Taboo. Wrong. Off limits.
I know the drill. I know the rules.
But damn, if he doesn’t get under my skin.
And into my bed.
There’s no reason for a woman like me,
Successful, established, independent,
To ever be sleeping with a younger man.
A younger man with a hard, rugged, sculptured body.
A body that can go all night.
I can’t resist, can’t turn him down.
Can’t walk away.
Because I’ve never known pleasure like this.
Chase Nolan walked into my life and disrupted my perfect little world.
And made it so much better.
Enjoy it while you can, Jillian.
Because there’s no way there’s a future for us.
After all, is he barely even legal?
As an older female reader I find myself longing for more books with the theme of an older woman drawn to a younger man. It's a theme that takes on more relevance on a personal level while engaging other readers with preconceived notions and stereotypes open to debate. With her latest release Ms. Dahlia introduces readers to Jillian Hudson, divorced for the last year and slowly starting to live life for herself again. Jillian got married young to a man she felt deep affection for but who didn't inspire any naughty thoughts in her. Marrying him though gave her a little boy to fawn over and it's him she fell in love with, becoming more of a mother to him than the one who birthed him. Through the years she lost herself, her dreams, her marriage soon becoming far too comfortable and losing any spark. With her son heading off to college, and feeling that her husband was going astray, Jillian finally made a break for freedom but it's been a struggle to put her own needs first as her self-esteem took a beating over the years. Thank heavens she has her soon-to-be sister-in-law pushing her every step of the way to be bold and take happiness wherever she can! That first step towards happiness is a scorching clandestine encounter where she meets Chase Nolan and leaves her thinking and feeling things she's never experienced before. He challenges her at every turn and it makes their burgeoning relationship an entertaining and scorching journey to HEA full of cheer-inducing moments as well as frustration. Jillian's easy to relate to with body image issues and self-doubts that plague many women. Add in a 15 year age difference and her doubts become even bigger as societal judgments weigh on her throughout the story. She tries to combat some of those fears with humor but at other times those fears drive her to alienating Chase and frustrating me. When it's just the two of them their similarities are quite apparent but in public she lets thoughts of the young women who are drawn to him run away with what her heart feels and make assumptions based on fear regarding their future together. It felt as if she was always expecting the worst, waiting for him to leave, when he showed her nothing but love and loyalty. Jillian was strong-willed in many ways, wanting to flex her independent muscles, but it left her looking overly touchy about accepting help when it was offered. At times she seemed unappreciative of the help Chase gave her which frustrated me and slowly drove a wedge between them on top of her pushing him away out of fear. By treating him solely as a sex object she diminished the possibilities of what their relationship could be and set her on a path of self-fulfilling prophecy ending their relationship just as it begun. It will take a Grand Gesture to reach HEA after everything she does to push Chase away, an apology in front of everyone that with a little help from unlikely friends put a smile on my face.
Chase is the perfect romantic hero! He's sweet, sexy, charming, and truly listens when his woman speaks. From the moment he sees Jillian from the stage he knows she's the woman he wants, age difference be damned! He's proud to claim her for himself and has none of the qualms she does regarding their age difference which is why her reactions to their pairing disappointed me so much. In so many overt and subtle ways Chase shows Jillian her true worth, pushing her to go after the dreams she once set aside while making all her current ones come true through numerous scorching encounters that left me parched. Chase is fun loving and loyal and brings zest to Jillian's life in a relationship that captivated me completely. He's a one woman man who falls for Jillian wholeheartedly and theirs is a relationship worth rooting for. Chase may be younger in years, but he's clearly the more mature when it comes to dealing with their relationship in public. He's an old soul wrapped up in a sexy and kind-hearted package and Jillian should've been thanking her lucky stars he chose her instead of spending time sabotaging their future because of self-doubts and fears over what others think. Ultimately, the ups and downs of their relationship made their journey to HEA all the more rewarding and Chase a true champion of the power of love and the latest addition to my list of book boyfriends.
The romance between Jillian and Chase might surprise some because of their age difference but they truly are a match made in Heaven. Their combined love of music, painful childhoods, and love of children is a strong foundation with which to start their journey to HEA. Theirs is a crackling connection from the very start full of erotic encounters balanced with moments of carefree humor which thoroughly charmed me. Ms. Dahlia doesn't shy away from discussing societal prejudices regarding their age difference though which rang hollow to me when witnessing how delightful they were together. Chase was the highlight of this story as he focused entirely on Jillian as a person instead of a number and his showing the world how much she meant to him had me squealing with delight. Jillian's actions were far more frustrating, far more destructive to herself and him as she denied their connection to everyone while treating him like a dirty little secret. Her new interactions with her ex-husband and her jumping to conclusions regarding Chase and other women made me especially angry with her and dimmed my pride in her finally standing on her own after years of just settling. By story's end though I had forgiven her somewhat as she made a bold statement regarding her feelings for him that made me want to cheer. Surrounding this compelling pair were a colorful cast of secondary characters. From the sweet little girl Hazel and her subtle matchmaking to the loud and overtly matchmaking Perry there are many rooting for Chase and Jillian to find HEA. There are also a few smarmy characters looking to manipulate Jillian's self-doubts, amongst them is her ex-husband and one of Chase's roommates, and their actions had me wanting to throw this book as she let herself be drawn into their machinations. Despite that what kept me reading to the very end was Chase....oh so perfect Chase and his romantic view of Jillian and dreamy outlook for their future! He's everything you want in a book boyfriend! Overall, readers who enjoy the older woman/younger man theme will find this an engaging story. With relatable characters, a sweet and sexy romance, and secondary characters that keep the drama coming, readers will definitely want to add this to their bookshelf as it's a cheer-inducing romance proving the true power of love!
My rating for this is a B.
*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.