances. However, as the two spend more time together, they develop a mutual level of respect that opens Violet’s eyes to the fact that following society’s rules doesn’t always lead to happiness.
Lauren Layne is a master at putting all the feelings associated with falling into love into words. I truly love her writing and stories as you know the romance will make your heart swoon, make your stomach drop and give you butterflies. You go on an emotional journey with her characters that leaves you with a smile on your face at the end once they get there happily ever after.
The romance in Made in Manhattan truly takes you on a journey. The chemistry was there from the start, even though Cain was determined to push Violet away rather than let her help him. I loved that Violet wouldn’t let him do that, even if he acted like a jerk towards her in the beginning. While she’s about making him over to fit into the upper echelons of New York society, Violet finds herself slowly falling for this gruff man from New Orleans while also learning more about what she wants out of life in the process. It’s a slow-burn romance that simmers slowly as these two come to realize they have a lot more in common than they think. When they finally get together, my heart soared, only for it to drop back down as Cain pushed Violet towards what he thought she wanted. However, it all worked out in the end, though my emotions went on a rollercoaster ride, and I ached for these two to get their happily ever after.
Layne’s stories are incredibly character-driven, and Made in Manhattan is no exception. There is a lot more to both Violet and Cain than meets the eyes. They’re both flawed human beings who needed to find each other to unlock their full potential. Violet should be unlikeable as she’s a posh member of the upper crust of New York society who is setting out to transform everything about Cain to fit into her world. However, she’s not a snob and I found her incredibly endearing. Despite her wealth and privilege, she didn’t seem like she was necessarily happy with her life and seemed kind of lonely, despite having people who love her and a boyfriend. She realizes she is playing a role that others expect of her versus doing what she desires. Her work and relationship with Cain open her eyes to different possibilities and transform her. She’s so much happier, honest and carefree in the end. Cain was the perfect foil to Violet. He’s not from a privileged background and has worked and earned his success. When he gets thrust into Violet’s world, he’s resistant to change but slowly comes to care about Violet, his grandmother and the business he could inherit. He’s a bit emotionally closed off and would instead push people away before he can get hurt. While his transformation to fit into the New York elite is what drives the book forward, he won’t let that change who he is as a person or compromise on his morals.
Made in Manhattan is a spin on a classic tale – think Pygmalion, My Fair Lady, She’s All That – yet Layne manages to make it feel modern and thoroughly her own. That’s a hallmark of Layne’s style and one she always executes brilliantly. I could keep gushing about this book, but suffice to say, Layne once again has knocked it out of the park with a modern, contemporary romance that is light, fresh and fun that captures all the feelings of falling in love – from the highs to the lows – exquisitely. This will definitely be a book I’ll be revisiting when I need a comfort read, and I hope you pick it up as well!