Diane Lowe, a fiftyish widow from Des Moines, reluctantly decides to go on a cruise to Bermuda a few weeks after the death of her husband.
Against her will, she is assigned to a dinner table of six, consisting of two couples and a bachelor. During the cruise, she discovers the sexual peccadilloes of her dinner companions.
Diane also finds herself attracted to Juan, her cabin attendant. Juan, a good-looking native of the Dominican Republic, is thirty years younger than Diane but he is equally attracted to the mature widow. Although aware that the cruise line has strict policies against cruise line crew members fraternizing with guests, Diane and Juan have clandestine sessions in her cabin and in various locations when the ship docks at King’s Wharf, Bermuda.
Diane and Juan try to keep their cruise romance under wraps but soon Kelly Armstrong, the ship’s security officer is keeping tabs on them.
Read the book to learn how this older woman – younger man inter-cultural romance plays out.
WARNING 18+: This book is not recommended for young readers
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always been fascinated by the older woman – younger man relationship theme with the added twist of an inter-cultural affair. On my last cruise, I did observe the special attention that a young cabin attendant was giving to a middle-aged female cruise guest and let my fantasy take over to write this story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My main protagonist, Diane Lowe, is a composite of two types of single women that I have encountered on cruises. There are the lonely spinster types who avoid other cruise guests and spend their time in the library reading books or solving crossword puzzles and there are the socializing types who come on cruises to get to know other people. In my story, I focus on the transition of Diane from a grieving widow to a woman who comes to grips with her latent sexuality.
“I am Juan, your state room attendant.”
Diane saw a brown-skinned man in white shirt and black trousers standing outside when she opened the door after hearing a knock.
“Your baggage is outside. Can I bring it in?”
“I was sleeping.” Diane rubbed her eyes.
“I am sorry to have disturbed you,” Juan placed her suitcase on the luggage rack.
“No, it’s alright,” Diane replied. “I want to see the ship leaving the harbour.”
She had a closer look at the man. He was almost six feet tall and the pressed white shirt emphasized his dark skin and powerful physique. Despite her mood, Diane felt a little thrill as his smiling brown eyes gazed at her.
“We still have time. Let me show you around your cabin.”
He moved about, showing her the bar cabinet with drinks, the shower controls in the bathroom and the opening of the door to the balcony. She was mesmerized by his graceful movements – more graceful than she would have ever imagined a man of his build to be.
“I can’t see any cupboards.”
“They are in the passage.” Juan walked and opened one of the doors.
“I am so sorry but this is the first time that I am on a cruise.”
“I can help you unpack,” he offered.
“No thank you,” Diane replied. “I can manage on my own.”
“It will be quicker if I help you.”
“Why not accept his offer?” She thought for a minute. He would know where to place her clothes in the cupboards.
“Alright,” she conceded. Juan quickly opened her nylon duffel luggage and called her attention.
“You are certainly travelling light,” he commented.
“It was a last-minute decision and I threw some summer clothes together. Will it be hot in Bermuda?”
“Since this is your first cruise, you are probably not aware that we have two evenings where ladies are supposed to dress in formal attire.”
“What do you mean?”
“The first evening is known as the Captain’s Evening and it will take place day after tomorrow. Most ladies would wear either cocktail dresses or evening gowns.”
“I only have two pairs of jeans and two pairs of sweats. Otherwise I have blouses, tank tops and shorts of various colours.”
“We can organize something,” Juan said. “One of the casino croupiers is your size and she could loan you a dress.”
“I don’t think that it will be necessary.”
“Please think about it.” Juan smiled, exposing a row of perfect white teeth.
She stared at him, looking over every inch of his luscious dark body. He was the kind of man who would have many girl friends among the female staff on the ship.
Juan quickly unpacked her clothes from her luggage and arranged them on her bed. She felt a little embarrassed when he handled her underwear but he moved quickly to empty her suitcase. Then he placed her clothes in the drawers and cupboards.
“Thank you so much,” she said as he moved her suitcase under her bed. “Do you do this often?”
“Yes. We have guests with children and they need help in packing and unpacking their things.”
“You speak English very well but with a slight accent.” Diane wanted to know a little more about him.
“Actually my mother tongue is Spanish. I am from the Dominican Republic.”
Diane was not sure where the Dominican Republic was and decided to look it up on the Internet.
“How did you join this ship?”
“I was recruited two years ago in Santo Domingo where Star Cruises has an office.”
“Was it difficult to get this job?”
“They require multilingual staff. Apart from Spanish and English, I also speak French.”
“I can only speak English. Where did you learn all these languages?”
“I have a degree in languages from the Caribbean University.”
“I can’t believe it. If you have a college degree, why do you work as a cabin attendant?”
“The pay is good and I get to meet interesting people on the ship. We do the Bermuda cruise every week and I have a nine month contract with the cruise line.”
“What do you do during the rest of the time?” She was eager to know more about this man.
“I live with my parents. My father has a fishing boat in a village about fifty miles away from Santo Domingo and I help him.”
Juan looked around. “Let me close the door to the balcony otherwise it will get too warm.”
After closing the door, he stopped at the writing table.
“I see that you have the latest Douglas Kennedy book.” He picked up the book and read its title.
“Do you like reading his books?” She moved close to him while he leafed through the book. Her heart raced when they came close and she could almost feel his body heat.
“I have read all his books except this one.”
“You can borrow this book.”
“No, I cannot. What will you read?”
“I can take a book from the ship’s library.”
“Are you sure?”
“Please take it.” She pushed the book in his hands and felt an electric shock when their bodies touched. There was the faintest smell of cologne on him as if he was exuding male pheromones to her. She would have fancied a deeper sniff.
“Thank you very much.”
“You are welcome,” Diane said, looking up into his warm brown eyes. She blushed fiercely, trying not to stare at his broad shoulders and muscular chest.
“I will leave now so that you can get ready for dinner. You can wear your long blouse with your jeans for dinner.”
Diane was surprised that he had volunteered this suggestion but she decided to follow his advice.
“I will be back to make up your bed after you leave for dinner.”
After he left, she felt her body humming with sexual electricity. Juan had aroused something within her – a feeling that she not had for a long time.
She decided to lie down for a while and gather her thoughts. She wondered if she had made a mistake in allowing Juan to handle her intimate garments. He was only trying to help. Yet, she was not worried about him. She was worried about herself. Being so close to a virile-looking male like Juan made her aware of her sexual frustration after Bob’s death. Having a fling with a cabin attendant was the last thing she needed even if the alternative meant living with her pent-up desire unfulfilled.
Now that Bob was no longer there, she had time to think and sometimes these thoughts were about sex. Now she was day dreaming about Juan. She imagined him thrusting his hand into her pants, ignoring her resistance and pushing his fingers into her. She did the same, experiencing little waves of pleasure rolling through her body. She gasped and then lay still while her breathing returned to normal. A little later, she fell asleep.
Waking up, she looked at her watch. It was almost six p.m. She had missed the ship’s departure from the harbour and now she would be late for her first dinner.
She stripped and went to the bathroom for a hurried shower. As she came out, she heard a click on the cabin door. Before she could say anything, Juan was there. For a long instant, he looked at her nude body and she made no effort to cover herself.
“I am sorry. I thought that you had already left for dinner.” He retreated, closing the door quickly.
Diane felt a thrill race through her body. She had noticed the change in Juan’s look from one of embarrassment to longing. Perhaps he had never seen a naked white woman before and would let his animal instincts get the better of him. She thought about her day dreaming when he had taken what he wanted, whether she liked it or not. The truth was that she liked it a great deal and wished it had been reality.
She dressed and was tempted to wait for him to return. Finally, she braced herself and decided to go for dinner, a prospect that she did not relish very much.
Nick Shaw has been a passionate reader and writer ever since his youth. He has travelled in many countries and his books have a common theme: interracial relationships in the context of prevailing attitudes and prejudices.
Have you read this book or others by this author? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!