My husband, James. The house on the lake. My life. Our perfect life.
And then Alex came to visit.
The first time I saw my husband's best friend, I didn't like him. Didn't like how James changed when he was around, didn't like how his penetrating eyes followed me everywhere. But that didn't stop me from wanting him. And, surprisingly, James didn't seem to mind.
It was meant to be fun. Something the three of us shared for those hot summer weeks Alex stayed with us. Nobody was supposed to fall in or our of love. I didn't need another man, not even one who oozed sex like honey and knew all the secrets I didn't know, the secrets my husband hadn't shared. After all, we had a perfect life. And I loved my husband.
But I wasn't the only one.
Anne Kinney loves her husband, James, and for all intents and purposes everything appears perfect. Yet after seven years of marriage she still can't believe that life with him is real. Yes, she answers to his last name, wears his ring, cleans his house, and makes his dinner, and while during these inane tasks her marriage feels as real as ever, she still has her doubts.
Growing up, Anne's mother was never openly loving while her father submerged himself nightly in an alcoholic haze. Sometimes he threatened suicide by locking himself alone with a gun, crying in his quest to end things
Anne's three younger sisters have issues of their own. Patricia's marriage is on the rocks with her husband committing financial infidelity. Mary is a closet lesbian while Claire, if she were being paid for her services, could be called a whore.
Enter Alex Kennedy, James' long lost best friend. After spending the last several years in Singapore, Alex is invited by James to spend the summer months with him and Anne. A wealthy, self-made man, Alex is an enigma to Anne upon his arrival. Gorgeous and dripping with charm, Anne doesn't quite know how to feel about his presence in her home. Firstly, James acts differently. Already described as a flitting butterfly, bouncing from one focus to another, Alex has his complete and nearly undivided attention. Secondly, there is alcohol. Given Anne's past, she understandably has an aversion to alcohol and its effects. She doesn't say no to its consumption nor its presence in her home but she's irritated and quiet when James has been consuming. With Alex there, James seems to be drinking more. And thirdly, Alex is slowly seducing Anne with her husband's approval.
There is a turning point the book that really struck me. Just before Anne agrees to have sex with James and Alex, she says to herself that a simple no would have saved them all a lot of heartache but the temptation of having the two beautiful men is just too hard to resist. Thus Anne dives head first into what turns out to be a very complicated relationship.
Anne loves James, and she often monologues to herself as though trying to remind and ingrain that fact into her heart, yet the unthinkable but inevitable happens. Anne falls in love with Alex. He gets her, not only her heart but her body as well, and as no man has ever gotten her before, even James. And although she has her husband's permission to have sex with his best friend, she does not have permission to fall in love and the guilt weighs heavily on her.
There is no sex scene like the Megan Hart sex scene. It feels so realistic and true to life. Sex is messy, even more so with a third addition. It's not perfectly choreographed like the movies but its still beautiful and pleasurable. Anne's thoughts and feelings are truly human. And while other reviews pointed out the tragedy and grimness of the novel, I found that what Hart was portraying was life, not fantasy. She exams the effects of a married couple inviting a third to their bed and how even with the best intentions, hearts get broken.
Anne, so outwardly perfect in the beginning, sheds her image of perfection and shows the world who she really is at her core. Secrets are uncovered. Hearts are broken. And I was on pins and needles, wondering what Anne's last move would be. Would she leave James and her perfect life to be with Alex? Alex, who makes her feel so different, so unencumbered with the trials and tribulations of family and history. Or would she stay with James and work on their marriage that while good was never truly strong? Could Anne stop trying to please everyone and finally stand up for herself and what she wants?
'Tempted' is life and what life would be like if there was suddenly three instead of one. I only had one problem with the story and unfortunately if I told, it would be a major spoiler but suffice it to say I didn't like the ending. I respected Anne's decision and it concurred with my moral values but I didn't like the way she handled it. In that regards, I though there was a major conversation that happened between Anne and James that was not written into the story and I think that I as a reader would have better understood how Anne came to the decision and did what she did with Alex. For that I have to rate the book a B.