I Knew You Were Trouble
Lauren Layne     

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: An Oxford Novel
Book: 4

New York City’s hottest bachelors are stirring up trouble in this fun, flirty Oxford Novel, as a love triangle forces a feisty beauty to choose between winning back Mr. Right or giving in to Mr. Wrong.

Taylor Carr has it all—a sleek job in advertising, a stunning Manhattan apartment, and the perfect man to share it with: Bradley Calloway. Even after Bradley dumps her for a co-worker on move-in day, Taylor isn’t worried. She’ll get her man eventually. In the meantime, she needs a new roommate. Enter Nick Ballantine, career bartender, freelance writer—and longtime pain in Taylor’s ass. Sexy in a permanent five-o’clock-shadow kind of way, Nick knows how to push Taylor’s buttons, as if he could see right through to the real her.

Nick’s always trying to fix people, and nobody could use a good fixing more than Taylor. Sure, she’s gorgeous, with mesmerizing silver eyes, but it’s her vulnerability that kills him. Now that they’re shacking up together, the chemistry is out of control. Soon they’re putting every part of their two-bedroom apartment to good use. Then Taylor’s ex comes crawling back to her, and Nick figures she’ll jump at the chance to go back to her old life—unless he fights for the best thing that ever happened to him.

I loved Taylor and Nick’s romance. I knew when I first met them together in Someone Like You. Their interactions were tension-filled, the underlying attraction between them obvious.   

I will say the beginning of the book confused me a bit and that’s because I wasn’t paying attention. It starts when Nick and Taylor meet, which is a year before the story “starts”. So I’ll I’m saying is make sure to keep your eye on the chapter markers at the beginning.

Now let’s get into the story. Taylor Carr initially comes across as a tough-as-nails woman. You may even think she has a bit of a chip on her shoulder. Women don’t take to her very easily but once they get to know her—if she lets them in—she’ll be the best friend they can have. That’s how she meshes with the other women of Stiletto series. As for Nick, it’s like she dislikes him on sight. Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement. He bugs her.

No, what bugged her was he way he watched her.

Not quite smirking, but knowing. As though he was the one person in the room who got her, and wanted her to know it.

Taylor whipped her head away, but as she turned, she could have sworn she saw him laugh. At her.

Nick Ballantine fits in with the hot men at Oxford magazine. Maybe he’s not as clean cut but he’s just as good-looking. When he meets Taylor they don’t exactly hit it off. But slowly something develops. What she doesn’t know is that Nick is involved with someone else. She thought he was single. Yeah, so did I. Then they become two ships passing in the night. When he’s single again, she’s involved with someone at her job. I loved this aspect of the story. Putting pretty substantial barriers in the way of romantic leads getting together (in the beginning) gets me every time.

That barrier is removed at the “beginning” of the book when her boyfriend dumps her the day they’re supposed to move in together. Now she needs a roommate. Guess who gets that privilege? Gotta love a roomie romance.

I loved the sexual tension between them. It doesn’t take long for them to acknowledge their attraction but she’s still getting over her ex—or so Nick believes—so their attraction continues to simmer. And simmer. Until it bursts into flames.

Beyond their sexual synergy, they have great rapport. Taylor is able to open up to Nick, telling him about being orphaned young and raised by her Aunt Karen, a distant and rather cold woman. A woman who taught her to be independent and not to need anyone, which explains why Taylor comes across the way she does—at least when we first meet her. Glimpses into her childhood made my heartache.

My heart didn’t only ache for her. Nick hasn’t had the best time of it. His last relationship ended badly. Heartbreakingly bad. Giving him reason to be wary. And you know what happens when there’s a lack of trust in a relationship. Yeah, nothing good. But of course that’s what makes Taylor and Nick’s romance so delicious and why the ending hits the mark.

I also loved catching up with Lincoln, Daisy and the rest of the Stiletto and Oxford gang. Ms. Layne does a wonderful job writing about large groups of friends. I love the camaraderie between them and the naturalness of their interactions. Every single character held my interest and at the end I wanted more.

All in all, another winner from Lauren Layne and I’m looking forward to her new series.

~ Beverley