Today I want to welcome Australian author , Kate Belle to Novels On The Run. She has a guest post and extract you can read from her newly released book, Being Jade.
You can also read the first chapter, via the link below. I really enjoyed Kate's guest post, titled Fictional Fidelity.
A tragic death. A family divided. One truth can set them free.
Banjo Murphy is killed on the night he finally musters the courage to walk away from his wife Jade after twenty five years of repeated infidelities. In the aftermath, Banjo is bewildered to discover he still exists, but death has placed an invisible wall between him and his beloved family. In despair he watches Jade collapse into deep depression and his daughters, Lissy and Cassandra, struggle with their unexpected loss.
Lissy is tortured by guilt and the mysteries surrounding her father’s death. What compelled Banjo to leave the night he died? Why won’t Jade speak about what happened? In spite of their volatile relationship, Lissy believes her parents’ love to be enduring, but sensible Cassandra sees things differently. When Cassy discovers a sketch book chronicling Jade’s extra-marital affairs, the truth of their parents’ relationship begins to unfold and Lissy’s loyalties are divided.
Searching for answers, Lissy contacts Jade’s ex-lovers, unaware her father’s spirit watches as they visit. Unable to let go of his one true love, he aches to know that Jade loved him above all others. Banjo is taken on a journey of discovery through Jade’s memories as the lovers unveil long hidden secrets about her affairs. But the mystery remains, frustrating Banjo and Lissy, until Lissy’s questioning leads her to an explosive truth. One that will finally set her family free.
READ FIRST CHAPTER FOR FREE HERE.
Not long ago I saw a photo of a man wearing a t-shirt that read HABB: Husbands Against Book Boyfriends. It was funny, but it made me think of how many women I know who supplement their long term relationships with a Book Boyfriend. I couldn’t help but wonder how guys really feel about this obsession we have with book heroes?
One thing about book heroes is they don’t come in a one-size-fits-all box – thankfully. Some are delicious dreamy chiseled men with muscles that make you purrrrrrrrr and itch to scratch your nails across their ridged chest; some have smart sassy mouths and wind you around their little finger with their clever, sexy quips; while others have great big gorgeous hearts that make you wanna curl up in their laps and enjoy a big bear hug.
I’ve written characters across all three and fallen in love with each and every one of them. Fictional Book Boyfriends are satisfying in a way that real men aren’t. They never fart, or forget your birthday, or dress like a slob and slop pizza all over their dirty T-shirt while watching the tube. They don’t have annoying family or friends or nasty personal habits that put you off kissing them. And the best bit, they don’t smell.
Because fictional book boyfriends exist in our heads we can make them do and be WHATEVER WE WANT, which is why we all LOVE them so so very much, even if we are in a relationship. But is our preoccupation with Book Boyfriends a subtle (and safe) form of infidelity?
I understand why a lot of people have trouble reading about cheating. It’s a subject that pushes serious buttons. But it’s common (about 45% women and 60% men admit to being unfaithful to their partners) and comes in many different forms. We tend to judge people harshly for being physically unfaithful, yet the imaginary Book Boyfriend is seen as relatively harmless because he doesn’t really exist. He’s no real threat to the relationship. But what happens when we hop into the sack with our partner and close our eyes? Who are we with, really? Do we share the fantasy, or keep it to ourselves?
In my new novel, Being Jade, the main character, Banjo, ain’t the prettiest boy on the block, but what he lacks in looks he more than makes up for in heart. I fell in love with him because of his never ending struggle to not only love his wife Jade, but to understand her, no matter what she throws at him, including adultery. He forgives her over and again, often against his better judgement, because he is one of those rare men who can see beyond her flaws to the woman she truly is. He loves everything about her, her sass, her feisty nature, her capacity for joy, even her body as it changes over the many years they are together.
We forget that the idea of faithfulness applies as much to our internal relationship with our Self as it does to external relationships and marriage. There are times when we want a relationship SO MUCH, we are willing to sacrifice our own needs, to be unfaithful to ourselves, to keep it. This is what Banjo does. Or when something is missing in our primary relationship we go looking for it in another places or people, be they real or fictional. This is what Jade does. Faithfulness is something we experience inside us, as well as within our relationships, and it was this idea I wanted to explore in Being Jade.
People get hysterical about infidelity which makes it difficult to have an open conversation about it. And people rarely talk about the real choices they make to survive in relationships, or to maintain their sense of self. What I’ve tried to do with Being Jade is to show that our initial judgements of acts of infidelity are coloured with bias and are not always fair.
What do you think? Are Book Boyfriends and Heroes a ‘safe’ form of infidelity?
Being Jade extract:
This scene is early in the book after Banjo first discovers Jade with the artist she’s been modelling for since she was fifteen.
Jade sat down opposite me, serene as a holiday postcard. Candlelight flickered and danced in her eyes as she held her drink up in a toast, grinning cheekily.
She really could be a prize bitch, my Jade. I held her gaze but didn’t raise my glass. What was I drinking to? I didn’t know. Jade lifted a careless shoulder, took a sip from her glass and picked up her fork. We ate in silence, avoiding each other’s eyes, the scratching possums on the roof keeping us company.
The spectre of Jade and Jules lingered in my mind, a confusing mess of memory I wished I could banish. I finished my wine and pushed my empty plate away, unsatisfied. I watched Jade chase the remaining olives around the bottom of her bowl. Her hair hung like silk curtains over her shoulders and gleamed in the soft glow of the candles, her face so beautiful it gave me an ache deep in my chest.
‘Was he your first?’ I asked it as softly as I could.
Jade bit her lip and nodded, her dark eyes clouding. ‘He’s taught me so much. I feel safe with him.’
I balked. It might have been easier to take if she’d given in to one of her mother’s clients, or done it with some random punk behind the school hall. I’d always known I wasn’t the first, but to know it was Jules, someone who’d always been around, and that she still slept with him, it hit hard and hurt. Above us a possum screeched and a noisy scuffle broke out on the roof.
‘Have there been others?’
Jade pursed her lips and shook her head. She lifted her eyes to meet mine. Dark pools of sadness. Her eyes had always been sad. Another question rose and stuck in my throat. It had to be asked, no matter how difficult the answer.
‘Will there be?’
She stilled, regarding me with sorrowful knowing and nodded.
What did this mean? Had she tired of me already? Was I really so terrible a lover she couldn’t face a future in my bed? Was she planning on leaving me? I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her, of not living my life with this magnificent creature by my side. I realised then I’d do anything to keep her.
‘So, you are going to leave me – eventually?’
‘No, Banjo, I’ll never leave you. Staying is a promise I made and intend to keep.’
She almost looked defiant when she said it, as though I’d insulted her by even asking. I weighed what she was saying in my hands, testing it against my need for her. She would stay, but not exclusively. Was that something I could live with? What did it mean? Jade waited for me, swirling the wine in her goblet.
‘Don’t use me, Jade.’
She made a small sound, a whimper, a sob, a protest. She pushed the clutter of the table aside with a sweep of her arm and crawled over the wide table to me, her skirt dragging through the remains of our meal.
‘I would never do that, baby,’ she whispered, covering my face with kisses. ‘You rescued me. I’d be homeless or worse if it weren’t for you.’
She snuggled down into the crevice of my lap, curled up inside my arms against my chest. Helpless, I enfolded her and buried my face in her thick hair.
‘I don’t know how to be anything but with you,’ I said. ‘I want to be enough for you.’
Jade kissed my throat up to my ear, calming me, whispering fondly. Her lips found my mouth and I opened up to her. Jade’s kiss, so wistful and wanting. Jade’s kiss, an endless universe of stars on her tongue, pouring life through me, fire on water. Jade’s body, a rescue boat cast against my clumsy body, fine and light.
Running my hands over her perfect curves stirred me. The torture of the afternoon faded as I touched her. There’s nothing on earth like making love to Jade. Nothing. Her skin so bitter-sweet to taste, like holy wine on my lips.
She lifted my shirt from me, tugged at the stray hairs around my nipples, massaged my tongue with her own. I shifted her legs so she sat jockey style astride me, my hands cupping the firm orbs of her bottom. She rocked against me, breathing hard into my mouth, the sound of her lurching into my lungs, banging against my heart, waking my skin from underneath.
She slid one hand down between her legs, bringing her fingers back up to paint my lips with her moisture. She licked at my mouth, her hair falling into my eyes, rendering me sightless. With one arm I lifted her up so I could tug down my shorts. I was hard as steel, always so hard for her. She dropped gently down upon me until her vagina rested against my tip and we paused, our eyes locked together.
There was nothing like this in the world. Nothing. No bliss, no pleasure, no joy could compare to the moment of first entering Jade. She was always wet, open, ready for me, and yet her entrance was tight and I had to push against her natural resistance until her flesh gave way. Then, glory of glories, Jade inched her way down my shaft, impaling herself on my penis. I watched her, her head thrown back, her mouth open wide enough to swallow the moon, the muscles of her thighs working to control her descent, until she held all of me inside her. This was all I needed. To be inside the woman I loved. To have her wrapped all around me. To be smothered and devoured by her fine, fiery flesh. This was all.
Kate Belle Bio
Kate is a multi-published author of dark, sensual love stories that will mess with your head. Her interests include talking to strangers, collecting unread books, and ranting about the world’s many injustices. She writes regularly about women, relationships, sexuality and books on her blog, The Ecstasy Files. She is also the creator of the Eros in Action writing sex workshop.
Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne with her small family and very annoying pets. The Yearning was released in 2013 to rave reviews. Being Jade is her second novel.
Twitter: @ecstasyfiles https://twitter.com/ecstasyfiles
The Reading Room: http://www.thereadingroom.com/kate-belle/ap/2394119
Simon & Schuster Australia