“We Shall Ne’er Be Younger” by Mary Ellen Woods

We Shall Ne’er Be Younger: Silver Chronicles Book One

We shall ne'er be younger

Mary Ellen Woods

Recently widowed Emily is looking for a boyfriend (definitely NOT a husband–been there, done that!). Recently divorced Mike is looking for, ah, some female companionship. When they are introduced at a party, sparks fly. But does their relationship have enough of a slow burn to last for the long term?

The setup is classic romance novel, and there’s plenty here to delight the hearts of stalwart fans of the genre. Mike is tall, dark, and handsome, and an officer in the Marines to boot (considerable attention is lavished on how good he looks in his various uniforms). Emily is a petite spitfire who isn’t going to let a man boss her around. Two things make “We Shall Ne’er Be Younger” something other than a rehashing of genre tropes. First of all, the main characters are both in their fifties and are looking for a second chance at love after coming out of lengthy unhappy marriages. Second of all, the writing has a fresh and open character, eschewing the highly stylized nature of a lot of romance writing for a direct and honest approach that really does sound like something the woman next door might say or think. Since I tend to find the stylized language of the romance novel one of the hardest things to take about the genre, I found the writing style very refreshing; other readers may feel differently about it, but I thought it a welcome innovation.

Another refreshing innovation was the depiction of Mike, who absolutely is the alpha male you expect in a romance hero (a running joke throughout the book, by the way), but whose pros and cons are portrayed in a very natural, life-like manner. Like many romance heroes, he is occasionally hot-tempered, controlling, and sexist; unlike most of his brethren, he doesn’t mean to be the jerk that he sometimes can be, and Emily’s attempts to navigate his moods while also examining her own motives are an unusually realistic description of a relationship between the sexes. Critics of the romance genre tend to zero in on its heroes: why, they want to know, do women voluntarily read about relationships with alpha males who often act in ways that any sensible woman would find offensive? There are so many answers to that question, starting with a thirst for adventure (who doesn’t like taming tigers?), but one rather sober one is that this is an issue that any woman who gets in a relationship with a man, no matter how mild-mannered, is probably going to have to face, and it’s helpful to read about it. And, as recent research into video gaming and internet culture has proven, it’s not the alpha males women have to worry about, it’s the betas, it’s the betas…

In short, this is a fun, readable, and in many ways realistic addition to the genre of military romance, that still has plenty of fantasy sparkle. If you’re scornful of the Marines or the US military, this is definitely not the book for you, but if you want to read a second-chance romance about people who are still young at heart–and have plenty of aspirational sex, FYI–you are likely to enjoy this book.

Buy link: Amazon

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