Publication Date: Available Now from Pan Macmillan.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the lovely review copy.
When you abandon the rules, can you ever go back?
Mia Allen has never quite adjusted to living in England. She misses her friends in the States and feels restrained by small-town family life near Oxford. Her husband Kit, on the other hand, loves the sense of community here and his job as a school teacher in a private school. Like Mia, Kit’s boss Charlie is also looking for more excitement in her life. Her marriage to emotionally-distant Rob has left her frustrated and yearning for more. So when she and Rob are invited to dinner with Mia and Kit, she jumps at the chance to make new friends. One evening, the increasing attraction between all of them moves up a notch, and it’s not long before the seductive highs of these new friendships lead to desperate lows. Can any of their relationships survive this unconventional arrangement?
So this is my first novel by Tess Stimson and it was really completely out of my reading comfort zone…I’m not a huge fan it has to be said of any type of erotic fiction and also mostly not drawn to relationship fiction or love stories. For me, if you are going to write a sexy book, the sex STILL needs to be secondary to the plot and the characters – otherwise, well frankly, you might as well just watch a bit of soft porn - Which I never really feel the need to do either…
Tess Stimson however has walked the line perfectly – yes there are some very erotic moments in this novel, but they are moments and they are absolutely part of a much larger and more intriguing plot. Mia and Charlie are two women who when they meet through Mia’s husband develop an immediate friendship chemistry. When the two couples start getting together socially this develops into a strong sexual attraction. But can the concept of an “Open Marriage” ever really work? That is at the heart of this story and I was fascinated throughout.
I really liked the two very different relationships Ms Timson has drawn here – that of Mia and Kit, who are a true love match and Charlie and Rob who have been having problems before this new social interaction began. It is cleverly done, we are told the story from both Mia and Charlie’s perspectives, both looking at things from a very different viewpoint and having very different agenda’s. Having two extremely strong yet contrasting female protagonists makes for some terrific reading – and my sympathies ebbed and flowed between the pair of them with every new chapter. As things get darker, the line between truth and memory blur, it is truly compelling.
This is not all about the women – Kit and Rob are again very different and yet very intriguing characters and although we only ever really see them from the female perspective, their personality traits shine through – and again my sympathies ebbed and flowed. Rob especially for me was extremely captivating psychologically speaking and all of the four are intelligently drawn and very easy to follow along with.
So yep, I rather loved it. Unexpectedly – which is ALWAYS the best thing that can happen when you open a book and what I live for.