The best sexy books for smart woman over forty

Who am I?

I’m a creative director in Vermont with a few favorite things: laughter, standard poodles, and happy endings—in life and in fiction. Romance fiction abounds with young heroines and happy endings. But I prefer reading about mature women like myself, women who have experienced their share of disappointments yet face life’s challenges with courage and humor. I like the elements of both genres in one juicy book. After much-frustrated searching, I gave up and wrote the story I wanted to read. My wise, middle-aged heroine still has lots to learn about grief and joy, and learns many of those lessons with men—in bed.


I wrote...

Willing: A Contemporary Romance

By Leslie Morris Noyes,

Book cover of Willing: A Contemporary Romance

What is my book about?

Liz Silver has lost her creative spark. Her career success is tied to the enthusiasm she brings to her wedding photography, but losing that spark threatens her livelihood. What gives? Her life is perfect, isn’t it? She has a delightful daughter, supportive friends, and glorious Vermont to call home. Armed with the wisdom and humor her Jewish ancestors stitched into her DNA, Liz begins looking for solutions. The men she casually takes to bed along the way force her to consider whether her vow to leave love behind is the problem. Traveling a road potholed with old grief, Liz discovers a new way of seeing herself, a career reboot, and, just maybe, the partner of her dreams—if the potholes don’t get her first. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Spending: A Utopian Divertimento

Leslie Morris Noyes Why did I love this book?

Spending is about a divorced artist and mom. It starts with a middle-aged protagonist reluctantly giving a gallery talk. She complains that male artists often have muses to do their laundry and supply sex, thereby providing practical and “therapeutic” support. A man in the audience stands up and offers to be the artist’s muse. The story is about what happens when this stubbornly independent woman takes him up on it. I totally related to the crusty heroine who has fought for everything she has and distrusts fortune when it offers abundant gifts. 

By Mary Gordon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spending as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Monica Szabo, a middle-aged, moderately successful painter, encounters B, a wealthy commodities broker who collects her work. B volunteers to be her muse, offering her everything that male artists have always had to produce great art: time, space, money, and sex.
Passionate, provocative, and highly engaging, Spending displays Gordon's maverick feminism, her extraordinary wit, and her unique perspectives on art, money, men, sex -- and the desires of women.


Book cover of The Feast of Love

Leslie Morris Noyes Why did I love this book?

I confess that almost everything Baxter has written is too intellectually frigid for me. But this novel is one of my favorites. At times sweet, at times intense, it is a meditation on the ways we love, and the various stages of love based on our ages and the duration of our relationships. Baxter explores romantic love, first love, old love, love for our children, and sexual obsession. Grief and hope figure prominently. At first, seemingly a series of short stories, the novel’s characters gradually drift into one another’s orbits and their stories become integrated. I love the author’s mastery of form while telling a brilliantly humane—and sexy—story about what it means to love.

By Charles Baxter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Feast of Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A superb novel that delicately unearths the myriad manifestations of extraordinary love between ordinary people. 'The Feast of Love' is just that - a sumptuous work of fiction about the thing that most distracts and delights us. Shortlisted for the National Book Award.

In this latter-day 'Midsummer Night's Dream', men and women speak of and desire their ideal mates; parents seek out their lost children; adult children try to come to terms with their own parents and, in some cases, find new ones.

In vignettes both comic and sexy, the owner of a coffee shop recalls the day his first…


Book cover of Summer Hours at the Robbers Library

Leslie Morris Noyes Why did I love this book?

A teenage girl in Maine steals a dictionary at the mall and is sentenced to do community service in her small town’s library. The middle-aged head librarian there has exiled herself from a divorce accompanied by public scandal. A much younger New York City stockbroker who had piles of money turns up in town after losing everything in the 2008 crash. He believes his aunt’s savings booklet from a bank long subsumed by another—he just needs to figure out which one—will put him back on his feet. I love how gently this novel reveals these damaged characters’ foibles and hopes. They seem to have nothing in common, yet they heal each other. And there is (spoiler alert) a sexy little romance between the librarian and the stockbroker.

By Sue Halpern,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Summer Hours at the Robbers Library as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From journalist and author Sue Halpern comes a wry, observant look at contemporary life and its refugees.  Halpern’s novel is an unforgettable tale of family...the kind you come from and the kind you create.

People are drawn to libraries for all kinds of reasons. Most come for the books themselves, of course; some come to borrow companionship. For head librarian Kit, the public library in Riverton, New Hampshire, offers what she craves most: peace. Here, no one expects Kit to talk about the calamitous events that catapulted her out of what she thought was a settled, suburban life. She can…


Book cover of Delicious

Leslie Morris Noyes Why did I love this book?

Set in Victorian England, this novel begins where romances often start—with a beleaguered heroine. She is a brilliant cook with a questionable past. Her patron dies. His brother takes over the estate where—let’s say—she’s been multi-tasking. The brother has perversely cut all pleasure from his life. But oh, that food. Complications develop, including his desire to not desire the food or the cook. There are dark secrets and dark hungers including a hunger for revenge on both the hero’s and heroine’s parts. I love a sexy, twisty story that I can’t put down. This one meets all of my marks. 

By Sherry Thomas,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Delicious as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Famous in Paris, infamous in London, Verity Durant is as well-known for her mouthwatering cuisine as for her scandalous love life. But that’s the least of the surprises awaiting her new employer when he arrives at the estate of Fairleigh Park following the unexpected death of his brother.

To rising political star Stuart Somerset, Verity Durant is just a name and food is just food, until her first dish touches his lips. Only one other time had he felt such pure arousal–a dangerous night of passion with a stranger, who disappeared at dawn. Ten years is a long time to…


Book cover of Harnessing Peacocks

Leslie Morris Noyes Why did I love this book?

Ms. Wesley didn’t publish until she was seventy, which I find inspiring. She produced ten slim interconnected novels. Like the heroine of Delicious although a century later, this one cooks. She cooks for elderly ladies, visiting for a week or two to stock their freezers with fabulous meals. Her less innocent sideline is “visiting” with men. These occupations earn her enough to keep her fatherless son in an excellent private school. Then, the unthinkable happens: two men who were previously unknown to each other discover they may be sharing the same mistress. The problem is they thought their arrangements were exclusive. A comedy of manners ensues. Wesley’s prose cuts like a finely honed knife. And she does her cutting with very few words. I so admire that skill!  

By Mary Wesley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Harnessing Peacocks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hebe sits in the darkness and listens to her hypocritical grandparents and her older siblings discuss how her unexpected pregnancy must be terminated to avoid the shame it will bring. Determined to raise her child, she flees into the night with only her mother's jewellery to support her.

Twelve years later she is living happily alone in Cornwall, whilst her son attends an expensive private school. Hebe has harnessed her two great talents - cooking and making love - to make a living for herself, but when the separate strands of her life become intangled the even tenor of her…


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Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

Book cover of Radio Free Olympia

Jeffrey Dunn Author Of Radio Free Olympia

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’ve always been a child of the woods. I preferred to leave my home and wade a creek or explore a hillside. Nothing compared to the sight of a black snake or the feel of a mud puppy. School was a torture until an English teacher introduced me to Richard Brautigan and then read my first serious story to the class. Since then, this dyslexic nature lover has become a dream fisher and history miner with a Ph.D. in English Literature and Cultural Studies. Retired from forty-one years of teaching, I now write and publish cultural fiction.

Jeffrey's book list on where imagination and nature run free

What is my book about?

Embark on a riveting journey into Washington State’s untamed Olympic Peninsula, where the threads of folklore legends and historical icons are woven into a complex ecological tapestry.

Follow the enigmatic Petr as he fearlessly employs his pirate radio transmitter to broadcast the forgotten and untamed voices that echo through the wilderness. Venture deeper and encounter Baie, the founder of Wildsisters, a cranberry-infused roadhouse that offers solace to lost and wayward women. When a newborn is kidnapped, Baie and her community must unite to recover what has been stolen. Yet, their quest for justice extends beyond the realm of human characters—it must also be served for the fragile flora, the diverse fauna, and the very essence of the natural world.

Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

What is this book about?

Unleash the Power of the Wilderness in Radio Free Olympia


Discover the captivating allure of Washington's untamed Olympic Peninsula in Radio Free Olympia, an extraordinary literary masterpiece that immerses readers in a mesmerizing realm of visionaries, folklore legends, and historical icons. With an enchanting blend of magical realism and cultural fiction, the brilliant wordsmith Jeffrey Dunn artfully intertwines multiple narratives, crafting an intricate ecological tapestry that resonates deeply within the soul.


Embark on a riveting journey alongside the enigmatic Petr, a foundling whose path leads him deep into the heart of the majestic mountain rainforest. Armed with nothing but a…


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