When is “going strange”...not? According to the Urban Dictionary, "going strange” means cheating. And according to some Twitter crowd-sourcing, most people don’t consider adultery in certain romance subgenres to be cheating.
Let me explain. I’ve read a few romances where there’s adultery. Mostly historicals, because in contemporaries usually it’s not adultery, because generally the man and heroine aren’t married. In the historicals, the premise is usually this: The husband wants his wife to be pregnant. Perhaps she has longed to be pregnant. Perhaps he is insistent on leaving his legacy to a legitimate heir. Or one they can pass off as legitimate.
What brought this to mind was Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath as well as All About Seduction by Katy Madison. Interestingly enough, in both books, it’s the husband who asks his wife to have sex with someone else. In Duke, the husband actually chooses the person. In Seduction, the heroine doesn’t allow the husband a say. In the former book, the married couple has an amiable relationship. In the latter, the relationship had been civil, but basically from the outset it becomes contentious. And in both books, the husbands seem to regret their actions.
Both husbands also end up dying...but basically at the end of each book. Does that matter? When the husband dies? Is it “less bad” if he dies in the first chapter, as opposed to the twenty-first chapter? Is it still cheating?
For the sake of discussion, let’s say we’re talking about a “traditional relationship” between two people. Only. (Can we all agree on that? Regardless of whether it’s a man and woman, man and man, or woman and woman. Two people.) I’m talking about romances with traditional relationships. Not an erotic romance where there is an open relationship, or where as part of the process of falling in love the hero and heroine include other people.
Do you consider it cheating if the heroine is having sex, or also having sex with the hero who is not her husband? (Emphasis only added to make sure you understand the concept and point.) There’s a heroine who is also a wife. There’s the husband who is not the hero. Then there’s the hero. Traditional relationship. Cheating? Yes or no?
Most people said...not cheating. If/when the heroine is having sex with the hero because the husband wants her to get pregnant and he is either impotent or sterile. Some people expected the husband to “take back” the heroine. (But wouldn’t the “taking back” imply that she’d done something wrong by leaving?)
Some people said that’s cheating and they wouldn’t read any book where the heroine is having sex with someone who isn’t her husband. Some of these people might not read erotic romances. (Where there are couples....or relationships with two heroes and one heroine, or vice versa, or one heroine and three heroes. You know.)
Does that matter to you?
Now in both of these books the heroine is initially resistant to the idea of having sex with someone other than their husband. When “the deed” occurs, however, it is the heroine’s choice. (We can all agree if it’s something the heroine does not want throughout that’s not cheating or adultery—that’s rape).
Would you read a book where the blurb/premise is as follows?
She had never known passion like this…
Caroline Broadhurst is about to take a lover— at her husband’s command. For fifteen years, Caroline has done everything her much older husband has desired—except provide an heir. Now he has given her an ultimatum: seduce a suitable gentleman and bear a son. Caroline would never think of bowing to such a shameful order, but then she meets Jack Applegate.
Jack has longed for the beautiful, untouchable Caroline for years, but the chasm between them was too wide to ever dream of crossing. Now, fate and passion have thrown them together, but the potential scandal threatens to smother their love. And when a violent secret comes to light, only a terrible sacrifice will prevent the flame of their affection from being snuffed out forever . . .
They are masters of seduction, London’s greatest lovers . . .
Renowned for his bedchamber prowess, Ransom Seymour, the Duke of Ainsley, owes a debt to a friend. But the payment expected is most shocking, even to an unrepentant rake—for he’s being asked to provide his friend’s exquisite wife with what she most dearly covets: a child.
Living for pleasure, they will give their hearts to no one . . .
Lady Jayne Seymour, Marchioness of Walfort, is furious that such a scandalous agreement would be made. If she acquiesces, there must be rules: no kissing . . . and, certainly, no pleasure.
Until love takes them by surprise.
But unexpected things occur with the surprisingly tender duke—especially once Lady Jayne discovers the rogue can make her dream again . . . and Ransom realizes he’s found the one woman he truly cannot live without.
Would you try a book with that premise from a favorite author, but not one “new to you?” Would you file that book as “not a romance?”
Does it matter what genre the book is? Are you more inclined to read a historical novel with that premise as opposed to a contemporary? Is it okay if this happens more than once? As in one time? Do you consider ”once“ to be until the deed is done? A month? A year? Does the husband later regretting this matter? Does it make you actually more sympathetic to the heroine?
When is “going strange” not strange at all?