Title: I Knew You Were Trouble
An Oxford Novel
Author: Lauren Layne
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 13th June, 2017
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.
★ ★ ★ ★
Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse
The mere fact that I pulled an all-nighter just goes to show how much I liked this standalone in the Oxford series. And even though the narrative is in third person past tense…not a favourite storytelling technique of mine, I still couldn’t put it down. I really liked the way the author began the book. Substituting the prologue for a flashback and then how back months led up to the first chapter was more than original. This writing strategy put me in the female protagonist’s story and of course, learning how she felt about her new surroundings and who she’d be working with helped give the book that office ambience. But I’ll get back to that later, for now I have to say how much I liked the author’s character development and although the premise of the story is not new (shacking up novels are noticeably trendy at the moment), I was kept glued to the pages. I’ve read a couple of her books, one of them being in this standalone series; however, this one has something that really stands out, the banter.
“Taylor here wants to share her original crown molding with someone.”
“Yes, it seems I unexpectedly have a free bedroom and more rent than I can afford. If either of you knows anyone looking for a roommate. . . “
Two people who cannot tolerate each other have an awful lot to say to each other when they’re together! It’s a cat and mouse game which could have easily run out of steam and worn the reader out, but fortunately this wasn’t the case. Even though I found the build up a tinsy-winsy slow, the author literally took me where she wanted pacing the story to a climax worth waiting for. If there was one thing that irritated me, it was at the beginning of the story when the usage of the adverb / adjective ‘far’ in its conjunctive form kept popping up. I think with the help of a thesaurus, this could have easily been avoided. Still, this setback didn’t spoil Taylor Carr, Nick Ballantine and I have to say it but please don’t get the wrong idea, Bradley Calloway’s story. I wouldn’t have mentioned Bradley but he plays an important part in what is by no means a love triangle, more like a hate triangle with a difference. It’s a bit like you can’t have your cake and eat it too, which gives that added touch of interest to the main protagonists’ story.
“I already have enough going on in my life without adding in the effort of not getting arrested for killing you.”
“Too much going on. . . like what, Carr, you’re thriving love life?”
Nick’s lovable. He’s also drop-dead gorgeous and more important, a real do-gooder. So why Taylor gets his hackles up is an interesting concept because she’s not who he thinks she is. She’s tough on the outside and a real softy on the inside. Like me, he just had to see that part of her and I’m quite sure half our problem was solved in one very touching scene. If I were saddened to see her in such a state, Nick was even worse than me. But we both came round slowly. How could we not? Taylor’s feisty, quick-witted and can stand up for herself. That’s the way she’s been taught, never to show others her weaknesses. What makes her one of those book characters you know you’re never going to forget quickly or if at all, are those very weaknesses. The author’s character development is exceptionally good, but she’s gone to town with Taylor’s traits.
“All women are complicated,”
I didn’t care for Bradley. And I’m very happy to say Nick didn’t either. In fact, no one in the office cared for him. An office where I might add, gossip thrives to such an extent that nothing is sacred. Yet I couldn’t help feeling a tad sorry for him. He knows what he’s done, how he did it was abominable and he still thinks he can do no wrong. Yep, dear ol’ Brad certainly rattled my cage, the sly so-and-so.
“I think . . . I made a mistake, and -”
So let’s get back to Nick. I was cheering for him throughout the read. I had high hopes for him and I’d be damned if I can tell you whether he triumphed or not because I really would put my foot in it. You see, we’re talking about two people constantly clashing and who don’t want to back down. Little does Taylor know though. Nick has more experience with the ways of women than she’d ever bargain for and it’s not what you’re thinking. Ms Layne’s construed some engaging secondary characters who entertained me no end with their office banter, bitching, yes men do bitch, and comebacks in some really good laugh out loud scenarios. I can’t say how pleased I was to see Taylor with a four-legged friend; nonetheless, the reasons behind her having a pet weren’t exactly sad, just heart-warming. And the twist; blinkin’ marvellous, no way was I prepared for it! Maybe it’s me being greedy but I thought the ending lacked detail. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, I did, I just wanted more. This read is light on angst, so easy to read, realistic and so unputdownable. Bravo Ms Layne!
About the Author
Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of more than a dozen contemporary romance novels.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. A year after moving from Seattle to Manhattan to pursue a writing career, she had a fabulous agent and multiple New York publishing deals.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and plus-sized Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll likely find her running (rarely), reading (sometimes), or at happy hour (often).