Flirting with the Beast
Grade : A-

In romance novels, the heroine is almost always under thirty. When older women - those over fifty - appear in romance, it's usually as a secondary character who, if she's very beautiful and has either a fortune or a heart of gold, might be lucky enough to have a lover of her own. Romance novels where the lead is over fifty are are as rare as Oscar winning rom coms. Flirting with the Beast, by Jane Porter, breaks that mold by featuring lead characters Andi McDermott and Wolf Enders, both of whom are well over fifty and sexy and smart.

Andi McDermott is a widow at fifty-eight - her rather controlling husband Kevin died five years ago. Since he died, she's found a job she loves and made new, supportive friends but still, something is missing. She's lonely - she and Kevin never had kids although she is a stepmom to Luke, Kevin's son whom he had as a teen. As the book begins, Luke has just blown Andi off for an early Christmas dinner Andi put a great deal of effort in preparing. Hurt and uninterested in spending the holidays in the giant house she and Kevin built - his dream home, not hers - she decides to head up to his family's cabin four hours north on California's Lake Arrowhead.

Andi is a total babe - her husband was the college stud every girl wanted and since his death she's dated several men, all of whom have been more interested in her than she is in them. Her marriage was... fine. The lack of children was a huge disappointment for Andi but not for Kevin and, over the decades, their passion and connection faded to a partnership rather than a romance. But while Andi didn't really love being married to Kevin, she loved being married and would like to find a man with whom she can share her life.

One man Andi is sure is not for her is Wolf Enders, her only neighbor up at the cabin. Wolf is... a lot. He's big, tattooed, absurdly sexy - Kevin loathed him - and every time Andi makes eye contact with him she suddenly feels as though she's naked. As soon as she gets to the cabin, she encounters Wolf and it's as uncomfortable as ever. She decides to avoid him over her stay but when a major snow storm comes in and all of Lake Arrowhead loses power and  Wolf has a generator, Andi begins to see Wolf - all of Wolf - very, very differently.

Wolf - let me take a moment to fan myself - is the man of my many a woman's dreams. He's a decorated ex-Marine who now makes a living designing and drafting homes. He married young and is now, and has been for decades, bitterly divorced from his ex-wife with whom he had three sons. All three followed him into some sort of military service - his oldest, Stone, was blown to bits by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.  Wolf cares deeply for his family but he loves his solitary life on the lake - he's a man whose past mistakes have made him believe he's a beast at relationships. He enjoys sex - he loves sex with Andi - but commitment is a hard pass for him. When it's time for Andi to return to her home in San Juan Capistrano, he tells her their holiday tryst is a one and done.

However, when Wolf's ex-wife tells him that Stone's young widow Lindsay is a mess and is endangering her three year old son Charlie, Wolf invites his daughter-in-law and grandson to come and live with him in California... at his house in Andi's neighborhood. Andi is shocked to run into Wolf at her favorite coffee shop - she had no idea he had a home near her - and despite Wolf's determination to stay aloof, he and Andi end up back in bed and in each other lives.

Oh, how I love this book.

Andi and Wolf are electric together. Their sex life is hot, inventive, energetic, and integral to their growing feelings for one another. It's a gift to read about older lovers whose bouts in the sheets rival that of their much younger peers. They each think the other is gorgeous - I especially love that though Andi believes she needs to lose the weight she's gained since Kevin died, Wolf thinks she's sexy as sin just as she is. Their conversations are droll and engaging and illuminate how happy they make one another.

Flirting with the Beast deftly explores the complexities of relationships and the growth of love between two emotionally mature characters. Both Wolf and Andi care deeply for Lindsay and Charlie - the latter is one of the better rendered children I've read in romance - and that makes their lives together complicated. This is a book about growth, often hard won.  The happy endings in this book feel earned in the best way and I loved watching all the characters find the joy they deserve.

Flirting with the Beast is one of the best romances I've read in the past year. I'd love it even were the protagonists younger, but to have them be my age, well, that makes this book sublime. It's a delightful, steamy read that will have you rooting for Andi's and Wolf's happily ever after. It gets a DIK from me.

Reviewed by Dabney Grinnan
Grade : A-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : January 8, 2023

Publication Date: 11/2022

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Dabney Grinnan

Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day. Publisher at AAR.
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