White’s (Dirty Pictures, 2011) novel describes an unsatisfying marriage, a wife’s pursuit of a mystery lover she only sees in her dreams, her husband’s jealousy and the effects their children suffer from their struggling union.
As Holly Mauer approaches 40, she feels her marriage has become lackluster and unsexy. She dreams about a mystery man whose face she can’t make out other than a pair of shockingly blue eyes; her frustration worsens and her restlessness increases. A squirm-worthy scene during which Holly attempts to enact her dream while her youngest son is in the bed with her and her husband forces Holly to reveal her dreams and her dissatisfaction to her husband, Justin. This sets off a jealous rage and a host of problems for everyone in the family. After graphic and either naive or malicious attempts (it’s nearly impossible to tell) to revive the couple’s sex life don’t work, Justin realizes he can’t compete with the man in Holly’s dreams. Holly’s encounter with Bryce Pyliotis, whose eyes match her dream lover’s, leads to her obsession with making her fantasy a reality. Bryce, written almost as a superhero in his charm and integrity, begins to struggle with his feelings for her as well. The suspense and anticipation seem as if they’ll never pay off and as if the reader will never witness any intimate scenes between Holly and Bryce. The tale is well-told and interspersed with erotic dreams that mesh with the rest of the story, and the love triangle adds dramatic tension and momentum. An uncomfortable beginning transforms into a well-written examination of what happens when a marriage gets stale and one or both people become restless and try to act on their nagging desires.
An erotic examination of how to handle marital strife poorly.