I wrapped up Hot Water by Kathryn Jordan today. This was a "homework" book. I'm going to be moderating a panel at a literary event next month (more on this in a future blog post), and Jordan is one of "my" authors. Hot Water is her debut, and it's quite good - but not for everybody. It also isn't a romance, although she told me she's seen her book shelved in both romance and general fiction sections of bookstores. The plot keeps it from being a romance novel (romance readers are a mite touchy over adultery) and while it's erotic it's not a kinky sex fest splashed on every other page. I'd call it "literary erotica." The sort of book that English majors read when they want to be naughty but they don't want to soil their hands holding something that could be construed as genre fiction.
A Minnesota housewife going by the alias of Julia Reeves has had enough. Her children are grown, having left her nest empty, and her marriage is in the crapper. Is hubby abusive? Well the author never really spells it out, but he is definitely neglectful and clueless. The final straw is when Julia finds the deed to a "hunting lodge" that her husband bought and didn't tell her about. So she gives him a cock and bull story about visiting her sister, flies to California, leases a red Lamborghini, checks into an exclusive Palm Springs "adults only" spa and hires herself a male hooker.
Go on with your bad self girlfriend!
The man she hires, she asks him to go by the name of "William", has been in the escort business for a while. He's young, a former philosophy major (hence his career as a hooker now - ha!), and an all around hunk. But he's seriously growing tired of catering to bored rich broads who've had one too many Botox injections. Enter Julia. He likes her. A little too much. A big no-no in his line of work.
So we have a wife cheating on her husband and a male prostitute. It's kind of like Pretty Woman in reverse meets Thelma & Louise. It's also a very quick read, clocking in at less than 300 pages and short chapters (I'm a short chapter whore).
But despite the deception, despite the cheating, I liked this story. The pages turn easily, although Jordan does have a tendency to get a bit too literary for my tastes. I can't explain why this book works for me, it just does. Maybe because there's an insight here. I'm not suggesting women cheating on their husbands is feminist behavior - but statements like this one are. Julia is talking to William about her life compared to that of her sister's:
"My life was completely different," she said, "but I wouldn't call it honest. Whatever they say, being married doesn't make it honest. More like playing parts, for us anyway, only we didn't even have the same script." She sighed. "The only true honesty is being who you really are, and how can you know that when you're..." She looked up at him. She would not say, "when you're young." She had known years ago, but there were children to raise. "Anyway, it changes that's all. It always changes."Women tend to have an idolized view of what marriage is. That once our white knight shows up, we'll live "happily ever after." Not the case. Marriage, any relationship for that matter, is hard work. It's not all peaches and cream, sunshine and rainbows. I'm convinced that many marriages fail because people think it isn't "work." That it should just happen magically and everyone rides off into the sunset. Also, I tend to think that women panic about the idea of being "alone." I've been in and out of relationships in my day - trust me here, being alone ain't all bad, all the time. Does it get lonely? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No.
The ending does end happily - depending on what your definition of "happy" is. However, Julia is still running, and I think living in the Land Of Denial. Could be why the author is planning a sequel hmmmm?
A book for everyone? No. One I would recommend universally? No. But it still worked for me, despite the deception and adultery. What does that say about me? Final Grade = B.