Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Unpopularity of Infidelity (#cheating #romance #reviews)

Two weeks ago for my Sunday Snog I posted an excerpt from my MMF vampire novella Fire in the Blood. (That’s the post that has received more than eleven thousand views. I wish I understood why!)

Anyway, when I was over at Amazon confirming the buy link, I noticed a new review. Unfortunately, it is only three stars. The reviewer objected quite strongly to the fact that my heroine gets involved with another lover while she’s on vacation with her long-time boyfriend.

So while Maddie is riding a horse on a mountain trail she gets hurt and her horse bolts which is when Etienne finds and save her. He is a vampire who has been wandering alone for a long time. There was also Troy who is her lover waiting for her and worried.
It felt too much like cheating and like Maddie did not care enough about Troy her lover to not sleep with Etienne while she was lost. So that is one of my no's I am just not a fan of that personally so that ruined this story for me unfortunately. So I while I did think this book was very hot with a lot of steam, sadly this story was just not for me.

I was a bit surprised by this reaction. First, other reviews have been really positive. No other reader has mentioned this issue.

Second, this is a paranormal erotic romance. One of the tropes in this genre is what I like to call “supernatural lust”. Vampires, shifters and other deliciously sexy creatures of the night are outside the rules of normal human relationships. Their power calls to mortals, body and soul, and can be almost impossible to fight.

Third, Troy and Maddie are not married, or even engaged. In fact, the first paragraphs make it clear that their relationship has run into problems. That’s one reason why they’re in Jamaica for vacation—to spend some relaxed, quality time together and try to repair their bond.

Finally, it turns out that Troy is just as attracted to Etienne as Maddie is. The lovers reunite in a passionate threesome with the tragic but irresistible vampire.

Still, I know that many readers of romance view infidelity on the part of a hero or heroine as the ultimate sin. I suspect that this may be partly due to unfortunate real life experiences with cheating spouses, either their own or those of friends and relatives.

Humans are not fundamentally monogamous, though. I don’t have any definitive statistics, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the majority of marriages experience some issues related to one or the other partner having sexual interests or activities outside the relationship. In fact, proponents of open marriage argue that it’s more realistic to accept our polysexual natures and be open and honest with one’s partner about attraction to others.

Traditional romance, however, tends to embrace the concept that the connection between the hero and heroine (or hero and hero, if we’re talking about MM romance) is somehow special and unique—that the members of the couple are in some sense soul mates. Of course, not all romance subscribes to this appealing fantasy, but it’s a very popular notion.

Personally, though I’ve been married more than three decades, I don’t believe in the concept of “soul mates”. I’m enormously grateful for my marriage. I love my husband deeply. I also value his intelligence, his competence, his compassion and his sense of humor. I would never hurt him by taking a lover behind his back (not that this is at all likely anyway, given my age).

Still, I had quite a few relationships before my husband and I met. I’m not convinced that he’s the only man with whom I could have been happy, as romantic as that might be.

And personally, I enjoy stories where a character is torn between several lovers (as in my first novel Raw Silk), because this mirrors what I see in reality. Different individuals fulfill different needs. 
I agree that it’s hard to like a character who’s dishonest, who sneaks around behind her (or his) lover’s back, who doesn’t care about her partner’s feelings. Maddie is not like that, though, or at least I don’t see her that way.

That’s the thing about reading, though. Everyone brings her own perspective to the story, and interprets it in the light of her own experiences. This review has reminded me that even a hint of infidelity can be the kiss of death to a romance book.

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