"Free Pass" by Elizabeth Scott (2008)
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (December 2, 2008)
Six friends. Three couples. One sexy adventure.
These three couples have shared good times with each other as friends. But as they celebrate their seven-year anniversaries, they’re planning to share some even better times—with strangers…
Vacationing in Miami, Cherisse and Wesley are up for more than sunbathing, when Wesley spies a naughty lady through his telescope and Cherisse focuses her gaze on the lifeguard. Meanwhile, Melanie passes on the hot men at her health club and chooses a private workout with an out-of-towner. When her husband accidentally walks in on them, it’s anything goes. And at their rental in Greece, Debra and Gordon discover a Russian couple making love in a private show just for them. For the restless Americans it’s quite a come-on—and an irresistible invitation…
This is the story of three girlfriends, all married, who are each about to celebrate their 7-year wedding anniversary. Melanie, owner of a healthclub with her husband, brings the subject up, reminding her friends Cherisse and Debra that there's a valid reason behind the concept of the seven year itch, and brings up the idea of a "free pass", the opportunity for each person to have a sexual interlude with someone outside the marriage and not have it held against them. At first the other two women are skeptical as they are all happy in their marriages and see no reason to court trouble. But Melanie explains that a "free pass" would add an element of excitement and spice to their marriages, and prevent the possibility of their husbands being bored with them later on. And it's not just for their men's benefit; Melanie stresses that each of the women should indulge themselves as well.
After further discussion, each of the three women decides to discuss the idea with their spouses. Cherisse and her husband Wesley are taking a two-week vacation to Miami, and Cherisse tells him that if he agrees to her idea, this would be the perfect opportunity to live out a forbidden fantasy: sex with someone other than each other. Debra and Gordon are celebrating their anniversary in the sensual paradise of Greece, and both agree that the attitude and freeness of this beautiful country is the perfect setting to experiment. Meanwhile Melanie is tied to the healthclub while her manager is on maternity leave, and must settle for a close-to-home encounter.
All three couples have feelings of reluctance to participate in such scandalous behavior, mainly because they are all very happy in their marriages, and they seem rather determined to take their free pass and get the whole experience over with quickly. Yet also to their surprise the wickedness of what they were about to do was also very exciting, arousing, and because each person involved gave full disclosure of what their intentions were, it served to create an atmosphere of acceptance.
At first the way the concept was explained and carried out seemed rather distasteful, but as the pages turned, it became apparent that as each couple shared their misgivings and insecurities, it stopped being a story of three couples cheating on their spouses and became something a little more emotional than that. While naughty and sexual, it was really the connection between each pair that made the story interesting. Essentially they were engaging in adulterous behavior with the consent of their loving spouse, and none of the individuals involved had any regrets when it was all over. In fact it seemed to bring them closer together, almost as if this exercise served as a reminder of just how fortunate they are to have each other.
I found this book to be more enjoyable in an emotional sense than I was expecting, but less so in the whole "free pass" fantasy idea. I didn't quite buy into the reasoning why they agreed to it in the first place, mainly because of the misgivings on each person's part that didn't completely go away. The whole experience came across as stilted and unconvincing because even though none of them wallowed in guilt or feelings of betrayal, their actions felt forced. Now I will say the sexual encounters were rather erotic and earthy at times, disappointing and somewhat cold at others, which I found to be very believable considering each person's comfort level with what was actually happening. Overall though, I will also say that I found the outcome of the book to be very satisfying
It's no secret I love erotic romance, and I always think it should be sexy,enjoyable, and really hot. I admit that like most people I'm not comfortable with adultery, but in this case, I was able to set my feelings aside because it was agreed upon by the spouses, and full disclosure was involved from the very beginning.
That being said, I thought the reason for the "free pass" - to avoid the possibility of their spouses leaving them later - was not one that I could buy into. I felt it was proposed for the wrong reason, instead of just about fulfilling a sexy fantasy between spouses. If that was the reason, then I could have accepted and enjoyed much more readily. However, because each woman took the time to discuss it with the husbands, I appreciated the honesty and thought that went into making this experience as believable as possible. I also could understand that each person had a different level of acceptance about it. But overall, I prefer my erotic romance to be less conflicted.
So yes there were a lot of wonderful qualities about this story - the close relationships each person had with their partner, their trust and commitment to each other, and their deep abiding love. I just didn't feel that they needed to spice up their marriages in this way, not for the reasons given.
Most of the steamy sex was very much just that. I had no problems with most of it, though one of the couples - Debra and Gordie - participated in a tryst with another married couple and the whole situation left me feeling unsettled. It wasn't really horrible, it just wasn't very sexy to me. But of course that's because everyone has a different idea of what turns them on. This encounter did not.
So I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys their erotic romance with more of a conscience and doesn't just settle for carefree and casual escapades. That's the only way I can explain it.
And I must say that I just really loved this cover - very sexy. It evokes images of hot encounters at the beach.
Rating: **** out of *****
Labels: Elizabeth Scott