Expectations, Infidelity and the Terminator

I am an avid reader (and hopeful aspiring author) of Harlequin Blaze, the hottest and sexiest line of their category line stable.  In it you will find the trademark hot-lovin’ in a variety of positions, locations and with or without accompanying toys.  This line is lava-hot but also promises a happily- ever-after (HEA) or a happliy-for-now (HFN) ending for one man and one woman – an emotional connection in addiiton to the sexual one.  If you want sex with multiple partners of either gender, you need to look elsewhere (like the Harlequin SPICE line).

So, when I picked up and read, ‘Reckless Pleasures” by Tori Carrington (a long-time favorite of mine) I was thrown by my reaction to the plot.  Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

”Six months apart is a long time. For security expert, Megan McGowan, it feels like forever since she’s felt the strong arms of Darius Folsom around her. Since Dari’s military deployment six months ago, every minute apart is another minute that Megan finds herself tempted . . .

Bad boy Jason Savage is Dari’s best friend – and partner in the new security firm Dari and Megan have formed. Only as Megan and Jason work closely together on an emotionally charged case, the attraction between them goes from hot to nuclear meltdown.

But even as Megan’s libido screams “Oh, yes!” she wonders if it’s possible to love one man – and give in to her hunger for another . . .”


Hmmm . . . . now let me caveat that I am not a book reviewer. I know what I like and what I don’t. I like some plot points (celebrities and sports stars) more than others (cowboys) but I can always enjoy a good book.  And this was  good book.  Tori Carrington is a solid writer who delivers hot sex, well-developed characters, and an intriguing plot.  This book was no exception on those points.

But, I had to struggle to complete it and at the end it left me . . . well, I was many things. I’ve had my fill of stories about infidelity and the consequences (and, it has totally ruined my enjoyment of “Total Recall”) and this book was well-timed to be caught up in my thoughts on that  area of discussion.  And, add to the mix that I work for the military and many of my friends have deployed and faced this very occurrence – so yeah, I have baggage on this one.

I had a hard time liking Megan or Jason and I was disappointed in Dari and his reaction to the news when he returns home, injured due to an IED. As a writer, I was intrgued by the thought of tackling infidelity in a Harlequin Blaze novel but I was also left with a sense of disappointment of reader expectation. After much thought about my reaction, I determined that the source of my disappointment wasn’t the storyline or subject matter – it was the fact that because of the reactions, excuses, explanations, and feelings of all three interested parties, I didn’t get the sense that any of them were “the one” for the other.

The love story, the connection between the hero, heroine or third wheel, didn’t grab me enough to make me emotionally invest in the story.  I wasn’t turning the page with that gut-twisting, angst and my inner voice saying “You were meant for each other.”  And that is the source of my disappointment – I didn’t fall in love with either of the men and I didn’t want to be Megan.  The book was well-written and it did get my attention but not for the reason I read romance.

This book has created a stir for many readers and the Web is full of blog posts and book reviews on the subject matter.  The bottom line is this: whether they love it or hate it, it has garnered a reaction from a great many people.

What books have you read that didn’t live up to your expectations but “stayed” with you anyway? Are there some plotlines, stories, subject matters that you will not read?


16 thoughts on “Expectations, Infidelity and the Terminator

  1. Thoughtful post. You’re right the reaction to this book has been passionate. My gut reaction is infidelity is a deal breaker in a book, but then I can think of several books and movies involving infidelity and I didn’t have any problems with it because I understood where the characters were coming from, what motivated them and they were likable enough for me to care about their happiness.

    As far as a book that didn’t meet expectations but stayed with me? Catcher in the Rye. I hate, hate, hate, hate, loath, hate, hate, hate that book. Really, just seeing the name of it makes my blood boil. I wanted to reach in the pages and slap Holden silly. Ugh. Still do, obviously. 🙂

    1. Avery – Oh, the Classic Rye! My dilemma was that I enjoyed the book, as a writer is was so interesting to watch how Tori Carrington dealt with the subject matter and I think that if I had a sense of the “rightness” of one couple it would have been one for my “keeper” shelf.

  2. Interesting post, Robin-Mermaid! I haven’t read that book but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like it. Infidelity has to be done in a certain way for me to continue reading. Maybe the heroine’s boyfriend/husband cheated and she moved on and became a stronger person – that sort of thing.

    However, I’m so Kerri-Contrary because one of my most favorite books is “Something Borrowed.” (Haven’t seen the movie.) That is all about a main character cheating and I loved most of it. Maybe because I connected with the protagonist so much and really disliked her frenemy.

  3. I know exactly what you mean, Robin. I had a similar experience from reading Harvesting the Heart, by Jodi Picoult. I love Picoult and I really wanted to read this particular novel because it is about a young mother overwhelmed with a new baby and struggling to find the balance between career and motherhood. Ultimately, she abandoned her three-month-old baby and husband for about six months. I had a really, really difficult time sympathizing with her, and I’m afraid my personal response to her actions made it impossible for me to enjoy the book.

    1. Lucky me, I just filed the response to my ex-brother-in-law’s petition for an annulment. Another overwhelmed-by-fatherhood story, but in real life. And, God bless her, my sister has said that, even now, she would take him back if she thought he could truly commit to the marriage. This Jodi Picoult title is off the list of must-reads for me.

    2. P.H. – I have heard about that book and I didn’t read it b/c of the subject matter – too hard for me. I remember reading “The Deep End of the Ocean” and it totally freaked me out since I had just become a mom. Still gives the chills.

  4. “Bridges of Madison County.” Which I always swore would never, ever, ever have been a best-seller if it had a pink cover. Wandering photographer and Italian war-bride connect during hubby’s trip to the state fair (or whatever immensely important farm ritual explained his absence)?
    Likewise, “DaVinci Code.” Secret societies, special military forces, clandestine operations, secret anything, leaves me cold. Tell me the truth, and tell it soon, even if it’s bad news.
    Thanks for the thoughtful post. I’m *so* relieved that I am not a big reader of books with lonely fiancees whose “true loves” are sent off on military missions.

    1. Susan – Oooh . . . I had forgotten about “Bridges”. Definitely not a favorite but not because of the subject matter – I just didn’t care for the prose, the style.

      1. I remember it as creepy subject matter at the time, and unforgivably frustrating that an infidelity “romance” had so many people swooning.

  5. Robin,
    Great blog! Wow! There are those moments that defy the norm. Who would have thought a theme as edgy as “Reckless Pleasures” would come out through Harlequin? Especially when it is such a topic of contention in reality (Arnold, Tiger, etc not to mention average Joe’s out there in the same situation as the characters in the book). I haven’t read it but does it still have the HEA or is it just gratuitous?

  6. Really enjoyed your blog, and its a strong review – you made me want to check out the book and find out more about the uproar it has caused. I don’t read much contemporary romance, but I never say never, except when it comes to ‘sweet’ romance. Although that might be more about my personality than the genre.

  7. Thank you for this thought provoking post Robin. I know exactly what you mean, certain books may stick with you, even if you didn’t like them. When I read for pleasure I am looking for escape from my day to day life. I don’t want to read something that is unappealing or a chore to get through. Being a military spouse who has lived through deployments and has lots of military friends, I have seen first hand the devastation that can come with infidelity. For that reason I don’t think that this story would appeal to me. But, that being said, I have come across other books that I never thought would appeal to me that are now on my favorites shelf.

  8. Hi Robin,
    First off, you wrote a really great review. Honest, thoughtful. I liked it. Three months ago I read “Precious and Fragile Things” by Megan Hart. At first I was really disappointed in the ending but because I loved the rest of the story so much, I let it simmer for a bit and finally realized that Megan had stayed true to what was necessary for the character’s she’d created. The ending had to go the way it did.
    I think sometimes we have to trust the author, it doesn’t mean we will always agree. I would definitely read more by Megan Hart because I appreciate how hard it must have been for her to stick to her guns in this story and tell the characters’ journey and not the path she wanted for them.
    That being said, I did quit a book halfway through recently because even though I wasn’t bothered by the threesome, I felt the author lost the intimacy somewhere in all of it!

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