Desert Isle Keeper
I Knew You Were Trouble
Here’s the deal: I love – as in really, really love – Lauren Layne’s Stiletto and Oxford series, and I am ecstatic whenever there is a new book out. I know it means that I’ll be able to catch up with some of my favorite fictional characters, who now feel like old friends, and that I will get to return to the world Ms. Layne has created, one I simply adore. Frankly, I was half in love with I Knew You Were Trouble, the fourth book in the Oxford arm of the series, before I read the first page.
If you haven’t read all the books in both series, you’ll be fine jumping in at any point, because they are all stand-alone reads. Of course, I think you are missing out on a singular and stellar reading experience if you haven’t already read them all.
I Knew You Were Trouble returns to the New York offices of Oxford men’s magazine with two new additions to the payroll – Taylor Carr and Nick Ballantine. Taylor has recently been hired full-time in the marketing department, and Nick is a temporary writer contracted as needed. They meet on the job, and the sparks fly – but not in a good way, because they’re opposites who rub each other up the wrong way. She’s serious, stoic, guarded and happy to climb the corporate ladder. He’s irreverent, gregarious and laid back, and he prefers an untraditional career path, consciously choosing to work part-time as a bartender and part-time as a writer.
Nick instantly realizes that teasing and needling Taylor will drive her crazy, and he’s right. She bristles under his playful joking, but she dishes it right back with pointed barbs and veiled insults. These frenemies push each other’s buttons at every opportunity, but beneath all their snarky banter and heated exchanges, is an unexpected connection and an electrifying chemistry.
They continue to drive each other nuts and fight-flirt for the next year as both have on-and-off again relationships with other people. (By the way, there is no need to worry that our protagonists spend the majority of the book apart, because this time period is condensed and is basically an extended prologue.) Taylor has recently become serious with someone and they’re planning to move in together, but he suddenly gets cold feet and backs out on the very day they were to take possession of their new apartment. She’s hurt, angry and without a second income to share the rent.
Nick steps up to the plate and offers to be her roommate, and she reluctantly agrees. Now there are no boyfriends or girlfriends and they’re sharing close quarters, but they’re still most comfortable in their roles as adversaries. As they slowly get to know one another and see each other in a whole new light, being so different starts to feel like a good thing. The attraction between them grows exponentially as they share intimacies, and the pull between them is a palpable force that both try to resist. Taylor has emotional walls that have been constructed over a lifetime, and Nick has relationship baggage that makes him leery of love. Both are reluctant to let down their defenses and be vulnerable.
Taylor and Nick are mesmerizing to watch as they dance around their feelings and attempt to fight their fate. The sexual tension builds to a fever pitch as Ms. Layne masterfully develops their relationship and their evolution from enemies to lovers. There are a few coincidences in the plot that might feel too convenient to be believable, but they never detract from the love story’s charm or enjoyment. I might be a bit biased considering how much I love the Oxford series, but I can objectively and without reservation recommend I Knew You Were Trouble. It is a fun and flirty battle of the sexes that will leave you giddy over the sheer romance of falling in love.