It's splashed across the cover of magazines. It's fodder for primetime and the movies. Our newschannels fill their spare air time with the foibles of the famous. It's estimated that 30-60% of all married people in the US will engage in it at some point.
But it's a third rail romance authors are leery of touching. It's infidelity. And while the romance tent is expanding in a number of ways, this is one topic that isn't finding its way into print very often.
Most recently, Sherry Thomas, (one of my favorite authors) danced around the theme in her NOT QUITE A HUSBAND. But even the fearless Ms. Thomas couldn't deal with it directly. In this story, the infidelity took place prior to the wedding vows, but the husband's last fling tainted the marriage so deeply, the story begins with the couple about to finalize a divorce.
It surprises me sometimes that we romance readers are willing to accept rakish heroes who will mount anything that moves, so long as he instantly becomes the rock of constancy once he meets the heroine. Perhaps our genre should be renamed Romantic Fantasy.
Infidelity is a rich minefield of human experience for an author to explore. Yes, it's painful. It's devastating. Many people decide to throw up their hands and walk away from the relationship, and I can't blame them.
But I think the story of two people losing each other, finding each other again, and reinventing their relationship is one I'd like to read. Re-establishing trust is the deepest of all internal conflicts and the outcome is not a certainty.
What do you think? Have you read a romance with an infidelity theme? Would you be more likely to read a novel about infidelity if the cheater was female? What would a straying character have to do in order to merit a Happily Ever After?
PS. It's Chatelaine Friday! Please join me over there for a peek at my spring travel plans!