I Wish You Were Mine
I Wish You Were Mine is the second story in Lauren Layne’s Oxford series, a spin-off of her Sex, Love and Stiletto series which featured the women of a Cosmospolitan-esque magazine. Similarly, Oxford is a GQ type of men’s magazine. The hero of this story, Jackson, has taken a job at Oxford as a health and fitness columnist. He suffered a career ending football injury followed by a scandal plagued divorce that left him at a loose end. The job offer seemed like something worth trying, and he’s moved to New York City from Texas, hoping it will be the start of a new, fulfilling career.
Mollie and Jackson have been friends for years. They met when he started dating her older sister Madison, whom he married and eventually divorced (the scandal-plagued divorce mentioned above). Mollie had a teeny tiny crush on him when they first met but never acted on it. The pair has a strong friendship that survived the breakup of his toxic marriage, and now they are both in New York City, where Mollie finds herself in need of a new place to live. Conveniently, Jackson offers her a room in his penthouse suite. Suddenly, however, Jackson is seeing just how grown up Mollie is, while at the same time realizing that she’s always been there for him in good times and bad. Mollie’s crush never went away, becoming much stronger feelings over time. Can they find a way to get a happy ever after out of a situation in which they never expected to find themselves?
Lauren Layne is one of my go-to authors for contemporary romance. She writes with just the right amount of humor, sexiness, tension and sometimes tears to make for a compelling story. If you’re worried that there is cheating or inappropriate behavior between Jackson and Mollie during Jackson’s marriage to Madison, there isn’t. (Well, Madison’s extra-marital affairs are a whole other ball game). I liked seeing Jackson’s realization of how important Mollie has been in his life. He has a new awareness of her as a woman, and not just his ex’s sister. The attraction between them startles Jackson, but it’s been there all along for Mollie. It’s not long before they are headlong into a fling. They both know it’s going to cause them problems down the road with Madison, but they just can’t resist.
There is no hiding the fact that Madison is the third wheel in this story. She is a frustrating, vindictive woman, but although Jackson knows her true self, Mollie is much more forgiving. Time and time again Mollie gives her older sister the benefit of the doubt, largely because of the fact that Madison raised her after their parents died. I wish we’d gotten more of a sense that Mollie was finally seeing Madison’s true character, but it never really happens. She sees the evidence of how vindictive and spiteful Madison is yet she continues to defend her throughout the whole story. It’s fair to say that some readers may find her continued presence in the story annoying (myself included).
I loved seeing the guys from Oxford and the gals from Stiletto who show up as secondary characters. I’ve enjoyed all the previous stories in these series, so it’s like meeting up with old friends to see them again. Their camaraderie makes for the best scenes, and lots of laughs. It takes some time for Jackson to realize that Mollie is everything he really wants. We have to get to some groveling from him to make up for some serious mistakes made when he and Mollie are trying to establish their new relationship. But in the end we get our happy ending.