I love how Megan Hart’s books for Harlequin Spice/Mira are erotic FICTION, not erotic ROMANCE. (And yes, there is a difference.) They feel refreshingly real, with flawed characters that don’t always get what they want, but when they do it comes with a heavy price that may not be worth it. I love this, because hell knows I hate being patronised by books wherein everyone lives happily ever after and the condescending message is that if you’re not loved, your life is not worth living. But I digress.
And while I solidly enjoyed Tear You Apart (four stars), I do have some quibbles.
The cover copy. The summary. Whatever you call it, this is on the back cover (or inner flap of a hardcover), and describes what the book is about. Except in the book’s case, it farking doesn’t. Because instead of…I don’t know, telling us about the freaking story, there’s some vague thing about being on a train and unable to stop, or not wanting to stop. Turns out that’s an edited extract from Chapter 21, I think.
But that’s kind of forgivable, because the cover image lets us know what’s up: an apple and a ring, aka symbols of forbidden fruit and infidelity. Aka cheating on a spouse. So why didn’t they just bloody say so and compose a proper summary? Because a lot of readers don’t like cheating in their fiction. Particularly romance readers. Even though this book is clearly labelled as erotic FICTION, not erotic ROMANCE. So, yes, the publisher tried to trick those reluctant readers into reading the book, despite that it has an aspect troubling for them.
Not cool, Harlequin. Just be up-front and honest; we’ll respect you more.
Tear You Apart is told from the point of view of Elisabeth Amblin, assistant at an art gallery. She meets photographer Will, and very quickly they’re rooting. Even though she’s already married. She doesn’t have the balls to leave her husband, though – Ross isn’t abusive or anything; he’s just inconsiderate. But Elisabeth and Will continue their affair.
But Elisabeth doesn’t approve of gallery owner and BFF Naveen cheating on his wife. Yet she encourages her other friend Andrea to cheat on her husband. So basically Elisabeth believes that only women should be allowed to cheat. Which seems a bit sexist.
Only when one of her recently-engaged twin daughters calls off the wedding does Elisabeth have the balls to leave Ross. Which means now she’s free to publicly get with Will and live happily ever after. But Will doesn’t want to. The end. Which is a happy enough ending for me, because Elisabeth finally does what she’s been meaning to do for some time (split from Ross), and gains independence and agency. Romance fans won’t like it, but screw them; it’s good enough for me.