BOOK REVIEW: Flirting with Fifty by Jane Porter

Book Review

Title: Flirting with Fifty
Author:  Jane Porter
Publisher: Berkley
Released: May 24, 2022
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0593438381
Stars: 4.5

It has been a while since I have read a Berkeley title by New York Times Bestselling Author Jane Porter, and I am thrilled that she has this new book, Flirting with Fifty, out now, with a follow-up called Flirting with the Beast coming in November.

I do not read many romance novels because I have not been fortunate in love and gave up hope of finding my soulmate long ago. As someone flirting with sixty, I am cynical and jaded after being hurt by men too many times. I prefer spending time with friends, attending concerts, writing visceral poetry, reading literature, and watching dark, fantasy, supernatural or period dramas on TV. I am independent, self-reliant and comfortable with being single rather than dating from the truly cringe-inducing shallow pool of uninteresting men in my age group where I live.

As a result, although I have never been married, I can relate to Porter‘s heroine in this book. Paige Newsome is a professor of math and statistics at UC Berkeley and a divorced mother of three grown daughters, each of whom lives in various parts of the US. Her best friend, Elizabeth, is always there for her, her career is fulfilling, and she has interests outside of work. Her life is full. Paige doesn’t think anything is missing in her life. Then she’s coerced into a co-teaching assignment for a semester that includes an exciting field trip to Tanzania. The other teacher is a charismatic, celebrity professor whom she had a one-night stand with thirty years earlier when she was an insecure, inexperienced student.

I had a one-night stand almost twenty years ago in Ireland that unravelled me with its unexpected, exciting perfection. If that Black Irish, early 2000s, Johnny Depp-reminiscent social worker ever found his way in front of me again, I would feel like forty-nine-year-old divorcée Paige does when she realizes that the well-known Princeton tenured professor of biology (who has a show on the Discovery channel) she will be teaching with is her long lost one-night stand from Paris.

Jack King is everything a woman like me wants in a romantic interest: intelligent, interesting, successful, confident, handsome, and comfortable in his skin. And I won’t forget to mention his Aussie accent. That kind of man would make most women’s hearts skip a beat. And I love that he “believes value comes from accomplishments and not acquisitions.” However, at fifty-five, not even perfect guys come without baggage. Jack’s career demands a lot of travel; his twenty-eight-year-old son, Oliver, is his heart, and he never remarried after his wife died of ovarian cancer. He also never committed to his longtime, on-again, off-again lover and colleague, Camille. So could he possibly commit to Paige?

What I love about Porter’s writing is that she writes so authentically for her audience and makes storytelling appear effortless. Her characters are richly and carefully developed personalities with flaws that we understand and relate to. When Paige and Jack talk about their children, the meaning of parenthood for each is evident. All of Paige’s insecurities about her body and sex are mine. Porter knows her settings and characters intimately, and readers can sense her love for them. Most of all, I love that Jane’s stories make me dream again about abandoned possibilities for later-life love. I know I have to leave Kingston for it to be possible, and Porter almost makes me believe I can do it and that true love could lurk around the next corner. Like Paige, I ask myself, “Why couldn’t she try different things without obsessing about the negatives or the future?” And could I make new friends at this stage of life who would not only have time for me but have my back? We will never know the answers to such questions if we don’t take a risk.

Sometimes we long “to be greedy and want more. More adventure. More fun. More change. More new, fresh, interesting.” And we won’t get it if we don’t start by doing something different. However, being genuinely tired, disappointed, and exhausted by life does stand in the way of risk-taking in the future. Fortunately, there is safety in living vicariously through Jane Porter‘s thoughtful, romantic books.

Flirting with Forty: Elegantly Written, Honest Mom Lit by Jane Porter

Flirting with Forty

Title: Flirting with Forty
Author:  Jane Porter
Publisher: 5 Spot
Released: July 13, 2006
Pages: 368
ASIN: B000LP66SO
Stars: 3.5

Flirting with Forty by Jane Porter is an elegantly written, thoughtful, honest novel and excellent Mom Lit reading.

I am 44, single and childless, and cannot personally relate much to the main characters, all married or divorced, with children, and live within an extremely comfortable income tax bracket, not wanting anything but love and attention. However, I can agree with the main character Jacqueline’s statement,

“Because honestly, I’ve lived long enough to know we don’t always get what we deserve. We don’t always get the good we should.” As well as, “I am still, at forty, too romantic, too emotional, too sensitive, too intense.”

That’s very true of me and my experience. Jacqueline, of course, does get the good she should in the end, and her life, and Jane Porter’s, might surprise her occasionally with challenges, but for the most part, they are incredibly blessed, beautiful women who lead charmed lives. It’s hard not to be envious of them.

Perhaps the lesson here is that we can all lead charmed lives if we take risks and believe that we deserve to have what we want and never settle for less. But how many of us get to have the gorgeous, younger, six-pack-toting surf instructor boyfriend who makes us feel sexy? Ah-ha, that’s what I thought. That being said, I’m looking forward to reading more of Jane Porter’s books.

Flirting with Forty was made into a television movie starring Heather Locklear and Robert Buckley and aired on the Lifetime channel on Saturday, December 6, 2008. Entertainment Weekly reviewed it very favourably too.

For all things, Jane Porter (and you should get to know her because she’s a really lovely lady!), go to her official website.