Desert Isle Keeper
Late Fall is a departure from Noelle Adams’ contemporary romance stories, in that it goes somewhere most romance novels shy away from – to the reality of what it’s like to be a senior citizen and fall in love.
Ellie is in her early seventies and has just moved into an assisted living seniors’ home. She never married, and when her last pet – a beloved spaniel – died, she knew it was time to move from her country property to something more appropriate to her physical limitations. Just because she’s old doesn’t mean she’s senile though, and she takes her strong personality and wit with her to her new home. But just her luck, if she doesn’t happen to run into Dave – a former co-worker with whom she was always at odds, and who now lives in the same residence. Divorced, and then widowed, he always struck her as an abrasive individual, and when Ellie unknowingly takes HIS place on HIS bench in the early morning hours, he’s quick to react. But, while they might share that bench in stiff silence the first few times, it’s not long before they begin to open up to each other, to engage in meaningful conversations, and to really become friends. And when stronger feelings start to emerge on both their sides, it’s the start of a beautiful, late in life relationship.
There is a lot to enjoy about this story, not least of which is the way it gives a bittersweet depiction of the realities of getting old, tempered with the warm feelings of new love. Ellie could be anyone’s grandmother (though in this story, having had no children she is an aunt and great-aunt to a caring nephew and grand-niece), the type of woman you want to spend time with, who can tell you interesting stories about her life. She’s quiet but strong, with the ability to speak her mind, but still be sensitive to others’ feelings. Meeting Dave in these circumstances is not something she would have chosen for herself, but she’s not going to hold any grudges or pretend that things haven’t changed for the both of them. Their interactions start out prickly, but become meaningful as they share what’s happened in their lives since they worked together.
While Ellie has her nephew to help take care of her (her sister having since passed away), Dave’s only family is his step-children from his second marriage, a greedy lot who appear more interested in their inheritance than in him. Ellie sees that they are not looking out for him the way they should, and she is saddened that the once robust and strongly opinionated man Dave was when he was younger has been tempered by age to an attitude of uncaring resignation. With Dave she’s never been afraid to speak her mind, even when they were at odds on the job and she doesn’t stop now, giving him her sometimes unsolicited opinions, but ones that are well meaning and heartfelt.
The development of real feelings of affection for each other surprises Ellie, who never imagined that at this late stage in her life, she would feel sexual attraction and desire for another man. It’s a disconcerting feeling, but one that is returned by Dave who has an obvious interest in making things more physical between them. While love scenes between an older couple come with more challenges, they are really sweetly written, combining the reality of awkward conversations with the fact that physical desire doesn’t disappear just because one is older. I really enjoyed seeing their relationship progress and watching them learn to lean on each other, with the bittersweet reality of not knowing how long they would be together but knowing that they will make the best of the time they have. Late Fall is a really lovely tale, unlike any other I’ve read but one that will stay with me for its poignant yet sweet romance, complete with a happy ending.