Cougars in romance

I received my first NetGalley egalley for review yesterday. I was excited even before I read the book, just to receive the notification. I had requested a romance from Carina Press and I will confess to a certain amount of curiosity just to see whether or not I would get the book. This is a book I requested on my own, not one I’m reviewing for Library Journal.

NetGalley is a service that allows publishers to make their electronic galleys available to librarians, reviewers and bloggers ahead of publications, so that folks who will review and hopefully say good things have a chance to get the word out before the book comes out. Making electronic galleys has to be the wave of the future, even for print books.

However, Carina Press is the electronic-only “imprint” of Harlequin. Harlequin has been very forward-thinking when it comes to ebooks. Everything they publish in print is available as an ebook, and always at a slightly lower price than the print version. Whether what they publish is to an individual person’s taste or not, well, that is what the acronym YMMV is all about. But the business model is definitely worthy of note. Harlequin also publishes some extremely good fantasy and urban fantasy under their Luna imprint. But I digress.

Carina Press has just celebrated their one year anniversary. I have purchased some of their books. They generally make wonderful “mind-candy”. They’re not deep, but they are fun.

So, on to Lessons in Indiscretion, by Karen Erickson. The story is set in the Regency period, but this is certainly not an old-fashioned Regency! Widowed Lady Julia has decided to take a lover, and has set her sights on a younger man, the Earl of Bedingfield, who has been a family friend since he was 14. Now he is 26, and her husband is dead and she is out of her widow’s weeds. While Lady Julia nearly scandalizes herself by her desire for the younger earl, she is surprised to discover that he is just as interested in a liaison with her!  She believes that, due to the difference in their ages and stations (he is very wealthy, she is not) that he will be tired of her in a short period of time. He, of course, being the hero, finds himself enchanted and surprised by his possessiveness. Their secret affair brings out the sparkle that she never had, and other men find her both interesting and desirable.

I wanted the story to be longer. There just wasn’t enough of it. Everything happened in less than 50 pages. One lunch and it was over <sniff>. I could have stood just a little more plot. But for something to while away an hour, it was good fun.

This is not the first older woman/younger man romance Carina Press has published or the first one I have read. Stroke of Midnight, by Bonnie Edwards, is a contemporary romance with the same theme, also published by Carina. For something that has more depth, Laura Leone’s Fallen from Grace has just been released as ebook. Fallen from Grace won the RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance the year it came out, and it has been on a number of “best romance” lists, but the print version has been very hard to find for years. It also deals with an older woman/younger man romance, but there are a lot of darker issues involved with the story. Laura Leone also writes Science Fiction and Urban Fantasy under the name Laura Resnick.

A post earlier this month on the Dear Author blog commented that “Older women-younger men must be the new vampires…” because the commenter was finding the theme so prevalent. Searching for recent titles, I don’t think it’s that common, but particularly since Demi Moore threw Bruce Willis over for Ashton, the Cougar story has become a recurring theme in romance fiction. And personally, I think Demi traded down.