What was the book about?
Neither Madison nor Jen expected a wedding hookup, and neither expected that hookup to have potential for more. The fourteen-years age gap isn’t the most significant impediment to the relationship they both yearn for as much as Madison’s (justified) trust issues or Jen’s tendency to prioritise everyone else’s well-being over hers.
Age Gap; Family
In Providence, Hays’s debut novel, what I loved most was the way the whole power dynamics changed as the characters’ relationship evolved. This second novel also is about how power dynamics make or break a relationship, but in a very different way. Everything when Jen and Madison first meet goes against them being equals. Madison is younger by enough years to make a real difference, she comes from an abusive background, her previous long-term relationship left her very wary. Jen is confident because she has never had any reason not to be. She’s used to power and knows how to navigate it. As a separated mother as well as in her professional life, she’s used to being in charge and fixing problems. This could very easily have been a clichéd story of a younger woman and her sugar mama, even if Jen isn’t as wealthy as her background seems to indicate. And yet it’s not. Leigh Hays took all the easy clichés and turned them on their head.
A huge part of her success in this is the characters: both Jen and Madison are complex, they’re fallible in ways that make them relatable. The secondary characters are well-thought too, from Madison’s family to Jen’s soon-to-be ex-wife and their son Carter and his friends (including a young trans boy, with a minor but significant role).
Last but not least, the sex. Leigh Hays knows how to write sexy scenes, there’s no doubt about that.
I didn’t feel as carried away as I had reading Providence. For a while, I wondered where the story was going. I was definitely enjoying it but it prevented me from being entirely carried away. I still loved this book enough that I’m very impatient for Hays’ next however.
It may be premature to write this about an author who has only published two books so far, but if there’s one thing Leigh Hays can write, it’s chemistry. Scorching chemistry leads to a fantastic night of sex when Madison and Jen meet at Jen’s niece’s wedding but there’s more than sex to that chemistry. It’s the emotional chemistry that keeps bringing them back to each other.
🔥 🔥 🔥
This second novel, which takes place in the same universe as Providence but can be read as a standalone, confirms that Leigh Hays is an author to watch out for. No pressure, but I’m already excited for the third one.