Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Spice (January 1, 2008)
Publisher: Spice (January 1, 2008)
I had everything a woman could want. My husband James. The house on the lake. My life. Our perfect life. And then Alex came to visit. The first time I saw my husband's best friend, I didn't like him. Didn't like how James changed when he was around, didn't like how his penetrating eyes followed me everywhere. But that didn't stop me from wanting him. And surprisingly, James didn't seem to mind.
It was meant to be fun. Something the three of us shared for those hot summer weeks Alex stayed with us. Nobody was supposed to fall in or out of love. I didn't need another man, not even one who oozed sex like honey and knew all the secrets I didn't know, the secrets my husband hadn't shared. After all, we had a perfect life. I loved my husband. But I wasn't the only one.
I read "Dirty" by Megan Hart and really enjoyed it, so of course I had to buy "Broken", and more recently "Tempted". I haven't read "Broken" yet, but I did pick up this one because it sounded really hot and I was in the mood for it.
Anne is happily married to James, and they have a wonderful life together. Not perfect, but pretty damn good. Then there are the families. Anne must deal not only with her own family and there secrets and traumas, but she must also put up with James', especially his mother, who never seems to find Anne good enough, and even his sisters, who follow their mother's lead.
But family is still important, no matter how dysfunctional, so Anne and her sisters are in the midst of planning a party for their parents' 30th wedding anniversary, and dealing with all the stress that goes with it. Anne starts to notice that the closeness she once shared with her sisters has changed, and it's obvious that at least one of her sisters is hiding something, but the stress of planning the party takes precedence for the moment.
To add to Anne's distraction, a long-time friend from James' past, Alex, is returning to the states and would like to come visit James. Anne is a bit confused as she thought the friendship had ended long ago, but doesn't prevent James from inviting Alex to stay with them while he's in the states.
Almost from the first, when Alex unexpectedly arrives and surprises her, Anne is drawn to her husband's friend. Good-looking, charming, and a self-proclaimed "rascal", Alex has a strong effect on both Anne and James, and they end up doing things and going to places they normally wouldn't go. Eventually, James and Alex persuade Anne to allow Alex into their bedroom, which really didn't take much persuading, but Anne is a faithful wife, and will only agree if her husband is okay with it. Anne senses that this is one way her husband and Alex can be closer without actually being sexually intimate themselves.
Alex stays with the couple for several weeks, and during that time he shares their bed, and inevitably it isn't just about sex anymore. Each is caught up in the excitement, and the emotion this new arrangement has evoked, and slowly Anne begins to learn things about her husband that she didn't know, some of them a bit upsetting to her, and she's not sure who she feels about what she's learned.
As secrets are revealed in her marriage, so are they revealed with her sisters and parents. It begins to feel like everything Anne thought she knew is no longer true, that it's just a cover for what's really going on. She begins to evaluate her relationships, and her ever-present need to fix everything.
This novel is marketed as an erotic novel, and in some ways it is, but it's not explicit or completely about sex. It's also about secrets, and pleasing people, and not being true to yourself. There were moments I didn't like Anne, other times I did. I felt she could be too selfish, too self-absorbed, and too indignant when she discovers things about the people she loves, yet has no compunction about keeping her own secrets. Yet she could also be so supportive of her sisters, and she's suffered tragedy in her own way, so while she may have annoyed me at times, I could also sympathize with her, and even understand the choices she makes. Feelings are not simple things, and they don't always make sense, either. We live with them the best we can.
Alex seems to be the catalyst that breaks down some of the barriers between Anne and James, and several truths are revealed, and in many ways, it was a good thing. But in no way does it solve everything, or make everything all better. There are quite a few loose ends, unresolved feelings, unspoken words. Ms. Hart eludes to many things, but doesn't feel the need to reveal everything, because, as in real life, it's not that simple.
Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Having read "Dirty", I felt going in that this was going to be similar in that "Rome was not built in a day" kind of ending. Ms. Hart's stories are works-in-progress, and the results could go either way, but isn't that much how life is? She also has this ability to make mundane daily details seem interesting, so I was caught up in the story even though at most times the conversations or goings-on were rather ordinary. My heart would go out to these characters, and at times I wanted to shield them from their pain. As with any good book, it was a little hard to let them go.
Rating: **** 1/2 out of *****