Living Dangerously, by Jennie Lucas

by Jennie Lucas, author of A Night of Living Dangerously (Harlequin Presents, May 2012)

Tomorrow is the day.

I’m kind of scared.

Or maybe a lot scared. I’ve been dreading this day since I turned 38. Actually, I’ve been dreading it since I was a teenager. I know some people stress about turning 30, but for me, 30 was no big deal.

40 is different.

Tomorrow, I will not only be older than all the Presents heroines, but older than the heroes. Statistically speaking, I will be in the middle of my life in a way that no amount of creative denial can deny. Like many of you, I grew up on romance novels and always knew I wanted that big happy ending – husband, work I loved, children.

Now what?

Marrying the man of my dreams, settling down, writing for Harlequin Presents, having children – it’s amazing to me how all my dreams came true. I’m gobsmacked by that, and deeply grateful.

But now…I need some

new impossible dream to strive for.

What will that dream be? Honestly, I have no clue. I went to Seattle for a plot group weekend with three other authors in March and my mind went blank when they asked me to clearly state my goals for the upcoming year. I don’t have a goal. I just have a feeling.

I want to live more boldly.

I want to stop being afraid to take chances.

And I want to stop worrying what other people think of me. (Because you guys know the truth – I’m a total dork. I could trip over my own feet. So who do I think I’m fooling?)

Which do you think is harder – pursuing your dreams? Or even figuring out what they are in the first place?

I was thinking about that last summer, as I wrote my new Presents, A Night of Living Dangerously. Though she’s only in her 20s, Lilley Smith is feeling like a failure. She recently moved to San Francisco, determined to spend time with her new boyfriend, and (more importantly) to start a handmade jewelry business. But once she’s in San Francisco she finds herself avoiding both. Instead, she just spends all her time at her dead-end job, as the file clerk for an international luxury jewelry company, and trying to avoid the notice of her incredibly handsome CEO, Prince Alessandro Caetani.

Does that make Lilley a coward? Or is her body trying to tell her what her mind hasn’t accepted yet – that she was pursuing the wrong man, and the wrong dream?

When I was 20 years old, I once worked as a file clerk, too. I’d dropped out of college to become engaged to a man who was completely wrong for me. I felt broke and hopeless, spending eight hours a day alone, filing numbered files in a windowless room with concrete walls.

Twenty years later, so much has changed. As I type this, I’m sitting in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, overlooking the casino, where I see excited, hungry-eyed people playing desperately to win their heart’s desire.

What is my own heart’s desire now? I don’t know. I don’t.

But I will.

And I have a question, particularly for those of you gorgeous women who are over 40. How have your lives gotten better? What do you love the most? Do you find you care less what other people think? Do you feel more free to be who you really are?

What do you wish someone had told you, the day before you turned 40?



P.S. The person who writes my favorite comment will receive a copy of Lilley Smith’s first story, when she was working as her cousin’s housekeeper in the south of France (in my novella The Count’s Secret Baby, in the August 2011 anthology The Secret Baby Scandal with awesome writer Kate Hewitt). So another good reason to give me your best advice – please!

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Comments ( 12 )
  1. Jennie Lucas
    May 9, 2012 at 11:48 am

    UPDATE: My husband just announced he is kidnapping me (along with our kids) on a secret birthday adventure. He says our plane leaves at noon – but won’t tell me where we’re going! So I have no idea where I’ll wake up tomorrow on my 40th!! Aaahhhh!!! – Will report back later.

  2. Shelley Bagby
    May 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I have found a great freedom in getting older. I retired at 49. I’ve traveled and done and seen things I never thought I would. Have a great birthday and don’t worry…. The best is yet to come!

  3. Lori Y
    May 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I think of two songs. One is “The Best is Yet to Come” and the second is “It’s not Where You Start But Where You Finished”. The older I get (I am pass 40 by a few years), the more I find that the second song is more true to me. I made so many mistakes when I was younger and now that I am older I feel I am more successful.

  4. Sara
    May 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    A lovely post. Jennie Happy Birthday!!

  5. Melanie Milburne
    May 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Happy birthday Jennie! Wow, your husband sounds just like one of our heroes. Hope you had a fabulous time.

    The thing I love most about getting older (the only thing, actually!) is the getting of wisdom. I wish I knew back then what I know now.

  6. Jennie Lucas
    May 9, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Thanks so much for writing me Shelley, Lori, Sara and Melanie!

    UPDATE: My husband rented us a big house in one of my favorite places – West Seattle – with a gorgeous sea view! It’s all impossibly lovely, and I’m so happy to be here.

    Hi Shelley! You retired at 49? How wonderful! And traveling the world, being brave…that sounds fantastic.

    Lori, I know I made my share of mistakes when I was younger and hope to make at least totally different mistakes as I get older! Now “The Best Is Yet to Come” by Frank Sinatra is in my head.

    Hi Sara! Thank you! 🙂 We just had a nice dinner and bought a dozen cupcakes from Cupcake Royale so it’s feeling great so far!

    Melanie – you are so sweet to give advice! Thank you! Wisdom… hmm… I haven’t ever thought of it in those terms before. You’re right though – because what else is age for? Thanks 🙂

    And I’ll do my contest in the morning!! When I’m 40!

  7. Lucy King
    May 10, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Happy Birthday, Jennie – it sounds like you’re going to have a great one!

  8. Rachael Thomas
    May 10, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Happy Birthday Jennie! My advice, having just passed 40, is to enjoy every day and don’t think about your age. It’s only a number after all!

  9. Jennie Lucas
    May 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks, Lucy! And congrats again on your little one…it’s such a sweet time, to have a new baby!

    And hi Rachael!! Thanks! That might be a good way of looking at it.

    So to announce the winner of my contest… (drumroll please) dum dum dum…

    The winner is…

    ALL OF YOU!!

    I guess I’m just in that birthday spirit, but please email me your address and I will send you a signed copy of The Secret Baby Scandal! Email me at:

    Thanks for helping making my birthday special! – Jennie

  10. Lori Y.
    May 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you so much. I sent you my info. I look forward to reading your book.

  11. Dalia
    May 11, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Happy birthday Jennie!!
    I enjoyed all your books & this one is no exception :-))

  12. mayablake
    May 16, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Belated happy birthday, Jennie! Sounds like you had a fabulous day 🙂