Esmeralda and the Second-Hand Suitor by Hebby Roman

This novel taught me a very valuable lesson. Apparently, I have been misspelling the name “Esmeralda” ever since I first saw the Hunchback of Notre Dame cartoon over 20 years ago. 20 years of thinking it was “Esmerelda” instead of “Esmeralda”. Oh, it also teaches that it’s never too late to fall in love, but still. The whole name thing really left me shook.

What’s it About? 

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What’s a forty-year-old virgin doing in a predicament like this? Looking for a husband because her late father’s will decrees she must marry or forfeit her orchard, her only means of support. Hank McCall, as a perspective husband, leaves a great deal to be desired—he’s twice divorced and older than Esmeralda. Scarred by their pasts and challenged by the gap in their ages, Esmeralda and Hank struggle with their new-found relationship. But when Hank is faced with losing Esmeralda or surrendering to her yearning to have a real family, their fates hang in the balance.

First Impressions

Personally, I could really identify with Esmeralda’s rather cynical approach to dating. It was almost like I’d found a kindred spirit in her pessimism! Upon first meeting Hank she immediately focuses in on the negative things about him. He’s older than she would have liked; he’s twice-divorced; he jokes about how he’s bad with the stock market, etc. Why does he seem so interested in her? It must be because he’s after something. Perhaps he’s enamored with her money. He must be a fortune hunter! Phew!! That’s a lot of cynicism to cram into a first impression.

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I think for many people their default assumption in regards to Esme would be that she must be bitchy or catty to not even give him a chance. But that’s so far from the truth here people! Her obsession with pointing out his every supposed flaw says so much more about her own character than his. It reveals her insecurity with herself. It makes her think, hey this guy is showing me attention, but why would anyone want to show me attention? I’m so plain and boring there must be something wrong with him if he wants to spend so much time with me. Girl, I feel you. A lot of us feel you. And I love it soooooo much!

The Real Hank

Esme’s first impression of Hank obviously isn’t all that positive, and she almost doesn’t give him a chance. However, it doesn’t take long for us to discover what an amazing guy Hank is, with such a loving, sensitive side to his personality. In addition, you can’t help but feel bad for the poor guy! He’s like a little puppy dog, and so patient when Esme is unsure of herself, especially in regards to their sexual relationship. Eventually Esme is able to overcome her own insecurities, and comes to trust Hank for who he truly is. But our tale of romance can’t just end there!

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When Esme starts to feel like she can take a leap with Hank the fortunes of fate turn the tables, and Hank starts to question if he can trust Esme considering she kept the terms of her father’s will a secret from him. When he discovers she must marry someone within the next week or risk losing half of her orchard to her cousin, Hank wonders whether or not Esme truly loves him for him, or for the fact that he could be the answer to her financial woes. I will say at times their constant back and forth of should they or shouldn’t they started to get a bit tiring, but it also goes to show that new romances can be full of questions and second-guessing.

An Exploration of Intimacy

Technically we never actually have a scene where these two have intercourse. That being said, holy Toledo are they smokin’ hot. Esme is basically exploring her sexuality for the first time ever, as Hank is finally someone she feels a modicum of comfort with in regards to intimacy. Yes, this means she is a virgin. Yes, she is 40 years old. Yes, they both make reference to the fact that this counters the film 40 year old virgin. And yes, I did giggle with that delightful little quip.

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In my mind, this aspect is what actually cemented my positive opinion of Hank. It wasn’t just that he didn’t want to pressure a woman into entering a sexual relationship with him before she felt ready. Instead, it was that he didn’t feel the need to either pressure her to give up her virginity, or on the flip side feel the need to bolt in the other direction when faced with the pressure of deflowering a 40 year old virgin. He chose to stand by her, and go at her own pace. Hank never made her feel guilty for taking things slow, or weird over the fact she’s never had sex at her age. You a good dude Hank. Cue the slow approving head nod.

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The Villainous Hector

One aspect of the novel that I wish had been explored a bit further was Esme’s relationship with her cousin, Hector. This is the man who will inherit half of her orchard if she fails to marry someone three years after the death of her father. All things considered, Hector’s a pretty important character, yet we really only get 2 short scenes featuring him. I would have liked to further explore his relationship not only with Esme’s father, but with Esme herself. What is it that brought such animosity between them, and why could they not come together and overcome it as family? Was it solely tied to Hector’s greed? His drinking? It could have added an extra layer of depth to the story if we’d been given more of a chance to explore Hector and Esme’s past together.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Snowbirds, book 2. It was nice to get a continued glimpse of the couple from book 1, as well as an introduction to our heroine for book 3.

Should you read it? This is a tale of a quick romance. Hank and Esme really don’t know each other that long, but they are quite open with each other in regards to their pasts. At times, there was almost too much detail about setting up IRAs, investments, and Esme’s natural gas deposits. Definitely informative, but also kind of distracting from the “A” story. It’s still a sweet romance though showing that it’s never too late for people to find each other, and have their dreams come true.

Smut Level: Goodness gracious! These two have some passion!! They kiss, pant, rub, grab, moan, and suckle some things too. Quite nice.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Estrella Publishing. 189 Pages.

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