Sat
Jan 21 2012 4:30pm

When Going Strange...Isn’t: Adultery in Romance

Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine HeathWhen 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.

**SPOILER ALERT**

All About Seduction by Katy MadisonBoth 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 . . .

Or this?

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?


 

Limecello is a reader, reviewer, lawyer, foodie and discusser of all things random. You can also visit her at her blog or Twitter.

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26 comments
Danielle Monsch
1. DanielleMonsch
This is totally personal (well, aren't most opinions? LOL!)

But to all of the above... ewwww!

Beyond ewww, it's offensive. Yes, I realize the various husbands conveniently die at the end of the book, but that wasn't what the characters *expected* at the beginning of these arrangements.

So these guys are so happy to get a baby on a woman and walk away? So these women are so happy to shoo off their hubby because he can't do the deed? In sickness and in health, remember?

(I know that one blurb states it's the hubby's command, BUT that blurb also says she would never consider it UNTIL she meets the 'hero'.)

So I find both the 'hero' and the 'heroine' repugnant in this scenario. Not exactly who I want to read a romance about.
JulieLeto
2. JulieLeto
I read WAKING UP WITH A DUKE and thought the book was wonderful. It was fraught with conflict--with questions about what was right and what was wrong...and I don't think there were any easy answers. I don't need my heroes and heroines to be paragons of all that is good and right. I don't mind reading about less-than-perfect heroes and heroines as long as the storytelling and writing are compelling and in the case of Heath's book (can't say to the other since I didn't read it) both were. Fiction is the safe place to explore those sticky situations we don't want to deal with in real life.

And yes, I'd rather read about a topic like adultery in a historical because it's not the same as in a contemporary. In modern times, people marry because they want to and if they don't want to be married anymore, they can get a divorce. That's not true for books set in the past, so the same "rules" don't apply.
JulieLeto
3. Victoria Dahl
Personally, I don't see how it can be "cheating" if all parties are aware and approve, whether it's historical or contemporary. Cheating, by definition, involves deceit. As for adultery, I think that's a stickier question of semantics, but the first definition I looked up was "extramarital sex that willfully and maliciously interferes with marriage relations." All our personal beliefs aside, I don't think it can be called cheating. Call it immoral, if that's what you believe. I've never written this situation, although I'm about to start a story that involves temptation and an extramarital emotional struggle, but I did write a secondary romance that involved an open marriage. A friend says that the husband is cheating on the wife. Someone else wonders how he can be cheating when they have an open marriage, but the issue isn't sex. The issue is that he's lying to and manipulating his wife and hiding some of his lovers from her because he knows she wouldn't approve. Ergo, he's cheating.
JulieLeto
4. Dee C. M.
I would first like to point out that I agree with Victoria, cheating is when the affair is secret and does not have your spouse's approval. What is discussed above is not actually cheating, more like a carte blanche to have sex with other people.

I generally don't read romances with extramarital relationships in them because they usually involved a lot of guilt and that's not my cup of tea in romance. I prefer humour and laughter, not angst and tears.

However, the situation described above would be very common in a historical context. In many European countries, the title and money of the man could only be inherited by a legitimate, male heir and producing this heir was what guaranteed that his wife would be taken care of after his death. It should be noted that even today, adopted children of British peers in the are not eligible for inheriting titles.

So in a way by insisting on an heir the husband showed that he cared enough for what happened to his wife if he died suddenly. I know it sounds weird from a contemporary persepective but this is how this world operated.

I apologise for writing a comment that rivals the main post in length. I tend to get longwined.
JulieLeto
5. Nicole the weaver
I don't have a problem reading books like the ones mentioned. Because it is FICTION. Real life is something completely different.
JulieLeto
6. Victoria Dahl
Oh, I really love what Dee said! I haven't read the books in question and I wonder if that issue was brought up. Because I actually think it's kind of beautiful and selfless. Hm. Also, I swear there were paragraph breaks in my first comment. Without them it looks like muttered psycho ranting!
JulieLeto
7. pamelia
I have no problems with either scenario. Like others have already mentioned I don't think it is "cheating" and it may not even qualify as adultery if it is consensual. There are more open marriages out there these days than anyone would suspect and a lot of those are just as happy as exclusive monogomous marriages. As sex-advice columnist Dan Savage often points out: we tend to only hear about the open marriage problems when they go wrong -- otherwise they are kept on the hush hush because so many people have a more stringent definition of morality and no one wants to open up their lives to that kind of censure. Personally I'm a possessive grabby girl who would never grant my husband that license and wouldn't want it for myself either, but I think if people have non-monogamous yearnings better they are on the up and up with their partner. Having read plenty of erotica as well as romance, I've seen all sorts of pairings/triplings/quadruplings and they are pretty fun to read about. I think ultimately when I read a book with what I consider actual cheating which is not condoned by the partner I find it takes away a lot of respect for the character engaging in the act and therefore takes the erotic right out of the equation as well.
Lime Cello
8. Limecello
Okay - first of all, I now feel "safe" saying in the comments that... I liked both books. In fact I *loved* Waking Up with the Duke. I was of course struck by the premise of both stories, and they stuck in my mind for a while. Hence, I went to ask twitter. I didn't want to say within the post how I felt or my "findings" about either, or the premise, because I didn't want my opinion or feeling to control the discussion here.

I'm not sure if someone extrapolated from this post that I'm against or judging either hero/heroine. I'm not. I'm simply curious as to YOUR opinion, which is why there were all those questions. I also consulted merriam webster for all the definitions - adultery, cheating, unfaithful, etc. And had some discussions with friends.

I think first off... cheating is/can be subjective. Some people say emotional cheating is well... cheating. Others say that's not cheating - that cheating is only physical. Some people say emotional cheating is worse than physical cheating. Emotions are messy. I think we can all agree on that *last* point.

I think - as what someone (I'm not going to mention her name in case she doesn't want it "documented") - It "gets" me that the someone (who isn't the "villain") had to die for the hero and heroine to have their happy ending. Perhaps it was too trite to me - like "oh no, this plot isn't going to work out... deus ex machina! Heart attack! Poison!" whatever.

Also... the situation made the characters uncomfortable at points - so that's definitely something. The authors I think treated the subject very well. Nobody is condoning nor judging the situations - not I, and not the authors - but it's fascinating to explore.

Most people on twitter that I spoke with didn't find the situation to be cheating. Others flat out said they WOULD NOT read something along those storylines. I can understand and see both sides.

I think it's also more like... squares and rectangles. And now... I'll go and talk at you individually. Cuz I'm annoying like that. :)
Lime Cello
9. Limecello
Danielle - heh. Are you surprised to learn you're in the minority of people who have responded/discussed this topic? I was - I had thought the overwhelming response would have been "no! cheating! Will not read!"

Definitely true neither husband expected to die when he did.

As for the hero... I don't think they're happy to walk away. In fact, neither hero wants to walk away. In part that's what makes both stories work, I think. That whole yearning loving from afar and forbidden aspect comes into play as well. The heroes aren't jerks. Which is key, otherwise he's not very heroic, right?

The Katy Madison book, the heroine had actually known the hero for a while. For fifteen years, but more as a "I know this guy exists" - they were barely acquaintances.

Oh - I wish you'd read these books because I'm quite curious as to what you'd think after! :D

Julie - I definitely agree there were no easy answers. This may have been the first Lorraine Heath book I've read. Or at least the first in recent memory. I think I really liked that the characters were so flawed and human. And that there were consequences. Seduction was interesting because there was also a class aspect.

Definitely agree with the genre. In a contemporary, I'm fine if it's an open relationship, or something both the husband and wife start out reading. I enjoy a good erotic romance with that premise. The husband asking the wife to sleep with someone else to get pregnant though here is... weird. Why not adopt? Do IVF? Or as you said - get a divorce.

I don't think I'd have the same reaction of these books were contemporaries.
Lime Cello
10. Limecello
Victoria - I'm curious - which dictionary did you look up adultery in? I looked it up in MW. Am always fascinated by etymology. (I haven't looked into the religious implications of it - apparently it's a Latin root word but Latin Latin, or Church Latin?)

I agree with you in part, and disagree - in certain stories, definitely - like erotic romances. Jasmine Haynes I think writes this extremely well. It works for the couples and it's what they want. That's definitely not cheating, regardless of whether the couple is married or not.

Here... I think with both books it's a bit different because it's not actually what the heroine wants. She has to work through it and... it's difficult and odd. Heath and Madison both make it believable, but it's not something ALL the characters want from the get go. So - I think that's the issue, morality aside.

I agree - if it's an actual open marriage both the husband and wife want, it's not cheating. (Unless they have set "terms" and the husband or wife goes beyond them or breaks a rule - like at you said at the end with the ergo cheating.) I think it depends on the couple, the story/circumstances, and what everyone wanted.

Was it cheating in these stories? With Duke, definitely not. With Seduction... I don't know. The heroine slept with someone the husband didn't know about, didn't expect, and didn't want. Does that then make it wrong when it was his suggestion, and he basically forced her to? (Without getting pregnant she'd be left with nothing, and the husband is about 40 years older than her and sterile anyway.) So ... in the second case - would you say the wife is then cheating? (I think it's tricky because readers don't want to think of the heroine as a cheater - I was fine with her sleeping with someone she chose as opposed to someone from the group her husband chose.) If I had thought of it as cheating, I think I'd be less happy. So I agree that cheating and how one thinks of it/defines it can be fluid.

I'd love to know what you think. :) Thanks!

Dee- Well, it wasn't a blanket "other people" to sleep with; both husband arranged for specifics. With Duke, the husband said it was one person specifically. The end. With Seduction, the husband hand picked a group of people. (And the heroine went with someone else.) Is that cheating?

What's interesting also is that... I think Duke had more of the angst you mentioned (about the feeling bad) than Seduction.

I did *not* know that about the adopted children of peers NOW. I knew that's how it was before, and even in the States "way back when." How interesting! Here at least it's changed. (Although adult adoptions are a different issue...)

It makes sense what you're saying with the person being taken care of - with Seduction, that's not what the husband cared about. (It was a pleasant positive for the heroine though, of course.) What about their families? Do you know if/when/how often or possible it'd be for people to live with their families? We read about that a lot in historicals, but of course those aren't necessarily accurate.

No need to apologize! I loved your answer and the whole point of writing this was for the discussion. If you ever read the books I'd love to know what you think. It was difficult to describe the plot of the books and I didn't want to give major spoilers, so a lot of the finer nuances are of course missing.
Lime Cello
11. Limecello
Nicole - hahaha. Yes. That's yet another thing we can all agree on. This is fiction. (And different from real life.) There are people who don't want to read these books. I've heard that people have written similar books previously that wouldn't sell/publishers wouldn't pick them up because of the premise.

A part of this post was me wondering if it's a new trend as well. The "edgy/pushing the limits" historicals.

Victoria - I hope I responded properly to what you said then! :X

Pamelia - Were you thinking in terms of contemporary novels only then? I think what made it interesting is both these books were historicals.

And you and Dan Savage make a great point. Open marriages I'm sure get a lot of flak. So, even if a person's is wonderful and working beautifully, mentioning it will likely not meet with social acceptance. In part that's why I wrote this post too - to see what the response was. In a way I was surprised everyone was so okay with it - not because it's right/wrong, but that we generally think most people would object. So I wanted to see also where the romance community lies. My own little social experiment. :)

A bit also - like you said, the taking of an erotic romance's premise and putting it in a "traditional" one. And... I'm sure with my terms I just messed up and put myself in a mine field.

I also agree enjoying reading about something is different from condoning it or being personally okay with it in real life. And - that's what makes it fun too - to push boundaries but safely/where there will be no consequences.
JulieLeto
12. lady trudy
I do have concerns about the children born of these situations. They are human beings, not things. I don't like that their origins will always be under a cloud of deception. Yes, these characters all have these powerful issues with inheritance, money, survival in great comfort, titles and prestige. But don't you think these superficial things pale in comparison to the best interests of the child? I read a book once, where the heroine got pregnant by the hero so that they could prevent the bad nephew from inheriting. But really, it was the nephew's rightful inheritance and I think what the couple did (at the request of her husband) was clearly wrong.
JulieLeto
13. Ducky
I don't think it's cheating if all parties are aware and consent to the arrangement.

I also don't think it's cheating if the couple are estranged or separated and one or both of them has sex with someone else. There is this book I read by Marilyn Pappano "Some Enchanted Season" where the husband has sex with another woman after he and his wife separate and decide to divorce, and you would think that going by the feedback on amazon.com that the husband was a serial killer or something. Obviously this is a sore subject for a lot of women.
JulieLeto
14. Olivia Kelly
I've read Waking Up With The Duke and liked it. I don't think it's cheating, really, if both parties are aware of what's going on. Then it becomes an open marriage, something totally different.
That being said, I'm always really disappointed in the H/H when they "cheat" to be together. I feel like they let me down somehow, by not being as noble or true as I would like them to be. It's completely personal, just the way I feel about it. Probably from living in a time when, if you don't want to be with your spouse, you can divorce them and walk away. A couple of hundred years ago, this was virtually impossible, especially for the woman. So, I can understand the "cheating", but I don't have to like it. :)
JulieLeto
15. dizzheart
When two people get married they promise each other to be faithful to one another, and although 'faithful' isn't just about not sleeping with other people, it's certainly part of it. So infidelity is a promise broken. Only a fool consents to it, particularly if they have children. I can't agree that this is ever a good idea. Break clean, if you must, then find somebody else - not the other way around. In Mary Balogh's Tangled, the heroine is married to a soldier who is reported killed, and after a time she remarries to a man whom she loves - and then her husband returns. I don't count this as promise breaking, because neither she nor her second husband knew the first was still alive. It's a tragic situation but it's not self centered self indulgence. It wasn't intentional. It's when it's intentional *and the author apparently thinks it's okay* that I have a problem with it.
JulieLeto
16. Katy Madison
I for one do not think it is *okay* to commit adultery, but I simply put my characters in a bad situation without good choices. In the modern world there are a great many more choices available to people that weren't available to my characters. Caroline and Jack struggled with their decisions and had to make their own peace with their actions. It is fiction, after all. Just saying...
Danielle Monsch
17. DanielleMonsch
I would respectfully submit that the above scenarios ARE cheating to the extent that both were supposed to be business arrangements to produce children, but became love matches. The above discussed scenarios are not about open marriages or polygamy or any other non-traditional arrangement.

These books strike me as false and strike me as reprehensible:

Husbands (neither of whom are villians) need to die for the Happy Ever After.

If husband's didn't die, would "affair" have continued after the objective (baby making) was completed?

Men who entered said business arrangement ready to walk away from any kids they produced (No thank you. I'm disgusted enough by that scenario in daily life as it is.)

Women who can so easily break their marriage vows (and it would be breaking them because they didn't enter into a marriage with the understanding it was "open".)

Women who could become pregnant by other men and raise those children under the false impression who their father is (and yes, I can understand how this would be historically accurate - however, there are many many many historically accurate situations we do not include in historical romances. The argument in those cases is that is those less-than-savory aspects of history are disgusting to modern readers, and do not belong in a modern romance.)

I'll stop there.

I'm not the target market for these books. I'm not saying these are not good books or anyone who would read the books is a strumpet and should wear a letter A on her chest (grin). And honestly these I could see being fascinating character studies in a genre outside of traditional romance. But as capital "R" romance novels, these are a no-go for me.
Pamela Webb-Elliott
18. Spaz
Very interesting post. I've really enjoyed reading it, and the comments!! I am not sure that I could enjoy either of these books, if I were looking for a Romance. My heart would beat itself through the roof when affections are shared with other partners, even if all parties are consentual. The blurbs just make me rife with angst, and while I'm sure this is more a reflection on me and my own hangups/insecurities, if I need a xanax just to get through the book, I'll pass :)
Anna Bowling
19. AnnaBowling
In real life, these situations would get a "bad idea, no way, stop that right now, have you completely lost your mind?" response. In fiction, though, sure. There can be a lot of conflict and drama here, which makes for interesting reading -and writing- and since we're talking about genre romance, then we know that our hero and heroine are going to end up monogamously and happily together. In times and places where divorce was not as easily obtainable as it is today, then the death of the third party is going to be a necessity to ensure a clear path to marriage for our star couple.

For me, it's apples and oranges. Stories are about how characters overcome conflict, and there's a lot that makes for interesting stories that I would not advise as strategies for successful living in real life.
JulieLeto
20. Lafka
Great post! That's not a matter I had actually given much thought, given that I haven't read many books in which adultery (at least feminine adultery) is involved.

I'm actually not very comfortable when it comes to cheating on your husband _ I'll only talk here of women cheating on their husbands, for it seems to be less common in romance books than the other way around.
I must admit though that I apply double standards when it comes to the question of adultery in romance. First of all, it doesn't bother me as much in historical romance than in contemporary romance. I think the reason is that I see no reason whatsoever to committ reapeated adultery (one-night-stands are a different matter entirely, for it doesn't really imply romance now, does it?) when you can so easily split or divorce! In historicals though, divorce is quite entirely out-of-question, so adultery seems more "understandable".

The second thing I'm apparently sensitive to is what are the relationships between the lady and her husband. I've read two books where adultery didn't bother me AT ALL : "A useful affair" by Stella Cameron and "Her Ladyship's Companion" by Evangeline Collins (sensual romance, but not what you may call "erotic"). In both these books, the husband is some heartless controlfreak, who took a beautiful wife for prestige only but couldn't care less what she wants or how she feels, and often beats her when he feels so. Of course the hero is horrified by this abusive behaviour and somehow brings the heroine "back to life". And, of course, the evil husband dies at the end, and the hero and heroine can have their HEA.
That's quite caricatural, yes, but hey, the heroine wasn't given a choice in the first place (yes, marriage is often arranged in such cases), and lives a miserable life between her husband's claws, so if she has the opportunity to have some fun with a delicious hero, I'm definitely not going to throw the stone at her, am I? In such cases, I wouldn't even mind adultery even if it was only a succession of one-night-stands!

Now that I think of it, there was another book I read where it was the hero who was forced into marriage (some story about a daughter he has to protect from her evil mother, who is also the hero's stepmother) but he meets the heroine before marrying the woman his family has chosen for him, and doesn't want to resume their relationship, married or not. His plan is to live with his mistress and wait for his father's death (because he is officially the father of his daughter, are you following?) to divorce his wife and marry his mistress instead. It was sort of weird, and it bothered me at moments (OK, the incestuous part was more bothering than the adulterous one in that particular case) but at the end I sort of subscribed to their HEA.

In brief, I'm generally not that much into adulterous romantic stories, but if the story takes place in times where divorce was nearly impossible and if the situation somehow "justifies" it, then I can sometimes go with it anyway.
Janga
21. Janga
Clearly this is an issue that we all have strong opinions about.

I read the Heath and liked it a lot. I probably would not have liked it as well had Heath not done such a good job of making me believe that Jayne and Ainsley were deeply in love, not just hot for one another. Jayne has never experienced intimacy before her relationship with Ainsley. I expected Wolfort’s death because it was the only way that Jayne and Ainsley could have the HEA that most romance readers demand when the book is labeled “romance.” I was bothered that Wolfort was villainized. It’s too easy for all sympathy to be with the H/H when the husband is cold, manipulative, and dishonest.

Regarding Marilyn Pappano’s Some Enchanted Season: That involves adultery by any definition. Maggie’s accident that lies at the heart of the plot occurs when she runs from the home she shares with her husband of sixteen years after learning of his affair with a woman she considered a friend. While their marriage is a troubled one, Maggie and Ross are still married, still living together, and Ross is unfaithful. That’s adultery. Some Enchanted Season is the book that taught me never to say never about reading romance because I had always sworn adultery was taboo in the books I read. But I loved SES, loved seeing Maggie and Ross fall in love again, forgive, and reconcile and live happily together.
Marian DeVol
22. ladyengineer
I agree with Victoria and Dee in thinking these situations are not technically cheating. Morally gray, perhaps....

Most peerage and ton marriages of the Georgian and Regency eras were marriages of convenience to acquire land, money, title, etc. or to create or strengthen a bond between two families. They were business arrangements pure and simple. One of the primary reasons for a peer to get married at all was to beget a male heir to inherit the title and any entailed property.

In light of this reality, it is entirely believable that a nobleman would encourage or require his wife to take a lover to provide him with a legal son and heir, especially if he were impotent, gay, or suspected he was sterile. He would want the continuation of his family name. Remember, at this time, the woman's marriage vows still included the oath "to love, honor, and OBEY" her husband. Because of this, both women would be expected to obey their husband's wishes.

That being said, however, it is still a sticky situation - as likely to lead to tragedy as a HEA. Personally, I feel if a couple wants to have an open marriage that is their business and no one else's.

From my observation (having had a few friends in polyamorous marriages), it only works if it is mutual - both agree to be open (and to the same degree), keep the other aware of all other liaisons, and work hard to keep the primary relationship strong. Always present is the risk of falling in love with one's lover, threatening the marriage.

Bottom line, strict monogamy is emotionally simpler, less morally ambiguous, and undoubtedly the better path for most.
Alie V
23. ophelial
I'm actually reading Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas and there is a moment of infidelity which took me by surprise.

I don't think you have to be married for it to be considered cheating and even a kiss can be infidelity. It's the act of going outside your relationship for either physical or emotional needs and that can happen in any relationship, whether married or not.

I do have to say that I stop sympathizing with the hero or heroine when they have cheated, even if they are 'meant to be together'. I'm not as emotionally invested in the characters because they have gone outside of my values.
Wanda Prince
24. michelle7794
This was a great article! And, I read the blurb on the back of both of these books and was like wow, but I didn't judge the books or the authors one way or the other. I normally like to go and look up the author's page and read the excerpt. I did that in both of these instances and wrote them down for me to purchase on my ereader next month. They sound like good reads. It's not the norm, but I think its still romance, because look at the men with their mistresses during that same time period. I believe having a mistress when you're married is cheating whether your spouse knows about it or not.

In the case of these two books, all three people are in the know. I believe it's still adultery but that its not cheating because every thing is in the open.

I can't wait to read both books. I don't believe I'll be disappointed.
Daniela Caldarola
26. Daniela C
I am not "okay with it" as a whole. Normally I shy away from stories with mulitple partners or adultery (I know, they are completely different, just hear me out). I prefer the story with the "one and only true love". There can not be a one and only if one party is married already.
However, I did read Duke by Ms. Heath because the story intrigued me. I ABSOLUTELY loved it!!!! And I am still trying to figure out why I would love a story that condones these types of actions. I think Ms. Heath did not take the adulterous action lightly. Nor did she "conveniently kill off the husband" for the story. ***SPOILER*** Because even after his death, the characters portrayed such guilty for their feelings for each other.
There is no black and white, right or wrong to these types of actions. It is more believable because it was done in previous times for a multitude of reasons.
**SPOILER**
In the case of The Duke, it was taken more as the husband was trying to ensure the future of his name/heir/estate. And especial in the end, the hero and heroine decided after the death of the husband that they would honor his wishes. What would you do if the last dying wish of your husband was to have an heir but he could not provide one himself?
Ms. Heath wrote a rich, in depth story about such difficult conflict and gave the hero and heroine a beautiful HEA above all.
Thank you Ms. Heath.
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