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Publisher's Summary

USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling author Jewel E. Ann redefines modern romance with this unforgettable enemies-to-lovers story.

Are humans meant to mate for life?

After four kids and an unfortunate but fateful end to her 22-year marriage, Elsie Smith meets the new guy in town.

Kael Hendricks is...a little younger, a lot sexy, and too confident for his own good. He also doesn’t believe in marriage and all that goes with it.

And...he’s just opened a new business that threatens the livelihood of Elsie’s family’s store - just in time for the holidays.

The problem?

There’s an undeniable attraction that leads to out of control situations, a loss of inhibitions, and a lot of small-town gossip.

As Elsie tries to redefine herself and convince her family she isn’t having a midlife crisis, she’s forced to answer the biggest question of all....

Can she love an enemy who will never surrender? 

©2020 Jewel E. Ann (P)2021 Jewel E. Ann

What listeners say about Not What I Expected

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 15-05-2021

Compared to her other books, this one fell flat!

I feel in Love with When Life Happened, Undeniably You and Transcend. I've listened to each at least 5 times. Each of them we gut wrenching and drew me in and kept me on the edge of my seat. This book was extremely predictable and didn't have the highs and lows. I still love Jewel E. Ann and will continue to read her books just not this one.

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  • Reading_Junkie28
  • 05-05-2021

LOVED IT!!!

Elsie & Kael are absolutely AMAZING! After years of marriage Elsie decides she has had enough but tragedy strikes throwing her life onto a path she did not expect. Months later comes along Kael throwing a wrench into her life. This story was one AMAZING ride. I would say enemies to lovers at its finest🙌🏻 so much angst, so much tension, so much CHEMISTRY. These two will definitely have you in all your feels. Tanya did an AMAZING job with the narration. 👏🏻👏🏻

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  • rosegold_bibliophile
  • 23-04-2021

Kael & Elsie

Story: 2 ⭐️
Steam: 4/6 🔥 (multiple scenes with mild-moderate descriptions)
Audio: 3 🎧

I unfortunately did not really enjoy this book. I think maybe for some this book will be great- it was well written- but for me I just didn’t like the story. From the start it didn’t really catch my attention. Once the romance started it felt kinda forced. Kael was really forward and I wasn’t a huge fan of the way he came onto Elsie. It just didn’t feel sexy. And Elsie’s constant inner monologue during steamy scenes was also not sexy. I didn’t think it was fun to listen to all the parts of her that were “getting older” it very much took me out of the moment. She acted like she was an 80 year old woman. Anyways I just couldn’t get into this book.

Audiobook Performance: This narrator is not a favorite for me. I feel like her voice is too high pitched.

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  • Tara
  • 22-04-2021

What a wonderfully realistic tell of heartache and healing

I so enjoyed this book, Elise was an awesome character. Tanya Eby did a fabulous job narrating this story. I don’t think I’ve ever came across anything quite like it. It had it all lol moments, sadness, healing, and finding ones else.

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  • AlohaD
  • 20-04-2021

Humor, Truth and emotional all in one

I don't know what I was expecting when I started this book, but I have to say it was so much more than I could've hoped for. It was full of truth, laughs, growth and yes, a bit of pain.
When I first started the audio, I was already drawn in with the author's note that it was more of a women's fiction book and was based off of things her readers had said. I was curious where it would go. And you know where it took me? To MY life. I swear the beginning of each chapter could've been me talking about my married life. As a woman in her 40's that has put everyone else before herself, I understood Elsie, the main character. Her whole life she supported and took care of her kids and her husband. Not by "working outside of the home" and bringing home money, but by taking care of the every day family life. The kids, her husband's parents, the house, etc. The hamster wheel of life. Same thing day in and day out and not being appreciated for it. Elsie is fed up and asks for a divorce. One that her husband never saw coming.

But when you live in a small town, everyone knows your business and they know Elsie and what she's been through. Elsie is a woman that has been brought up with strong religious beliefs, so after losing her husband, she goes to grief meetings held at her church. The women that are part of this group end up really helping one another. First, it's Elsie spewing some truth, but then it's all of them sharing their pieces of life because Elsie has kind of given them the freedom and opportunity to do so, much to the chagrin of the meeting leader.

With those meetings and with Elsie trying to maintain and keep up her family appearance, I saw this book more as one of growth. Of seeing your worth for a middle aged woman that has been a stay at home mother and devoted wife for a good portion of their life. But there's also the added sexy addition of Kael, the younger man that breaks Elsie out of her shell and has her seeking something more out of life. Something for her and her alone. And I loved Elsie for that. She frustrated me at points and I felt like she was acting immature about Kael, but then again, she had been with one man and she was learning. This was HER journey and HER life to figure out. I'm just happy that she had the free-spirited, very kind and younger Kael to help her along the way. He gave her a whole other perspective of what her future could look like.

While I definitely thought the audio was narrated well (bravo Tanya Eby for capturing Elsie's pain and humor), it was the story and the words for me. The journey for Elsie and how she grew from being a part of a couple to being a strong, independent woman. I just loved this whole book. It's a book for women (although guys should take note). It held so much truth and had me laughing and cheering on Elsie. I REALLY Loved seeing a woman my age come into her own after living the first half of her life for others. Thank you, Jewel E Ann for making me feel seen. 4.5 stars rounded up

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  • Lady M
  • 17-04-2021

Spoiler free review

this was definitely not what I expected! from the huge begining, to the very end, the journey is everything. life doesn't go as planned, this book shows you that, how to accept change and new possibilities. it's funny, sad, all the things real life is. it's actually a beautiful story. the narrator was good, sometimes females don't do the male voice justice, but this one was pretty good

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  • Nanda ❤️ Dream Books Club ❤️
  • 16-04-2021

Another winner!

Again I was dragged into Jewel's world, and just couldn't stop reading!
This book was like a breath of fresh air into a house closed for too long.
And that's exactly how I felt about Kael getting into Elsie's life.

Elsie is a 42 years old widow with 4 adult kids, that was ready to be divorced when her husband died.
She carries a big amount of guilt but she's trying to navigate through this new life were she's in charge of herself, her family business and her happiness.

Kael was the unexpected 30 years old new guy in town. Elsie's competition in business, and the absolutely opposite of her.
He was carefree, religion free, marriage and kids free and irresistible to her, since he have in fact, all the freedom of spirit that she was looking for.

I've laughed so many times with her random and crazy thoughts! I kinda of loved her for all her spontaneity and need to be free again.
Not free of her kids or the life she built, but from her mind, her social obligations... Sure lived her life pleasing and doing what everyone needed... But what about her?
She went through so much, and she definitely deserved to be happy again.

I loved her and Amie's friendship.
I loved the way she treated her kids.
I loved the honestly of the things that she loved, and the things that she hated, about her failure marriage.

Not everyone mate for life...
And I can definitely agree with that.
This book is about falling in love, but also about falling out of love...
And being able to love again.

The narration was good, and the only missing thing was maybe Kael's POV...
But I get why the author made it as a women's story.

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  • TINA WILLIAMS
  • 15-04-2021

I loved it!!!!

Not What I expected is a beautifully written, realistic, raw look at a middle age woman finding herself and testing her boundaries and I loved every word. The narration and performance of this audiobook was exceptional. As a woman in my 40s, this story resonated with me in many ways. I loved this story. I laughed out loud so many times while listening. It was so genuine. I have been married for almost 30 years and have had similar thoughts. I loved the slow burn, angst between Elsie and Kael! This is one of the best audiobooks, I have listened to this year!! A must read/listen.

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  • KeelyReadsRomance
  • 13-04-2021

Loved this story!

I listened to the audiobook and Tanya Eby was a fantastic narrator! This story resonated with me on a level I was not expecting. I wouldn’t categorize myself as middle aged but I loved this story of finding oneself after marriage and raising kids. I laughed at many of the anecdotes of what the women in the support group hated about their husbands...It was totally relatable. 😂 I loved that Elsie finally stood up for herself and ignored societal expectations by embracing the “here and the now.” This story is a bit of a departure from normal Jewel E. Ann books and she even says in the foreword that it turned into a women’s fiction novel. I loved this book and would definitely recommend!

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  • Amanda Anderson/Beauty.and.the.bookies
  • 13-04-2021

I cannot get enough

This audio as AMAZING. LIKE WOW.
I have read the book. It was really good. But the audio? It blew the ebook out of the water. It was like my first time. I was listening to this in the store and laughing so loud. I LOVED IT!!!!! SO SO SO GOOD. The narrators were perfect. Thank you Valentine PR!

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  • Karen Dee
  • 27-04-2021

Women's fiction meets modern romance

I really liked this Women's fiction/romance novel combination book. It was a bit of a departure from Jewel's usual work. I loved that it was older more mature people over 30 and 40 having a modern romance with all of the complications that go with it. Marriage isn't glorified as the ultimate prize but rather something that is more realistic especially for couples that have been together for a long time. You do get on each others nerve after awhile and those little things can add up. Less romance and more realism marks this audiobook but yet it still retains a feeling of sexiness and optimism with a dose of pragmatism. The hero Kael is a sexy self assured businessman who just happens to be the new store in town that is in competition with the heroine's Elsie old store. Sparks fly as the sexual tension heats up along with Elsie's temper as she watches her customers take their business to Kael's hip new store.
Ultimately, this story is really about Kelsie finding out who she is and what she wants after a lifetime of being defined by other people and their expectations. Kael helps her in her journey but ultimately she learns to find her own way on her own terms.
The narration by Tanya Eby was good but the audiobook would have sounded better with a male narrator added.
Overall this was a very enjoyable listen.

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  • Jocelyne
  • 25-04-2021

I Loved It!

OMG! I loved it! The cover is beautiful. Kael and Elsie's Small Town Romance/woman fiction is beautifully written, humorous, and emotional. This is also a great romance between an older woman and a younger man. Kael, 30, is sexy, handsome, and confident! Elsie, 42, mother of 4, is lovely, smart, independent, and strong. They are such great characters! They are opposites attract, but they are perfect together. They share an undeniable chemistry. I liked their banter. I loved to follow them in their journey to love. The storyline is unexpectedly original, and refreshing. The supporting characters are great and intriguing. I like the small-town gossip. Tanya Eby did a fantastic job with the narration. I enjoyed it, and I highly recommend it.

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  • Pollypc
  • 21-04-2021

Not What I Expected either

As a relative newbie to Jewel E Ann and her novels, I was really surprised how different this novel was to the others I've read.

I really liked the dynamic between Elsie and Kael. I loved the 'age gap' between the two and the end to the book was definitely different and quite refreshing.

I will most definitely be reading more from this author!

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  • PATRICIA
  • 12-04-2021

Not what I expected!

I didn't read the summary of this book before I started listening. I saw Jewel E Ann and knew I would be in for a treat, and she gave me the most unexpectedly, refreshing story! I loved it! This features Elsie. She is the mother of 4, married extremely young, no longer in love with her husband and has finally had it! Time to start a new part of her life! But the unexpected happens, and now she is on her own, carrying the burden of the family business and the guilt she feels. That is until across the street from her store, Kael opens his. This handsome man is her direct competition, but has taken a shine to her. But years younger, and her work nemesis, where could a relationship ever lead? Talk about a fun listen! Ann has brought out all the insecurities a person can have, the feelings many women have after being the perfect mom for years and is looking for who she is going to be now. Elsie is completely relatable. Kael is nothing short of swoony! He is incredibly patient, loving and confidence building. Til he isn't. Listen to this one, fall for these two and just enjoy their journey. It's a great ride.

Tanya Eby brings out all the colors of this story with an incredible narration. She keys in on each facet of Elsie and makes her real. I could relate to her feelings and understand all of her through Eby. She creates Kael with a sensual sound, making he extremely attractive and easy to love. I think she is the perfect fit for this book and truly enjoyed her!

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  • Gillek2
  • 12-04-2021

Kael and Elsie!

Elsie has been focused on being the perfect wife, the perfect mother and the perfect home and now two decades later she finds herself divorced and trying to find the woman she lost along the way. She is determined to focus on the success of her family store and isn’t about to distracted by Kael despite how he makes her feel.

Kael has recently moved to town and not only is he more than a decade younger than Elise, he isn’t looking for love or a relationship and he is her competitor. Too bad that all the things that are working against them don’t overrule the one fact that is irrefutable and that is that the brain has very little to do with the heart.

This is a story about finding out who you are and what you want in life whatever that may be. The chemistry between them is intense, the interactions between them are humorous and the way that Kael supports Elsie on her journey is enough to make you swoon. I enjoyed the narrator as she made it easy to relate to what Elsie was experiencing.

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