Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
Louise Bay’s Mr. Park Lane is a reminder that the British hero in romance should be considered a British National Treasure. From the beginning to the end, there is so much to love about Joshua, the next victim of Louise Bay’s series of standalones that center around a male friend group of 5. After Beck, Dexter, and Gabriel falling for their loves in Mr. Mayfair, Mr. Knightsbridge, and Mr. Smithfield, I was ready for Joshua’s story, the representative playboy of the group with a woman on a different day of the week. And Bay doesn’t disappoint with Mr. Park Lane. What she does is take an independent, intelligent, capable, and compassionate heroine such as Hartford (such a cool name for a heroine), and she pours her into Joshua’s soul. That is the only way that you can reform a playboy allergic to relationships. She also takes the space of an entire book to (1) build the trust of her characters so as to show their vulnerabilities and (2) make it possible for friends to become lovers in a way that feels organic, especially to the playboy hero allergic to relationships. With a deft hand, Bay works out their characterizations in ways that allow us to believe this couple, pining for their happy ending. She also makes you fall deeply for Joshua even when he seems completely unreflective about who he is. In fact, one of the best surprises of Mr. Park Lane is the wizened voice of Andrew who has been fairly silent in the last two books. Joshua is the other surprise of this book with his deep love for baths, cake, and spoiling Hartford. It softens him to the reader, allowing you to accept the ease of his interest in Hartford. She is an easy character to love because Bay carefully plots her vulnerability, it only being invisible to Joshua. Add to that her compassion for others, and the reader pines for a happy ending for her. It’s Joshua’s characterization where Bay shows her skill at storytelling.
Mr. Park Lane is ultimately a story about balance. Both Joshua and Hartford pour themselves into their careers to ignore the vulnerability of past hurts. In doing so, they don’t allow anyone to grow close to them intimately. Without the ability to balance work and a personal life, Bay shows us the deficit in their lives, and as they evolve romantically, she shows the true depth of a person when they allow love into their lives. I adored every moment of Mr. Park Lane, and I can only wish that a bath-loving Joshua type would enter my life.
In love and romance,