I believe that even before I was married, I enjoyed romances about marriages in trouble. After my divorce, these books appealed even more. Sure, reading about couples falling in love is fun, but I like the meat and grit of a couple fighting to keep a marriage alive despite adversity. I'm sure if I were to consult a therapist, they'd give me all kinds of deep, psychological reasons why these books speak to me. I don't care about the why. I just really love a good marriage in crisis romance.
Over the years, two books with this theme really stuck with me. The first is The Fulfillment by LaVyrle Spencer. It was published in 1979, so you can imagine how long ago I read it. It's a historical set in the early 1900s. The MMC (husband) was infertile. He and his younger brother worked the family farm together, and the husband, wife, and brother-in-law have a close, loving relationship. The husband regrets that he can't give his wife a child, so he plants the seed, basically throws the brother and wife together so she can get pregnant, and leaves town, providing an opportunity for his suggestion to bear fruit.
Man, the emotional drama that followed. I had to have been a teenager when I read this story, and I still remember the details despite having read hundreds, if not thousands of books since then. Now that I think about it, this book may be the root of my fascination with love triangles. One woman in love with two good men. She can't have both, and there's no way to choose one without ripping out her heart. https://www.amazon.com/Fulfillment-LaVyrle-Spencer/dp/0380470845
In 2009, at the beginning of my publishing career, I wrote a book called The Contract. It's a sci-fi romance set off planet. In the story, my heroine (Cecily) marries the hero. They show up at his Human Resources office to prove he's married. The Company is the most lucrative employer on earth, where jobs are scarce. Cecily is on board with living on an asteroid, but there's a catch in Billy's employment clause that concerns her. Miners must be married and live in family units. If, for some reason, one of the men in the unit loses a wife, he has to leave the asteroid until he can find another wife. Or, he can exercise his option to marry one of the wives in the unit.
As you can imagine, my heroine balks at the clause, but the hero convinces her it will never happen. They will be sharing a unit with his older brother and sister-in-law. She reluctantly signs because she loves the hero. The unthinkable happens, and Cecily finds herself torn between two brothers who both want her.
The second book in my mental, unforgettable file is Lena Matthew's Happily Even After, published in 2010. Okay, technically, I guess the couple weren't still married to each other, but they were definitely still in love. The drama, the angst--this book had it all. The heroine has a one-night stand that ends with her getting pregnant. I won't go into all the spoilers of how the divorce happened, who she slept with, and why she keeps resisting the hero's attempts to heal their marriage. I will say that this was a damn good book. So good, I've never forgotten the author or the title. I reached out to Lena to see if the book is available anywhere other than in print. If so, I can't find it.
I suppose I can thank these two authors and others for exploring infidelity in marriage. I know most readers hate cheating books, but I've found that if it's really well done, the storyline can suck you in faster than a Lifetime movie.
I hope my duet Beyond the Breaking and Broken fits into this category. In my opening scene, Cassidy (my heroine) and her husband (Phillip) are on vacation, using the downtime to get pregnant. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, it doesn't take long before their happy marriage begins to show cracks.
In Beyond the Breaking Point, I put my heroine through the wringer. In addition, there's a bromance (between Max and Phillip, best friends since college) that gets fractured by Phillip's betrayal. Throw in Cassidy's drunken, angry one-night stand with Max that ends with her becoming pregnant and not knowing which man is the father, and you have a drama worthy of a soap opera. My beta readers got into arguments over what they thought the heroine should do.
To read a sample, click here: https://beyondthebreakingpoint.laterpress.com/
These aren't the only books about a marriage in crisis in my catalog. If this trope entices you, check out these books:
To Jon, With Love: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/483249
Trust Me Tonight: https://www.amazon.com/Trust-Me-Tonight-Zena-Wynn-ebook/dp/B01MSUMR8T
Fantasy Island: Fantasy Man: https://www.zenawynn.com/product-page/fantasy-island-fantasy-man
J & M Consulting: Gamed: https://www.zenawynn.com/product-page/j-m-consulting-2-gamed
The Nina Chronicles: Full and Overflowing: https://www.zenawynn.com/product-page/nina-chronicles-4-full-and-overflowing