Genre: Contemporary, Cougar
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Length: Short Novel
Read a copy from my personal library
One spark could burn her world down.
Six years after her husband’s death, Regina Pace is still just going through the motions, her only pleasure a nightly glass (or three) of wine to dull the ache. Tonight is no exception—until a sensual outdoor encounter with her neighbor’s son, freshly home from college. He’s older, wiser, more devastatingly handsome than she remembered. He’s also fifteen years her junior.
Despite her misgivings, it isn’t long before her nightly ritual includes a long, deep drink of Josh Smith. Ogling leads to touching, then the sparks flare into an erotic encounter that feels wickedly right—and deliciously forbidden.
Yet the intense heat can’t burn away the doubt pestering the back of her mind. That the gap between their ages is too large, even for the most determined leap of faith…
Warning: Features a boy-next-door who won’t take no for an answer, more than one sexual fantasy (including some outdoor self-loving!), and a burning romance that proves age is just a number.
The story starts incredibly good where I instantly connected to the situation the first person narrator, Regina, finds herself in. Next to that I got treated to a sinfully sexy voyeurism moment where Regina ogles her next door neighbor satisfying himself. The beginning of flirtatious banter in their dialogues and the attraction simmering between them is something I enjoyed to the fullest. But somehow in those early stages of the story it’s where it piqued for me. After those initial few chapters it got harder to maintain that level of enjoyment as the story progressed. My thoughts just started to tumble from one irritation in to the next and I got to wonder if the cougar trope was something for me.
The first time I raised my eyebrows was when Regina couldn't make rhyme or reason with what she was doing with Joshua. Regina used her own doubts and fears as a reflection what the rest of the world would think so as well. This just didn’t make sense to me and at some point the back and forth between doubts and the attraction irked me as well. Joshua wanted to take it beyond the attraction. He was wooing her, he wanted to date and explore the depth of that attraction. I just wanted to encourage Regina on to, at least, take a chance on the guy!!
To some length the confusion was genuine; was it just lust or was there a budding of romance as well? Yet at various points Regina felt it was just a sex thing going on with Joshua. I saw Regina enjoy herself with Joshua, the conversations, the naughty going on sexy times, but I didn’t get the sense this was a budding deep and true romance. From Joshua’s side though, it was a serious as can be. I got that as well.
There was also a storyline with her friend and boss, Lou. What bothered me a lot was throughout the story Lou was coming on to her and she actually considered his advances. It added to the sense it wasn’t true love from Regina’s side. How can you consider dating another man if you are truly falling in love with another? It just was one more reason for me to feel a disconnection with Regina.
I also got confronted with actions where I didn't always like either Joshua or Gina. When drunk, Joshua was childish and unreasonable. Gina's actions made sure her opinion on keeping their relationship indoors was the way to go. The struggle of the age difference is a dire conflict between them but how either character deals with it sometimes gave me a flash of irritation. At the core they are genuine likeable characters but many actions detracted from that feeling.
Then I got to the point where Regina again made the choice that baffled me. She decided after only a month or so not be using condoms with Joshua. Regina wasn't on the pill, up till then I still didn’t have the feeling she was “in love” with Joshua and that’s the point I actually got frustrated. I mean; you don't even know if you're in this for the long haul but you chose to stop using protection as a sign to be closer to Joshua? And this couldn't have been expressed in a different way?
Then to finish this story I got to deal with the fact that first Regina is riddled with doubts and fears and then suddenly, like a switch, she is asked if she loves him and she says without a doubt; yes. That got me confused. It was too sudden with no progress whatsoever for Regina to come to that realization. I think besides certain actions that got me swinging back and forth between like and irritated the flow of the romance got me out of sync as well
Keeping Pace is a story where two characters lost me throughout their romance story. The sizzling sexiness and the sometimes incredible dialogues couldn’t override the feelings of disconnection and irritation.
Quote for you to sample:
Not just the flexing of his flat stomach but the rhythmic up-down motion of his arm.
I almost took a step back when my brain finally registered what it all meant. A small cry of surprise tried to spill from my lips, but I bit it back in time. Instead, I stood transfixed and watched an amazing specimen of human musculature move with an erotic beauty that took my breath.