Apples Should Be Red

Image of Apples Should Be Red
Release Date: 
February 25, 2014
Amazon Digital Services
Reviewed by: 

“A romance between a 59-year-old prissy heroine and a 62-year-old grouchy hero should not be sexy.


Wrong. Dead wrong.”

In Apples Should Be Red pearl-wearing Beverly Anderson has high standards for everything from front yard landscaping to Thanksgiving dinner preparation. She aims to please everyone, often sacrificing her own happiness in the process.

Tom Jenkins, on the other hand, lives by his own standards and his alone. A fancy front yard will only attract visitors—the kind that want to talk and crap. That’s the last thing Tom wants. And Thanksgiving dinner? Well, that’ll taste just the same on paper plates as it will on fine china.

When these two opposite ends of the spectrum are forced to spend a few days together before having Thanksgiving with their children who are married, Tom and Bev will have to find a way to tolerate each other.

Or perhaps they’ll find something else entirely.

Most popular romance novels these days have main characters in their late twenties and early thirties. Forty is considered old. Things are starting to droop, wrinkle, hunch, and generally be less… perky. Readers turn their noses up at characters with more life experience. They want heroes and heroines who still have more sand in the top of the hourglass.

Penny Watson is changing all that with Apples Should Be Red. Main characters Tom and Bev are fabulous. The connection to them is instant. They are real, they are flawed, and they are vulnerable. Tom’s constant cursing, anti-social behavior, and cigarette smoking give him that cranky old guy edge, but the fact that he has “big rough hands” and “leather-tanned skin, stubbly chin, blue eyes blazing, body hot and hard and safe?” Well, that just makes him irresistible.

Bev is equally as charming in her “nice slacks and a cardigan and two-inch heels.” The author uses pearls as a wonderful symbol for breaking the chains that bind us—bind us to the image of what we think we’re supposed to be. The way Bev rediscovers herself in this book is inspiring.    

The author’s choice of character names is perfect as well. The simplicity of “Tom” and “Bev” really drives home the point that these two are old school. They’re the parents of grown and married children. They have knees that require them to have help sitting down on a stoop. Funky names like “Skylar” and “Jacelyn” that are found in many mainstream romance novels would have been ridiculous in this story.

The bulk of the action takes place at Tom’s house, which is a brilliant way to immediately get Bev into a setting that is going to tip her balance. “It was clear as day this was a bachelor’s residence. Clumps of tall grass skirted the porch, and dandelions dotted the front lawn.” This house doesn’t meet Bev’s standards at all . . . aside from the front porch. Ms. Watson uses this home as an ingenious metaphor for Tom himself. He’s messy and unmanicured like his front yard, yet there’s just something about him that appeals to Bev—much like that front porch.

This novella only has two downsides (if one would even call them that). One is that Tom and Bev’s children, Karen and John, make an appearance and they are unnecessary. The story would have been just as strong and entertaining without them having any actual lines of dialogue. The second is that Tom and Bev deserve a full-length novel. A mere 86 pages with them is just not enough.        

With simply wonderful dialogue and heavy with jabs at one another, Tom and Bev make you truly believe life gets better as you age. They also illustrate that it’s never too late to change, and it’s never too late for love. Sexy and heart-warming tales know no age boundaries.

Apples Should Be Red should definitely be read. 

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