The Concubine (Unexpected Circumstances, #5) The Concubine discussion


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***SPOILER TOPIC*** - Is there cheating in Unexpected Circumstances

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Shay Savage ***SPOILERS BELOW - PLEASE AVOID IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW***

The author's views:

Branford is NOT a cheater

Now that the Concubine is out [warning: definite spoilers ahead], I’m going to discuss the whole idea of “cheating” in this book. First, let’s look at the definition:
cheat: verb (used with object)

1. to defraud; swindle:
He cheated her out of her inheritance.
2. to deceive; influence by fraud:
He cheated us into believing him a hero.
3. to elude; deprive of something expected:
He cheated the law by suicide.

verb (used without object)
4. to practice fraud or deceit:
She cheats without regrets.
5. to violate rules or regulations:
He cheats at cards.
6. to take an examination or test in a dishonest way, as by improper access to answers.
7. Informal. to be sexually unfaithful (often followed by on):
Her husband knew she had been cheating all along. He cheated on his wife.

Synonyms
1. mislead, dupe, delude; gull, con; hoax, fool. Cheat, deceive, trick, victimize refer to the use of fraud or artifice deliberately to hoodwink or obtain an unfair advantage over someone. ***Cheat implies conducting matters fraudulently, especially for profit to oneself***: to cheat at cards. Deceive suggests ***deliberately misleading or deluding***, to produce misunderstanding or to prevent someone from knowing the truth: to deceive one's parents.To trick is to deceive by a stratagem, often of a petty, crafty, or dishonorable kind: to trick someone into signing a note. To victimize is to make a victim of; the emotional connotation makes the cheating, deception, or trickery seem particularly dastardly: to victimize a blind man. 8. swindler, trickster, sharper, dodger, charlatan, fraud, fake, phony, mountebank. 9. imposture, artifice, trick, hoax.

Now – look carefully at the definitions and then consider the following questions.

1. Did Branford in any way defraud, swindle, or deceive Alexandra?
Answer: No. He didn’t. He is completely upfront with her about what is happening and why. Yes, he delays telling her out of fear of her reaction, but she knows everything that is going on prior to Hadley coming to Silverhelm.

2. Did Branford represent the situation fraudulently, deceive Alexandra, or violate any rules?
Answer: No. He didn’t. In fact, it’s the rules of the kingdom that have him completely trapped in the situation. Alexandra knows exactly what is going on and why, so there is no fraud. She understands and accepts the situation for what it is. She knows Branford MUST have an heir, and even goes as far as to encourage him to perform his duty. Does she like it? No, of course not. She hates it as much as he does, but there is nothing deceitful about it.

3. The big one: Did Branford cheat on Alexandra?
Answer: No. He didn’t. “Cheat implies conducting matters fraudulently, especially for profit to oneself.” Not only was there no fraud, he did not profit. You could argue that his profit would have been an heir, which doesn’t work out. Even if it had, he certainly doesn’t consider the act itself (which seems to be the crux of the controversy) as profitable. He loathes it. With no possibility of any kind of artificial insemination available (which would probably curb the ire some people feel over this turn of events), he is given no choice. In fact, it is Branford (as well as Alexandra and Hadley) who are the victims of this entire situation.

Now down to the nitty-gritty that has a few people up in arms: Does Branford stick his penis somewhere other than his wife’s vagina? Yes, he does. However, I maintain that he does NOT cheat on her in any way, shape, or form. In fact, considering he’s being threatened by King Edgar with war and the potential violation and murder of his wife (giving him flashbacks of his own mother’s demise), I’d even argue that Branford is raped. He doesn’t want to perform this act, but he does so out of coercion, deceit, and treachery. If the situation was gender-reversed, this concept would probably pop into your mind a little faster. If Alexandra was forced to take on other men to provide an heir, the idea of rape becomes a lot clearer (anyone remember The Handmaid’s Tale?).

Branford truly hates what he’s done. He hates the act and he hates himself for failing his wife and kingdom. He’s trapped by his circumstances.

This is a plot device, my readers. It’s okay if you don’t like it. It’s okay if you say “Not for me.” I’ve never followed formula, and I believe my job as an author is to make you FEEL. That doesn’t always mean you are going to feel GOOD. If the characters touch your heart enough to make you furious at this situation, I’m actually quite thrilled. That’s the way it should be. That’s how books work: drag you into the story enough that your feelings for the characters are as real as they would be for anyone in real life. I just want to make sure my position on the situation is clear.

I maintain: Branford is NOT a cheater.

As a reader, you, of course, are free to draw your own conclusions. Art is out there for interpretation.

Much love to you all!

Shay Savage


The Romance Book Disciple (Samantha) Well, I think you make a great point. However, I still struggled with the whole concept because its not what I want in a romance. Do I understand the situation he was in? 100% and I totally agree-it was a terrible situation. But, its still not what I want to read in my romance novels. I was hoping that perhaps there would be some last minute stop-gap measure that Branford could figure out to stop it from happening. Maybe they would figure out why Alexandra couldn't get pregnant. As horrible as it was for Branford, as a reader, I just don't know that I will ever feel comfortable with the knowledge that he was with someone else outside of marriage. And its funny that you mentioned The Handmaid's tale because its a book I discuss with people frequently as one of those books that made me so uncomfortable that I struggled to finish. I guess I just don't want my books to make me feel that uncomfortable. I read to escape. I avoid 'dark' romance books, etc. So perhaps this just wasn't a good choice of book for me. I think that I known going into the series, I probably wouldn't have picked it up because I would know that it would make me uncomfortable. Different strokes!


message 3: by London (new) - added it

London In romance I consider having sex outside of the MC's cheating no matter what. He didn't give her much of a choice either it's either do it or the kingdom is doomed. I found her character far too agreeable and I found him incredibly cruel. When she argues with him towards the end of the book about making her his concubine so he can marry the princess he basically tells her to shut the fuck up.


“Pack up our things,” Branford said to me.

“Get them yourself!” I spat back.  “Or perhaps your new wife will come get them!”

I stomped away, infuriated with Branford, with the dead men on the ground near his feet, with Edgar, with Whitney, and with myself.  I went to where Romero grazed on the other side of the meadow with Branford’s footsteps close behind me.

“You will not speak to me in such a way!” he yelled as he grabbed my arm and turned me around. 

“I am your king whether you are my queen or my slave!”
He gripped my shoulders, and he pulled me close to him, his eyes blazing.

“Whether it is in the morning, midday, or night, you will speak to me with respect!  Even in twilight, you will know your place!”


Yeah that certainly seems like she has a lot of power in the relationship. It doesn't matter that she knew it was going to happen she never would have agreed to it if wasn't his "obligation" to his kingdom. Therefore I do find it to be 100% cheating.


The Romance Book Disciple (Samantha) London wrote: "In romance I consider having sex outside of the MC's cheating no matter what. He didn't give her much of a choice either it's either do it or the kingdom is doomed. I found her character far too ag..."

Great point! I think I struggled with Brandfords behavior AND his action of 'cheating'. Perhaps if he hadn't pushed her away, then later been cruel, it might have been easier to see the struggle of Branford's choices. But, he was kind of a douche through most of the book and I just have a hard time drumming up sympathy for douchebags-even when they have a 'reason' for being douchey.


Shay Savage London - I think you missed what happens after that scene. He's putting on a show for those who are watching.


message 6: by London (new) - added it

London Let's not forget the fact that had the big reveal at the end of the book not happened he would have forced her to become his concubine instead. He would cast her aside like a piece of garbage and a common whore and marry a princess that was cruel to her. All for his kingdom. the only reason he won't be doing that now is because of the big reveal. Well how the hell is that romantic?! I wouldn't have such a problem with the theme if it had been categorized as fiction rather than romance. There was nothing romantic about it at all.


Shay Savage It doesn't happen, so it's purely speculative. He never would have cast her aside. Branfird's quite devoted to Alexandra. He's just trapped by circumstances. He was perfectly willing to take her away and start a new life before she reminded him of his duty.


message 8: by London (new) - added it

London Shay wrote: "London - I think you missed what happens after that scene. He's putting on a show for those who are watching."

Regardless, it wasn't the first time he had been physically or verbally abusive towards her. The fact that he trashed a room with her in it and grabbed her so harshly she had bruises.


The Romance Book Disciple (Samantha) Shay wrote: "It doesn't happen, so it's purely speculative. He never would have cast her aside. Branfird's quite devoted to Alexandra. He's just trapped by circumstances. He was perfectly willing to take her aw..."

I feel that he might have cast her aside. As devoted as he is to Alexandra, he has done everything necessary for his kingdom, so I don't have a hard time imagining he would kick her to the curb if necessary. I wish he would have taken her away before he had sex with the concubine. THAT would have been a romance!!


message 10: by Shay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shay Savage And he was put down for it by his mother. He is FAR from infallible. He screwed up. Big time. He was remorseful for his actions. He learned. But back to the actual topic... :)


message 11: by London (new) - added it

London Shay wrote: "It doesn't happen, so it's purely speculative. He never would have cast her aside. Branfird's quite devoted to Alexandra. He's just trapped by circumstances. He was perfectly willing to take her aw..."

The problem is the fact that he went through with his "duty" so I never felt as though he would put her first. I can only go off of the way he behaved and the fact that he did in fact have sex (regardless of how mechanical) with another woman. He didn't have a lot of credibility as a loyal hero so I can't just go off of what you say he would have done since there's no indication of that IN THE BOOK.


Michelle Given the situation - had he not taken Hadley - he'd be throwing Alexandra away - the decision to have Hadley was so that he could avoid Whitney.

I went into this particular part with a lot of reservations, but left it feeling horrible for these two and what they were forced into. I was certain I would not get past the idea of cheating, but in the end, I didn't view it as cheating.

I am fully on board with infidelity being a hard limit - it is 99.9% of the time for me personally unless it's use drives the story forward in a way that works.

I think the difference in this situation was that it was part of the larger story - it wasn't just drama for the sake of drama. I was torn apart when Bradford was devastated by the choice he had to make - that carried to the way Hadley described the encounter.


message 13: by London (last edited Jul 26, 2016 03:58PM) (new) - added it

London Michelle wrote: "Given the situation - had he not taken Hadley - he'd be throwing Alexandra away - the decision to have Hadley was so that he could avoid Whitney.

I went into this particular part with a lot of res..."


It's just sad that he even had to go through with it since nothing even comes of it and with the reveal at the end it will all have been for nothing. To ruin the story with such a disgusting act and for no reason was truly unfortunate. I'm glad you enjoyed it though. We don't all have to enjoy the same books or interpret the situation the same way. =)


The Romance Book Disciple (Samantha) Shari Kay wrote: "I think the reason there is so much dismay and anger over the author's decision for the H to go through with his "duty" is that it comes in the 5th book of what most people considered a 'romance' ...."

This was my struggle. Had I know the turn the story would take, I would have said "Nope, this isn't a book for me" and moved on. But, having been so invested in the story and TRUELY loving it, when this book happened, regardless of the reasons and necessity and all the other explanations, it was crushing to me as a reader. So, yes, I can understand WHY it happened, and I can examine Branfords reasons and choices and sympathize, etc. But, as I reader, I still don't LIKE it.


message 15: by Jos (last edited Jul 26, 2016 04:50PM) (new) - added it

Jos London wrote: "In romance I consider having sex outside of the MC's cheating no matter what. He didn't give her much of a choice either it's either do it or the kingdom is doomed. I found her character far too ag..."

AGREED! Sorry, I will NEVER read this series sadly nor will EVER be convinced otherwise, EVER. Also the fact, it happens with her "friend", I believe that's what the girl is or had become (not sure exactly) just infuriates me even more so! I will NEVER be on board with it at all and no amount of discussions will change my mind unfortunately. Sorry, these are just my own personal feelings and yet I am sure others won't care which is fine as everyone is entitled to their own opinions/feelings. I am not wrong in my own feelings and neither are those who condone and/or feel fine with the chain of events.


message 16: by Jos (new) - added it

Jos Shari Kay wrote: "I think the reason there is so much dismay and anger over the author's decision for the H to go through with his "duty" is that it comes in the 5th book of what most people considered a 'romance' ...."

PERFECT point and definitely reflects a lot of my feelings as well:)


message 17: by Jos (last edited Jul 26, 2016 05:07PM) (new) - added it

Jos PS Ms Savage....Just because I am so opposed to the "chain" of events doesn't reflect my feelings towards you "personally" if that makes sense, lol. I have read other books by you in the past and have thoroughly enjoyed them, you truly are a terrific writer. Yes, I have not liked certain things in some of the storylines (I am not a "cheater" fan in my books, sorry) but I have so much respect and admiration for you too in the same breath, lol!!!!!!!! I had to make THAT clear as well as my dislike of the whole "incident":)


message 18: by Lelyana's Reviews (last edited Jul 26, 2016 09:00PM) (new)

Lelyana's Reviews IMO, whatever the reason or whatever the definition of cheating, as a reader, a romance reader, I have my own dictionary.
When a hero put on his dick into another woman's pussy, that's cheating. Simple as that.


message 19: by London (new) - added it

London Amen


message 20: by Shay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shay Savage Jos wrote: "PS Ms Savage....Just because I am so opposed to the "chain" of events doesn't reflect my feelings towards you "personally" if that makes sense, lol. I have read other books by you in the past and h..."

I'd never take any discussion like this personally, so no worries. I appreciate the sentiment though. :) (P.S. - you'll probably enjoy my next stand alone...just sayin'. ;) )


message 21: by Shay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shay Savage Lelyana wrote: "IMO, whatever the reason or whatever the definition of cheating, as a reader, a rance reader, I have my own dictionary.
When a hero put on his dick into another woman's pussy, that's cheating. Simp..."


By that standard, isn't rape also cheating?


message 22: by London (new) - added it

London Uhhh...I think she was trying to stress consensual sex regardless of the situation not rape.


message 23: by Shay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shay Savage London wrote: "Uhhh...I think she was trying to stress consensual sex regardless of the situation not rape."

And I maintain that there was nothing consensual about it. Branford does what he does because his wife is being threatened with rape and murder. He's coerced by lies and deceit to take a concubine. Coerced sex isn't consensual, man or woman.


The Romance Book Disciple (Samantha) Shay wrote: "London wrote: "Uhhh...I think she was trying to stress consensual sex regardless of the situation not rape."

And I maintain that there was nothing consensual about it. Branford does what he does b..."


Coerced sure, but he wasn't FORCED. He could have taken Alexandra and left. Give up his kingdom and all the crap that came with it. So, I don't consider it rape because, while not great options, he did have options to avoid it. Or, he could have convinced Hadley to lie and they could have said they did it but not actually do it. He had choices; that to me is NOT rape.


message 25: by Lelyana's Reviews (last edited Jul 26, 2016 08:59PM) (new)

Lelyana's Reviews I'm with London. I meant consensual sex.
And regarding what London's wrote, he did it consciously. Hell, he's agreed to do that.
Let's not go to rape thing. This is all about male chauvinistic behavior.
That's not okay.


Lelyana's Reviews Agreed with Samantha. At some point, I see him as a weak hero, despite his bullying behavior in the beginning. He had a CHOICE.


Lelyana's Reviews The Book Disciple (Samantha) wrote: "Shay wrote: "London wrote: "Uhhh...I think she was trying to stress consensual sex regardless of the situation not rape."

And I maintain that there was nothing consensual about it. Branford does w..."


Amen


Kimberly The thing to remember here is it's set in a time when this kind of thing was acceptable, even necessary. I had no problem with this story line because it stays true with the times in which it's written. Would that fly in modern times? HELL to the NO! But, in this, a historical book, it totally makes sense. I get you Shay. :-)


message 29: by London (new) - added it

London As a lot of us have mentioned in my disclosure for the book we don't care if it's historically accurate. If I wanted historical accuracy in relation to fidelity I'd have read non fiction. When I read romance I want to feel good and use it as an escape from real life not feel more disgusted and upset.


message 30: by Lelyana's Reviews (last edited Jul 26, 2016 09:33PM) (new)

Lelyana's Reviews London wrote: "As a lot of us have mentioned in my disclosure for the book we don't care if it's historically accurate. If I wanted historical accuracy in relation to fidelity I'd have read non fiction. When I re..."

Yes, there's historical fiction section , you can be 'accurate' over there.But in historical romance? Nah, I won't call it romance if there's cheating in my romance book, no matter what era.
Or as London said, a non fiction.
I mean... there's definition of romance as well in dictionary... :)

Romance

1.
a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.
"in search of romance"

love, especially when sentimental or idealized.


2.
a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.



Kimberly I've been a Shay Savage fan for a while now. I always expect the unexpected with her, I know she will piss me off, but then she makes me happy again so I just roll with it. :-)


Lelyana's Reviews Shari Kay wrote: "Shay wrote: "London wrote: "Uhhh...I think she was trying to stress consensual sex regardless of the situation not rape."

And I maintain that there was nothing consensual about it. Branford does w..."


Nods


message 33: by Jos (last edited Jul 27, 2016 02:23AM) (new) - added it

Jos London wrote: "As a lot of us have mentioned in my disclosure for the book we don't care if it's historically accurate. If I wanted historical accuracy in relation to fidelity I'd have read non fiction. When I re..."

AGREE!!!!!!!!! I am NOT reading for historic accuracy!!!!!!!!!!


The Romance Book Disciple (Samantha) Jos wrote: "London wrote: "As a lot of us have mentioned in my disclosure for the book we don't care if it's historically accurate. If I wanted historical accuracy in relation to fidelity I'd have read non fic..."

I wrote a LONG blog post about this (why I don't want historical accuracy in my ROMANCE novels) https://thebookdisciple.com/concubine...


message 35: by Lelyana's Reviews (last edited Jul 27, 2016 05:45AM) (new)

Lelyana's Reviews Well said Samantha.
I recall this last year , so many authors 'infected' with this one word in their books. Cheating. That's one reason I'm no longer interested with some author who once happened to be my favorite authors.
Because, life's sucks, that's why we read fairy tales. We don't need REAL in our FICTION.
I'll read History if I want real.


message 36: by Jos (new) - added it

Jos The Book Disciple (Samantha) wrote: "Jos wrote: "London wrote: "As a lot of us have mentioned in my disclosure for the book we don't care if it's historically accurate. If I wanted historical accuracy in relation to fidelity I'd have ..."

Oh, I KNOW, lol..... I, of course, read it and BRAVO to you:) It was great!!!!!!!


message 37: by Jos (new) - added it

Jos Lelyana wrote: "Well said Samantha.
I recall thos last year , so many authors 'infected' with thos one word in their books. Cheating. That's one reason I'm no longer interested with some author who once happened t..."


I will second that thought:) Agree 1,000%... I am reading to escape "reality", lol.........


message 38: by Jos (new) - added it

Jos Lelyana wrote: "IMO, whatever the reason or whatever the definition of cheating, as a reader, a romance reader, I have my own dictionary.
When a hero put on his dick into another woman's pussy, that's cheating. Si..."


Agree!


message 39: by Shay (last edited Jul 27, 2016 05:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shay Savage Lelyana wrote: "Because, life's sucks, that's why we read fairy tales."

If you want fairy tales, I am definitely NOT your go-to author. My stories are always gritty with at least a touch of dark themes. My characters are alcoholics, heroin addicts, abuse victims, and murderers. Most of them are suffering form some for of PTSD, Branford included.

BUT - most of them still include romance (not all). It's not a Harlequin brand of romance, but it's still romance. Evan Arden series aside (primary category is action-adventure).


message 40: by Jos (last edited Jul 27, 2016 05:38AM) (new) - added it

Jos Shay wrote: "Lelyana wrote: "Because, life's sucks, that's why we read fairy tales."

If you want fairy tales, I am definitely NOT your go-to author. My stories are always gritty with at least a touch of dark t..."


I understand BUT it's too bad for myself because I actually do NOT mind at all reading about as you say "My characters are alcoholics, heroin addicts, abuse victims, and murderers. Most of them are suffering from some for of PTSD, Branford included." It's the "cheating and yes, in this case for me it most definitely IS, because outside of THAT, I have loved your stories:) I guess I am so sad because being a huge fan of historical ROMANCE, lol, for so many years I was SOOOOOOOO looking forward to this series (outside of all of the books) and I would have invested my time too:( Hey, it's not for me but I am sure plenty of others will love it:) Win some, lose some


message 41: by London (new) - added it

London I love dark themes or gritty characters but I prefer them to be loyal to their heroine. That's why I loved Bastian.


message 42: by Shay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shay Savage Jos - we'll have to agree to disagree on the cheating aspect of it. And the situation is supposed to make you sad. And the story isn't over yet. :)


message 43: by Jos (new) - added it

Jos London wrote: "I love dark themes or gritty characters but I prefer them to be loyal to their heroine. That's why I loved Bastian."

OMG....me too!!!!!!! Agree


message 44: by Jos (new) - added it

Jos Shay wrote: "Jos - we'll have to agree to disagree on the cheating aspect of it. And the situation is supposed to make you sad. And the story isn't over yet. :)"

LOLOLOL< I was just thinking that same phrase, we can agree to disagree, lolololol BUT I do admire you and enjoy at least expressing our differences of opinions. I think it's great and I love to see I am not the only one sharing my opinions on the cheating aspect! You are a real sport and I applaud you for being so open minded and welcoming the discussions. Not many authors could "handle" it I think and some other readers out there on GR are just plain crazy cuckoo lol......


message 45: by Lelyana's Reviews (last edited Jul 27, 2016 05:45AM) (new)

Lelyana's Reviews There's unwritten rules in HISTORICAL ROMANCE among the readers, cheating is not permitted.
That's why we need WARNING in the blurb.
I read Bastian and Evan. I get it. But this is once again HISTORICAL Romance . I and some millions HR readers, would say NO to cheating. I can guarantee that.


message 46: by Shay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shay Savage Jos wrote: "Not many authors could "handle" it I think and some other readers out there on GR are just plain crazy cuckoo lol...... ."

There's crazy on all sides. LOL When you put your work out there, you have to be open to interpretation and criticism. That's all just fine. I appreciate that no one is getting personal here. I just write the story that's in my head, and it takes me where it takes me. I am not my work, so I don't see any reason to get all up in arms if someone doesn't like it. :)


Lelyana's Reviews London wrote: "I love dark themes or gritty characters but I prefer them to be loyal to their heroine. That's why I loved Bastian."

This !


message 48: by Jos (new) - added it

Jos Lelyana wrote: "There's unwritten rules in HISTORICAL ROMANCE among the readers, cheating is not permitted.
That's why we need WARNING in the blurb.
I read Bastian and Evan. I get it. But this is once again HISTOR..."


:)


message 49: by Shay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shay Savage London wrote: "I love dark themes or gritty characters but I prefer them to be loyal to their heroine. That's why I loved Bastian."

I do think Branford is completely loyal to Alexandra (you are free to disagree, of course). He's completely dedicated to her, just trapped in his (unexpected - haha) circumstances. If he were to run off with Alexandra to escape this issue, his adoptive parents, sister's family, and the rest of his kingdom would suffer for his actions. Alexandra is too kind-hearted to let him do that.

He completely screws up with his very first action in the book - taking Alexandra as his wife instead of Whitney. He spends the rest of the story trying to fix the downward spiral that ensues afterward, though he isn't too sorry for it because he truly loves Alexandra.


Lelyana's Reviews Shay wrote: "Jos wrote: "Not many authors could "handle" it I think and some other readers out there on GR are just plain crazy cuckoo lol...... ."

There's crazy on all sides. LOL When you put your work out th..."


I'm kinda like this good attitude in author, some are just can't handle it. And starting to bully their reader (as per say, consumer).
We have opinions, different head, of course. That's why I stopped this series in book 2.
Move on :)


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