"You look incredibly lovely when you blush," he murmured softly.
It was such a corny thing to say, normally I would have laughed in response. But he was looking into my eyes so intently that I felt bewitched by his words. My hand, which he still held, glowed from his touch and I knew my heart was beating much faster in response to my disturbed emotions.
He gave me one of his flashing smiles and said briskly, "But I apologise; put it down to my randy state having just lost both wife and lover."
And so Alice's search for an answer to her orgasmic problem looks like being resolved through a chance meeting with her husband Roger's best friend. Will Tony merely educate Roger or will Alice become Tony's latest conquest?
It’s funny how you can pick up a book and your mind visualizes its characters despite all descriptions the book might have for them. This book sported a hell of a cover with, I assume, Alice, its heroine, and Tony Bradshaw, her friend and admirer on it. There is NOTHING sexier than a man's confident smile and this guy has it in spades. For Alice’s husband my mind kept seeing character actor Jim Broadbent and the goings on in the story supported that. I saw him cuddly but daft, simply unable to see a single shade of grey, a jolly guy who is an upstanding man, loved by one and all but stepped on and rolled over by the men around him.
Cumbria resident Alice is sixty and while she loves her husband Roger and would never cheat on him, is dissatisfied with their love life and the perfunctory style he takes with her in bed. It’s all good for him and he’s utterly devoted to his wife but he has never stopped to ask her how it is for her and if there’s more he can do. He’s never stopped to consider her at all, frankly, in so many ways. There’s nothing wrong with Roger, he’s an archetype for men worldwide who simply don’t focus on context. In 40 years of marriage, Alice has never orgasmed and, watching explicit TV shows on British television (why don’t they have that kind of stuff here in the purient U.S.!!?) causes her to wonder if it’s all theatrics or if she’s missing something. Late night TV has opened her eyes to the ecstatic joy that sex can provide. She knows nothing of oral sex, vibrators, dressing up or half of the positions she sees on her TV screen ... but she wants to.
Enter Tony. I admit I got the book just for the guy on the cover who is hotter than hell with a smile to die for. Friend of Roger’s, he is everything Alice could wish for—urbane, witty, knowing, caring, intuitive, sexy ... and he is attracted to her to boot. Unfortunately, Tony has a “reputation for having the largest and most creatively used piece of masculine equipment around” and it doesn’t help that he’s going through a nasty divorce from his wife. It’s obvious there’s more story to him that eventually comes out in the book and he’s seen as so much the white knight because he really is. I confess I was hoping through most of the book that Alice would dump her husband and goes off into the sunset with Tony. Which is so callous of me, isn’t it? Roger just seems like lumpy old furniture next to dapper Tony who is always sparkling, tanned, brawny and dressed well. Ghad! He even dances well! So I spent a huge portion of this book wondering how Alice would extricate herself from the dullness of her marriage but, to be honest, Roger is never painted poorly; he isn’t cheating on her, he doesn’t hit her, he doesn’t abuse her verbally, he isn’t even mildly attracted to anyone else. He’s a loving husband and grandfather to 10 and his only real fault is he is very chauvinistic but it’s clearly how his generation of male was raised.
He’s comfortable with his well ordered life and Alice wants to scream. She’s tired of manicured hedges and his gardening and his various committees and his OCD attention to club minutes he’s in charge of getting out each week and the tripe and onion dinners he adores. (What’s tripe? Ugh. Just looked it up. I’ll pass, thank you.) She’s feeling the desire for more. More color, more life, more sensation, more of what Tony promises.
Written in first person, the book is very British and I had a bit of trouble with the colloquialisms which broke my heart, really. What the hell is pudding-basin breasts, for instance? What’s mushy peas? I missed some of the humor by not being a Brit. I loved the coziness of it all and wanted immersion but I was kept distant by the verbiage that only a native would understand. I suspect I have not seen enough British TV. I got the jist but not the intended humor.
Alice’s quest for sexual satisfaction could be any woman’s cry. The efforts she goes to to seduce her husband, slow him down and teach him how to touch her sensually are understandable and sympathetic to any age group but especially to women raised in an era of inhibition and lack of self exploration. I felt tremendous empathy for her. She tries a combination of desperate acts (sex magazines), bravado (vibrators), dressing (new knickers and bras) and atmosphere (body oils and massages) to woo her husband, who is, at first, mortified and hurt that she has any complaint. A well-meaning friend steps in to provide unexpected help to them both. Even as Tony shows Alice the swooning heat of a passionate kiss, he takes her husband aside and, over the course of several weeks, makes suggestions to ramp up the bedroom heat.
Younger readers may not be attracted to a story told by a woman who could be their mother or grandmother as its heroine. I am not so biased and found the viewpoint refreshing, poignant and clear voiced. I could only hope to have this woman's grace and determination, the devotion of her husband and the intense friendship that heals her heart. This is romance, not erotica. Definitely recommended. Four stars out of five.