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.
Bradley froze when he saw her, and she was pretty sure she saw the urge to turn and run flicker across his face.
Again she felt a stab of disappointment. In him. And in herself for apparently having misread him. She’d thought he was better than this.
Bradley’s eyes moved between her and Nick, and though he didn’t look all that surprised at seeing them bickering, his gaze grew hard as he saw Nick’s hand on Taylor’s face.
Nick, naturally, took his sweet time removing it, and she resisted the urge to kick his shin.
“Morning, Bradley,” Taylor said, pleased that her voice sounded calm and friendly. As well it should. She’d had plenty of practice over the better part of a year pretending that she and Bradley were nothing more than colleagues.
Other than a few close friends who knew they were dating, they’d done a mostly decent job of hiding their romantic relationship from coworkers. Better than she and Nick had done hiding their antagonistic one.
“Hey, Taylor. Nick,” Bradley said.
He entered the room and reached for a coffee mug, turning his attention toward the other man. “Didn’t realize you’d taken on another assignment. What for?”
“Not sure,” Nick said, checking his watch. “Have a meeting with Cassidy in a few to find out.”
“Here’s hoping it’s an offsite gig that takes you far, far away. Maybe he needs someone to cover Siberian winters,” Taylor said to Nick, even as she watched Bradley out of the corner of her eye.
“Don’t need to travel to find severe winter. It doesn’t get any chillier than right here,” Nick retorted, waving his hand over her head in a storm cloud gesture.
She shoved his hand aside, her attention still on Bradley, who was determinedly avoiding her gaze.
It was going to be darn hard to get him to see reason when he wouldn’t even make eye contact.
Nick, ever too perceptive for his own good, noticed the tension and gave a quick look between her and Bradley, his gaze turning speculative.
She shot him a warning look that clearly said, Don’t.
He shot an answering smile that clearly said, Watch me.
“Bradley, don’t suppose you’re in the market for a roommate?” Nick asked, his voice deceptively casual.
Bradley’s head snapped up, and finally, finally his blue gaze collided with Taylor’s. Dammit. Why did he have to be so beautiful? He was like a mischievous angel, all twinkling blue eyes, dimples, a sexy cleft in his chin, dark blond wavy hair . . .
“What?” he asked Nick distractedly, still looking at Taylor.
“Taylor here wants to share her original crown molding with someone.”
Bradley winced, and Taylor felt a little surge of gratitude toward Nick. He couldn’t have known it, but it was the perfect jab. She and Bradley were both into prewar architecture—had eaten up the broker’s description of all the building’s original elements.
Taylor should be sharing that crown molding with Bradley. And he damn well knew it.
His eyes met hers in silent misery—an apology that she wasn’t quite ready to accept. Heck, she wasn’t even ready to acknowledge it, because she had no intention of being dumped. Not by him, not by any man.
Taylor ignored the guilt written all over Bradley’s face as she held his gaze. “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 . . .”
Bradley’s handsome face twisted regretfully, and he set his coffee aside, taking a step toward her, apparently forgetting—or not caring—that Nick was still in the room.
“Taylor. Damn it. I told you—”
“Actually, I do,” Nick said, interrupting.
Taylor forced her gaze away from Bradley’s pleading face toward Nick’s smug one. “You know someone who needs a roommate?”
“Yup.” He crossed his arms and watched her.
She made an impatient gesture with her hand. “Who? It can’t be one of your ex-girlfriends—I don’t want to inadvertently hear any gross details about you. And not one of your frat-boy guy friends—my living room isn’t cut out for Call of Duty.”
“Yeah, because that’s all I do all day.”
She rolled her eyes. “Okay, for real, who is it?”
His grin was slow, sly, and the very definition of trouble. “Me.”
This book is #4, in the incredible Oxford series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. For reader understanding and enjoyment, I recommend reading this series in order.
From the time Taylor & Nick met, they were like oil and water. They occasional had to work together. They had mutual friends. It was all they could do not to kill one another, some days.
Nick has been attracted to Taylor from the very moment they met. Taylor would claim the same, if forced to do so. Their timing never seemed to click. Until one day....
This series is just phenomenal! Gets better and better with each story. I loved these characters. I loved that they did not want to be attracted to - or even like one another. It felt very real. Easy to read with a great HEA. I give this book a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!
***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review by Netgalley and its publishers.
I could use more Colum McCann in my life. I'd shell out some money just to have a little Colum figure in my office that dispenses wisdom from time to time. Better yet, I'll make a nice comfy spot in the corner and perhaps the author can stop by once or twice a day and share a tidbit or two. What say you, Mr. McCann? I'll get you a nice desk and you can have half the room and I'll make the coffee the way you like. And if you like my half of the room better, I'll even trade you. I'm amiable and quiet and won't bother you at all. Just every once in a while, share a bit of advice. It's a good trade if you ask me.
I read one McCann novel eight years ago, Let the Great World Spin, and while I enjoyed it, I now realize I've ignored this author far too long. Letters to a Young Writer is the most inspirational book about writing I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Nearly every book I've read on the craft of writing has given me an inspirational moment or two, taught me quite a bit, or merely given me the impetus to prove the author wrong, but none has moved me as this one has. McCann doesn't talk down to his reader. He doesn't repeat warnings about how the young writer is never going to make it anyway and might as well accept their fate. Sure, it's a fact that making a life out of writing is very difficult and statistically improbable, but if writers wanted a sure thing, they probably wouldn't be writers. McCann refrains from these warnings that fill other authors' writing manifestos; he doesn't say, “you're not going to get there,” rather, he says, “it's a tough road, but when you get there, here's what it's going to be like.” That 'when' may not always be a reality, but for the first time ever, I feel like someone high in the publishing world believes in me. And that's just what I needed.
We all have our student styles. I see it in my own children who've fallen in love with soccer (they didn't inherit their love of sports from me). One kid crumples under a coach who's hard on his team. Another rises to the challenge of a coach like that. One thrives with encouragement and a guiding hand on the shoulder. Another grows lazy with the same guidance. Perhaps some writers need the hard-ass coach (Sol Stein: Stein on Writing - “You suck and you're never going to amount to anything”) and some need the realist coach (Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic - “You're beautiful and you have potential, but it's too hard, so stop dreaming”). Personally, I thrive under McCann's style. That's not to say I didn't learn much from my other coaches. I enjoyed my experience with the authors mentioned here, as well as many others. None of those other authors got me out of my rut, however. None of them changed my outlook. None of them encouraged me to go to my office, rearrange the furniture, and get down to business (I made a spot in the corner for you, Colum, just in case you decide to stop by).
And it wasn't just the coaching style that I loved about Letters to a Young Writer, it was McCann's stories and phrases. This isn't only an inspirational how-to for the writer, it's a gorgeously written volume. These little snippets of advice read almost like poetry. And so, I'm convinced, if I can't have the author in my office, I'll just have to find an audio version of this book and play a segment or two every day. Likely, I'll get sucked in from time to time, listen to the whole thing when I should be writing, but then McCann will gently remind me that time is ticking and that I cannot die until I finish the books that are within me. Thank you, Mr. McCann, for helping me rediscover my purpose.