Updated: Jan 17
I Think I Love You
by Lauren Layne
Published by Loveswept
Book #5 in the Oxford Series
Brit Robbins knows that dating in New York City is hard—
she just hoped to have it mastered by age thirty. But after yet another promising suitor says they have no sparks, Brit decides it’s time to torch her dating game and try a new plan. And who better to coach Brit through the art of seduction than the guy who first gave her the “let’s be friends” card? Hunter Cross has always figured there’s nothing his best friend Brit can do to surprise him. But Brit’s request is a surprise he doesn’t see coming—and one he’s definitely not prepared for. Hunter and Brit have always been careful to keep things perfectly platonic, but the fake dates and faux flirting are starting to feel like the real deal. And soon Hunter realizes he has taught Brit too well. Not only has she become an expert at seduction, the man becoming thoroughly seduced is him.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy #ContemporaryRomance Feel Good
Uh Oh ... turn back if you don't want spoilers ...
I Think I Love You is the fifth and final (insert sobbing emoji here) of the Oxford series, and centers around Hunter Cross, and Brit Robbins, both Oxford employees, and best friends for the past six years. Their friendship is innocent and platonic, despite their friends and families pestering them. Until, of course, Brit starts to feel lonely, especially when she is surrounded by her friends being in love, and having babies. She decides the problem is with her, and asks her best friend for seduction lessons, which of course, ends up forcing Hunter to see Brit as a female, and one rather perfect for him.
As per usual, Lauren Layne does great work with her characters. You can't possibly not like them. Brit is girly, but not in that high-maintenance way that comes off as snobby. Just like in the book, where she is the go-to person to make people feel comfortable, she is a comfortable read. She is fun and kind, and kind of reminds of a lot of people I know in my day to day life. Hunter is also very likable. Funny, considerate, and kind. They are just ... nice. Which sometimes, can be a little boring. As for other characters, we get some glimpses of the editorial crew from Oxford and our love and sex gals from Stiletto, which is always nice.
As good as the characters are, I Think I Love You is not unique in the insane abundance of best friends turned lovers stories. And believe me, I have no issues with those stories. In my youth, I had a best friends turned lovers story myself, and while mine didn't turn out with a happily ever after, I have a fondness for romance stories about best friends. But I do like a little twist thrown in, just to keep it from feeling too dull. Sadly, I Think I Love You doesn't deliver. While the story was good, and their relationship flowed nicely from page to page, I found myself happy to get to the end ... which is not typical of me, especially when its the end of a series.
I Think I Love You is a cute love story, with great characters, and a nice goodbye to our Stiletto/Oxford crew. I remain convinced that the series could have ended with Someone Like You, and it seemed fitting that the epilogue of the final book had the whole Stiletto/Oxford crew at Lincoln and Daisy's wedding. I insist you read the whole Stiletto series, and Oxford series. They truly are a delight!
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Hunter: "I don't know why you keep putting yourself through this."
Brit: "Um, because my eggs are rotting?"
Hunter: "Oh God. Never mind."
Brit: *laughs* "I love that look you get on your face whenever forced to acknowledge that I am, in fact, female."
Hunter: "Oh, trust me. I'm well aware that you're female. This very conversation is irrefutable proof."
Brit: "All right. I should have known I wouldn't get any help from on of you."
Hunter: "One of who?"
Brit points to Hunter's crotch
Brit: "Someone with one of those."
Hunter: "Uh, can we not talk about my dick like it's some sort of disease?"
Brit: "You know that if you go to the gym every day you don't have to take the stairs, right?"
Hunter: "Well, since you don't go to the gym every day, consider this your cardio."
Brit: "I need your help."
Hunter: "Yeah, I gathered that. What I'm not quite understanding is why you're so skittish. You know I'll do anything I can if you need help. Is it money? I can lend you whatever you need. Hideous family wedding? I'll be your date. Want me to beat up Lenny? I'll call Jackson for you."
Brit: "You're you. We're us. I trust you in a way I don't trust anyone else. lus, you're single. I can't ask Lincoln, or Nick, or Cole. They could give me advice, probably, but they're all married or involved with some of my closest friends. I can't practice on them."
Hunter choked on his drink
Hunter: "What do you mean, practice?"
Brit: "We're talking the art of seduction here. I'm not an expert, obviously, but I know it means more than just words. It's about looks, and touch, and ... moves."
Hunters lips twitch
Brit: "Don't you dare laugh at me."
Hunter: "Moves? Is this high school in the nineties?"
Brit: "Will you help me or not?"
Brit: "You said you'd do anything for me."
Hunter: "Yeah, but not teach you how to ... mate."
Nick: "Can't help it. Big brain."
Lincoln: "Big ego too."
Lincoln: "Well, well. Looks like our girl made good on her threat to practice on her own."
Hunter realized his jaw was clenched and made a conscious effort to unclench it. It didn't matter. Brit could do whatever the hell she wanted. She was an adult woman, who had every right to ...
Cole: "And he's off"
Brit: "Bye, Bradley. I'll see you around."
Hunter: "Oh for God's sake."
Brit: "I'm not looking for marry the guy. Or even date him. I was just trying my hands at being anything other than good ol' Brit, you know?
Hunter: "I like good ol' Brit!"
Brit: "Well, damn it. I want someone to better than like me, Hunter!"
Brit: "So you'll do it?"
Hunter: "A few more questions first, so I'm clear. What exactly do you want me to do? Just answer your questions, or -"
Brit: "Oh, don't worry, I have a list!"
Hunter: "Of course you do. Give me a preview."
Brit: "No, I don't think so."
Hunter: "Because you know I'll reconsider."
Brit: "Let's just say, if you needed whiskey to hear my initial request, you'll definitely want it for the specifics."
Hunter: "Fantastic. Can't wait to start."
Hunter: "So what's next on your lesson plan?"
Brit: "Ah, Ob-Wan is eager to teach."
Hunter: "For the record, I'm Yoda. And I'd just like to be prepared."
Cassidy: "You do remember there's a deadline at five o'clock tonight?"
Lincoln: "I turned mine in early. You must have missed it."
Cassidy: "I don't miss shit, and you don't do early."
Lincoln: "Worth a shot."
Hunter: "You were perfect."
Hunter: "Your report card. A. Five stars. Whatever."
Brit: "Oh, come on. I didn't ask you to help me with this to stroke my ego. You can give it to me straight. Did I talk too much, or not enough, or -"
Hunter laid a single finger across her mouth, stopping her words.
Hunter: "No. Perfect."
Brit: "I'd better get inside. My boss scheduled an eight-thirty meeting tomorrow."
Hunter: "He sounds like a real a-hole."
Brit: "I'm pretty sure he'll make sure we have donuts."
Hunter says nothing, and Brit gives him a look.
Brit: "You are getting donuts delivered, right?"
Hunter rolls his eyes.
Hunter: "I guess I am now."
Nick: "She still changing Aiden?"
Brit: "Boob-feeding. Her words. Also said to tell you she'd be wanting her 'adult grape juice' when she gets done."
Taylor: "Hey, um, guys? Which one of you wants to come untangle my hair from Aiden's death grip?"
Hunter: "Is your boob out? I'll do it."
Taylor: "Yup. And it has a small human attached to it. Come on in!"
Hunter winced and Nick laughed
Nick: "I got this."
Brit: "Can we just erase that whole thing I said about me not feeling sexy?"
Hunter: "Sorry, nope. It's out there."
Brit: "Fine. Then I don't suppose you have any advice?"
Hunter: "I'm thinking." *closes his eyes*
Brit: "Really? Because it looks an awful lot like sleeping."
Hunter: "Not my fault your bed is more comfortable than your couch."
Brit: "Just as well. I'm not sure sexy is a teachable skill."
Hunter: "Sure it is. Sexy is a state of mind. We'll get you there."
Hunter: 'How about when my parents aren't in town?"
Brit: "Good point. Okay. In the meantime, I'll try to teach myself."
Hunter: "That promises to be delightfully dirty."
Brit: *laughs* "Not like that. I mean I'll do some thinking. Try to figure out what makes me feel sexy and what doesn't."
Hunter: "Can I watch?"
Hunter: "You can't seriously be thinking about going out with him again. The guy stared at your ass the entire time you walked away."
Brit: "Maybe I want someone to stare at my ass!"
Hunter: "I didn't know you could skate."
Brit did a curtsy, pulling out an imaginary skirt as she did so.
Brit: "Three years of figure-skating lessons, thank you very much. I loved it, up until I realized that my body type didn't exactly have Olympic gold medal written all over it."
She cupped her hands around her lips and mouthed boobs.
Malik: "And, I'm out."
Hunter: "Okay, try this. Close your eyes."
Brit: "Do I have to?"
Hunter: "Unless you want to fail my class. Then I'd have to tell your parents that you're flunking out of seduction school. It'll be uncomfortable for all of us./"
Brit: "Fine. Go."
Hunter: "Go, she says. So romantic."
Julie: "So glad you're here. I've been dying for you to meet someone. A guy."
Brit: "Um, what?"
Julie: "I know, I know. Blind setups are the worst, but the second I met him, I knew you guys would hit it off. He works with Mitchell, but I promise you he's not one of the asshole Wall Street types. He's hilarious, and good-looking, and a total gentleman, and wait until you see his arms. And his jawline, OMG, I could die - "
Mitchell: "I'm confused. I could have sworn you were married. To me."
Brit: "I'm confused."
Brit: "Why the heck we're drinking champagne instead of discussing what just happened."
Hunter: "We're drinking champagne because of what just happened."
Brit: "Champagne is usually celebratory."
Hunter: "It is."
Brit: "Hunter, we only kissed. That's not something to be celebrated."
Hunter: "You sure about that?"
Brit: "Yes! It'll ruin everything we have."
Hunter: "From where I was standing, there was nothing ruinous about it."
Hunter: "Good word, right?"
Brit: "Maybe it doesn't have to be a disaster. We can chalk it up to a onetime mistake. Heck, next week we'll probably laugh about it, and next month it'll be forgotten."
Hunter was watching her mouth as she spoke.
Brit: "Don't do that."
Hunter: "Don't do what?"
Brit: "Look at me like that."
Hunter: "Like what?"
Brit: "Like you want to ... you know."
Hunter: "Do it again?"
Brit: "Do you? Want to?"
Hunter lifts his champagne glass and clinks it against hers.
Brit: "To what? I still don't understand what the heck we're celebrating."
Hunter: "Preemptive celebration."
Hunter takes the glass out of her hand, and sets it on the table with his drink. He steps toward her and hauls her against him.
Hunter: "For this."
Brit: "Why are you looking at me like that?"
Because I adore you. I adore this.
Brit: "Hey! I need -"
He scooped her into his arms and carried her out of the bathroom and laid her on the bed.
Hunter: "Me. You need me. Right?"
Brit: "Yeah. Yeah, I need you."
Cassidy: "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Hunter: "Putting together out weekly stats for the presentation this afternoon. Per your request."
Cassidy: "That's not what I'm talking about, and you damn well know it."
Hunter: "So, I take it you and Emma talked."
Cassidy: "You mean did my wife and I have a discussion about two of my employees having their tongues down each other's throats? Yeah."
Cassidy: "You don't get it, do you? You think of her as just a friend. She thinks of you the same. But did she or did she not come to you for help because guys always seem to keep their distance?"
Hunter: "How is that my fault? If anything it's yours. You're the one who treats her like Oxford's resident Betty Cooper. You ask her to show the new kids around like she's the damn girl next door. As a result, everyone treats her like she's good ol' Brit. If anyone's given her a complex, it's you."
Cassidy: "Bullshit. That's bullshit. This is on you, Hunter. You know why guys don't stick around? You know why they keep bailing on her? Because everyone thinks she's yours. You declared her off-limits the second you named her your best friend, or whatever."
Hunter: 'What the hell? I don't think of her as mine. Brit doesn't think of herself that way either."
Cassidy: "Not consciously, maybe. But trust me when I say that anyone who's seen the two of you together has been figuring it's only a matter of time. You think any guy wants to fall for a woman whose best friend looks like you? Who has sleepovers with you?"
Hunter: "That's - "
Cassidy: "Tell me. Is there any correlation between her getting dumped and her boyfriends' meeting you?"
Hunter: "I - We're just friends. I'm sure she tells the guys that."
Cassidy: "Yeah, because that's how guys operate. Very rational, and not at all territorial when it comes to women."
Hunter: "Is there a time limit on this lecture? Because if not, maybe you can record it and I can listen to it later, or never."
Brit: "Stop, Hunter!"
Hunter: "Stop what?"
Hunter: "Stop messing with me. You don't get to do this. You don't get to tell me to go on a date and then make me feel bad about it. You don't get to order me to call a guy and then get mad when I do. You don't get to tell me you don't want to kiss me anymore and then act pissed when I kiss someone else - "
Hunter kisses her.
Hunter: "I never said that."
Brit: "Said what?"
Hunter: "That I didn't want to kiss you anymore. It's all I've been thinking of for a week."
Brit: "Then why'd you ignore me."
Hunter: "So that I didn't do this. So that I didn't ruin any chance you'd have with Jon by touching you."
Brit: "I wanted you to touch me. Then and now."
Hunter: "Don't say that."
Brit: "Why not?"
Hunter: "Because. It means I won't have the control to stop from doing this ..."
He hoisted her onto the kitchen counter, nudging her thighs apart and stepping between them.
Hunter: "And it means,"
He leans forward to rain kisses along the V-neck of her dress
Hunter: "that I won't be able to stop myself from doing this ..."
He cupped her breast.
Hunter: "Or this ..."
His thumb rubbed over her nipple, and she sucked in her breath.
Hunter: "It means, Brit,"
His hands moved under her skirt and tugged her thong down her legs, tossing it aside.
Hunter: "That there's nothing to prevent me from ..."
He eased the dress up farther, lowering as he did so. His head disappeared beneath the skirt, the slight scrape of his five-o'clock shadow rough against her inner thighs, the first swipe of his tongue so deliciously erotic that she cried out in need.
Taylor: "So. Now that we're on to dessert, can we talk about that you two are boning?"
Nick: "Jesus, Tay."
Nick: "We didn't invite them over for a spontaneous weekday dinner to interrogate them."
Taylor: "I sort of did."
Taylor: "ooh, now we're getting somewhere. So the sex is fun, huh? Like, naughtily fun, or...?"
Brit: "You do realize your son is right here."
Taylor: "Oh, we have years before we have to start talking in code. Might as well take advantage of it."
Nick: "Okay, invasive sex inquisition aside, what's the deal with you two. Together?"
Brit: "We've decided not to put a label on it. We're just sort of seeing where it's going."
Taylor: "Well, if you keep having the naughty sex, it could be heading toward that."
*she nods towards her son*
Brit: "Oh, we're not ... we're ... you know, protection."
Taylor: *snorts* "So were we."
Nick: "Are there any topics off-limits with you, Taylor?"
Taylor: "Not really."
Taylor: "What's your plan, Cross?"
Hunter: "It's like Brit said. We're not putting labels on it."
Taylor: "So, you sleep with her, date her, work with her, and yet she's not worthy of being your girlfriend?"
Hunter: "Not what I said."
Taylor: "So she is your girlfriend."
Hunter: "Well, now, I don't know, are we in high school? Should I ask her to go steady?"
Taylor: "I don't know. Should you?"
Hunter: "I'm not boyfriend material."
Taylor: "No, definitely no. Steadily employed at a cushy job, recently renovated apartment. Hold doors for women, loves his mom ... yeah, no, you're right. Who'd want to date you?"
Brit: "Is everyone in the office thinking I'm a fragile butterfly to be soothed?"
Penelope: "No. I heard Bradley Calloway tell Evan in accounting that with Hunter out of the way he could finally make his move on your, and I quote, fine ass. Cole spilled coffee on him."
Cole: *looks at Cassidy* "Accidentally." *looks at Brit and winks*
Cassidy looks at Jackson, Cole and Penelope
Cassidy: "What do you three nightmares want? Because it's obviously got nothing to do with productivity."
Brit: "You need me. You may not know it, but you need your best friend right now, and despite what I said the other night, that's me. It'll always be me, Hunter."
Hunter: "God, I love you."
Brit: "I know. I love you too."
Hunter: "No. No, I mean I'm in love with you, Brit. Hopelessly, until the end of time."
She launched herself at him, her arms and legs wrapping around him. He caught her with a laugh as she buried her face into his neck.
Hunter: "Say it. Please say it."
Brit: "I'm in love with you too."
Cole: "I adore you."
Penelope: "Obviously. I'm fantastic."
Check out the rest of the Stiletto and Oxford series below!