After deciding to end her sexual hiatus, 38 yr old retired Marine, Casey Carter, is looking good to 50 yr old lingerie model, Alexa Ranger. Granted, the age gap bothers her more than him, but a normal relationship is totally out of the question anyway because Casey is related to her daughter's boyfriend. The last thing Alexa needs is another talk-show worthy drama in her already complicated life.
Having reached, ahem, a "certain age"....it is often difficult to imagine oneself as the heroine in many stories. Thankfully, Donna McDonald has provided a highly entertaining and super sexy solution for folks like us....her Never Too Late series hits a bulls-eye with this trio of delightful tales of middle aged women finding love and getting their groove on!
The formula: mix one well preserved middle aged model and a retired widower Marine. Now, subtract his age (12 years younger) and add her daughter and his nephew to the pot and stir up one messy and madcap romance with plenty of sizzle and spice. Enjoyable characters and fast paced story line keep the reader captivated page after page. Alexa and her friends are fabulous - funny, strong and stable 50 year old women who deserve all the romance, sex and successes of traditional contemporary romance heroines - and its about damned time those stories were told! Donna McDonald creates a world that makes starting over seem not only possible but well worth it!
Well written, with witty dialogue and excellent, quirky characters - Dating a Cougar needs to go right on top of your TBR pile. I devoured this book, and quickly purchased the sequel. (Act fast and get it for FREE on amazon.com! AMAZON)
I give this delish little treat FOUR Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. This book was given to us by the author for an unbiased review. Many thanks.
“You asked Jenna’s mother to dinner? Why?” Seth looked at his cousin wondering if he had lost his mind. “I could have gotten you a real date if I’d known you wanted one.”
Casey looked at Seth and shook his head sadly from side to side. “See, this is why Jenna is no longer in your life. You need your testosterone checked. Have you ever looked at Alexa Ranger? She’s the kind of woman men fight wars over.”
“Fight wars over?” Seth wrinkled his face as he tried to understand the statement. “Oh—that’s a military euphemism for sex. I get it. Wait—you’re planning to date Jenna’s mother for sex? Why? Couldn’t you find someone younger?”
Seth dipped his finger in the bowl of chocolate frosting. “I mean I agree Alexa looks great and all, but she’s probably forty-five at least.”
Casey smacked Seth’s hand with the icing spoon. “Actually, Alexa is fifty.”
Seth made a face and rolled his eyes. “Fifty?”
Casey pointed the spoon at him. “I want to get to know her. I have my own reasons. You should be thanking me for this golden opportunity to talk to the woman. She might actually put in a good word with Jenna for you.”
Seth looked hopeful for a moment, and then the phone rang. He raced off to answer it, leaving Casey to ponder the insanity of his plan to include Seth in his first dinner with Alexa.
When the doorbell rang fifteen minutes later, he heard Seth greeting someone. Moments after, Alexa walked into the kitchen carrying a bottle of red wine. She looked like a taller, slightly older, and much more interesting version of Jenna in her loose white shirt and jeans. In fact, Alexa looked just like she did the first time Casey saw her, and was every bit as appealing.
“Hi,” she said. “I came straight from work, but I brought wine. I robbed Sydney’s stash for Saturday.”
Casey stopped chopping the vegetables for the salad. He wiped his hands on his apron and walked over to take the wine. Alexa was almost as tall as he was and looked into his eyes as she handed him the bottle. She smelled like peaches and ginger. When he got a good whiff of her, every muscle in his body went on instant alert. His reaction was going to be obvious sooner or later. There was only one way to find out how she was going to feel about the fact that she turned him on.
“What are you wearing? I’m usually allergic to perfume,” Casey admitted, holding her gaze. “I really like it—maybe a little too much.”
Alexa smiled at him, her laugh lines crinkling. “It’s my favorite of the three organic scents I’m looking to start selling soon. Lauren calls this one Revelation.”
“Apt name,” Casey answered dryly. “I think I’m having one myself.” A knot of need twisted inside him, instinctual and insistent on being met. He started to step into Alexa, fully intending to put his mouth on hers.
Recognizing the intent in Casey’s gaze, Alexa pushed the wine more firmly into his hands and laughed at the look of shock on his face as he backed up a little. “Thanks for the compliment,” she said, reaching out and tugging on a pocket of his apron. “It’s good to know you’re not allergic to me.”
She wasn’t ready to kiss him, but she didn’t want to totally reject him either. The man had her heart beating hard in her ears by just staring at her.
Alexa saw Seth walk into the kitchen just in time to witness the end of their exchange. Casey gave him a deadly look. Well, there’s the Marine, she thought, fighting her urge to grin and barely winning. She was intrigued by the menacing glint in Casey’s eyes and his clenched jaw. Seth seemed oblivious to both the intimacy of their conversation, and the angry glare Casey was sending him about being interrupted. While it was easy to understand why Casey was so irritated, Alexa was still glad for the reprieve Seth had provided.
“What made you think you were allergic to Alexa’s perfume?” Seth asked. “Maybe you need to get an allergy test. I get a newsfeed from a health site and they say allergies can be deadly.”
Alexa grinned when Seth picked up a carrot and crunched. Casey, on the other hand, looked at Seth with near disgust. She wanted to laugh out loud, but thought it was too impolite. She settled for sending Casey a knowing look.
When Casey saw the amusement in Alexa’s gaze, it instantly deflated some of his anger. And he made a mental note never to underestimate the woman’s awareness.
“You know, Seth, there are other sources of information than the Internet. You should try paying attention to the people around you for starters.”
Casey returned to his task of viciously chopping the stack of vegetables he had been working on earlier.
“What did I say wrong now?” Seth asked, confused at Casey’s anger, looking between his cousin and Alexa who shrugged, her blue eyes twinkling with amusement.
Casey’s mouth lifted in a snarl as he continued to chop the vegetables. “Why don’t you show Alexa the patio and get her a glass of wine? I thought we’d eat outside tonight.”
Casey turned his back as they left the kitchen. The kid was pathetic, he decided. Seth was just hopelessly distracted by the wrong things. Throughout dinner, he tried unsuccessfully to get Seth to engage Alexa in some genuine conversation. All Seth could talk about was the latest business trends. Never once did he ask about Jenna or how she was doing. Hell, no wonder Jenna had dumped him.
Casey frowned at the proof that Seth was as disconnected from reality as he feared. Though Seth did redeem himself slightly later by offering to do the dishes. When his cousin had removed the last evidence of their meal and left for good, Alexa reached over and patted his hand. Casey looked at her in surprise.
“Come on, Marine. The mission was not a total waste.”
“Mission? That obvious, huh?”
Alexa smiled. “The only thing obvious to me is how very proud of Seth you are. And well you should be. Top of his class at Harvard? That’s pretty impressive.”
She was relieved when Casey sighed and got more comfortable in his chair. She nodded in approval.
“Dinner was great, by the way. You really can cook.”
She lifted her wine glass for another sip. It was very clear how much Casey loved Seth and wanted him to be happy, as any parent would want their child to be. And a parental figure was obviously how Casey saw his role in Seth’s life.
Setting down her wine, she smiled at Casey, trying to communicate a level of understanding she hoped he would find one day. Maybe the big Five-O birthday had brought some wisdom after all.
“Have you ever considered Seth is just being the person Seth needs to be right now? He’s driven to succeed. Some would say that kind of ambition is a positive trait.”
“Not Jenna,” Casey said bitterly. “And not me—I know how short life is.”
“Well, my daughter is just as focused in some ways. She’s entering the prime of her life. Right now Jenna’s hormones are driving her every bit as hard as Seth’s ambition is driving him.”
Alexa shrugged. There was little to be done about her daughter bending to mother nature. Her twenties and thirties had been just as challenging.
Casey sighed and nodded. “Would you believe Seth is the fun-loving one in our family?”
“No. I will never believe such a thing. You are a lot more fun,” Alexa said easily.
“I swear it’s the truth.” Casey protested Seth’s good traits, even over Alexa’s choked laughter.
He watched her lean her elbow on the table and put her chin in her hand.
“So tell me about your life, Casey Carter. I have a policy never to conspire with men I don’t know.”
He wondered if she had any idea how appealing she was leaning forward to listen, all her attention focused on him. He drank a bit of wine and shifted his leg into a more comfortable position.
“For years, I was every bit as focused on the military as Seth is right now on his business. Both Seth’s parents died in a car accident when he was twelve. Susan and I were living in Japan at the time. My parents had been killed in a boating accident a few years before his. Seth and I ended up being the only family either of us had left. So he came to live with us. It was an adjustment.”
Casey paused his story, remembering for a moment how it had begun.
“Susan and I never had children of our own. My career made that a challenge. For a long time after Seth came, we didn’t know what to do or how to deal with him. Susan was great. We probably didn’t do much real parenting, but we gave him love and support as best we could. Seth has turned out okay in most ways—stupidity about females not withstanding.”
When Casey paused a second time, Alexa could see good memories of his wife and Seth softening his face. She felt an admiration for Casey and envy for the woman who had shared his life. She couldn’t help wondering what it felt like to be loved so much.
“You and your wife did a great job, Casey. Seth is a good man, just self-absorbed, as many men tend to be at his age.”
“I guess that could be true,” Casey said, shrugging.
Alexa smiled. “So what happened to your wife? Divorce?”
“No. Death. Cancer,” Casey answered flatly. “When we got Susan’s diagnosis, they gave her less than two years. I had severely injured my leg while on embassy duty. I was medically discharged right after we found out. Susan lasted less than six months. Cancer’s a vicious disease. Worst combat I ever engaged in, and worst fight I ever lost.”
“All that pain at once. I’m really sorry, Casey.”
Alexa spoke softly, all laughter gone. She couldn’t even imagine watching someone she loved die.
“I’m sorry too,” Casey admitted, genuinely realizing how sorry, and that he hadn’t said those words to anyone quite as honestly as Alexa. He missed his wife, missed the military, and in fact, missed the entire life he gave up. He knew he was still coming to terms with losing all of it in such a short period of time.
For some reason Casey couldn’t yet explain, receiving genuine sympathy from the woman across the table was helping tremendously in easing the resentment that always seemed to ruin happier moments. Maybe it was the comfortable silence between them while they sipped their wine.
“So how about you?” Casey finally asked.
Alexa sighed and laughed at bit at the question.
Seeing her hesitation, Casey decided prodding was in order. “Come on now. I’ve spilled my guts. What’s the story for Alexa Ranger? I need to know if you are friend or foe in my campaign.”
Alexa leaned back and stretched her legs out under the patio table. Had she ever been this comfortable just talking to a man? Had she ever been this interested in one? Surprised but content to trust her instincts, Alexa found she wanted to tell Casey her story, which really was far more worrisome than merely wanting him sexually. It meant she liked him. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d genuinely liked a man other than Paul or Sydney.
“You want to hear about my business or the other stuff?” Alexa asked at last.
“We’ll save the business for another time.”
Alexa nodded, feeling a little buzz at thinking Casey really did seem interested in hearing her story.
“Well, the personal and business stories are kind of linked anyway. I was a model at seventeen and did well at it. I gave up modeling a few years into it when I got pregnant at twenty-three with Jenna.”
She sighed as Casey’s gaze stayed on her face while she talked.
“Jenna’s father and I married shortly after I discovered the pregnancy. He left me for someone else a couple months before Jenna was born. We officially divorced before she was a year old. Sounds bad, but really it was for the best. We’ve been good parents together, but are much better friends than we ever were lovers.”
Casey nodded. “Jenna is great, too. You and her father did good work.”
“Thanks. After she was born, I took some of my modeling money and opened a lingerie store. I brought Jenna to work with me everyday when she was younger. It was a very good life for a single mother.”
“Did you ever marry again?” he asked.
“No.” Alexa looked at Casey while she wondered how honest she dared be. The older she got, the less she wanted to play the “good woman” role for a man. She sighed heavily before continuing what she considered to be the crux of her life’s story.
“Throughout my twenties and my thirties, I kept looking for one man who would love me madly, and who I would want in my life all the time. In my thirties, I developed quite a reputation for my search because I dated so much.”
She sighed and shook back her hair.
“During my most active dating period, I was an up-and-coming businesswoman. When Jenna hit her teenage years, she and I had some problems because of my dating. I was not always discreet and saw no reason why I should be. A friend sent me to see Dr. Regina Logan.”
“I think I saw her on TV once. Isn’t she a . . .” Casey hesitated as he remembered the two women he’d seen Alexa with in the bar. It suddenly dawned on him Dr. Logan had been one of them.
“Sex therapist? Yes. That’s what Regina does for a living.” Alexa lifted her chin and met his gaze dead on. “She told me I was using men to make me feel better about myself. I spat swear words at her, yelled at her, and we’ve been friends ever since. She was right of course. I don’t think Regina is wrong very often about anything or anyone.”
Alexa drained the last of her wine for courage, not looking to see if Casey was shocked or not. She decided to just spill it all to him.
“By the time I hit my forties, I was dating less. In the last few years, I haven’t cared about dating at all. With the exception of my ex-husband, whose company I still like, most men my age are boring to be around. I have more fun with my friends.”
“Don’t you miss the sex?” Shocked at the boldness of his own question, Casey was relieved when Alexa only laughed. “Sorry. I meant to say—don’t you miss the companionship.”
“No, you didn’t—and yes is the answer to your question. Sometimes I miss the companionship,” Alexa admitted on a laugh, using his euphemism. “How about you?”
“Hell yes,” Casey stated firmly, crossing his arms over his chest. “Susan died two years ago, but I’m too busy trying to figure out what to do with myself to move on. Walking is a challenge some days. My retirement is meager in this economy and I don’t have a new job yet. Up until just recently, it seemed like kind of a minor thing to worry about a lack of—companionship.”
“I hear you,” Alexa said, smiling in sympathy. “Sometimes it’s just all about timing, isn’t it? That becomes more obvious to me with every passing year.”
Casey believed Alexa really did hear him. He also saw that she somehow understood the hurt of his life, accepted how he dealt with it, and thought well of him. His short conversation with her made him feel a hell of a lot better than the weeks of therapy he’d endured through the veteran’s center. The bottom line was that Alexa Ranger looked at him with more approval than Casey had received from anyone in a very long time.
“I’m sure you’ll be moving on soon. You seem to be a good man, Casey Carter. There are a lot of women out there looking for a good man. I have a feeling all the companionship you’ll ever want is just right around the corner waiting for you.”
“Sounds good. What about you? Are you still looking?”
Instead of answering, Alexa laughed softly and got up to leave.
Casey started to stand as well, but was afraid he’d be too slow. In a panic to detain her, he reached out and grabbed Alexa’s wrist, practically pulling her across the patio table. It was a reminder of when they first met. He could see in her expression the action had reminded her, too. But this time he wasn’t letting her go without letting her know how it affected him.
Alexa tried to pull away, but Casey wouldn’t let her. She felt his firm grip on her wrist pretty much everywhere. She sighed and swore softly. She didn’t know whether to thank Casey for making her feel excitement again or run like hell from him because he was too young to be making a move on her. She tugged her wrist trying to break free.
“No. Don’t run away this time,” Casey said, moving to stand in front of her. “Are you still looking? I would really like to know, Alexa.”