Miss Chatterly, Parts I-IV
Pocket Star / May 13, 2013 (Part I) / $.99 digital (each part)
Torn between love and sex. By the time Connie decides, it could be too late.
I’ve loved Cliff since the day we met. For three years, he’s been my boyfriend and my best friend. But for the first time, something is missing. Sex. It’s been months since Cliff has touched me. And I don’t know how much longer I can wait—especially since I’ve met someone else. For the first time, I feel doubt. Temptation.
Oliver Mellors is nothing like Cliff. He’s purely physical and intensely focused on my body. But then, he has to be: he’s my CrossFit trainer. I know I can’t confuse sex with love. I know I shouldn’t risk love for sex. But now, caught between two men, I wonder: Is there a way to have both?
Logan Belle's Miss Chatterley, a modern re-take on a classic that stands on its own, takes on that elusive, forbidden subject of cheating—without skirting the issue, without excusing or exploiting it, but running with it. Miss Chatterley fully explores and examines what can lead a heroine we root for to do what she does. And it does so not only with care and aplomb, but with such deftness we can't help but be fascinated as it unfolds and breathless for the final outcome.
This is a thriller of the contemporary era, one in which the suspects are high-end bankers and saboteurs buried deep in the up-and-comers of the Silicon Valley, where the next trick and gadget can lead one to crush a rival's head in the name of the mighty dollar and the prestige of the next biggest and best social media invention.
The main players of the original, Lady Chatterley's Lover, are still here, and some of them remarkably similar to their counterparts. Miss Chatterley blends the old with the new, much like the original material did in its time, capitalizing on the nuances of sexuality and even enhancing the story now with a focus on the current, rapidly progressing technological movement. There's still that contrast between feelings and social mores as ancient as the beginning of time, and the cutthroat world of technology, where development moves so fast it's nearly obsolete the moment it's birthed. It shows that while the modern-day landscape is evolving rapidly, some elements of life are simply universal.
Connie Chatterley can't imagine her life being better than it is. She's got endless possibilities in her life—on her way to graduate school to continue her studies in visual arts, she's in a solid, loving relationship with her long-time techie boyfriend Cliff Reid, who's quickly climbing the ladder of success with his new company Chatterbox, a social media platform in the vein of Facebook and Twitter on the verge of taking the world by storm. Until Cliff tells her his company is going to the next level with the backing of a major investor and California is the place to be. She takes a leap of faith and follows him, putting her own career dreams on hold and a pause on her life in New York.
Only Connie soon discovers the life of the rich and famous isn't all it's made out to be. Cliff, her lifeline and only connection once they move cross-country, is soon swimming in the responsibilities of building his company. He's distant and preoccupied, and suddenly Connie isn't certain of anything except that everything feels very, very wrong.
On a whim she begins Crossfit training, but it's her big, rough, no-nonsense trainer, Oliver Mellors, who gains her attention. Mired deep in her listlessness, consumed by an overwhelming loss of purpose, Connie finds herself giving into Mellors. In an attempt to feel something, anything, a misguided search for passion that will once again stir up feeling, her unbelievable loneliness manifests itself into an affair. She goes to Mellors willingly, but he controls their sexual relationship, allowing Connie to lose herself and separate her mind from her body.
“Connie, what’s wrong? Is this about being out here? Or about my working so much? Are you that upset with me still?”
“It’s not that I’m upset with you,” I say, my chin resting on his shoulder as he strokes my back. “I just don’t feel like we’re in the best place. I mean, we’re still figuring everything out. We can’t plan a wedding right now.”
Plus, I’m having an affair. There, I admit it to myself. You sleep with someone once, it’s an unfortunate indiscretion. Twice, you’re full-blown cheating. I should do the right thing, and not only turn down his proposal, I should take a break from the relationship until I figure things out. But the truth is, I don’t have the nerve. I’m scared to lose him. I do love him. I’m just not happy. Is that possible? To love someone and not be happy? I always thought being in love equaled happiness. If it’s not, then how do you know what relationship to be in?
Cliff strokes my hair. I’m thankful he’s taking this so well. But that’s Cliff—he’s always calm and measured. He thinks things through. He solves problems. And yet, to solve a problem, you need all of the information.
He must never have all the information when it comes to this problem.
The reason this all works is because Connie is so well-developed and we are made to feel her despair. Connie and Mellors have no other connection beyond the physical. There are no intimate conversations, no falling in love. He serves a purpose, and through him, Connie grows. There are not easy choices here. By the same token, Cliff is neglectful but always committed. They are simply two people finding their way in a big world, where life, business, and sometimes even temptation take over, and navigating it becomes a matter of choice. There is right and wrong, of course, but the muddied waters are much grayer than these characters ever realized.
“What’s life without passion?” Murie says.
I look at the water, fighting the images of Mellors that hit me suddenly, unwanted and yet so strong it as if I experience them with all of my senses.
But that’s all it was—raw, sensory immediate gratification. He isn’t my passion. There is nothing to build there. He has nothing to do with the life I planned and dreamed about. The life I’d lost sight of—and faith in—these past few weeks.
I wish I had been able to have the conversation with him before I left for the weekend. I would feel much better in that moment knowing that it was done—that Mellors was in the past.
It’s ironic that it takes a conversation in Duke's living room for me to see clearly for the first time why it all happened—why I did something so stupid. I had been lazy: instead of doing the work to correct what was going wrong in my life—my life, not just my relationship—I fell into the easy distraction of an affair. And in those moments with him, it did have the illusion of, oh, this is the answer.
I now see how wrong I was. I’m just thankful I’ve come to my senses before something disastrous happened.
In the midst of these big questions and the real issues that a couple faces, there are side romances, partnerships, and even hook-ups that are genuinely interesting. The story is very much on the pulse of industry trends, and the romantic and business back-stabbing that ensue are thoroughly gripping. And ultimately, Miss Chatterley offers a juxtaposition between sex and love, material accolades or the richer bounty of human connection, and it does so in a way that is above all hopeful and affirming, that confirms that love is worth fighting for, that it is the greater reward.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Logan Belle's Miss Chatterley, Part I, before its May 13 release:
Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.