Book review: An Open Marriage by Tess Stimson

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The heat is on this summer… and it’s not all down to the weather.

Tess Stimson raises the temperature in a sizzling, sensual novel which sees two middle-class couples abandoning the traditional rules of marriage for what is politely termed an ‘unconventional arrangement.’

This clever, compelling and darkly delicious story treads familiar territory for an author whose previous books include The Adultery Club and The Infidelity Chain.

But with her trademark skill and flair, Stimson carefully avoids exploiting a cynical brand of explicit eroticism and instead delivers a scintillating, sexy story with an intriguing plotline and a fascinating exploration of the emotional cost of breaking boundaries.

American woman Mia Allen is 39, happily married to English husband Kit and proud mother of Emmy, aged seven. Once a well-travelled reporter in the world’s war zones, she gave up her career to settle in Oxford but has never quite adjusted to living in England and the isolation of working from home

Kit, on the other hand, loves small-town family life, the sense of community and his job as a teacher in a local private school. He’s the kind of man that helps keep Mia on the straight and narrow.

Head of department at Kit’s school is Charlie Brady who has a young daughter, shares Mia’s blonde good looks and is also looking for more excitement in her life. Her marriage to emotionally inhibited and selfish Rob has left her frustrated and yearning for more.

When the two women meet, something clicks immediately and it’s a case of ‘friendship at first sight.’ Suddenly the two couples are enjoying each other’s company and meeting up regularly but one evening, the increasing attraction between all of them moves to a new and potentially dangerous level.

However seductive these illicit arrangements seem at first and however much the two women try to convince themselves that their marriages are rock solid, it’s not long before relationships are at risk of being broken forever…

An Open Marriage is a scrumptious summertime read, full of memorable characters, unexpected twists and turns and passion so hot that it will leave readers heading for the cold shower!

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)