of Alice Clayton and Emma Chase, Lauren Layne’s Oxford series heats up in this
story of forbidden desire as a brooding jock hoping for a comeback falls for a
woman who’s strictly off-limits.
life and playing quarterback for the Texas Redhawks. Now he’s retired, courtesy
of the car accident that ruined his career—and single, after a nasty scandal
torpedoed his marriage. Just as he’s starting to get used to his new life as a
health and fitness columnist for Oxford magazine, his unpredictable ex shows up
on his doorstep in Manhattan. Jackson should be thrilled. But he can’t stop
thinking about the one person who’s always been there for him, the one girl he
could never have: her younger sister.
older sister practically raised her. So when Madison begs for help in winning
her ex-husband back, Mollie’s just glad she got over her own crush on Jackson
ages ago—or so she thought. Because as Mollie reconnects with Jackson, she
quickly forgets all her reasons to stay loyal to her sister. Tempted by
Jackson’s mellow drawl and cowboy good looks, Mollie is sick and tired of
coming in second place. But she can’t win if she doesn’t play the game.
“I thought I might find you out here,” he said quietly as he took a sip of his own champagne.
Mollie snuck a look out of the corner of her eye. He’d come looking for her? She hadn’t thought anyone had noticed she’d slipped away.
“I messed up the toast,” she said quietly.
“Nah,” he said, stretching his long legs out in front of him and slouching down a bit to get comfortable. “Just think how many people you educated on the mating ritual of parasitic worms. They should be you.”
Mollie groaned. “It was supposed to be romantic. I did a paper about them for my systematics and biotics diversity final. They’re unusual because they’re bonded for life. Most organisms sleep around or, you know, the male dies after mating—”
Jackson winced, and Mollie wished she could wither and die just like a male bee.
Mollie knew she had lots of useless trivia in her head, but she didn’t normally go spouting it out like this. Not that she was a smooth talker or anything, but she was usually pretty quiet and normal, if a bit nerdy.
But tonight she felt . . . off. Starting with the fact that the dress Madison had picked for her was the exact color of Mollie’s complexion, so she looked like a mole rat. And then there was the fact that she’d tripped a bit as she’d been going down the aisle, courtesy of the five-inch stilettos her sister had insisted on.
Add in an awkward maid-of-honor speech where she’d gone on for a good five minutes about worms and how they mated for life, just like the bride and groom, and . . . oh Why had nobody stopped her?
Mollie scrunched down on the bench with a moan as she took a sip of champagne. “Madison’s going to kill me.”
Madison was in a mood anyway. She’d been a bridezilla from the moment Jackson had put a ring on it, but Mollie had figured when the actual day came around, her sister would relax.
She’d been pissed about the flowers being ivory instead of true white to match her dress. Had bitched about the fact that Lily, one of her bridesmaids, had styled her hair in a way that was too close to the bride’s style.
Then Madison had vented about how the bracelet Jackson’s mother had shyly presented as Maddie’s “something old” was dumpy.
one had gotten under Mollie’s skin. Mrs. Burke was the closest thing to a mother that either of them had. Their own mother had died of an overdose years ago, and Mollie would have given a kidney to have a surrogate as lovely and kind as Jackson’s mom.
“Maddie won’t kill you,” Jackson said, putting an arm around the back of the park bench and smiling down at her. “She loves you, even if she doesn’t get your whole triple-major, science-camp vibe.”
Mollie withheld a snort. That was an understatement. She loved her sister, but the closest Madison ever got to science was her monthly chemical peel.
Still, Mollie felt a fierce need to make sure that Jackson Burke knew she was an adult. “I’m twenty. I do go to science camp.”
He lifted an eyebrow, and Mollie pointed her champagne flute at him. “Okay, I to go to science camp. But not the one who used the word ‘lactation’ in relation to a mermaid.”
“Hey, you’re not the only one who took bio in college.”
“But you were a communications major. Journalism,” she said.
He gave her a surprised look, and Mollie looked away, mentally kicking herself. That was exactly what Jackson Burke didn’t need—another groupie stalker.
She snuck another glance and saw that he’d slumped even farther, matching her own crappy posture, and Mollie was surprised to see that he looked . . . exhausted.
“Are you okay?” she asked. Because she couldn’t not ask. Not after she’d seen the weariness around his eyes, the slight tension in his shoulders.
Jackson turned his head so their eyes locked and he frowned before returning his attention to the mermaid. “Nobody ever asks me that.”
Her heart squeezed at the lost note in his voice. It was strange to think of someone as big and important as Jackson Burke being lonely, but somehow . . . somehow she knew he was. Even here, among all these people, he was somehow alone. Apart.
author of contemporary romance.
and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York
City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six
months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband
that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to publish
thirteen books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with several more on
the way in 2015.
and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour,
running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly
This book was just what I needed to get over a disappointing read. Lauren Layne’s books are definitely sure to bring a smile to your face. I haven’t had a chance to read the first book in The Oxford Series, but after having finished this, I plan on finding the time to read about Cole and Penelope!! It started off a little slow and I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea having the heroine be the little sister of the hero’s ex wife, but in the end IT WORKED!! I seriously fell in love with this story.
Jackson Burke is the new fitness journalist at Oxford Magazine. This is not his dream job and NYC isn’t winning him over either. He’s still stuck in the past where he was once a Superbowl winning NFL Quarterback and he desperately wants to be that guy again, and to be back in Texas, where he thinks he belongs. But a car accident, that injured his shoulder took it all away from him, including his wife, Madison. Although Madison bailed on the marriage soon after the I do’s when she started having an affair with his best friend. He’s in a bad place in his life and spends most of his time avoiding his co-workers and dodging the calls from his ex sister-in-law, who happens to live in New York now.
Mollie Carrington has been smitten with Jackson since he first started dating her sister, but she was always considered the geeky little sister. She and Jackson became close friends during the time he was married to Madison. Mollie was his “go to” person whenever things were strained between he and her sister, which happened quite often.
After months of avoiding Mollie, Jackson agrees to meet her for dinner. He’s not prepared to come face to face with the beautiful woman she’s become. He’s uncomfortable with how attracted he is towards her. And Mollie is struggling with the fact that she’s still pretty much hung up on Jackson while she’s also feeling guilty he’s her sisters ex husband. After a brief conversation about how she’s living with the roommate from hell, Jackson ends up offering the spare bedroom in his penthouse to Mollie.
Till these two start to acknowledge their attraction to each other, the story seems to be very slow building. From the 40% mark on, I couldn’t put this book down!! The fact that Jackson was once married to Mollie’s sister, ceased to be a pain point for me. As you get more details about Madison, it’s pretty much impossible to feel that these two are doing anything wrong. I really loved the chemistry between Jackson and Mollie. I was rooting for them to get passed their insecurities and hang ups. I feel like this was one of the steamiest Lauren Layne books to date!!
Will Jackson and Mollie be able to leave the past behind them and let what’s starting to develop become a possible once in a lifetime love? Or will they let the past take control and possibly make the biggest mistakes of their lives?
Aside from all the angst, we get a chance to be with the other Oxford employees, including Alex Cassidy and Jake Malone, who we met during the Stiletto series. All the ladies fromStiletto are back as well and they become fast friends with Mollie.
I know this may be premature but I think I like this series more than Stiletto .
Make sure you pick this one up!