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Saturday, January 30, 2010

'The Surprise of his Life' by Karen KEAST

From the BLURB:

Lindsey Ellison had a problem. She was in love . . . hopelessly in love . . . with Walker Carr. It would all be so lovely, so idyllic--if only he wasn't her father's business partner and best friend . . . and her godfather! And, of course, Lindsey couldn't ignore the fact that he'd be totally shocked to discover her feelings. She had to forget him.

But how?

It seemed impossible, especially now when she was returning to Galveston to help her parents through a rough time. She had to convince Walker that she was the woman he would love forever. Lindsey steeled her heart--because when Walker figured out her plan, it was going to be the surprise of his life!

I put a question to Amazon’s romance chat board. I was looking for a good romance book about an older man/younger woman. I know lots of 60’s and 70’s Mills & Boon and Harlequin unwittingly set up the old man/young woman dynamic – simply because such a pairing wasn’t at all unconventional at the time. I was looking for a more modern romance in which the older/younger relationship was the crux of the story, not simply a given.

The book that came most highly recommended was Karen Keast’s ‘The Surprise of his Life’(1991)… and I *LOVED* it!

The trigger of the story is 23-year-old Lindsey Ellison returning home to comfort her mother through the divorce her father has sprung on her after 25 years of marriage. Lindsey had previously been living in London, where she fled after she broke off her wedding the night before the big day. Lindsey has mixed feelings about returning home – she’s devastated about her parent’s divorce and angry at her father’s mid-life crisis that prompted it. But she’s also nervous and excited – because returning home means coming face to face with the reason she called of her wedding. Walker Carr. Family friend who was in Vietnam with her father and is also her godfather. Walker is also the man she loves – despite his being 47 to her 23.

Walker and Lindsey are H-O-T. There’s no explicit sex really, as Keast tiptoes around the more nitty-gritty smut. She never uses the word ‘nipple’ for example, but refers to the ‘centre of Lindsey’s breasts’. Regardless, Lindsey and Walker are smoldering, especially because of the pent-up frustration Walker feels at having lustful thoughts about his goddaughter, and the illicitness of their affair. When these two do get together they burn up the page! It helps that the man on the books cover bears a striking resemblance to Cary Grant. Oh boy!

“You are different,” Walker whispered, reaching out and touching her love-tossed hair with his fingertips. “So very different.”
A tiny smile budded, grew, ripened. “I grew up.”
At that he began to gently twist the blond strands of her hair about his fist. Each roll brought her closer to him until the tips of her breasts brushed against his chest. Her neck was arched, her head angled upward. “Did anyone ever tell you that you grew up in all the right places?” he said, his mouth only milli-inches from hers.
“I’ve been waiting all these years for you to tell me,” she whispered.

Despite the age difference and the illicitness of a godfather/goddaughter pairing; Lindsey and Walker's romance never felt 'wrong' or creepy. It helps that these two have such obvious sexual chemistry. Walker is also a real gentlemen and is never flippant about his feelings for Lindsey, and he really struggles with their newfound romance.

As well as Lindsey and Walker’s romance, there’s the storyline concerning Lindsey’s parents, Bunny and Dean. This is actually a really good accompanying plot as Dean takes increasingly drastic and ridiculous measures to fend off old age, including having an affair with a 19-year-old girl. Dean’s mid-life crisis is a great counter-point to Walker’s feelings for Lindsey, and only proves to highlight how different his relationship is compared to Dean’s desperation.

Karen Keast is a pseudonym for Sandra Key Patterson Caulfield. She unfortunately passed away in 2003 – having written 13 books, all of which are either Harlequin or Silhouette imprints. Reading her backlist, she has quite a few books that really appeal to me – they’re all a little bit old school, and that’s half the appeal. You kind of have to go scouting for Keast’s books – a few are available via Amazon, second-hand, and most of them are only US$0.01 (not including postage + shipping). Others are a little more pricey for their rarity (US$19.99) and some are simply out of print.

I loved ‘The Surprise of his Life’. Loved it! No wonder it came so highly recommended.



  1. Awesome review and this looks interesting...

    I dont know if its my cup of tea... but its cool! =)

  2. Nice review - not sure why but I tend to shy away from Older man/younger woman stories...

    Left an award for you here

  3. i would love to read this, but cant find it anywhere, any ideas where i can get it?

  4. @ Anonymous - the only place I could get it was second-hand, on Amazon. There are currently 24 second-hand copies for sale (for just $0.01) and 1 new copy (for $16.95).

    It's definitely worth a read! I hope you enjoy it :)

  5. Sorry about commenting on an old thread, but I wanted to say that this is a book that I read several years ago and loved as well. I really like the older man/younger woman stories with a slightly more contemporary twist as well. Particularly looking out for books where the heroine is mid to late twenties and the hero is at least forty at the moment. Bringing me to my question: did you get any other recommendations along similar lines that you also enjoyed? :)

  6. @ Laura - hello! That's perfectly all right, you can comment on old reviews :)
    I found this list of older man/younger woman romances;

    Many of them are out-dated Harlequin reads with titles like 'Love Nest' and 'Forbidden Wine'. But there are a few good recommendations in there. Authors like Robyn Carr and Diana Palmer keep popping up, so it must be a plot that they explore in quite a few of their books. I haven't had much luck in finding recent romances with this old/young theme, except in Paranormal Romance (Nalini Singh's 'Kiss of Snow' was fantastic!)

    Hope this helps ;)

  7. Thanks so much! :) I actually haven't seen a lot of those before - this is probably going to explode my TBR pile, ha. My favourites in that theme, if you haven't read them, are Georgette Heyer's "These Old Shades", Suzanne Brockmann's "The Admiral's Bride", Carla Kelly's "Marrying the Royal Marine", Whitney Gaskell's "Pushing 30", Lois McMaster Bujold's "Sharing Knife" series, and Arlene James's "The Mesmerizing Mr. Carlyle". I've actually got "Kiss of Snow" on hold at the library, so I'll look forward to reading it!

  8. @ Laura - thank you for the recommendations! 'Pushing 30' sounds awesome, so does 'These Old Shades'. I'll definitely be checking those out - thanks again (and let me know what you think of 'Kiss of Snow' - I wrote my review recently).


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