This is the fourth book I’ve read by Dev Bentham. I’ve enjoyed each book so far because of the author’s unique voice. With the last two books I read, I felt the romance was lacking but I enjoyed the stories. This time, in Fields of Gold, I really enjoyed the romance but I had a hard time getting past what I consider to be a major character flaw in the hero Avi. I do love imperfect, flawed heroes and heroines, but there are a few things I have a hard time accepting. Marital infidelity is a big one.
Avi is a historian working as a teaching assistant and has been working on a dissertation for years. The pressure is on to finish it as he is in danger of losing his job if he doesn’t. He is having an affair with a closeted politician posing as a caretaker for the politician’s apartment when he’s not in town. He is basically the politician’s mistress. This arrangement was convenient and it never bothered Avi until he meets Pete, a street merchant and organic farmer. Convincing himself that he is not exclusive with the politician, Avi begins to date Pete. He’s attracted to Pete’s honesty and wholesomeness. But at some point Avi wonders if it’s too good to be true and maybe Pete wants more from Avi than he claims.
Okay. As I said, I love imperfect characters. I do. But Avi is knowingly sleeping with a married man who has children. The author does a great job of portraying Jack, the unfaithful politician as the bad guy. He is an abusive ass who has never really shown Avi much care outside of “keeping him” and paying his rent. But I felt Avi’s responsibility in the relationship was glazed over. I realize this was Avi’s journey from rent boy to finding his self respect and learning to love and be loved. But he still carried on an affair with a married man and his reasons for ending it the had more to do with him and his needs and I needed him to feel remorse for his part in the affair with Jack.
This may or may not be a spoiler, but I put it in spoiler tags just to be safe.
[spoiler]It is revealed that Jack’s wife knows about the affair. She is also being abused by Jack. But I felt this information was given to the reader to somehow soften Avi’s participation in the infidelity. Like, it’s not as bad if the wife knows and she chooses to stay and put up with it? [/spoiler]
Avi is by no means unfeeling or unsympathetic towards the wife, but I just wanted to him take more responsibility.
I am glad that we see Avi pull away from this relationship and find love with Pete. I would have loved to see their relationship more fully explored though. I liked their chemistry and can totally understand why Avi was drawn to Pete; someone who cares for him, supports him and loves him.
I liked how the emotional conflict played out and how there was an extra little twist in there. Jack really is a jerk and his jerk-ness really comes to light. There is betrayal and misunderstanding that makes for an emotional climax to the story. It’s the emotional conflict that really made this story for me and in the end, I did like Avi, as imperfect as he is. I really enjoyed this story despite my problems with the infidelity.
I checked GoodReads to see when the next Tarnished Souls book will be released and didn’t see an entry for it. I hope there will be more in this series as I do like like reading about unusual, imperfect characters.
Our eyes locked. I could feel my chest warming, loosening. Not to mention the heat that look was producing in other parts of my body. I leaned toward him, like a plant toward the sun. It felt inevitable.