I wanted to like this book more than I did. It is interesting because all of the elements are there for a really good story, but for me, they aren't quite all put together to make for a great result.
Mandy and Mike have been married for years. They have two great kids, a nice home, and by all accounts a successful and happy marriage. Or at least they did until Mandy catches Mike in a compromising position with another woman. Mike is remorseful, Mandy is angry. Mike wants to go to counseling and Mandy decides she'll give it a month, but she is really just going through the motions. She feels too betrayed and she's now very attracted to a sexy neighbor Adam.
There is a little blurb on the book that says:"Warning: Real people aren't all good or all bad. Neither are the characters in this story. The shade of right or wrong you see may depend upon whose glasses you are looking through."
My main problem is that I don't think the book lived up to that warning. I wanted
to read about shades of gray and I wanted to feel ambivalent about the husband's cheating. However I didn't. I did think that the characters were painted very clear in their 'right' vs. 'wrong' actions. Mike was clearly placed in the space of 'wrong'. Although he said a lot of the right things, his actions never backed them up. He did not feel truly remorseful. He felt weak and manipulative to me. He felt at all times like a guy who decided to scratch an itch and only wanted to repair his marriage after he decided he was done with the other woman. At one point Mandy wonders if he'd cheated before. I was sure he'd cheat again. And as an added bonus his family were painted as fairly awful people.
I did think Mandy was the grey-er character and it was her characterization that made the book for me. She is clearly the wronged spouse. She is angry and I loved that the author allowed her verbalize and act on her anger in various ways through out the book. One of the things I tend to hate about cookie-cutter romance is that there seems to be some unspoken (or maybe it is said out loud) rule that the heroine can't be loudly pissed off at things. That she has to take the high road and suffer nobly (personally I blame Harlequin romances for that 'suffer-in-silence' shit, those books have taken that to an art form).
But Mandy is also problematic is some ways too. She clearly has no intention of truly working on her marriage through counseling. She's simply stringing Mike along. She is also indulging in her own affair, albeit an emotional one. And even though she and Adam don't "go all the way" they get pretty close well before she is officially done with Mike. So in some ways Mandy could be seen as being just as unfaithful as Mike, but she is placed in a space of 'right' because a)the book is told from her perspective and b)her actions have the approval of the other characters. So while I was very sympathetic to her, I also thought she had forfeited some of her high ground.
With a nod to the title, there is a revenge element here and it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I know that many readers will cheer this part on. For me, though, I didn't like it. For all that Mike was an asshole, at least he was one privately. He cheated on her yes, but it wasn't public. Mandy's payback was, and it felt cheap to me.
And finally, I thought the book, which had been grooving right along, avoiding romance-novel-cliche territory pretty well, stumbled right at the end. One simple question: "Hi my name is Mandy, who are you?" could have avoided several pages of eye-rolling from me.
I think this book would have lived up to it's potential for me if only Mike had been made a little more nuanced and given the more gray treatment that Mandy got.