The Affair (1-8) by Beth Kery-Review and Interview
ABOUT THE BOOK: Serial Release Dates September 16 –November 4, 2014
Innocent yet unconventional hospice nurse Emma Shore has secured a new position at The Breakers, the sprawling mansion of enigmatic and dangerously handsome racecar billionaire Michael Montand. Hired as caretaker for Montand’s stepmother, Emma expects few complications. But one night, lost in the mansion’s maze of corridors, she comes upon a woman and a man she can’t identify engaged in a raw, naked interlude of sexual subjugation. Silently, from the shadows, Emma watches – shocked, appalled, and unnervingly aroused.
But Emma wonders… if this mysterious stranger is not Montand, then who is it? And what other surprises are in store for her? Night after sleepless night, she’s considering the possibilities. And for the first time in her life, she’s not going to run away from them.
REVIEW: THE AFFAIR is the latest contemporary, erotic romance serial by Beth Kery. Released as an eight part serial THE AFFAIR focuses on hospice nurse Emma Shore and billionaire/racecar owner /developer Michael Montand.
Told from close third person point of view, the eight part storyline follows the building relationship between Emma and Michael. Emma’s position within the Montand household has an expiry date-hired to care for Michael’s dying step mother, Emma ‘accidentally’ witnesses Michael and another woman in a BDSM scene. Both turned off and turned on, Emma will come face to face with the man who would eventually bring Emma into his world. When Emma walks in on her boyfriend of two years having sex with another woman, Emma is free to explore what it is she truly wants.
The relationship between Emma and Michael begins as employer and employee but soon develops into something more. When Michael tells Emma he doesn’t do relationships and the only thing he can offer is sex, Emma offers Michael five weeks of sex and adventure then she will walk away. Michael will soon realize that five weeks with Emma is not enough-he wants a lifetime. The sex scenes are numerous, intimate and provocative.
THE AFFAIR is also a story of family, betrayal and letting go. There are moments of heartbreaking sorrow for a man who has lost everyone that he has loved and in return was rejected by the one person who should have been there from the start. Michael’s family is the epitome of dysfunctional and in this he is a man who will not commit to something more.
The world building brings the reader onto the racecar circuit and Grand Prix tours of Europe. The secondary characters include both Emma and Michael’s extended family members, friends and frenemies. Everyone has an agenda or a connection to the past.
The writing style is simple. There is no over the top angst or anxiety as the outcome is predictable. The BDSM premise is secondary to the storyline but it does command a good portion of the story. Michael’s persona did not scream Dominant but more of a need to control the world around him. The billionaire Dom and inexperienced sub is a familiar scenario. There are no hardcore BDSM scenes, no safe words, no anxious moments or questions of consent.
THE AFFAIR is an erotic romance storyline with a happily ever after. Fans of Beth Kery will recognize her signature BDSM storyline trope and you can’t help but fall in love with her leading characters.
Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.
Reviewed by Sandy
TRC: Hi Beth and welcome back to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of THE AFFAIR.
Beth: Thank you, and I’m very happy to be here.
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. For anyone who does not know BETH KERY, would you please tell us something about yourself?
Beth: Sure. I worked as a psychologist for years before leaving and becoming a romance writer. Some say it’s a strange combination of professions, but I think anyone who does either job might realize the similarities. Like a psychologist, writers are usually keen observers of character and the dynamics of relationship and emotion. I’ve written around forty novels to date, along with several novellas, and prefer the contemporary romance/erotic romance genres. I’ve lived in downtown Chicago for too many years to name, and love the culture and energy of the city. However, I’m originally a small town girl, and love the country as well. When it comes down to it, I’d be hard pressed to say whether I prefer a bustling city or a mountain retreat.
TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?
Beth: Certainly my mother, who read to me in the womb I think, and is an avid reader herself. There were books everywhere in my house growing up. Books were impossible to ignore. My father, too, was a big reader. Although I read in all genres, I had the feeling I could write romance. I’m not sure why. I just got the pace and process of it. I’d definitely have to mention romance authors as influencing me. I loved Sandra Brown, Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Emma Holly, Jaci Burton and many, many more throughout the years. Some people say work hard, play hard, but I’d say work hard, read hard. For me, a good romance was like a gift certificate to the spa or a gift of premium chocolate—permission to indulge.
TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax?
Beth: Surf and shop the internet, watch favorite shows like Downton Abbey, 30 Rock or Grimm, shop (at real stores!) with friends or family, go to the Art Institute or Chicago History Museum, walk in Chicago or along the beaches of Lake Tahoe, keep in touch with friends and family via phone, text or Viber, read a book.
TRC: THE AFFAIR is an eight-part erotic serial focusing on Emma Shore and the enigmatic Montand. Would you please tell us something about the premise of the series?
Beth: Sure. Although on the surface THE AFFAIR is a super sexy love story, it’s also a book about grief and forgiveness, about finding the strength and will to live and love again. The hero and heroine are Michael Montand and Emma Shore—two characters that I truly came to adore. They are so perfect for one another. Emma has a bone deep, eternal strength about her. Montand calls her fey. Because of an experience she had with death early in life, she has this sort of grace and calmness about her. As a hospice nurse, she deals with issues on a daily basis that most people would run from. It’s her peace, unconventionality and strength that calls out to Montand.
Montand, on the other hand, is cynical about almost everything. He’s experienced terrible loss and grief throughout his life, including the death of his twin brother in a drowning accident where Montand was present and survived. So he carries a great deal of survivor guilt. Emma and Montand are quite a character contrast, but the rub off on each other. They learn from each other, and grow into better people during the journey of the book. At its core, I believe that THE AFFAIR is incredibly romantic. Yes, it’s erotic, but there is such tenderness between this couple, such poignant, sweet moments. Those ephemeral moments of romance between Emma and Montand are what I prize most about the book.
TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background) did you encounter writing this particular story?
Beth: THE AFFAIR is a serial, which means it was released in eight parts over eight weeks’ time. It was very arduous to write. It’s the size of two books in length. Plus, it’s a very emotional story. The serial format is very tricky to do in general, much more mentally challenging for me then a regular, linear novel. Despite what many people might think, the serial is not a regular novel that’s been chopped up into pieces. THE AFFAIR was written as a serial and is meant to be consumed over an eight-week period. I’ve told the story to coincide with the first eight weeks of Michael and Emma’s relationship, so that each week of the serial is a week of their love affair. There were times I didn’t think the time element would work. It’s like doing a rubric’s cube to get everything to fit just right into the time allotment and weekly installment. I eventually got it, and everything clicked into place. By the end of it, I was kind of wrung out, and at the same time, extremely happy with the results.
TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading characters, which models or actors would best suit your ideal image?
Beth: They both are solely from my imagination, but I thought Carey Mulligan was a great fit for Emma—strong, fresh, a little fey. As for Michael, he was more challenging to find a look-alike for. I imagine him as a European-type—a real Mediterranean God, so to speak. Strictly on a physical characteristic basis, I chose Theo Theodoridis on my Pinterest The Affair page as being akin in looks to Michael Montand. Beautiful. Tragic.
TRC: Theo is definitely tragic and beautiful.
TRC: Do you have plans to continue the series? Spin-off?
Beth: I’d love to tell Niki Dellis’s story. I have something special in mind for him. However, I have not contracted for a Niki-book to date.
TRC: You were one of the first author’s to venture into the serialized storyline format. What do you believe is the appeal of the serial format?
Beth: One thing that the serial has highlighted for me is the reminder that there are many different types of readers out there. Not all readers are the type to consume a novel in hours or in one night. There are people who really enjoy the serial’s pace and the anticipation of waiting for the next installment. Busy, mobile people often enjoy this shorter, episodic version of consuming a book. Also, people write to me and say that they have never been a big reader, or haven’t really read since high school, but they enjoy the serial. They feel positively reinforced for completing an installment when they have struggled finishing an entire novel. That positive reinforcement makes them want to read the next week’s part. The serial offers an alternative way of reading, and I believe it hits a different market. Of course the rabid readers can love the serial too. I hear from many several-books-a-week readers who follow the serial because it’s fun and a change of pace.
TRC: What do you believe is the ‘down’ side of the serial format?
Beth: Probably that the rabid booklover can feel unfulfilled by the weekly episode. They want to continue when they want to continue. I completely understand that. The serial isn’t for everyone. The one thing that I tell people who feel unsatisfied with the serial is, the traditional book will always be available to them. The serial isn’t a threat to traditional reading any more than an e-book is a threat to a print book. When a reader says to me, “I just don’t get the point of the serial. Why not just publish it all at once?” I say simply, there are people who like the serial for the reasons I’ve stated above. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it really works for some. Plus, even for the most rabid reader, the serial has the advantage of coming out quicker and being available for reading before the traditionally published novel.
TRC: Are any of your characters or the premises (of any or all of your books) based in reality or a combination of reality and fiction?
Beth: None of my characters come from reality. They are products of my imagination. The thing about my characters and plots that is based in reality is that I’m very aware of people’s coping styles, their defense mechanisms and both healthy and dysfunctional ways of dealing with emotional angst or stress. That’s why I think there’s a decent level of reality to my characters, despite the fact that I’m writing a romantic fantasy.
TRC: What are your thoughts on writing a series and ending an installment with a major cliff hanger?
Beth: In regard to the serial? I’ve changed my opinion a lot on cliffhangers now that I’ve done three serials. I used to think each episode should dangle in the midst of the scene at the conclusion of the episode. Although there are still some cliffhangers today in my serial, I’ve come to realize that it’s not entirely necessary to create anticipation and excitement for the reader. If the reader is invested enough in the characters and their romance, it’s enough of a cliffhanger. Today in my serials, there are many installments that come to a fulfilling temporary conclusion. In regard to a traditional novel and a series, I try to avoid the cliffhanger as much as possible. For instance, I’m currently writing a story that has a two-book arc called GLIMMER and GLOW. This is one really large and developed story, and it took me two books to write it. So at the end of GLIMMER, while it is obvious that there is more story to tell, I attempted to bring it to a satisfactory climax between the hero and heroine, a temporary resting point. I didn’t want to leave the reader in too much anxiety over the wait between books.
TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?
Beth: That’s a good question. I like to think I control things, but there are many times a character develops a mind of their own. Michael Montand, for instance, from THE AFFAIR was originally cast as much more cynical and aloof. But then he started interacting with Emma, and she’s so fresh and unexpected that he started revealing more of himself than I’d anticipated. He began to show his need for her much more intensely than I originally planned. Things happen like that all the time when I’m writing, and you just have to see where it leads you.
TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?
Beth: I believe they truly have to understand not only their characters, but have a good understanding of dynamics and the ebb and flow of emotional interactions. I was talking with another writer recently and she was trying to write a psychologically complex scene. I said, do you understand what this woman is experiencing right now? Can you feel a measure of it? A good author must be truly compassionate, in my opinion. That doesn’t mean they have to enter in to the complete angst of having cancer, or experience the wild euphoria firsthand of an impulsive romantic tryst, or endure repeated losses of loved ones. But they do have to be willing to enter partly in to that experience. They have to feel along with their character, or they really won’t understand how their character is going to respond. I think the best scenes come when the writer is truly is inside their character’s head, and the dynamics of the scene naturally unfold.
TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?
Beth: I kind of have a closet fascination with psychic phenomenon, like ESP, psychokinesis, clairvoyance. I’m not interested in it from a scary perspective, but a scientific one. I realized not many people know this about me because recently, one of my sisters, whom I’m close to, by the way, expressed surprise that I believed that a poltergeist phenomenon could occur. I’d love to write a book that involved some psi element . . . along with a romance, of course.
TRC:On what are you currently working?
Beth: I’m writing on the second book in the two-book arc I referred to above. It’s called GLOW. GLIMMER and GLOW are both contemporary, sexy romances, but they have more of a new adult feel with elements of suspense. At times, it even feels like bit of a ghost story. ☺ GLIMMER was a ton of fun to write, and I’m very excited about how everything is going to develop and deepen in GLOW. Also, the next novel in the One Night of Passion series, ONLY FOR YOU, is debuting on December 2, so I’ve been working to spread the word about that. ONLY FOR YOU is Seth’s story. Seth is a Hollywood special effects makeup artist at the top of his game, and he’s devoutly avowed to avoid actresses in the romance and sex department. Of course, fate just has to send his soul mate in the form of Hollywood’s sweetheart, celebrity Gia Harris. What’s life without a challenge? These are two smart, independent people who have to work to find their way to each other. I think readers will really enjoy taking that journey with them.
TRC: Thank you Beth for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on all of your success. We wish you all the best.
Beth: Thank you so much for having me at The Reading Café. It’s been fun.
Beth Kery is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty novels. She loves romance, and the more emotionally laden and sexy the romance, the better. Beth holds a doctorate degree in the behavioral sciences and enjoys using her knowledge of human nature to add depth and intensity to her stories. Her works have been translated into more than fourteen languages. Connect with her online at BethKery.com and Facebook.com/Beth.Kery