Not What I Expected by Jewel E. Ann is now live!

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. And … He’s just opened a new business that threatens the livelihood of Elsie’s family’s store–just in time for the holidays. The problem? 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?



4,5 stars  

Jewel really has a way with words. How just a string of very few words put together can make you grasp not only the general terms but also the tiny little lines at the end of a contract is magic.

You want proof?

Let’s begin with some quotes: “When is what okay?” “When is it okay to be happy without anyone’s permission, without judgment? And I mean anyone.”

I bet in that moment you are already thinking: OMG! Yes! That’s so true! And you are already planning your revolution!

 Or another quote: That betrayal—that complete lack of acknowledging my worth—drove a knife deeper into my heart than any affair ever could have done. An affair said, “My gaze wandered.” But that said, “I don’t see you at all.””

I bet most of us who have been in a relationship for some time can totally grasp this. Because not seeing the other’s worth anymore is a slow death for the relationship.


  I have highlighted so many sentences and paragraphs in that story! It is food for the mind. Things to ponder on.  


Not What I expected, under its light and funny veneer is a powerhouse of married life wisdom.


You can read that book for the slightly forbidden or rather scandalous tinge that comes with age gap difference exacerbated because it’s older woman vs younger man.

You can read the story to cringe and snicker at all the annoying things husbands do or don’t do anymore after some time in a relationship.

You can also choose to read it for Elsie’s personal growth and path into grief.

Or you can read it for all these reasons because that’s what Jewel did: create a Russian doll with every doll hiding a new one, every trope hiding another one.  


But what’s the story? And who are the characters?

  The story is about Elsie, forty-two, four kids, a dog, stay at home mom who lost her husband after her first epic outburst. He left the house and just …died. Now she is taking it upon herself to support the family business of gift and food store and making sure her in laws can stay in their home.

It was never her dream to work in the shop but she has always been the dutiful one. Because: “Men are dogs … they just are. They need constant praise and rewards. Women are pack mules—we work without praise for long days, recover quickly, and wake up the next day plodding right along again. No treats. No pats on the head. No belly rubs.”  


But one day she gets competition as a new shop of specialty food opens across hers, in this small town.

And in Elsie’s eyes, the owner is: “Hot. Captain America. Way too young for my fantasies … Kael. And enemy number one.”

And the story will veer toward  enemies to lovers or rather, Elsie sees Kael as competition to her family business and threatened to “take him down” while he was rather amused and …aroused by her feistiness.


Of course; there is lots of chemistry, great banter and funny moments.

How did God expect me to keep my dreams clean and thoughts pure with Satan, disguised as Captain America, and constantly breathing down my neck?”


Kael is also innately a good guy. The one who will blow the snow in your driveway, repair a leaking faucet, carry your bags full of groceries etc.

He is hot, single, kind and …always lives in the moment with no strings attached. That last part is quite opposite to what Elsie has always been taught to believe in and it will lead to a whole journey of self-growth.


When she is not busy managing a business, alternatively flirting with her nemesis or making plans to ruin him, Elsie is also attending a church group for widows to help with her grief.

After ten months of silence, she will cause mayhem when telling some not so appealing truth about her deceased husband. She opened a can of worm and all of a sudden, these virtuous women will reveal some intimate and often cringe worthy parts of their marriage.

All these confessions had me often read so loud or empathize deeply. These were little diamonds in that story and I bet Jewel had a field day collecting these from her readers!  


To sum it up: this book made me think, laugh, blush, cry and above all else: think. Oh and get a cramp in the wrist as I wrote down way too many quotes!

Just read it.

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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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