I can’t even remember how I came across Sarah Morgan’s books, but I am so glad I did. She has a style that reminds me of two of my fave romance authors – Julie James and Nora Roberts. Needless to say, I have been greedily reading through her backlist ever since. ‘From Manhattan with Love’ is the series I’ve started with. The first three books centre around Paige, Frankie and Eva – coworkers and besties who start their own events business, Urban Genie, after they are all fired from their jobs. They live in this fabulous converted Brownstone where they all live on different floors, and have a rooftop garden where they can drink cocktails and have romcom marathons. I mean, this is seriously aspirational chic lit here. Who wouldn’t want that?
One of the things I love in a good romance series is where the books are all connected through the characters. They could stand alone well enough, but those who read the whole series know all the back stories of the other characters, and get to check in with characters they’ve met previously. With that said, the second half of the series focuses on siblings Daniel, Fliss and Harriet – who are also linked to the Urban Genie business.
While I loved all six books, there were definitely some stand-out favourites for me. So without further ado, allow me to count down to my favourite. But be warned: spoilers ahead!
In a sentence: While decorating a client’s house for Christmas, Eva meets her polar opposite in crime writer Lucas, who uses her as his muse for a murderous character (and yet somehow they fall in love).
Given how much I loved this series, it almost feels wrong to give any of the books ‘last place’. But Miracle on Fifth Avenue lands here because I had so many mixed feelings. While I definitely loved elements of the story, there were also some big question marks too.
I’ll start with our female protagonist, Eva. Out of the three friends in this part of the series, she’s the one I like the least – sorry Eva! And it’s not that I hate her or anything, she’s just very chirpy and glass-half-full ALL THE TIME. Which is the opposite of me. So I found her a little irritating.
Then there’s our male romantic lead, Lucas Blade. He’s a crime/horror fiction writer. Which, actually, is the perfect opposite of Eva and I really liked the contrast. BUT, I really wasn’t a fan of him in general. I didn’t feel the chemistry between the pair. He was kind of a jerk most of the time (although he did have his sweet moments which kept me slightly ‘on the fence’). I also felt it was creepy that Eva was his muse for developing a murderous character in his latest book. Not sure how I’d feel about that.
In a sentence: Fliss and Seth got married when they were 18 and then tragedy stuck – can they find their way back to each other?
I’m not generally a fan of the trope where the couple used to be an item and then fate throws them back together. It’s way more exciting when a couple meets for the first time. But this book might have changed my mind. Fliss is the confident and tough twin sister to Harriet. As a family they used to spend their summers in the Hamptons, which is where she met Seth. Long story short, they fell in love at 18, got married, tragedy struck (I won’t spoil this one!) and Fliss never saw him again. Fast forward ten years and Fliss is running a successful dog-walking business in Manhattan and Seth is running a vet clinic in the Hamptons. As fate always intervenes, Fliss is on her way to the Hamptons to care for her ill grandmother, bumps into Seth, she pretends to be Harriet, and away we go.
Fliss and Seth have pretty undeniable chemistry (he doesn’t believe for a second that she’s Harriet) and it’s pretty obvious they’re going to get back together. But actually what I enjoyed most was Fliss learning to love herself. Despite coming across as the tough twin, deep down she’s actually as insecure as the rest of us which was refreshing, and comfortining. She spends a lot of time with her grandmother and learns a few truths about herself and her family that opens her up to love and made me cry just a tiny bit. (Don’t worry – the book isn’t sad, I just tear up very easily.)
In a sentence: A very festive romance, where grumpy ER doctor Ethan falls for his dog-sitter – the softly spoken Harriet.
Out of the six books in the series, this is the sweetest – which matches Harriet’s personality. I really admire Harriet – she’s super shy and suffered from a stutter as a child. She is pretty reserved but decides that now both her siblings are coupled up, she needs to start fending for herself more. So she starts “Challenge Harriet” whereby she is brave and tries to do the opposite of what she would usually do – like wear high heels and try online dating. When she twists her ankle while escaping from a bad date, she ends up in the ER where she meets Dr Hot aka Ethan. And of course, after this first encounter she ends up living at his apartment, helping to care for his sister’s dog. Because that’s how couples meet in Chic Lit Land.
The pace of the story is a lot slower than the others – it takes Harriet a while to open up to Ethan (despite their instant chemistry), and although Ethan woos Harriet almost from the beginning, it takes him a while to realise how much he loves Harriet. One of my favourite parts is their getaway to the Snow Crystal resort in Vermont – not only did it sound like a stunning place for an alpine holiday but it’s also the feature of another Sarah Morgan series. Naturally I’ve added all three titles to my ‘to-read’ list. Finally, it doesn’t hurt that this book is set during December so it’s festive feelings all round!
In a sentence: Frankie has major baggage but it’s not enough to keep Matt’s heart eyes off her.
Frankie might be my favourite female character from the series. She is super tough with an attitude of ‘I can look after myself and back off’. She also has some baggage – this series is all about baggage. Frankie has sizzling chemistry with Matt – who is the brother of her best friend, Paige. Matt has major heart eyes for her and apparently has for a really long time. He decides to act on his feelings, and Frankie’s immediate impulse is to run far, far away. You see, she doesn’t believe in love (also a familiar topic!).
I really like Frankie – she’s spunky and independent and she hides herself away a bit and tries to make herself less noticeable. Which just adds to how sweet, and also exciting, it is for Matt to try and break down all her barriers. Matt is really the drawcard for me. He is so sweet! Super protective, super kind, and macho without being a jerk. He might be my favourite male lead? He’s at least tied with Daniel (see New York, Actually). He’s fairly perfect in my eyes and he provided a great contrast to Frankie. It was nice to see a sort of reversal of stereotypes where the girl was the one running from commitment and emotions, and it was the guy who finally made her realise love exists.
In a sentence: Daniel finds the love of his life in Molly, while also making a new best friend – dog, Brutus.
This one very nearly tied for first place because it is so bloody cute! Daniel is our leading man, lawyer and heart throb (and potential favourite leading man). He notices Molly running in Central Park every day with her dalmation, Valentine. Deciding he must meet her, he borrows a dog from his sisters as a way to grab Molly’s attention. Molly, a behavioural psychologist and blogger under the pseudonym “Aggie”, wants nothing to do with Daniel. She is secretive and totally closed off to relationships because she was burned in a big way in the past. She’s happy to dole out relationship advice on her blog, but avoids it in real life. Doesn’t hurt that Daniel actually loathes “Aggie” so it was fun being ‘in the know’ about who Molly is and wondering how Daniel would feel when he found out the truth.
I liked the pace of this romance. Despite refusing to date Daniel, their relationship develops nonetheless through their daily encounters in Central Park – where their dogs (who became instant friends) play and Daniel brings Molly cups of Earl Grey. Honestly, I swoon at the smallest of details. Daniel and Molly have clear chemistry and I’m glad it built for a while before any steps were taken. There’s a kiss in the rain that was EVERYTHING and yet that was just the beginning! I also liked being kept guessing on what exactly was the deal with Molly’s past.
As much as I liked Molly and sympathised with her ‘demons’, for me Daniel was the stand out in this story. Seriously, Sarah Morgan writes THE BEST male characters. I already knew I would like him based on his appearance in other books in this series, and he lived up to expectations. Aside from his romancing of Molly, I loved his blossoming friendship with Brutus – the dog he borrowed. He insists throughout that he’s not a ‘dog person’, and watching him connect with Brutus over the course of the book was so cute. And I won’t lie, Brutus goes missing at the end of the book and when he is reunited with Daniel I couldn’t help but tear up. (There I go – crying again!)
In a sentence: Paige is independent until she needs help starting her own business and finds all the help she needs (and more) with Jake (who she has loved for ever, but who keeps her at a distance to hide his true feelings).
This book was sexy, sweet and it had the BEST proposal at the end! In fact it might purely be the proposal at the end that gives this the number one spot. I was a grinning, gooey puddle. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Paige is fiercely independent. This stems from having grown up with a heart condition and spending most of her time in hospital. When she starts up her own business though, she needs a bit of a kick-start to boost her contacts. Jake – serial womaniser, all round hunk, and stellar businessman – is the perfect guy to help her out. And Paige just happens to have been in love with him for her whole life. Jake loves Paige too, but he’s closed off to love because his mother abandoned him as a child. All of this leads to a will they/won’t they situation and the chemistry is great.
I think out of the six books, this one has the most ‘traditional’ storyline – the girl knows what she wants and the guy takes forever to come to his senses. And Paige has less baggage than the characters in the other books, so there’s more focus on Jake sweeping her off her feet – which is probably why I liked it so much! They also keep their relationship a secret for a while. This is because Paige knows her brother will go nuts if she’s dating his best friend. And I love the extra tension a good secret romance trope brings to a story.
So there you have it – my review of the ‘From Manhattan with Love’ series by Sarah Morgan. Have you read books from this series? Who is your fave leading man and lady? Drop me a comment below!
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