Meet the men of Oxford magazine! In the first captivating spin-off of Lauren Layne’s Sex, Love & Stiletto series, a not-so-friendly battle of the sexes turns into a scorching office romance.
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.
But before Cole could make the call on whether or not to die curious about that damn notebook or risk rejection by Tiny Brunette, his best friend and co-worker was holding a fresh beer in front of his face.
“You look like you need it,” Lincoln Mathis said, sipping the foam off his own beer.
“How would you know?” Cole said. “You’ve been chatting up Jonas Leroy’s wife for the better part of four innings.”
“Had to,” Lincoln said with a little shrug. “She was bored. Her husband’s completely preoccupied with whatever’s going on with that ball down there.”
“As he should be at a baseball game,” Cole said pointedly.
Cole didn’t know why he bothered. His friend was already back on his cellphone, not the least bit interested in the game.
Lincoln Mathis looked like the type of man who should enjoy sports: tall, athletic, well muscled from their early-morning gym sessions. Carelessly styled black hair and friendly blue eyes that screamed guy’s guy just as loudly as they did ladies’ man.
But, much to Cole’s dismay, he’d never been able to get his friend to invest more than a passing interest in sports—any sport. Lincoln was always happy to tag along to a game when booze and women were involved, but ask him who he thought this year’s MVP would be, and he’d say Babe Ruth without the smallest hint of irony.
Still, tonight, Cole couldn’t exactly lecture Lincoln for not paying attention when he himself was having a hell of a time keeping track of the score.
Once more, his eyes found Tiny Brunette, who was . . . yep. Writing in her notebook.
“Hey, Sharpe. Do you know where they keep a fire extinguisher in here?” Lincoln asked, looking around the luxury suite of Yankee Stadium.
Cole tore his gaze away from the woman and her damn notebook. “What for?”
“If you stare at that girl any harder, she’s going to burst into flames,” Lincoln said, jerking his chin at Tiny Brunette.
“I wasn’t staring.”
“Don’t insult our bromance,” Lincoln said cheerfully.
“Keep running your mouth and we won’t have a bromance.” Cole forced himself not to look at the woman again.
“Hey, if you’ve got a crush on the wee lass, you can tell me,” Lincoln said, taking another sip of beer.
“I don’t have a crush. And wee lass? Really? You’re Scottish now?”
“Sometimes. Chicks dig the brogue. You should try it on your girl over there.”
“She’s not my girl. She’s just . . .” Interesting, Cole finished silently.
“Good,” Lincoln said, clapping him on the shoulder. “So you won’t mind that she left.”
Cole’s eyes flew to the seat where the woman was sitting, annoyed to see that his friend was right. She was gone.
“It’s just as well,” Lincoln said. “We have bigger things to focus on. Say, like how we’re going to annihilate the bastard who’s out for your job.”
“It’s not my job,” Cole said, carefully keeping the tinge of bitterness out of his tone.
“Not yet,” Lincoln said. “But it will be. Taking your competition out of the picture is the only reason I’m at this barbarian event.”
“Remind me never to take you to a hockey game,” Cole muttered.
Still, he appreciated his friend’s loyalty. And Lincoln was right. Tonight wasn’t about petite female baseball fans and their damn notebooks.
Tonight was about Cole’s professional future.
The key to that future? Oxford magazine.
Cole Sharpe is finally going to join the Oxford family as their Sports Editor. That is the plan anyway. Then he finds out he is in competition with a small but amazing woman from Chicago. May the best sports-buff win.
Penelope Pope moves to New York to get over a man who took her job from under her back home. Then she meets the man who may win the job she has applied for. Cole is everything she would normally want in a man. She is everything he never wanted.
They decide to be friends right off since as Penelope points out, she always ends up in the "friend zone" anyway. She figures she will start there this time instead of get her hopes up. Only, Cole does not like how she assumes she is not worthy of a good man and a good relationship.
With a little help from couples who have been there, maybe Cole and Penelope can have an amazing future of their own. They just have a few bumps in the road to get past first. Definitely a few surprises in store for this couple!
Oxford is the magazine in the same building with Stiletto and the Characters are all here from the hit Sex, Love & Stiletto series. There is humor, heat, sports celebrities and more! I just loved this story! As the beginning to the Oxford series - this was an amazing start with very a sexy read.
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Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you'll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.
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