Series: Oxford, #2
Published by Loveswept on February 2nd 2016
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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.
Jackson Burke is not right in the head – that much we know from the teaser in the last Oxford book – and the person who helps him, as always, to sort it out is Mollie Carrington, the sister of his cheating, malicious ex-wife. The new life that he’s been dragged into at Oxford magazine isn’t working out too well and still, he yearns for a return to football in any way he can take it. Confronting Mollie as a single man however, makes their recent encounters charged with something else that he can’t seem to put his finger on. Throw in a scheming ex-wife however, and both Mollie and Jackson have their work cut out for them.
I’ll be the first to say that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the the vaguely incestuous strain running through as Jackson Burke falls for his ex-sister-in-law, who has been his rock and his confidante for the past 8 years. Throw in her unrequited love for him and what becomes evident here is a romantic mess that can only take superb, nuanced writing to sort out. The problem is, I’m not too sure if Ms. Layne succeeded here, even with her more than decent exposition of both Mollie’s and Jackson’s internal processes.
But where Irresistibly Yours was well, irresistible, I’m purely on the fence with ‘I wish you were mine’ and that has more to do with the characters themselves than the circumstances they find themselves in.
Is Jackson Burke hero-material? Perhaps.
But he isn’t a nice, likeable one as he constantly lashes out at everything and everyone. The womanising aspect – which Layne seems to trumpet as the core of her series – of men and the disposable way they treat women, apart from the core group of characters, bothers me a lot and if it’s something I barely overlook in her other books, it’s getting harder and harder to do so now. Jackson’s careless manner about his flings post divorce is distasteful and his willingness to string Mollie along makes him more of an arse than a character I wanted to get behind. Mollie’s own refusal to pull the wool from her eyes when it comes to her sister frustrated me as much as Jackson’s behaviour did. Her insistence in keeping Madison as a third party seems to indicate a lack of a spine – even if it’s unintentional – but I could at least, appreciate that it felt like the best she could do considering the circumstances.
Could I get behind this pairing? I wish.
Despite the disappointment I felt about this book, I adored the team dynamics that lifted the story past the Jackson/Mollie fracas and makes the book worth going through for it. They were scene-stealers for me (especially the blunt ones with Riley) and the most memorable of the lot. And of course, the slight peek behind the sleaziness of Lincoln’s ‘manufactured’ behaviour is probably going to make the womenfolk swoon even harder.