Total-e-bound, £1.69, ISBN 978-1-906328-08-5
Contemporary Erotica, 2007
Her Handyman is an interesting story. I like it, but I can’t help thinking that author Jennah Sharpe should have made the heroine much older and set the story in a time period when men and women mingle in a way that is more formal than it is today.
You see, in this story Stephanie Potter is a widow who lives as a recluse in the English town of Bottomhill. She is nervous at the moment because she is about to have a male guest in her house. What should she do? She gets quite agitated as she puts in the guest room books by authors she believes that a man would enjoy reading as well as “suitable” food, among other things. The guest is 25-year old Cullen McKay, a young man who has answered Stef’s newspaper ad for a handyman to fix up her place.
This is a cute story of a woman’s tentative bonding and subsequent erotic awakening with a younger man, but in this story Stef is supposed to be 45. Yet her conversations can be on the very prim and proper side, as if she’s playing the kind of role Dame Judi Dench normally plays in a movie. Her actions and the way people view her as her late husband’s “foreign widow” seem, to me, better off in a story set in the early 19th century or something.
This is a short story, but it’s impressive how Ms Sharpe manages to give me a vivid sense of what her characters are like. Stef is a lonely woman who nonetheless realizes that it’s no crime to enjoy the view afforded by a handsome young man in her house. She won’t expect more, of course. Cullen is a complete dream material. He’s a drifter who isn’t sure that he will settle down in one place with one woman even as he finds himself knocked breathless by the sight of Stef for the first. He’s besotted from the get go. How sweet, I must say.
Instead of rushing to a happily-ever-after scene of weddings and three kids that would be most unrealistic given the situation and the length of the story, Ms Sharpe takes her time to build up the slow simmering relationship between those two. I like how both characters are initially guarded around each other, embarrassed about how the other person will view his or her attraction to that person, but eventually each glance and touch builds up the sexual awareness between them slowly but deliciously surely to a boiling point. I even like the rather ambiguous ending, although I’m sure some readers would disagree.
Her Handyman sure knows how to give a good fix, I must say.