Last year, when Angelina Jolie announced that she had underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer due to a defective BRCA1 gene, she wrote how supportive her partner Brad Pitt had been, stating: “I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition.”
But imagine that you have just spent twelve celibate years raising your son as a single mother. Now he is going off to college and finally it is your turn to kick up your heels a bit. But before you gather your courage to stick your foot and your forty-year-old body back in the dating pool, you discover you have breast cancer and carry the BRCA1 gene. That is the premise for the newest release by Logan Belle called Now or Never: A Last Chance Romance:
On the advice and encouragement of one her co-workers, Claire goes to the local YMCA to attend the breast cancer support group but instead ends up in Erotic Reading Room.
As I stand to leave, the woman concludes her pornographic tale. The rest of the room stands as well. Not to leave, but to give a standing ovation. An ovation which I, apparently, initiated by leaving my seat.
“She’s amazing, isn’t she?” says the woman to my left. Round and pleasant looking, she reminds me of my Aunt Myrna.
“Um, yeah,” I say. That’s one word for it. Shocking might be another. Inappropriate, if I were to get judgmental. Which I absolutely am not.
It is during refreshment that Claire is approached by an extremely gorgeous man:
“Excuse me. I just need to get one of those chocolate glazed over there.”
A young guy reaches around me to the donuts. Well, younger than me. Mid-thirties, maybe. He has thick light brown hair that’s slightly mussed, like he just rolled out of bed. And it just gets better from there, high cheekbones and a straight-bridged, perfect nose—chiseled features usually reserved for the photos of fantasy men my friends send around, cluttering up my Facebook wall. He must be here for the breast cancer group, keeping some lucky gal company. Well, not lucky to have breast cancer. But certainly a boyfriend who looks like him must be some consolation. My doctor told me it’s important to have a supportive partner. I told him believe me, this is not the first event in my life where I wished I had a supportive partner. . .
“I only come for the free food,” he says. He has devastating blue eyes.
I smile. “It’s amazing that you’re here. Really.”
“Oh, it is,” I say, feeling a rush of emotion. “I’m sure your support means everything to her.”
“Aren’t you here for the breast cancer support group?” Oh no. I suddenly feel incredibly stupid, and I feel myself blush. But he hadn’t been at the Erotic Reading Salon. I would have noticed.
“No,” he says, shaking his head. “I go to AA.”
I look around the room. “How many groups meet here?”
He shrugs. “Dunno. Which one are you here for?”
That should be my cue to end the conversation. It’s none of his business.
”Maybe the group I’m meeting with is supposed to be anonymous, too,” I say. It comes out much more flirtatious than I intend.
He smiles, I notice his dimples. Okay, this guy is officially swoon-worthy. Get a grip on yourself, Claire.
“Fair enough,” he says. “I’m Justin.”
He holds out his hand. I switch my donut to my other hand so I can shake. His hand is enormous, and when it closes around mine, I feel a little breathless.
Claire surprises herself when she goes back a second time to the Erotic Reading Room. Of course if she is honest with herself, she has to admit that she is hoping to meet Justin. And she does. And he asks her out for drinks, which shocks her, especially since she thought he was supposed to be in AA:
"What? Oh yeah. The AA thing. It’s just that I enjoy sex, but I’m not looking for a relationship. Women in AA know they shouldn’t get into relationships, but everyone needs to get laid once in a while. It’s win-win.”
“You never want a relationship?”
He shakes his head. “Been there, done that. Not a good fit. So what’s your deal?”
And remarkably, Claire tells him. She didn’t mean to, but:
I’m suddenly on the verge of tears. “It’s okay. It’s not you.” And then it happens — the full-on waterworks. Sobbing, tears, the whole bit. It’s not pretty. I’m mortified. Justin, to his credit, seems unfazed. As if it’s every night a woman breaks down over her coffee and Bailey’s during a simple conversation. He hands me a cocktail napkin. I blow my nose.
“You wanna tell me what’s going on?”
Why pretend? Justin will find new fertile ground for his sexual exploits, stop showing up at the Y, and I’ll never see him again. “I don’t go to the Y for the Erotic Reading Salon. At least, I didn’t at first.”
“You’re in AA?” he says, eyeing my drink. I shake my head.
“No. I was going for the breast cancer support group.”
He swivels his bar stool to face me straight on. “Shit, Claire. I’m sorry.”
“No, no, it’s fine. It’s early, it’s treatable. It’s just…I have to have surgery and I feel like the surgery will diminish my…um, sexuality I guess you can say.”
Justin’s solution is to come up with an eight week plan to show Claire that it is never too late to embrace her sexuality. And he makes a list:
1. Kiss a stranger
2. Wear sexy lingerie
3. Go to a strip club
4. Have hot, anonymous oral sex
5. Watch people have sex
6. Have a one-night stand
7. Have sex in public/risk of getting caught
9. A three-way
Now Claire couldn’t do something like this, could she? Oh, you are going to have to read the book to find out the rest of the story. Well, just a hint and let’s drop down to the middle of the list to make it more interesting:
She takes my hands, and puts them on her breasts. I’m awed by the feel of her soft, smooth skin giving off heat. “Have you ever kissed a girl?”
“Um, no,” I tell her. And I’m not so sure I want to start now. But at the same time, I am at this place because I am on a quest—a quest to do the things that have passed me by. It’s not about what I should do, or would ordinarily do, or even necessarily have real desire to do. It’s about experience, pure and simple.
She leans close and kisses me. Cinnamon. Her mouth is soft, and it feels different than kissing a guy. Strange and familiar at the same time, and not at all wrong or weird or a turn-off. I can’t help but think it’s bizarre to kiss and touch someone who’s being paid for it. But if Kat finds this to be a chore in any way, she does a good job of hiding it. I’ve never thought about a woman sexually. But here, with Kat, it feels instinctive to want to touch and be close to her beauty. It’s so unreal, doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything odd. She’s as unthreatening as a flower, and as I kiss her, I thread my hands through her hair, amazed by its luxurious thickness. She straddles me on the bench, and we’re kissing and it’s so alien to have my arms around her thin frame. Her hands stroke my arms, then my breasts over my dress. I feel a pulse of heat between my legs — something I didn’t feel when kissing Allen. Something I haven’t felt with another person in a very, very, long time. But this strange woman has flipped some sort of switch.
Of course there are plenty erotic more scenes but long after I closed the book, I thought of Claire’s situation. How would I feel if I was facing the difficulties Claire was facing on her own? How would I react? Would I feel compelled to make a bucket list of sorts before my surgery? Would working my way down a list make me feel better or worse after the surgery? Would it assure me that I would still be sexy and attractive even after a mastectomy or would it cement in my mind that the reason I finally had the confidence to embrace my sexuality was because I still had my breasts?
I would hope that I would be secure about being womanly, feminine and sexually attractive, but I suspect this is one scenario that you don’t really know how you will react until you have to face it. What are your thought?
It is not often that a book both entertains and makes you look deep within yourself. You can buy this thought-provoking and sexually charged book now, which is perfect timing since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Leigh Davis, Blogger