Thursday, March 01, 2007

Infidelity in romance

I spent several hours last night critiquing the final chapters of a friend’s romance novel. It’s a great book, full of drama and hot sex scenes, but toward the end I found myself in a pickle. It turns out that her hero cheats on the heroine during the black moment. The heroine even gets to witness the dirty deed. After reading that, I didn’t want to finish. I forced my way past it and continued, but everything afterward was colored differently than it otherwise would have been.

I as nice about it, but I sucked it up and told her the truth. For me, and I think a lot of people, cheating in a romance novel is like a death toll. I have another writing friend whose written a very good book, but it contains adultery and none of the publishers she submitted to would touch it. I may be wrong, but it’s my understanding that cheating of any kind is a big no-no in the romance genre.

How do you feel about the subject? Does infidelity turn a good book into a wall banger or is it understandable in some extreme situations?

6 comments:

Emily Veinglory said...

In general I think it throws a book outside the romance genre. I have seen infidelity used as the black moment in saga, but the longer time frame allows more justifcation for it to occur and for a rational forgiveness.

That said my second novella and best seller (Eclipse of the Heart) includes an explicit infideltiy sex scene. It is presented as un unpleasant and revelatory experience after the h2 (non-point of view hero) basically deserts the h1 (proetgonist) in his hour of need and precipitates his pursuing and recovering his true love. So I wouldn;t rule it out in more alternative sub-genres of romance. In mainstream mf romance it really isn't a good idea MHO.

Nichola said...

Because my views on infidelity are so strong, reading about it colours my view of the characters concerned - I lose respect for them, and when I lose respect for a character, I don't care what happens to them. Plus, if the guy cheats and the woman's still in love with him, I lose respect for HER for being an idiot!

That's not to say I only read books where the people in them are lily-white. Far from it. But I like to see people get their come-uppance.

Even if a woman deserts a man in his hour of need, does that justify his sleeping with someone else? In my view, no. It just makes him look petulant and spoiled and - sad to say - a boy, rather than a man. Men know how to practise self-control.

Leah J. Utas said...

Good question. I have a hard time reconciling romance and infidelity.
However, if there's reason behind it and it's handled properly it could work.

Talia Mana, Centre for Emotional Well-Being said...

To me infidelity and romance don't go together in a book where everything is resolved in a single book. Maybe over a series as the characters develop and you get an opportunity to forgive the 'cheater'

It would be different if it was a book about psychologically damaged people, or an environment of drugs or other issues affecting behaviour so in that respect I agree with Leah

Tina Bendoni said...

I have to say that infidelity turns me off as well. There aren't really any good reasons I can think of for the h/h to cheat. Perhaps if it is in the beginning of the book, and they use the book to work out the differences, maybe then. But the idea behind a romance is the relationship between two (or three) people, and the connection they feel. The desire to be with them alone. Cheating voids that promise, implied or spoken.

Anne Douglas said...

Infidelity at the start of a book setting up the storyline, sure, but unless there is going to be some severe punishment being paid, infidelity in the later stages is hard to get around.

And I have to agree, if the partner being cheated on takes them back I want to kick them in the ass.

In general though, as long as the adulterer isn't a total ass, I can get over it, secretly getting pregnant though, thats my hot button :)