A Younger Man by Rochelle Alers
(Silh. Desire #1479, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76479-1
***
Rochelle Alers has carved out a comfortable niche with romances that feature heroines and heroes who are over 40. Many of her stories have been published as novellas in some of St. Martins Pressí most popular anthologies. TRR has reviewed those stories in Welcome to Leoís, Going to the Chapel and Island Magic. A Younger Man, Alersí first romance for Silhouette Desire, is a variation on that theme.

Veronica Johnson-Hamblinís SUV has a flat tire on a lightly traveled road in North Carolina. After waiting more than 30 minutes for road service, a young man on a motorcycle stops and offers to help. She is hesitant, but eventually allows him to assist her. Kumi Walker fixes her flat but refuses money for his help. Instead, he suggests that a home-cooked meal might be a better reward. When she suggests dinner at a restaurant instead, he balks. She finally relents and dinner is set for Sunday afternoon.

At Veronicaís house, Kumi is surprised when she opens the door. Her hair was covered during their roadside encounter. He now discovers she is totally gray. He is attracted to her nonetheless. She is both surprised and flattered. Despite their age difference - she is 42; he is 32 - they find they have a lot in common. They enjoy good food. Both have lived in Paris and Kumi gives Veronica an opportunity to resurrect her French. She enjoys his company and they begin a friendship.

Kumi is persistent, earnest and self-confident as only a young suitor can be. With Veronica, he rarely second-guesses their relationship and quickly tries to reverse any missteps. For her part, Veronica is self-conscious that she is older than he. She is a widow who has had limited experience with men. He is the more believable character of the two. Veronica is a mature woman with a wealth of valuable life experiences. However, she takes incredible chances with her safety - which is at variance with some of those experiences. Her reactions donít always ring true. For the majority of her life, Veronica has been involved with asexual relationships with men so Kumi presents an extreme reversal for her.

The secondary characters held in the background. Most are predictable in their support for or opposition to Veronica and Kumiís relationship. Veronicaís encounters with her greedy adult stepson slow down the pacing. The relationship between Kumi and his family is an interesting diversion that helps us learn who he is.

Rochelle Alers writes action-adventure romances featuring many generations of the Cole family. Itís no secret that I am a fan of her category-type romances. Summer Magic and Home Sweet Home are my favorite single titles. ďFar From HomeĒ in Island Magic and ďSecond ChanceĒ in Welcome to Leoís are among my favorite Alersí novellas.

A Younger Man is the authorís first book for Silhouette. As the relationship between the publisher and the author progresses, Iím expecting great things for Alers on this line. A Younger Man is an interesting start.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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