review: only with you

Only with You by Layla Hagen (2019)

Only with You is the fourth book in Layla Hagen’s contemporary romance series, The Connor Family, but rest assured that these books can be read as standalone novels. I have also read the first book in this series, Anything for You and it is one of my favorite reads of 2019. I highly recommend both books to readers who love steamy romance novels with real, everyday characters. I’ve now had two experiences with Layla Hagen’s work and she’s an author I am adding to my must-read list. I have loved both of these books and can’t wait to read more in this series. On a budget? At the time of this writing, Only with You is not in the Kindle Unlimited library nor is it available from my local library, so it will cost you a withdrawal from your book budget. It’s totally worth every dollar and I have no regrets about my purchase. If you have read and enjoyed The Sullivans series by Bella Andre or the With You series by Kristen Proby, you will love the Connors.

This is the story of Val (Valentina) and Carter. Val is the founder and CEO of Valentina’s Laboratories, a company that produces and sells skincare products and perfumes. She is the twin sister of Landon Connor, whose story is told in Anything for You. Val and Landon are the oldest of their siblings, and when their parents died just as they were about to start college, Val and Landon stepped in to raise their siblings and take over the job of being parents and providers. Because Val set aside her own dreams in order to raise her sisters and brothers, her dream of owning her own company took a long time to develop and become a reality. However, at the start of the novel, Val’s company is under the threat of a lawsuit, jeopardizing the reputation she’s worked to build for her company. Carter is an attorney who is raising his two nieces, April and Peyton, after the death of his sister and brother-in-law. He has recently relocated his firm to the same area where Valentina’s Laboratories is located, and he and Val meet at a coffee shop within walking distance of their offices. While Carter is doing well in his role of parent to April and Peyton, he’s been getting help from his mother who travels back and forth between Los Angeles and the family home in Montana. When his mother calls to say she can no longer commute back and forth, Carter grows to rely upon Val’s offer to help with the girls more and more, though he feels guilty in doing so, knowing that she has spent most of her adult life caring for her siblings. Val and Carter are likable characters and I was totally invested in them as individuals as well as lovers.

The story is told through Val and Carter’s first person POV. Hagen excels at developing these characters and giving you everyone reason to want to follow them as the story progresses. Further still, the supporting characters are vivid and well-developed. While Landon doesn’t have a whole lot of page time in this novel, you do get to see more of Val’s sister Hailey, and her brother, Jace. On the other side, April and Peyton are adorable and add depth to Carter’s character arc. Hagen is doing a good job of building the world of the Connors and giving readers a family saga (if you will) to get lost in.

If you’ve grown tired (or impatient) with romance novels that feature billionaires and spoiled, arrogant jerks as the male protagonist, Only with You will be a refreshing change of pace. It’s well-written and checks all the boxes of what I want in a romance novel. I can’t wait to go back to the world of the Connors.

Have you read Only with You or any other books in the Connor Family series? What did you think?

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