When I heard the chatter about Molly McAdams’ latest New Adult, Sharing You, featuring a married hero who cheats on his wife with the heroine, my interest was immediately piqued. You all know how I feel about cheating in romance. I had to at the very least check it out, despite folks saying the wife was painted as a “crazy bitch,” something I can’t get behind. But I had to try it. Maybe this would be a book that pushed the boundaries of traditional monogamy. Just look at the title and the cover, no one is trying to hide what this book is about.
I was rooting for Brody and Kamryn from the get-go, hoping that maybe there was some sense behind Brody’s decision to cheat on his wife. Maybe his wife was unhappily married too, and they had some sort of mutual understanding and didn’t want to get divorced because it’s a huge legal pain in the butt. Maybe she was in a coma. Maybe she was cheating on him too and they were just a couple of dysfunctional married cheaters who couldn’t get their acts together. Any of those reasons would have been more logical than how the plot was actually carried out.
Kamryn, generally, is the most put together character in this book and I actually related to her on some level. She comes from a dysfunctional, wealthy horse racing family and was promised to the son of another wealthy horse racing family as a way for the families to merge their assets. So she does what any New Adult heroine who comes from a terrible family would do, she packs her bags and moves to the Pacific Northwest to open a bakery, using money she accumulated from betting on horses. I’m into it.
She meets Brody through a mutual friend and it’s instalove for the both of them.
Let me stop here and share my feelings about instalove and fated love: ugh. There is no logic! But it seems to work for Brody and Kamryn, because after they’ve barely exchanged words, they decide they’re meant to be together during their first real conversation. I want to make it clear that at this point, I’m still rooting for them. This will work out. I have faith.
But Kamryn and I have a lot of the same questions about Brody and his wife Olivia’s — who everyone swears is Satan incarnate — marriage:
“I don’t understand why you’re married to her then. Jace and Kinlee said she was horrible, and with what you just said, I don’t … it doesn’t make any sense.”
Not at all! There is absolutely no given reason for Brody to be married to Olivia. There are some reasons readers can assume at this point, like her family is incredibly wealthy and could hire a really great lawyer and Brody could end up losing everything he has and possibly going to jail after her parents call the cops claiming they’re afraid Brody is going to beat Olivia, after Olivia tells them she’s worried he’ll kill her. (Oh, New Adult.)
Brody’s answers aren’t actually complete answers, either, which makes this situation all the more frustrating to read about. First, he says:
“Olivia and I have been together since high school. When I left for the Army after we graduated, we stayed together for two completely different reasons. For me, it was convenient to have someone when I visited home. For her, she liked dating someone her parents hated. But it was just a title, and someone to fool around with when I was here, nothing more. Then she got pregnant, and I figured if I was man enough to get her pregnant, I was man enough to marry her … I wasn’t going to let her go through that alone. But that entire first year after we got married she wouldn’t even see me, and she wouldn’t let me see our son until I left the military and bought a house for us. Once that happened, we shared a bed for a few months, but we still didn’t share a bed most of that time. After those first few months of living together, we went to separate rooms, and it’s been that way since.”
Ok, so he married her because she got pregnant. A lot of people do that and it would make some sense except for one thing: Brody and Olivia no longer have a son. Their son was killed in a car accident, which Olivia blames Brody for (he was driving). Again, Kamryn asks more really great questions:
“Then if you don’t have any kids, why are you still with her?”
And Brody provides an answer that doesn’t make any sense, because he’s not ready to tell Kamryn about his son:
“Because I married her, and there’s been a lot of hard times for us. I couldn’t just leave her.”
Kamryn still isn’t convinced, so Brody continues:
“Yes, I stayed with her even though my life has been hell over the last five years since I’ve been back in Oregon, but I thought it was my punishment, and it was a punishment I would have gladly paid for the rest of my life if I’d never met you. But I did.”
So Brody was all set to be miserable for the rest of his life until he met Kamryn. In fact, even though his wife is so horrible and he is so miserable, he never even thought about getting a divorce.
“Never once in the last five years had I thought about actually leaving Olivia. Through all the bullshit, heartache and grief. I’d remained faithful to a wife whom I no longer loved … and who has probably never even loved me … because I felt like I owed it to her.”
Brody’s attempts to come across as loyal don’t convince me. Why would anyone commit themselves to a lifetime of unhappiness, while in the process also keeping someone else unhappy? Then, Olivia tries to commit suicide. Her character is established as mentally ill, and suddenly things start to come together. If you’re with someone who is sick, leaving them is made that much more difficult.
But then she isn’t! It turns out she was faking her mental illness in order to manipulate Brody (I’m not sure why, seeing as he has nothing she wants), because she’s a two dimensional evil villain who is just really awful for no apparent reason and we’re suppose to hate her in order to empathize with Brody and Kamryn. This doesn’t sit well with me at all. Making light of mental illness in order to villainize a character is not only insensitive, but it’s poor characterization. And why do we have to hate Brody’s wife in order to get past the moral concerns of Brody and Kamryn’s relationship? It’s unnecessary.
I think cheating, and all the not-so-wonderful aspects of dating and relationships, are themes that should be explored in romance, and I think it’s great Molly McAdams was willing to tackle something so polarizing. I was ready to give this story a chance, and perhaps die-hard NA readers will enjoy it, but it just didn’t work for me.
Sharing You is available now, both digitally and in print. For more NA love stories visit our Everything Young Adult page.