Updated: Jan 17
I Wish You Were Mine
by Lauren Layne
Published by Loveswept
Book #2 in The Oxford Series
A year ago, Jackson Burke
was married to the love of his life and playing quarterback for the Texas Redhawks. Now he’s retired, courtesy of the car accident that ruined his career—and single, after a nasty scandal torpedoed his marriage. Just as he’s starting to get used to his new life as a health and fitness columnist for Oxford magazine, his unpredictable ex shows up on his doorstep in Manhattan. Jackson should be thrilled. But he can’t stop thinking about the one person who’s always been there for him, the one girl he could never have: her younger sister. Mollie Carrington can’t say no to Madison. After all, her older sister practically raised her. So when Madison begs for help in winning her ex-husband back, Mollie’s just glad she got over her own crush on Jackson ages ago—or so she thought. Because as Mollie reconnects with Jackson, she quickly forgets all her reasons to stay loyal to her sister. Tempted by Jackson’s mellow drawl and cowboy good looks, Mollie is sick and tired of coming in second place. But she can’t win if she doesn’t play the game
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy #ContemporaryRomance Feel Good
Sorry lovely fellow book nerds! I ramble about what I read, and tend to post spoilers. Don't read ahead unless you've read the book!
I Wish You Were Mine is the second book in the Oxford series, and centers around Jackson Burke, ex-football player due to a severe injury from a car accident, recently divorced, and dealing with his ex-wife's lies to the media about his cheating ways, and his wife's younger sister, Mollie Carrington, a sweet, patient, intelligent research assistant.
To be completely honest, I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. I'm not against the whole "forbidden love" angle ... unless it starts to cross into creepy and illegal of course ... but the prologue goes back in time to a quiet moment between Jackson and Mollie ... at Jackson's wedding reception to Mollie's sister Madison. Now don't get me wrong ... there wasn't anything romantic about it. It was sweet. You could tell that Jackson and Mollie were already good friends. But it was also the moment that Mollie realized she was in love with her sisters husband. It honestly wasn't until I learned just how awful Madison was, that I was fully on board with Mollie and Jackson. In terms of originality, I mean, I haven't come across a romance like this one yet. The story is gripping. I couldn't put it down, and I cried along with Mollie when things were looking bad. Never once in this book was I bored. Lauren Layne is pretty good at making sure the flow is perfect.
One thing I am noticing about the Oxford series, is the women are unique in the Stiletto/Oxford world. Whereas the women of Stiletto are your typical New York women, as well as the men, the Oxford series niche seems to be women who are different. Penelope was the short, tiny, tomboy. Mollie Carrington is the intellectual. A bit awkward, in a very adorable way. Quirky. Kind and understanding. But that doesn't take away from her beauty, or her street smarts. Despite the fact that she is in love with her sisters now ex-husband, and eventually begins a rather intense relationship with him, she is loyal. Its one of her best, and worst qualities. The best, because if Jackson needs anything, its a loyal friend, and partner. The worst, because it keep her from seeing how awful and self-absorbed her sister is, and her loyalty to her sister gets in the way of her own happiness.
Jackson is an interesting character. Right off the bat, he is angry. Bitter. Being a star quarterback was his life. He was living his dream. Then some asshole T-bones him and his career is over. While in the hospital, Madison has Mollie deliver divorce papers. His name is smeared in the media, multiple women he never met claiming he slept with them ... so he runs to New York as soon as Cassidy offers him a job as Lead Fitness Editor to Oxford magazine. But he doesn't like it. Well ... he chooses to not let himself like it. He won't make friends at work, and he hates wearing a suit. And he is lonely. The fact that he asked Mollie to live with him as his roommate after seeing her for the first time in months proves that. It really takes Mollie to help him remind him he didn't die in the car crash.
His dynamic with Mollie is lovely. I love a good best friends turned lovers romance. Their level of comfort and intimacy with one another is sweet, but intense because of their years of friendship. I honestly do not see the allure of Madison. Other then her being beautiful, he started seeing signs of her true personality before getting married, but went ahead with it anyway. His quiet moment with Mollie at his wedding already showed some regret on his half. I guess, if one believes in fate, it was meant to be. Jackson would have never met Mollie if not for Madison. And for those of you who love a little sexy time with your romance ... Mollie and Jackson do not disappoint. Wow!
The only parts of this book that made me cringe was any part that had Madison in it. Her obvious lack of respect to her sister, her obvious uncaring attitude ... its a wonder Mollie put up with it. When Mollie comes clean to her sister, and tells her she is in love with Jackson, and they are together, Madison takes pure pleasure in telling her sister Jackson's plans to move back to Texas to coach, and watching her sisters heart break. Just everything about her made me uncomfortable.
In the end, I loved ... LOVED ... this book. While at first it seemed like a very awkward triangle ... and yeah, I guess it is ... it is a great story. While you know they always end up together in the end of all romances, I loved how it happened with these two. While it sucked that Mollie was heartbroken, Jackson needed to get off that plane in Texas. He needed to KNOW he didn't want that life anymore. Madison being there cemented it for him. No regrets. No what ifs. He knows Mollie is his everything. And hell ... despite not loving the office life, he missed his new friends at Oxford.
Where to Buy:
Mollie: "The water coming out of her breasts. It makes no sense."
Jackson: "So it is. Maybe the lactation made her mermaid shells uncomfortable, so she got rid of them."
Mollie: "I messed up the toast."
Jackson: "Nah. Just think of how many people you educated on the mating ritual of parasitic worms. They should be thanking you."
Mollie: "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: "Someday, Mollie Carrington, men aren't going to need to be bribed to dance with you. They're going to fight for the honor."
See, the whole damn world thought Jackson had hightailed it out of Houston because of a Carrington sister. They were right. Where they were wrong was that it wasn't Madison Carrington who'd inspired Jackson's move to New York, although getting away from his ex had been a pleasant bonus. But Jackson's new Manhattan address didn't have anything to do with Madison. Or even Oxford. No, Jackson's presence in New York had everything to do with the other Carrington sister. He'd been keeping his distance. He's had to. But today he didn't want to. He wanted to see her. Needed to see her. He needed Mollie. - Jackson
Slowly the woman lowered herself to the bar stool next to his. He watched in horrified arousal as she reached out, plucked his drink from his hand, and raised it to red, red lips, taking a deliberate sip. Only after she'd set the drink - his drink - back on the bar did she speak.
Mollie: "Hello, Jackson."
Damn, he thought. If he'd been in trouble before, he was completely fucked now.
Jackson swallowed. "Mollie."
Jackson: "You look ... different."
Mollie: Jackson, no offense, but that's the most constipated non-compliment I've ever heard."
Jackson: "Shit. I mean you look good. Or something. Or ... I'm going to need another drink."
Jackson: "Sorry. Lets just say I've been feeling old lately."
Mollie: "Jackson Burke, do not pull that shit with me. You're thirty-five years old. I'm willing to bet that every man in this bar wants to be you, and every woman wants to - mate."
Jackson burst out laughing "You still do that?"
Mollie: "Do what?"
Jackson: "Talk about animal mating rituals when you get nervous."
Mollie: "I'm not nervous! Why would I be nervous?"
Jackson: "You tell me."
Mollie: "Don't be weird. I'm just saying, you've hardly got one foot in the grave."
Jackson: :Holy Shit, Mollie, if I wanted to talk in circles with a woman, I'd have stayed married."
Jackson: "Have a beer, Molls. Unpacking your nightstand contents isn't like operating heavy machinery."
Mollie: "Clearly you don't know what's in my nightstand."
Jackson: "Exactly how big is your vibrator?"
Jackson: "What does it even matter? All the PT in the world isn't going to help me play football again."
Mollie: "Well, gosh, you may as well be dead."
Jackson: "Jesus. You are such a smart-ass."
Jackson: "God. I'd forgotten how incapable you were of dropping stuff. Okay, fine. There's a guy with dark hair and blue eyes, and his jaw could be considered ... chiseled."
Jackson: "Lincoln Mathis."
Mollie: "Marital status?"
Jackson: "Single. Jesus, you think I'd set you up with a married man?"
Jackson: "Sure, Mollie. A total dreamboat."
Jackson: "Drop it."
Mollie: "Fine. But if my eggs dry up, it's on you."
Jackson: "You really think I'm hot?"
Mollie: "Please. If you want an ego stroke, go look at the 'sexiest man alive' magazine covers you probably have stashed under the bed."
Cole: "Do you know anyone's name, Burke?"
Jackson: "I mean ... I know Lincoln-"
Lincoln: "Bow down, peons. I'm a king among men."
Jackson: "It's just, well, I've got this friend ... a female friend, and I told her that I'd set her up on a blind date. And I was thinking that since Lincoln here is-"
Cole: "A man whore?"
Jackson: "I was thinking that since Lincoln was single, he might be interested."
Jackson: "Well, that was easy."
Cole: "It's like I said. Man whore."
Jackson: "That;s what you sleep in?"
Mollie: "What? They're legit pajamas."
Jackson: "Says who?"
Mollie: "Victoria's Secret."
Cassidy's hands were on his hips, face unreadable as they approached.
Lincoln: "What'd you do?"
Jackson: "Me? You're the one who tried to implement Thursday morning dance party yesterday."
Cassidy: "Got a minute?"
Lincoln: "Jackson is in trouble." *in singsong voice*
Cassidy: "Mathis, get your ass and your dessert coffee in there and don't come out until I have revisions on that beach babe article."
Jackson: "Your job is so much better than mine. I'm currently writing about perfect bench press form."
Lincoln: "I wrote about how to have sex on the bench once. If it makes you feel better."
Jackson: "Nope. It does not."
Jackson: "I've gotta tell you, boss, this feels a little bit like the principal's office. Is this because I was late to homeroom?"
Cassidy: "Wonderful, another sarcastic team member. I should have known that when I told you to make friends with your colleagues, they'd start to rub off on you."
Cassidy: "So, thoughts?"
Jackson: "About your girlfriend? I've only met her once, but first thought: super hot."
Mollie: "Just swap that suit for a tux, and you could totally give Daniel Craig a run for his money in Casino Royale."
Jackson: "I think you mean Sean Connery, darling."
Mollie: "Nope. You're definitely a Daniel Craig Bond."
Jackson takes out a knife and holds it out to Mollie.
Jackson: "Here. Just go ahead and stab me."
Mollie: "What's wrong with Daniel Craig? He's hot."
Jackson: "Is he now?"
Mollie: "You fishing for compliments, Burke?"
Jackson: "From a hot young thang in a short red dress? You betcha."
Jackson: "You're not seriously thinking of sleeping with Mathis."
Mollie: Well, why not? You said he's a good guy. And news flash- we modern city women don't adhere to any strict fifth-date rule."
Jackson: "Fine! Fuck his brains out, for all I care."
Mollie: "You're shouting."
Jackson: "I'm not - Damn it."
Mollie: "Okay, this is dumb, Jackson."
Jackson: "What's dumb?"
Mollie: "What is happening to us? We used to be friends. Heck, there were times when you felt like my best friend, even though we were in different time zones. Now we're all tense and walking on eggshells, and you're weird."
Jackson: "I'm weird? You're the one who's kissing me one night and going out with another guy days later."
Mollie: "You said that kiss was a mistake. I'm not going to put my life on hold while you go hot and old on me."
Jackson: "Cut me some slack, here, Mollie! I don't exactly know the protocol. A year ago you were my wife's sister, and now you're..."
Mollie: "I'm what?"
Jackson: "Fucking hot!"
Mollie: "Well, make up your mind what you want to do about it!"
Jackson: "You are your own woman, and you are a woman, Mollie. You're not a kid. You're not a girl. And if I've been a complete asshole lately, it's because I'm having a hell of a time coming to grips with the fact that I want you. And fuck, Mollie, I want you. I want you so bad, I'm dying."
Mollie: "Say the word 'coitus' again, and I pretty much guarantee you'll never get any. Ever. From anyone."
Jo: "I'm thinking you've recently joined another woman's fan club."
Jackson thinks of Mollie and smiles.
Jo: "Oh, man, Burke. You're in trouble."
Jackson: "Hell, you think I don't know that?"
Jackson: "Who the hell is Kiwi?"
Lincoln: "My dog."
Jackson: "You drink ink beverages, you're wearing a tie clip, and you have a dog named Kiwi. Please tell me Kiwi is a big-ass German Shepard."
Lincoln: "Nope. Maltese. Five pounds of white fluff that would fit in your hand."
Jackson: "That's sweet. Do you put bows in her hair?"
Lincoln: "No. She never lets me."
Jackson: "How you get laid is beyond me."
Mollie: "Okay, so I've been thinking."
Jackson: "You know, don't you, that a woman starting a sentence that way always means bad things for a man?"
Mollie: I'm going to try very hard not to be insulted by that."
Mollie: "You're going to eat all of that? I thought that was for both of us."
Jackson: "Woman, you're hot, but you're not that hot."
Jackson: "I didn't think it was possible, but congratulations, Mollie Carrington. You just got hotter."
Jackson: "You know when you texted me today? Something dumb about whether or not we needed more paper towels? Seeing your name on my cell phone did a hell of a lot more for me than my entire meeting with Madison. Are you hearing me? It was the mere sight of your name that did it for me. That's it, Mollie. Seeing your name undoes me."
Jackson: "Well, if that isn't the smile of a satisfied woman."
Mollie: "Are you not a satisfied man?"
Jackson: "I am. And I thank you."
Mollie: "Did you just thank me for sex?"
Jackson: "More like a thank-you for reminding me that I didn't die in that car wreck."
Jake: "So ... do we get to ask about Mollie off the record?"
Jackson: "Oh, Jesus."
Jake: "Come on dude, spill. Not for the sake of selling magazines, but because you look fucking ready to explode. What the hell is going on with you?"
Jackson: "Do you guys always pry this much into each other's love life?"
Mollie started to take his arm, but at the last minute she lifted both of her cold hands to his cold cheeks, cupping his strong, rugged face with her palms. Her fingertips drifted over his eyebrows, his cheeks, his lips.
Mollie: "Thank you."
Jackson: "You never have to thank me. Not for that."
Mollie: "I know. But I wanted to."
What she didn't tell him was that she had to. She'd had to say something to stop herself from saying what she really wanted to. I love you. I've always loved you.
Julie: "You get the impression our men are talking about us right now?"
Mollie: "Yup. They're definitely talking about us."
Julie: "Better than not talking about us, I suppose. Unless Mitchell's scowling. Is he scowling?"
Riley: "Mitchell is always scowling. And you like it."
Julie: "Mitchell's scowls do make me hot."
Mollie: "Jackson. Jackson."
Mollie: "Jackson, I just ... I need you to know. I think that I -"
Jackson: "Don't, Mollie. Please, don't."
She swallowed dryly. He held her gaze a moment longer, his eyes begging her to understand. She did. She really did. And yet she wanted to ask him to be brave. Wanted him to- His eyes drifted shut again, and although Mollie's brain tried to tell her that he was just tired, her heart knew better. Her heart knew that he had just rejected her love.
Mollie: "Don't tell me what I don't know. Yeah, I wasn't his first love, and yeah, he didn't chase me for years. Yeah, we won't share all the firsts that you guys had. But I think I know him as well as you ever did. Maybe better. Who do you think he talked to every night when you were out with your girlfriends on that stupid housewives show? Who do you think he called for help picking out every Christmas gift? I may have been on the sidelines, but at least I was there."
Jackson: "Can't we just ... we can figure this out. Maybe try long distance, or ... Fuck, I don't know what you want me to say! Football's been my entire life, Molls. You know that better than anyone. And this thing with us, it's new, and-"
Mollie: "It's not new to me!"
Mollie: "You've been seeing me as more than a friend for a few weeks. I've been seeing you that way for years."
Mollie: "Don't. Please don't tell me it was just a crush. I've spent most of my adult life trying to convince myself that it would pass, but it didn't, and it hasn't, and - I've always been in love with you, Jackson. I love you."
Her words tore through him, leaving Jackson feeling like someone had ripped his heart out. He'd suspected that her feelings had run deep these past few weeks, as his had, but she was saying ... the whole time. The whole damn time. Holy hell. He couldn't breathe. He didn't know what to say. He knew what he should say: that he loved her back. It was the expected response. But her couldn't. Couldn't risk that he and Mollie would end up like him and Madison. That he would lose her and go through the darkness again. Because if that happened, there'd be no Mollie to pull him out of it, and he needed her ... he couldn't risk losing her.
Jackson: "Shit, Mollie -"
Mollie: "It's okay, Jackson. My heart's a pro at handling unrequited love."
Riley: "No, what do I want? Sour cream and onion, or salt and vinegar? ... it's a bit like rosemary's Baby, isn't it?
Sam: "Hey, Ri, how about something from the fridge? Carrot sticks? A salad?"
Riley: "Don't be silly, honey. We don't keep any of that nonsense in the fridge."
Sam: "We do now. I went shopping."
Riley: "Ooh, did they have any of those powdered-sugar donut holes that I like?"
Riley: "You know, maybe you were smart to get out when you had a chance. Stick with 'em too long, and they start getting weird."
Sam: "What are we toasting to?"
Riley: "To men being shits."
Sam: "I'm not drinking my own whiskey to that."
Riley: "You could fight for him."
Mollie: "I could. But could I ever be truly happy with someone who won't fight for me?"
Jackson cursed and tossed his phone aside before leaning forward and burying his head in his hands. How the fuck had this happened? How had one girl turned his entire life upside down in just a few weeks. Although that wasn't entirely accurate, he realized. This thing with Mollie had been building for years. Not romantically, or course, but she'd always been important. And then he'd seen her in that damn little red dress, and she'd gone from important to ... Everything. Mollie was everything.- Jackson
Cole: "You're an idiot. I'm having one of your beers. Pen?"
Penelope: "Nah, I'm good. You okay?"
Jackson: "Why wouldn't I be okay?"
Penelope: "Oh, I don't know. Maybe because you let a girl you're obviously crazy about walk away?"
Jackson: "How the hell-"
Cole: "Don't even question it, man. You're one of us now. No more secrets."
Cole: "Cassidy's dropping your story."
Cole: "The story Pen and I were going to do on you. He's pulling it."
Jackson: "What the hell? All this because he's pissed?"
Cole: "Give the man some credit. It's not personal."
Jackson: "The hell it's not! Up until he found out I was moving, he was hot for that story!"
Cole: "That was before your story was shit! Yeah, sure, the story was an exclusive about what really happened with that car accident and the women, but the real story was about what you were doing about all of that."
Jackson: "Ah, Jesus, don't make it weird."
Penelope: "Cole's right. The story wasn't the scandal or your injury. It was what you were doing to come back. I idolized you once, Jackson. Hell, I defended you to Cole here even before I met you. But the story I wanted to tell was about you becoming a new man. Not a shadow of the man you used to be."
Jackson: "You're leaving?"
Cole: "No offense, man, but you're shit for company."
Jackson: "Maybe because you came storming over uninvited and started lecturing me on how to live my life."
Cole: "Yeah, that could be it. I'm not going to pretend I'm not pissed, but once I get over that -"
Penelope: "That'll take about an hour."
Cole: "Once I'm over it, call me if you want to talk. Or drink. Or just sit in manly silence and brood."
Jackson: "Thanks, man."
Madison: "Is this because of Mollie? You're still using my sister to get at me?"
Madison: "She's my sister. I'm allowed to say her name."
Jackson: "Yeah? How's your sister doing, Maddie? You call her lately?"
Madison: "No, and I'm not planning on it. One might say I'm a bit upset to learn she slept with my husband."
Jackson: "Ex-husband. And although I think she's better off without you, you should call her."
Madison: "Well, I don't expect us to mend things right away, but let's be practical about this. This will get us what we both want. I can get back on the show, you can get back on the field-"
Jackson: "That's not what I want."
The truth rolled over him a few seconds after the words were out. He didn't want this. It wasn't right. None of it was right. Not the job. Not the location. And certainly not the woman. He'd left everything that was right back in New York."
Jackson: "I said, that's not what I want."
Madison: "Of course it is. Football's all you ever wanted."
Jackson: "No. Once I wanted you more than I wanted football."
Madison: "Well, you didn't do a very good job of showing it."
Jackson: "I know. And I'm sorry about that."
Madison: "And I'm sorry about ... everything."
Jackson: "Good. So we're done, then."
Madison: "Yes. Thank God. Now can we please go to the car? I've been here for over an hour, and it stinks in here, and- "
Jackson: "No, you misunderstood. We're done. All the way done."
Madison: "But you just said-"
Jackson: "Goodbye, Madison."
Mollie: "Jackson! Wait, your shoulder-"
Jackson: "I can handle a box of clothes. But for your giant vibrator, we're calling the guys."
Jackson brings a box of her clothes into his closet.
Mollie: "What the hell are you doing?"
Jackson starts hanging up her clothes.
Mollie: "Stop it. What are you doing?"
Jackson: "Moving you in."
Mollie: "To your bedroom?"
Mollie: "Would you stop? This isn't funny. This isn't fair. You're not actually suggesting I love here after you leave, are you? Because if this is some guilty-conscience thing, you can take your guilt and shove-"
Jackson kisses her, and she shoves him backwards.
Mollie: "Please don't mess with me. Please. Just talk to me."
Jackson: "Talk to you? What shall I talk about"
Mollie: "How about the fact that you're supposed to be in Houston right now? It's the only reason I came over."
Jackson: "I was in Houston."
Mollie: "For what, an hour?"
Jackson: "Probably about that, yeah."
Mollie: "What happened?"
Jackson: "You want the full story, or the important part?"
Molly: "The important part."
Jackson: "I love you."
Jackson: "You want me to talk your language? You're my worm, Mollie. The creepy, mate-for-life variety. I'm here to stay, Mollie. Because of you. You, who's always been there. And no, my romantic feelings for you don't have the long roots that yours do for me, but that doesn't make them any less intense. And they are intense, Mollie."
Jackson: "Mollie, I know you're scared to death. I know you're worried about your sister. I'm half terrified myself. But we can do this. I want to do this. I want this more than I've wanted anything."
Mollie: "More than football?"
Jackson: Yeah. I want you more than football. I love you more than that too."
It wasn't much of a line. But it was the exact line Mollie needed to throw herself into his arms and kiss him. Frantic, happy kisses mingled with giddy laughs.
Jackson: "I need the words, woman.
Mollie: "What words?"
Jackson: "You know."
Mollie: "Do I?"
Mollie: "I love you. I've always, always loved you. Even when it was a really, really bad idea."
Jackson: "Thank you. For loving me. even if I didn't know it, I'm honored. I'm humbled."
Mollie: "Are you serious? You're basing your choice of best man on the winner of a game of paper football?"
Cassidy: "Can you think of a better way in this group? It was that or watch Jake, Lincoln, Cole and your boy Jackson try to figure out how to do a four-way arm-wrestling match."
Mollie: "Jackson was in the running?"
Cassidy: "Jeez, don't cry, Molls. Turns out he's a good dude. When he's not being an ass."
Jake: "Lincoln, what in the hell are you doing? Just flick the damn thing already."
Jackson: "Seriously. My hands are getting tired."
Jake: "Sucks for you, Molls. The man has cramping hands."
Jackson: "Not too cramped to do this" *lifts middle finger* "Mathis, for God's sake, end this."
Cassidy: "If Lincoln makes this, he wins. Although I'm thinking I should have set a time limit."
Lincoln: "My chi has to be in the right place! Also, hi, Mollie."
Mollie: "Hey! How'd you know I was here?"
Lincoln: "I'm in tune with female pheromones. I knew the second you walked in the building, love."
Jackson: "Christ. Just do it already."
Lincoln rests his head on Cassidy's shoulder and bats his eyelashes.
Lincoln: "From here on out, just call me BM."
Cole: "Bowel movement?"
Lincoln: "Best man."
Cassidy: All right." *tries to fend off Lincoln's man hug." "That's enough."
Lincoln: "I'm honored. Seriously."
Cassidy: "Yeah. okay. Thanks for doing this."
Lincoln: "Say it. 'Thanks,BM'"
Cassidy: "Okay, get off."
Lincoln: "There you are, love. I haven't greeted you properly yet."
Jackson: "You greeted her fine. No touching!"
Lincoln kisses her hand
Lincoln: "I know I've said this a million times, but if I'd met you first, you'd be so in love with me."
Jackson smacks Lincoln's are off Mollie's arm
Jackson: "No touching my girl."
Lincoln: "Fair enough."
Lincoln smacks Jackson's ass before walking away.
Jackson: "What the fuck, dude?"
Lincoln: "I'm trying to speak football."
Jackson: "We do that on the field, not in the office!"
Check out the rest of the Stiletto & Oxford Series below!