broken-heart On Tuesday, Lynn wrote about some of her favourite romance plots. Among them was “Second Chances” where the hero and heroine get another look at love after something happens to part them. Lynn said that she didn’t care how the couple separated and that got me thinking. I like second chance romance plots as well, but I’ve got three conditions.

First condition, if either of them cheated, I don’t care to read about their Happily Ever After.

Second condition, see above.

Third condition, all of the above.

I do not care how many “real world” examples there are of marriages which thrive after an incidence of cheating. I do not care how perfectly the author writes. I do not care how emotionally satisfying the romance is. I do not care if I am paid ten million dollars to read…okay, that last is a lie.

Suffice it to say: I am unforgiving when it comes to cheating. I am a romance reader who views the stories as escapist fantasies. Therefore, I am at my happiest when I am reading about perfect loves. Not perfect people, but perfect loves. So, the man could be a highway robber, the woman could be a prostitute – if I believe in their love, I am content.

I acknowledge that love has many facets and sexual attraction is but one. I also acknowledge that a cheating spouse does not equal an unloving spouse. But to have to consider these things in my romance reading spoils the fantasy.

So, what is my fantasy exactly? In short form: That for the rest of their days, from the moment it is shared between the two of them that They Are In Love, he is sexually attracted to no one else but her and vice versa. My fantasy is not that neither of them ever acts on any third party sexual attraction that may come up in life; my fantasy is that there never will be (beyond the basic attraction to a good-looking face and body that is closer to an appreciation of beauty than a desire for sexy-times).

In incidences of sex-revenge (you’re too domineering, you don’t pay attention to me anymore, you don’t want to sleep with me what the hell else am I supposed to do etc), where sexual attraction to someone else is not the reason for cheating, this still spoils my fantasy. This is simply a no-go area for me. Cheaters are the scum of romantic earth.

That said, I’ve been thinking about whether I would ever read about letting a cheater prosper because Ann Christopher’s latest book is about a divorced couple and it’s the man who was the ho-bag (I can’t even stomach describing him as the ‘hero’). But I really, really like Ann Christopher’s books so I’m wavering.

What to do, what to do? Am I missing out on some seriously romantic books because I believe strongly in the Die Cheater, Die philosophy? Do you believe in a Cheater’s Redemption for your romance novels?

And as a short postscript, I can shamelessly read about a hero or heroine being a cheating spouse of another relationship if the prior relationship was off the page; the cheated partner was referred to only in negative, horrible terms; and the cheater cheated with his/her Perfect Love (current hero/heroine).

What about you?

– Abi Bishop