Not typically my genre of choice and had it not be a Hardcase Crime publication, I doubt I would’ve picked this up off the shelf. One thing I love about the Hardcase Crime books is the genre diversity and the fact they are willing to take a chance on something a little outside of the norm. THE SECRET LIVES OF MARRIED WOMEN fits that bill – that said there are some of the trademark criminal undertones you’d expect to see in a Hardcase Crime book.
THE SECRET LIVES OF MARRIED WOMEN – both title and cover are a little misleading. I’ve seen reviews note the cover is R18 whereas the content PG13 and for the most part I’d have to agree. Not necessarily a bad thing, as I for one, wasn’t sure what I was going to get with this book so I didn’t have any expectations.
The story plays out in two distinct and subtlety linked acts. The first focuses on a young couple with a baby and another on way. The housewife, Leda, feels underappreciated and disconnected from her husband and finds a friend in labourer Jack, who happens to be doing some work next door. Cue the adultery? Not quite, while I thought this was the direction the story was heading, Jack turned out to be a stalker of sorts and ends up missing with Leda’s husband, Stas, a prime suspect.
The second half of the book is all about the world beneath the silk curtain - one where desires and lustful ambitions can be bought, exploited, and used as currency. Lilly, Leda’s sister, is a successful lawyer who has been trying for some time to have a baby with her husband but thus far, falling pregnant has eluded the power couple. Lilly’s case takes her to a place so foreign to her everyday life that it at once excites and appals her. Nan, a professional submissive, has left the life to work as a devoted receptionist/personal assistant to a blind powerbroker only to cross paths with Lilly when her employer is involved in a shady development deal. Nan’s world and Lilly’s collide, opening them both to new experiences and ways of life. This portion of the novel is more along the lines as to what the cover promised.
THE SECRET LIVES OF MARRIED WOMEN is an enjoyable, well written and easily readable book. It’s not heavily explicit and the touch of crime added some flavour to the overarching tale. More Hardcase Crime than Fifty Shades of Grey.