Flirting with Forty

Jane Porter
2008 reissue of 2006 release, Chick Lit
5 Spot, $6.99, 332 pages, Amazon ASIN 0446509434

Grade: C-
Sensuality: Subtle

I enjoy books with older heroines, and Flirting With Forty sounded like a fun book. Unfortunately, the fun moments were few and far between.

Jackie Laurens is a single mother of two young children. Her marriage ended about a year ago, and she still hasn't recovered. While she's no longer in love with her husband (and probably wasn't for some time), she's lonely and wants to be more than just a mother. Right before her 40th birthday, one of her friends buys tickets for a girlfriends' weekend in Hawaii. At the last moment, the friend cancels, leaving Jackie to head to Hawaii alone.

After a miserable first day, Jackie meets Kai, a much younger, incredibly hot surfing instructor who, apparently, hooks up with lots of women tourists. What does he like about Jackie? I'm really not sure, since he hardly talks at all. At one point, when she asks him, Kai says he likes looking at her; another time, he says he likes redheads (she's a redhead). Whatever the attraction, the two start an affair. But for Jackie, it isn't just a fling. Her emotions become involved, and she falls in love almost immediately (although whether she's in love with Kai or Hawaii is unclear).

At one point, Jackie thinks, "This is like a movie, a terrible made-for-TV movie. Older woman falls for younger guy, has a night of incredible sex, and returns home refreshed." Unfortunately that's exactly what it felt like to me.

The book is told in the first person and we spend most of our time inside Jackie's head one preoccupied with how "old" she is, how out of shape she is, how lonely she is. I get that she is depressed, but I didn't enjoy reading about her unhappiness page after page after page. She has such limited dialogue with Kai that he's a relative blank to me. Other than knowing that he's a surfing instructor, really hot, and great in bed, I don't know much else about him. Of course, Jackie doesn't know much more about him either, although she really likes that he calls her "girl," as it makes her feel young.

I warmed up to Jackie as the book went along. Some of the scenes in which she thought about how much she loved her children were truly touching. She did show some change over the course of the book (though I won't say that she matured), but she did seem to come out of the depression she had been in since her divorce.

The ending seemed a bit too neat and quick, and I'm not as fully convinced in the HEA as Jackie seems to be. The book is obviously quite popular, as this is just its most recent release and it's scheduled to be a film on Lifetime in December 2008, with Heather Locklear in the title role. Overall, the book just didn't work for me. If I hadn't been reading it for review, I would have skipped large parts, to get to the ending.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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