I Think I Love You
I Think I Love You, the fifth volume of Lauren Layne’s spicy series featuring young singletons trying to find romance in New York while working at Oxford Magazine, features advertising worker Hunter Cross, whose best friend Brit Robbins wants to get married and have kids – which is easier said than done in the big city.
Hunter and Brit have been best friends for forever, but Hunter’s determined not to ruin the good thing they have going between them – they are strictly platonic all the way. The trouble is all of Brit’s dates leave her feeling flat, and one terrible experience too many forces her to turn to Hunter and asks him a favor. Will he help her learn the art of seduction so she can improve her chances of finding mister right and settling down?
This won’t be permanent of course. Brit just wants someone to see her as a full-blooded woman instead of a kid sister figure, and Hunter’s planning on leaving Oxford behind to move back to the Midwest. But the deeper they get into their seduction game, the closer they get to sexual combustion and breaking Hunter’s rules. When a family emergency descends, Hunter must pick between letting Brit all the way in or sneaking back to his hometown.
This is an admittedly hard series to step into mid-story; many of the characters are well-established by now, and many of them pop up in the book, leaving newbies going ‘wait, who’s that?!’.
It doesn’t help that our hero is one big doucherino. Yep, my biggest problem with the book is Hunter. For much of it, he’s one of those dudes who doesn’t want commitment, would rather die than fall in love or even sleep next to the woman he just boinked. In fact, he won’t have a one-night stand with a woman who lives in his building and on the same floor for fear he’ll bump into her again, yet he has no problem sabotaging Brit’s chances at romance because he’s so jealous.
Hunter’s one of those guys who panic-overthinks everything. He’s horrified to look at his best friend and see her as a sexual being. But he also doesn’t want to ruin their friendship by trying to date her, so he’ll sleep with her and be her friend but not embark on a relationship. Yet he’s also happy to throw a loud tantrum at their workplace (yep, their workplace) when she literally bats her lashes at a male colleague. The fact that Hunter is Brit’s superior just adds to the discomfort. Everyone is in everyone else’s business at Oxford to an uncomfortable degree, and it’s all a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. When Hunter’s boss calls him on the carpet for seducing Brit, it all feels like too little, too late. As close as they were, as much as they liked each other, I had no reason to believe Hunter would stay faithful to Brit.
I liked Brit, though. The poor girl just wants to sexy herself up in the hope of finally nailing a man down – and her using Marilyn Monroe as a sexyspiration was sweet, and she felt like a normal, everyday woman I might meet out in the world.
Their shared chemistry is decent, the sex scenes have bite, and I liked their habit of snuggling and watching movies in bed, but Brit allows Hunter to make way too many of the calls in their relationship, from who to date in the office (i.e, she shouldn’t bonk anyone but him) to whether or not the makeover is working. Any independent confidence she shows is questioned for a while, which is really annoying. And then Hunter makes a choice that just makes the reader cringe; he’s processing a lot in the moment but the author should have him emotionally beyond the point of doing what he does when he does it.
Readers of the Oxford series will likely enjoy this rather more than I did. It’s not a comfortable starting place for newbies, and with a hero this annoying it’s hard to do more than give Layne points for her smooth, polished writing and hope that the rest of the series improves.