Monday, 1 February 2016

New Release Spotlight and Review: I wish You Were Mine by Lauren Layne.

In Honor of Superbowl Winning Quarterback Jackson Burke, 
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Oxford #2
Lauren Layne
Releasing on February 2, 2016

Perfect for fans 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.

A year ago, Jackson Burke was married to the love of his 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.

Mollie Carrington can’t say no to Madison. After all, her 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.

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Jackson took a sip. Perfection. Although what did it mean that Jackson’s life had turned into one where the highlight of his day was a well-made cocktail?
It wasn’t that Jackson needed the booze. He enjoyed it, certainly. Had relied on it more than he probably should have in those first few days when he’d gotten out of the hospital and come home to a whole lot of nothingness.
But these days he could take it or leave it.
Tonight, however, he was taking it. Sobriety had no place when you had to sit across from the most off-limits woman on the planet.
Knowing that didn’t stop the anticipation, however. He hadn’t seen her since she’d shown up in his hospital room to deliver a bag of Gatlin’s BBQ and . . .
His divorce papers.
That had been eight months ago.
He’d avoided her ever since, and he couldn’t even say why except that he’d avoided pretty much everyone. Jackson still spoke with his parents every Sunday, but everyone else—all the old teammates, the old neighbors—had eventually stopped calling.
Mollie hadn’t, though. Mollie had never given up on him. Until today, he hadn’t responded to a single text, a single email, and yet she hadn’t stopped sending them. That was Mollie for you. Fiercely loyal to both him and Madison, even when things had started to go to hell.
Mollie had been accepted to Columbia just about the time that he and Madison started coming apart at the seams. In hindsight, he was grateful that Mollie had been in New York when things started to go to hell in his marriage. That she hadn’t seen him at his worst.
At the time, however, he’d been hit with an unfair sense of abandonment. He hadn’t realized how much he’d come to rely on the much younger Mollie to mediate things between him and the volatile Madison until she was in a different time zone.
Even now, more than a decade since first meeting Mollie, he struggled to reconcile the fact that she and Madison had come from the same parents. Madison was perfectly coiffed, charming only when she was in the mood, and manipulative as all hell. Mollie, on the other hand, was adorably awkward—a brainy research assistant who cared a hell of a lot more about her scientific journals than her manicure.
But somewhere along the line, Mollie Carrington had ceased to be that awkward kid who talked about bugs at inopportune times. Somewhere along the line, she’d become his rock. The one person in the world, save for perhaps his parents, who always knew the exact right thing to say to make him feel like a human whenever he’d started to feel like a caricature of himself.
For years he’d tried to tell himself that it was just sibling affection—that he cared about her the way he would a sister. But then things had gotten worse with Madison—way worse. And Jackson had been hit upside the head with the truth: that maybe he’d married the wrong sister. That he didn’t want to spend the rest of his days married to the beautiful, brittle Madison.
He wanted someone who made him laugh. Who listened. Someone who cared more about people than she did about hair appointments.
Someone like Mollie.

Tonight, at her sister's wedding, Mollie Carrington had gone and fallen head over heels in love.
With the groom,” Yes! Ms Layne certainly grabbed my attention with that line.

The second surprise with the second standalone novel in the Oxford series is the introduction of a new guy... Jackson Burke. The former quarterback of the Texas Redhawks, is the newly appointed fitness editor at Oxford. Those that have read Irresistibly Yours will recognise him as Penelope “Tiny” Pope's biggest sports crush/idol.

Like a fish out of water...Jackson Burke is in New York, re-building his life as a columnist although he sees it as a temporary but necessary move until he gets to be back where he belongs...with the Redhawks in Texas. A car crash ended his playing career and his ex-wife did a fine job at ruining his reputation. Still, he hopes that the Redhawks' coach will one day send an email and offer him a coaching job so he doesn't have to bother with a suit and tie every day. Corporate America is not his thing and his new work colleagues are friendly but a bit cliquey.

Mollie Carrington has always had a close relationship with her big sister who made personal sacrifices to raise her after their mother's death. Equally, she shared a close friendship with her brother-in-law, until he and her sister divorced. Since then Jackson Burke has ignored her attempts to contact him, which isn't surprising when she was the one to hand deliver his divorce papers. Now living in New York, Mollie's sister Madison wants her to talk to Jackson about a reconciliation, with an outcome neither expected...Jackson and Mollie become room-mates!

There is a slow build up to Jackson and Mollie realising that they can't ignore or deny their feelings any longer. I had a couple of eye-roll moments when “guy code” and “girl/sister code” was mentioned as our protagonists faced the consequences and potential repercussion of their actions. Whilst this could have been highly dramatic, it wasn't. I'm thankful Ms Layne writes intelligent characters who work through difficult situations with maturity. Jackson comes across as aloof but I see him as a guy lacking social confidence in his new world. The Stiletto/Oxford gang add fun, light-hearted banter to the storyline but to a big sports hero, it's a bit too overwhelming at first to deal with. Mollie is just adorable and intuitive. You just want her to break out of the shadows and shine.

For those that are fans of Oxford's resident man-whore Lincoln Mathis and are waiting for his story, we are treated to a tantalizing little nugget of information about him as Mollie calls him out on his reputation.

Keep my secret?” he said with a wink… “Seriously,” he said quietly. “Keep my secret?”

The plot rounds off with a satisfying happy ever after as all the wrongs are righted. I love the overall feel good feeling I have after reading a Lauren Layne novel and this humorous, sexy story littered with witty dialogue is no exception.

***arc generously received courtesy of Loveswept (Random House Publishing Group) via NetGalley***

Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of more than a dozen contemporary romance novels.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. A year after moving from Seattle to NYC to pursue a writing career, she had a fabulous agent and multiple New York publishing deals. 
Lauren currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and plus-sized Pomeranian. When not writing, you'll likely find her running (rarely), reading (sometimes), or at happy hour (often).
Oxford Book One