Series: Man of the Year, #2
Published by Montlake Romance on 1st September 2020
Buy on Amazon
Pro baseball shortstop Carter Ramsey is about to be Citizen magazine’s Man of the Year, but the only title that matters to him is out of reach: World Series MVP.
Benched by a recent injury, Carter retreats to his hometown to recover. His ten-year class reunion and a potential reconciliation with the sweetheart he left behind could be perfect distractions. Until another old acquaintance throws Carter a curveball.
Olive Dunn admits that her former high school science partner is still a handsome charmer. But she wasn’t swayed then, and she won’t be swayed now. Because Olive remembers Carter’s little shortcoming: he tends to bail the moment it suits him, without a backward glance. Best to keep her feelings strictly platonic while he’s in town.
Except the entitled boy she knew is a changed man: solid, reflective, and generous. As they ease back in to their familiar friendship, things take a surprising turn, and Carter and Olive must decide if what they have is a passing flirtation or a real shot at love.
Dialogue-driven with the reminder that some kind of magic can happen in small towns, Lauren Layne’s ‘Yours to Keep’ is very much the light-hearted, though slower-paced type of romance that readers could expect and a sort of high school friends-to-romance trope. And it all gets rolling into action when an injured star baseball player goes home to lick his wounds and ends up meeting an old lab-partner that is furthest from his type.
Layne’s ‘Man of the Year’ series not as much of a standout as I’d hoped it would be so far: Carter Ramsey did feel and look like one of those self-entitled and self-absorbed characters—despite holding the title of the small-town boy having made it big—with a cocky edge that made him more smarmy than cool.
The saving grace perhaps, is Olive Dunn, who is a different sort of heroine from the start: one who goes the opposite way of hot or gorgeous or beautiful, and consciously staying in that state instead of conforming. As a teacher in a small town, squaring up to Carter in her own way is an interesting one though most of it is through a familiar ‘multi-hatted’ pedagogical combination of being teacher-bossy, showing a little high-handedness and having a counsellor’s listening ear.
Both are probably on paper, characters who would meet, maintain a superficial friendship and go their separate ways (which was really what happened in high school) and at times, it does seem as though Layne is dragging out the small-town familiarity just to carve these very different characters into a couple. For that reason, the middle sags a bit with much ado about nothing and keeping my mind stayed on it without much forward momentum had me drifting…a lot.
There’s of course some odd drama to do with a high school ex and the expectation that Carter would head for a different reunion of his own, but Layne does round it all up with a solid heroine whose practicality somehow trumps the idea of ’star-crossed’ lovers. In short, ‘Yours to Keep’ isn’t really a favourite, but it’ll be one that fans would nonetheless appreciate.