Infidelity in Romance
Lots of people say that infidelity is off-limits in romance books. Do you folks agree? One of my favorite romance series is Book Country member Jessica Hawkins's Cityscape series, where the happily married heroine, Olivia Germaine, falls for another guy. I found the infidelity interesting--and scandalous--but it didn't make me dislike the book or the character. I felt it added a layer of complexity to the story. Since I follow Jessica on Facebook and Twitter, I know she's got lots of fans who agree.
Would you ever write about cheating lovers? Why or why not?
I would and have written about infidelity but it is usually in the context of the spouse being a big jerk, ie abusive or something horrible that almost gives the person the "right" to cheat. And as I think about it, usually the infidelity is more psychological until the marriage breaks up or at least a separation has begun.
I think it depends on the context.
The hero of my WIP is a serial monogamist, never with more than one partner at a time, but he is in truth cheating on the heroine who he will eventually let back into his life. The heroine, for her part, is an experienced woman also, though she intends to get together with the hero someday. Both are guilty of infidelity of a sort. I'm not writing just about infidelity; it's a part of a larger story.
If it's sounds like there's no perfect people in the book, I think that's right. The other three main characters are worse in many ways than the male and female leads. I didn't set out to write about perfect people.
In my day job I've had to investigate all manner of improper workplace behavior including sexual dalliances between coworkers. Stuff happens. Sometimes it's intentional. People have a range of rationalizations for this behavior. We should be able to write about it, but in a way that doesn't "make (the reader) dislike the book or the character."
Yes, I thought it was interesting in the Cityscape series how Bill never becomes truly awful--he is just so not right for Olivia. But also, that's not apparent from the get-go, which I liked. At first, they seem fine, but then when you meet Dylan and his family and see him and Olivia together, you can see that the depth of their relationship is just so much more.
Jessica--what pushback have you gotten about it from fans and readers?