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.
4 stars — I received an eARC of this book through NetGalley!
This book started off fantastically! I was sucked right in, and there was just something about Mollie in particular that spoke to me. She was just so forthright and funny with a tiny side of sassy, that I immediately fell in love. And I can honestly say I was enthralled for the first half.
And then I went to bed exhausted after a long day of travel (well mostly the previous day), and when I started it up again today, it had lost a little of the shine. It went from a solid 4.5 – 5 star read to more of a 4 (which is where it’s obviously ended up for me). Now I’m not sure if it’s just me, and a mood I’m in…but I think I had expectations of where the story was going, and it just didn’t reach those places fast enough for me. Or maybe it’s that Jackson as a male lead was just a wee bit confusing…he was so reticent, and so private, that even I was unsure about his feelings about Mollie and Madison and everything. I mean, he’d say he was over Madison and I would wholeheartedly believe him, but then his behavior and attitude would give a bit of a different impression. And I know that that was mostly in Mollie’s POV, and maybe she was seeing it one way, but I just couldn’t figure out what was going on in his head to make him appear that way. So I was missing a bit of depth there or something.
And maybe in the end I just wasn’t that thrilled with Madison, and how Mollie couldn’t see her for who she was. I know, I know, she’s family…but holy cow, she was such a witch with a b! So I just ended up feeling conflicted over the characters more than I was expecting to.
So perhaps this is more of a 3.5 star book, but I really did love Mollie from the beginning, and I truly was enjoying it in a 5 star way for the first half, so I’m giving it an extra bump for all that. Plus, you really can’t go wrong with all the cameos of the Stiletto and Oxford folks. I LOVE those secondary characters, and would have gladly loved even more from them (though that would have taken away from the Mollie and Jackson story probably). And in the end I’m even more excited for Lincoln’s book…it’s gonna be hell waiting for it. 🙂