I'm thrilled to review this latest Amy Ruttan release. She's now working on an historical/paranormal series for Linden Bay Romance that the phrase 'I'm dying to get my hands on' barely describes.
1 - Amy is also the author of Fox's Bride, an historical set in 1720's Jamaica and Masque of Desire, a contemporary paranormal which takes place on a southern plantation.
2 - She's one of six talented erotic romance writers who blog at 6 Degrees of Sexy. All six women write for Ellora's Cave as well as for Cerridwen Press, Liquid Silver Books, Loose Id and Samhain Publishing.
3 - Love Thy Neighbor is part of the Ellora's Cave Oh Yum! series, featuring older women, younger men and lots of yum. The older woman here is a fabulous 40, while the younger man is a smart, ambitious 25-year-old.
4 - Beverly Robins moved into a beautiful home in Deerpark, Illinois two years ago with her husband, a former jock turned corporate suit. The day she saw the house with the real estate agent, she'd caught her first glimpse of the hunky son of the couple next door. The hunky brainiac son who'd just graduated Harvard Law - the type of guy she'd always admired from afar in college while dating jocks like the other girls from her social set.
5 - David Craig moved to Boston and a junior position at a law firm after graduation, but no amount of willing women could ever take his mind off of Ms. Robins. His parents' gorgeous neighbor was the real reason he'd never been home for a visit. But his sister's upcoming wedding was something he couldn't miss. And Ms. Robins was on the invitation list.
6 - Amy fills this quick read with strong secondary characters, including Janie, David's sister and the bride-to-be. She's a good friend to both him and Beverly, and I quite liked her. Her unfortunate choice of bridesmaids gives us Brenda, a rival for Beverly for David's precious time during the week-long wedding preparations. David's mother and Beverly's ex-husband also give lasting impressions.
7 - There is room for occasional hilarity in this otherwise scorchy novella. Like this moment from the pre-wedding luau at David's parents':
"He cocked his eyebrow. 'What do you have against…' he trailed off as he caught sight of his eighty-three-year-old grandfather hobbling by in a garish Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts hiked up and belted under his armpits and black socks to his knees with mesh shoes.
'Hey sonny,' he called out as he walked by.
Ms. Robins was giggling into her hand.
'Point taken, Ms. Robins,' David said."
8 - I really, really love Amy's dialogue. She spins speech like a screenwriter. Every character has his or her own voice, and their dialogue is natural and moves characterization and plot forward. Can anyone ask for more? (A clue - no.) Here are seven lines of dialogue that pack a lot of info as well as convey character:
"She came out of her bedroom and was startled to see him standing in the branches, out of breath.
'The back door was open,' she chuckled.
'I like climbing trees, so much easier than climbing corporate ladders. Less work and less pain,' he said, trying to keep himself from panting and wincing from the pain in his abdomen from pulling himself from branch to branch.
'I see. Are you going to be all right? You’re breathing pretty heavy there,' she asked, cocking a thinly arched brow. He could tell she was trying to control her laughter. He beat his chest and gave a soft Tarzan yell.
'Just the sight of you, it takes my breath away.' "
9 - I admire Beverly's desire to reach for her own brass ring. She's a woman who married when she didn't truly know herself or what she wanted out of life. David's attraction to her gives her a new appreciation for the woman she has become.
There are many women who may have found themselves in Beverly's situation at some point in their lives, and I once again cheer ePublishers' willingness to offer stories that veer away from idealized female characters that continue to populate print romantic fiction.
10 - Amy really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:
"He wanted to make this last forever. He wanted to bring her such pleasure that she would forget about every other lover she had. 'What’s that smell, that fragrance?'
'Your sister asked me the same thing. Are you two into selling perfume or something?' she teased, cocking a finely arched brow.
'No, but I like to know what my woman wears.'
'Your woman?' she asked, surprised. 'Am I your woman now?'
His answer was to reach down and pick her up in his arms, slinging her over his shoulder and slapping her on the ass. 'After tonight, you will be.' "
11 - The Oh Yum! series is a wonderful concept which I heartily applaud. Modern women hold the reins of their own sexual lives, and they also enjoy relationships with younger men - if that's what life presents them. There's no need to resist an attraction to a younger man because women aren't so hung up on calendar years. If she feels a kinship to a younger man, her healthy and youthful state these days can more than keep up with him.
Lorraine Bracco and former basketball player Jason Cipolla (21-year age difference)
Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher (15 yrs)
Mira Sorvino and actor Christopher Backus (14 yrs)
Kathy Najimy and musician/stage actor Dan Finnerty (13 yrs)
Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (12 yrs)
Julianne Moore and filmmaker Bart Freundlich (10 yrs)
Sigourney Weaver and film & theatre director Jim Simpson (7 yrs)
J.K. Rowling and anaesthetist Neil Murray (5 yrs)
Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell (5 yrs)
Eve Mavrakis(production designer) and Ewan McGregor (5 yrs)
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin (5 yrs)
Bo Derek and John Corbett (5 yrs)
Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas (3 yrs)
12 - As with all the Ellora's Cave ebooks, the heat level is turned way up. Way up. The language is explicit in all the right ways. Our Amy spins a very sultry tale.
Some of your fantasies might be woven within these pages. I know some of mine were.
...just warnin' ya...
13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!
"She cooked him a delicious seafood linguine. One of her specialties. Her grandmother was Sicilian and had taught Beverly all her coveted recipes when she got married. She had tried a few times and wasted her energy on cooking these very all-consuming meals when her ex just either gulped them down in a heartbeat or never showed up for dinner. After a while she had given up trying.
She hadn’t made this recipe in almost eighteen years. She had been quite pleased that David seemed to enjoy it. Of course, they both had ended up naked, sitting at her antique dining room table. She wore only her heels and a string of pearls.
He wore nothing but a smile as they enjoyed the dinner, the wine and good conversation. She couldn’t remember the last time that she actually had a good, intellectual conversation. They talked about everything and nothing.
He talked about his job as a lawyer in Boston. He talked about his time at Harvard. She talked about her brief stint in college before she got married to her ex and became a wife.
She was relieved to know that he loved to read and he liked just about everything except romance, which she was addicted to.
He liked jazz music, so she padded over to her stereo and put on a great jazz album, a mix she had burned with some of her favorite singers like Diana Krall and Lena Horne.
After dinner they headed upstairs where, according to her fantasy, she had a nice luxurious bubble bath with him.
'What is with women and bubble baths?'
'They’re nice, relaxing.'
'And these bath salts like to effervesce up my ass.' He moved slightly as she began to laugh.
'That too.' She was quiet as she rubbed his arms under the suds.
'How come you’re so quiet?' he asked.
'Just wondering, I mean why me? I am so much older than you. I mean I’m not expecting a future with you or anything—'
'Sssh, let’s not talk about that. And as for why you, you’re an extremely attractive woman. Age doesn’t matter to me — there has always just been something about you.' He stood up, the suds sliding off his naked skin. He climbed out of the tub and rubbed himself with a towel.
'What are you doing?' she asked, leaning her head on the tub, admiring his taut, yummy ass.
'I’m going to show you exactly what I think of you,' he said, reaching down and lifting her out of her soaker tub. He set her down on the floor and toweled her off. He picked her up again and carried her to the bedroom.
He laid her down on her silk sheets. He didn’t say anything and she didn’t need him too. She stared up into his dark and serious blue eyes. He leaned down and gave her a tender kiss. She could hear him breathing in her ear.
'Nothing else matters this week but us. This is how much I want you.'
She pulled him tight against her, loved the feeling of him. She broke off the kiss to listen to the rapid beating of his heart beneath his chest. She felt his hands rub her back gently, his fingers trailing down her spine.
They didn’t say any more to each other. There was nothing to really say. But this was turning rapidly from a mere lust, infatuation situation for her. Dammit, I’m falling in love with my neighbor’s son."
- Amy Ruttan, 2008