Are humans meant to mate for life?
After four kids and an unfortunate but fateful end to her twenty-two-year marriage, Elsie Smith meets the new guy in town.
Kael Hendricks is … a little younger, a lot sexy, and too confident for his own good. He also doesn’t believe in marriage and all that goes with it.
Can she love an enemy who will never surrender?
He’s just opened a new business that threatens the livelihood of Elsie’s family’s store–just in time for the holidays.
There’s an undeniable attraction that leads to out of control situations, a loss of inhibitions, and a lot of small town gossip.
As Elsie tries to redefine herself and convince her family she isn’t having a midlife crisis, she’s forced to answer the biggest question of all …
Can she love an enemy who will never surrender?
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Contemporary Romance | New Adult Fiction
***Received an Advanced Readers Copy through Valentine PR & Literary Management in exchange for an honest review***
Well give me all the age gap feels with some small town drama! Yes please.
Okay, seriously, I was really attached within the first couple of paragraphs of starting Not What I Expected. Whew, right for the feels just at the beginning! Great pacing. I will say this over and over, even with Romances with their insta-love type scenarios there should always still be a certain level of growth or development towards the pacing, this one definitely had a great one. And definitely the characters made it all the better too, the rawness of each one was on point from the start.
Surprise too, I really connected greatly with Elsie, in multiple ways, both good and bad. The way she brought up her unhappiness, the desire for a divorce, the guilt yet clear emotional need to realize her worth – it was enduring to be able to see myself in this character. You could truly relate to her agony, her truth. Divorce is so hard, I felt for her truly, it feels like you are cutting off your right arm, I know this feeling well. So yeah, I couldn’t help the connection I felt towards Elsie. That is what I liked most about this read, I was able to believe and relate to the female lead, which is generally pretty rare sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I came here for all the sexy time, but being able to connect to a female lead like Elsie was a huge plus for this read, made it ten times more enjoyable for me. Something else that really strikes home with her personality was her constant back and forth towards self criticism and worrying about what others might things, especially in such a small town. So gosh darn relatable, I mean that ‘why me’ thoughts was devastatingly accurate.
And speaking of those sexy times, they are definitely HAWT. The romance was entertaining to say the least, between that hovering age gap for Elsie, then mixed with cocky attitude of Kael, it was delicious. Made for some great steam! The sexual tension was melting through each chapter. The way Kael made Elsie feel, just feel again made it all the better.
I think the dynamic of their constant sexapades with interesting to say the least. Both had obvious agreement for a ‘F**k Buddy’ relationship, but even by the second encounter you could tell things were starting to get complicated for the both of them. The teasing, obvious jealousy, the constant bickering and banter. The chemistry was utterly hilarious and drool worthy.
I will admit though my biggest pet peeve, but probably was initial from the author was the religious aspect towards the small town. Elise is in this support group through the church, during their discussions the leaders of the group constantly reminded me why I separated from religion judgement. Again, this is a small town romance, so definitely initial, I liked it and yet disliked it. Some of the conversations truly made me cringe. I will admit though in the midst of this however there were some hilarious moments this brought on. Particular a scene where Elsie just left her church and runs into Kael. Sex on the brain with this sexy man meat giving her naked glances does not help. It made for a good chuckle.
While on the topic too, speaking of the side characters, can we take a second to enjoy Armie? I mean seriously, she was the topping to the cake for majority of the laughs. Pure amazingness. However in the midst of that, another irk I have for some other side characters. In most part of Elsie’s children. I didn’t understand the dynamic at times, but points it felt like the children treated Elsie as the adolescent. This included the partial drama at the end involving her four children. Something about that scene hit something that literally made me want to throw the book. I understood the purpose, truly I did, but something about how the kids berating their mother for living her life irked me beyond reason.
Overall, I really enjoyed Not What I Expected. It was charming, hilarious, good angst with a touch of small town drama. It had good pacing, and was definitely a fun, fast read. I definitely enjoyed it! I would have enjoyed to have seen this as a double POV, not just Elsie, but I also think that added to the charm of the character. Definitely a great read! Highly recommend.
Meet Jewel E. Ann
Jewel is a Wall Street Journal & USA Today best selling author a with a quirky sense of humor. When she’s not saving the planet one tree at a time, you can find her role modeling questionable behavior to her three boys, binge-watching Netflix with her husband, and writing mind-bending romance.
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