On the surface, Cougar appears to be a middle-aged women’s escapist fantasy, but darker issues lurk underneath its seemingly sunny surface.
Becky is a widow, alone and bereft after the death of her beloved husband, Mark. She meets Buddy, a down-on-his-luck handyman looking for odd jobs. But Buddy is interested in more than just helping Becky out, and he seduces her. Becky falls hard for Buddy, yet how much does she really know about him? Are there issues in Buddy’s past that might come between them?
Though Cougar seems like a straightforward story at the beginning, author Sally Allen manages to weave in unexpected twists and turns that keep readers guessing from beginning to end. While the plot isn’t always realistic or believable, it becomes gripping as Becky discovers new and disturbing information about Buddy.
Prickly and overly prim, Becky can be a difficult character to like at times. As the novel progresses, however, and Becky finds a new use for her time and an outlet for her creativity, she softens with this renewed sense of purpose. Still, she makes very bad decisions (namely, seeing Buddy though everyone around her warns her that he’s bad news), which can be frustrating to observe. Nonetheless, readers will be invested in her story, right up until the shocking ending.
The writing in Cougar can be somewhat clunky (“The perfectly mowed grass extended down to the pond and the barrels of flowers looked wonderful with all the different colors.”), but it never gets in the way of the story. Readers will be invested in Becky’s life and hope that things turn out well, even with the hints that darker things lie ahead.
Cougar is an enjoyable romp that should appeal to fans of women’s fiction and slow-burning thrillers alike.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.