Series: An Oxford novel #2
Author: Lauren Layne
Release date: 2 February 2016
Basic story: Jackson Burke is re-adjusting (badly) to life off the football field. As Oxford’s newest health and fitness writer, he should be settling in and making an effort to get to know his new colleagues. Instead, despite several attempts from the Oxford crew to welcome him, he prefers his solitude and brooding. The car accident that ended his illustrious career months ago still haunts him. A messy divorce has left Jackson jaded and determined to get back to football, if only as a coach.
Mollie Carrington knows that her ex-brother-in-law, Jackson has been in New York for a while. What she doesn’t understand is why he won’t answer her calls or emails. They used to be best friends, always having the other’s back. Mollie always had a crush on Jackson, even though he was completely in love with her sister Madison. She was just glad of his support. So if he’s in a funk about his new situation, she’ll be the one to get him out of it.
Jackson always saw Mollie as his little sister and listened to her when it seemed Madison was too busy or too self-involved to bother. The woman he now sees is far from that awkward girl. The more time they spend together, the more obvious the mutual attraction becomes. The choice is a difficult one: should Mollie remain the loyal sister she’s always been, or should she put her own happiness first for once?
Why you should read it: I’m a huge fan of this Oxford series and the Stiletto series, which feature some of the same characters. Jackson and Mollie are a well-paired couple dealing with a manipulative sister/ex-wife, while trying to do the right thing. There was plenty of sexual tension and some great scenes featuring characters from Stiletto and the other Oxford men. It’s always a pleasure to reconnect with these characters. I’m totally invested in them now.
What you might not like: Jackson isn’t the nicest of heroes, it has to be said. He’s grumpy, slow to go after what he wants and the way he deals with his ex and Mollie will have you shaking your head at times. However, there wasn’t manufactured drama in this book – it could have taken a very predictable route, but fortunately it didn’t. Mollie also could have been a total doormat, but she really came into her own as a capable, independent woman.
Rating: So all in all, I give I Wish You Were Mine 3/5 for a satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable tale.
Here’s an excerpt:
“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.