Updated: Jan 18
by Lauren Layne
Published by Loveswept
Book #1 of The Oxford Series
Hotshot sports editor Cole Sharpe
has been freelancing for Oxford for years, so when he hears about a staff position opening up, he figures he’s got the inside track. Then his boss drops a bombshell: Cole has competition. Female competition, in the form of a fresh-faced tomboy who can hang with the dudes—and write circles around them, too. Cole usually likes his women flirty and curvy, but he takes a special interest in his skinny, sassy rival, if only to keep an eye on her. And soon, he can’t take his eyes off her. Penelope Pope knows all too well that she comes off as just one of the guys. Since she’s learned that wanting more usually leads to disappointment, Penelope’s resigned to sitting on the sidelines when it comes to love. So why does Cole make her want to get back in the game? The man is as arrogant as he is handsome. He probably sees her as nothing more than a barrier to his dream job. But when an unexpected kiss turns into a night of irresistible passion, Penelope has to figure out whether they’re just fooling around—or starting something real.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy Rom-Com Feel Good
My thoughts are rambling and full of spoilers. Ye have been warned!
Irresistibly Yours is the first book in the Oxford series, a spin-off series from the Sex, Love, & Stiletto Series. This first book features contractor-turned-Oxford co-sports editor Cole Sharpe, and newcomer to the Oxford team as co-sports editor, Penelope Pope. I gotta admit, out of the five Oxford books out there, this one is my second favorite, which is surprising considering the simplicity of this romance.
While being simple, it doesn't mean it's not a pretty great story. The flow of the book is perfect from the start, to the very end, and the content is unique enough keep my interest. All the characters remain pretty consistent from the Sex, Love, & Stiletto series, except for one tiny thing. Back in 'Love The One You're With', Jake described Cole as rich, and therefore didn't feel like he needed a steady job, and preferred freelance work. In this one, we learn Cole is not rich. In fact, he ends up competing for a job at Oxford because he needs the money to pay for his brothers group home expenses. Not a big deal for the average reader, but for someone who has a knack for remembering these small details, a little bothersome.
Penelope Pope is a breath of fresh air to this Stiletto/Oxford world. She isn't your average woman, and that's what I like about her. Most of the women are described as having classic beautiful curves, average height ... just your basic bombshell babe. Nothing wrong with that, but it can begin to feel a bit stale in the character department after a while. Very copy-and-paste. Then Penelope Pope is introduced. Described as barely five-feet-tall, skinny with barely any curves .... barely there boobs, but with big beautiful brown eyes and a huge as hell personality. But not in the over the top way. She is just pure kindness and understanding. She's passionate. Friendly and uncomplicated. On top of that great stuff, is a total nut about sports. She is the perfect new addition to this world. A great reminder that women are unique, and can be beautiful is very different ways.
I have always really enjoyed having Cole pop up randomly in the Stiletto series. His character is wit and charm, all wrapped up in a yummy package. So, of course I was already halfway in love with the guy before this book. Then Lauren Layne has to write him in such a way that I just fall for him completely. Ugh. Sorry real life husband. In all seriousness though, Cole is another great character in this world. We knew he was charming, and funny as all hell, but we learn he is a total sweetheart in this book. A gentleman despite being known as a player. He's also lonely. Yeah, he has friends. But the only family he has is his brother, who despite living in a group care home, has a rather busy social life, and sometimes Cole feels left behind. Add to that, he's single. He's not scared of commitment. He just hasn't found a woman he can stand to be with for more than a couple of months.
Honestly, one of the reasons I love this book so much, is two, truly kind people, fall in love. Simply. No grand schemes by either party, and no articles to write that would force them to confront a part of themselves they were hiding from. Just two people, who established a pretty great friendship and working partnership together, slowly becoming attracted to each other, and falling in love. Yeah, there were hiccups. Penelope's self-esteem issues from constantly being put in the "friend-zone", and her unrequited love back in Chicago totally screwing her over and stealing her job made her a little love shy. And sure, Cole's commitment to his brothers care, and his guilt of enjoying life when his brother can't live a normal life, keeps him a little love shy as well. Otherwise, these two straight-shooters fall into place perfectly.
I totally, totally recommend Irresistibly Yours. These two characters are so much fun to read, enjoyable as heck and the romance is sweet. For those of you who like steam ... well, it's plenty steamy. I can't wait to post about the next Oxford book, 'I Wish You Were Mine'. Not my favorite ... that's the third one in the series ... but I still love it and can't wait to post about it.
Top 3 Favorite Moments
1. Cole saving the day when Penelope spills coffee down her shirt, so she doesn't feel insecure during her interview with Cassidy ... even though they are going after the same job.
2. When Penelope asked Cole out for coffee as friends because she didn't know anyone in the city, and he accepted later as long as it was for a beer instead.
3. Lincoln coming to Penelope asking for her preference of type of first kiss, and Cole sprays Penelope in the face with water to "cool her down"
4. (bonus) When Cole couldn't fight how attracted to her he was and kissed her
5. (bonus) When Cole and Pen are watching the Yankees together at her place, drinking beer and eating pizza, and while it was totally un-sexy, Cole couldn't help thinking about how he could do this everyday.
6. The Oxford men giving Cole the push he needed to get Penelope back
Where to Buy:
Lincoln: "Hey, Sharpe. Do you know where they keep a fire extinguisher in here?"
Cole: "What for?"
Lincoln: If you stare at that girl any harder, she's going to burst into flames."
Cole: "She's not my girl. She's just ... interesting."
He paused when he'd seen that she returned and, incredibly, the woman had just become more appealing. Her face was turned to the side slightly, her notebook now on the open seat to her right instead of her lap, and she wrote furiously with her right hand, while her left hand held ... A hot dog. Be still my heart. - Cole
Cole: "First baseball game?"
Penelope: "No. Not my first game."
Cole: "Ah. Bad assumption of me. You were just so into the game ..."
Penelope: "So you figured I must be trying to figure out how it all worked? That I must be trying to understand why some of the field is green and some is brown, and whatever could those white squares on the dirt be, and why-oh-why are those men running toward the white squares, but only sometimes..."
Cole: "All right. I'm an ass. You know baseball."
Cassidy: "Sorry I'm late. I got held up."
Cole: "Third button, dude."
Cassidy: "Cole, this is Penelope Pope."
Cole: "We've met."
Cassidy: "Excellent. So then you know that Penelope is our late-stage applicant for the sports editor role at Oxford?"
Penelope: "I suppose I should have been more thorough when I introduced myself. Penelope Pope, Sports editor."
Penelope Pope might look sweet as a kitten but damned if he hadn't just felt the subtlest scratch of her claws. He admired her for it. - Cole
Cassidy: "Would you just sit down so we can do this damn interview?"
Cole: "Do we have to do it now? You seem like you're in a shitty mood."
Cassidy: "Of course I'm in a shitty mood. You just interrupted that woman's interview. She could sue us."
Cole: "Please. She wanted to go to coffee with me."
Cassidy: "Only because she doesn't know you."
Cole: "Yup, you're definitely in a shitty mood. Maybe we should reschedule-"
Text Messages between Cole and Pen:
Cole: Good. How do you feel about day-drinking?
Penelope: Depends on the day. And the occasion.
Cole: The day: Wednesday. The occasion: receiving an apology for intruding on your interview.
Penelope: Well, I DO like beer and apologies.
Penelope Pope continued to surprise him. She'd surprised him last night at the Yankees game, with her unwavering focus on the field. She'd surprised him again today with her friendly, no-strings-attached offer of coffee. She'd surprised him now, with how enjoyable she was to be around. It had taken Cole the better part of an hour this afternoon - sitting side by side with her on the bar-stools in a crappy pub, drinking crappy beer - before he finally figured out what made her so damn arresting. Penelope Pope was real. He couldn't remember the last time he's met someone who meant what they said - everything they said. But this woman had more honesty in her tiny body than the entire population of Manhattan. Yet that wasn't even the most surprising part. There were plenty people who claimed candor as a way to utter harsh statements and snide observations. What made Penelope refreshing was that her goodness was honest. Kind and straightforward. He didn't want to get all weepy and weird about it, but even he could admit that Penelope Pope was a rare creature indeed. - Cole
Penelope: "Okay, I'll tell you, but you can't tell anyone else."
Cole: "But what will I talk about at girls night?"
Cole: "Fishing? Seeing if I'm available?"
Penelope: "Definitely not. You're pretty, but don't worry. You're safe with me."
Cole: "How's that?"
Penelope starts studying him.
Cole: "Why do I feel like I should be giving you my good side? To see if I pass muster?"
Penelope: "Oh, don't fret, this is quite nice" *gestures to him*
Cole: "But you're still not feeling the pull, huh?"
Penelope: "Are you?"
Penelope: "Take it all in. Are you feeling light-headed? Dazzled by my feminine charms?"
Penelope: "Exactly. You're out of my league, Sharpe."
He opened his mouth, and she shocked the hell out of him by leaning forward and tapping a finger over his lips very matter-of-factly."
Penelope: "Don't even. This is how it's going to be, okay? I don't have any illusions about the fact that I'm a friend-zone kind of girl, and I'm okay with that. Plus, lucky for you, I'm a darn good friend."
Cole: "You're a unique creature, Penelope Pope."
Text message exchange"
Penelope: Your precious Yankees aren't looking so hot.
Cole: You watch your filthy Chicago mouth.
Penelope: Hmm, maybe I need glasses, because I keep looking at my TV, and I'm seeing Chicago White Sox: 6, New York Yankees: 2 ... What are you seeing?
Cole: The Yanks will come back. They always do.
Penelope: Has anyone told you how cute your delusions are?
Cole: Not recently. Want to come over and tell me to my face?
Penelope: Nice try, Sharpe. I'm quite comfortable on my own couch, thank you very much.
Cole: Fair enough ... What are you wearing?
Penelope: Goodbye, Cole.
Jake: "Do you want to come to fucking dinner or not?
Cole: "I think I'll respectfully pass. Penelope's great, but -"
Jake: "No problem. I'll ask Lincoln."
Cole's feet hit the floor.
Cole: "Hell no."
Jake: "What's wrong with Lincoln?"
Lincoln: "Yeah? What's wrong with Lincoln?"
Jake: "Wanna come to dinner?"
Cole: "No. No way."
Lincoln: "Sure, I love dinner. When?"
Cole: "You're not going."
Jake: "Well, at least one of you has to come. If I got home and tell Grace I didn't find her tenth dinner party member, she's going to be cranky, and when she's cranky, I don't get laid."
Cole: "I'll be there."
Cassidy: "Hold up there, cowboy. There's one tiny little hurdle to get over first."
Cole: "Who gets the bigger office?"
Cassidy: "More like ... how the hell are we going to convince Penelope Pope to share the job with you?"
Cole: "You haven't told her yet?"
Cassidy: "I was going to call both of you in tomorrow."
Cole: "don't sweat it. She'll agree."
Cassidy: "How do you figure?"
Cole: "Haven't you heard? We're BFFs now."
Cole: "Oh no."
Cole: "That smile. It's dangerous."
Penelope: "How can a smile possible be dangerous?"
Cole: "You're so cute and clueless."
Penelope: "Oh, hi, Lincoln!"
Cole: "Oh, hi, Lincoln!" *mimicking Penelope's breathy voice
Yes, Lincoln Mathis was still the most gorgeous man she'd ever seen. Dark wavy hair, blue eyes that were both friendly and distant, practically begging a woman to fix him. Same went for the shy yet confident smile, the muscled yet lean body. Penelope felt a blast of misty water hit her cheek and turned around to see Cole holding a blue squirt bottle.
Penelope: "What are you doing? That's for misting my plants!"
Cole: "You looked hot."
Jake: "Hey, how come I didn't get invited to the arty?"
Cole: "Welcome to my office."
Penelope: "It's my office."
Cole: "Well, it should be my office. It's bigger."
Jake: "Poor guy has to compensate."
Lincoln: "Penelope, darling. You have been kissed?"
Jake: "Eh, not appropriate, Mathis."
Lincoln: "Shit. Shit. Sorry. They make you take these sexual harassment classes, but I'm so used to just saying anything around these guys -"
Penelope: "No, no, it's okay! Of course, I've been kissed. I'm thirty-one..."
Cole: "Really? Damn when I first saw you, I thought eighteen."
Penelope: "That's the lack of boobs."
Jake: "Jesus. Maybe we should shut the door before Sandra walks by."
Penelope: "Eh, it's been a while. Since the kissing."
Lincoln: "Well, what the fuck's wrong with those Chicago guys, honey?"
Penelope: "You're sweet. But I think we know that men aren't exactly barging down the door to get at all of this."
Lincoln: "I'm liking what I see."
Jake or Cole: "Oh my God."
Lincoln: "Okay, that's it! Up."
Lincoln: "Stand up. It's experiment time."
Jake: "No. No fucking way. This is an office, Lincoln, she's our colleague. HR or no HR, you can't just go around kissing her."
Cole: "Get it together. Jake's right, you can't just go around macking on female employees."
Jake: "Macking on. Really?"
Cole: "It's a fucking lawsuit waiting to happen."
Lincoln: "Uh-huh. You've been an employee less than a month, and you're worried about Internal Affairs."
Cole: "Fuck no, I'm worried about her."
Penelope laughs, and Cole gives her an incredulous look.
Penelope: "Sorry. It's just ... you look a lot like my dad right now."
Cole's mouth dropped open just as Jake let out a muffled laugh and Lincoln put a fist in front of his mouth, blue eyes twinkling in amusement.
Cole: "Your dad?"
Penelope: "Thanks for the kiss. I think head-holding is definitely -"
Stops talking when she notices Cassidy standing in doorway.
Lincoln: "We were, ah, doing some research." *Leaves office*
Jake: "Didn't touch her. I'm married." *Leaves office*
Cassidy looks at Penelope, then Cole. Then he merely rolled his eyes and walked away.
Cole: "What about one of the boring outfits you wear to work? Slacks and a button-down, or something?
Penelope: "Well, considering you just called said outfits boring ..."
Cole: "What do you feel most comfortable in?"
Penelope: "Jeans and a T-shirt, obviously, but sometimes -"
Cole: "Yes, Tiny?"
Penelope: "Sometimes I'm in the mood to feel pretty."
Cole: "Get dressed. If you want my help, you have to trust me."