The Secret Lives of Married Women by Elissa Wald

MARRIED
The Secret Lives of Married Women by Elissa Wald
Publisher: Titan Books/ Hard Case Crime
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (218 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Fetish
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

Two identical twin sisters – one a sexually repressed defense attorney, the other a former libertine now living a respectable life in suburbia – are about to have their darkest secrets revealed, to the men in their lives and to themselves. As one sister prepares for the thorniest trial of her career and the other fends off ominous advances from a construction worker laboring on the house next door, both find themselves pushed to the edge, and confronted by discoveries about themselves and their lovers that shock and disturb them.

Two sisters embark on inner journeys that will dredge up the inner most secrets of their lives.

Leda and Lillian are two sisters that seem at first glance to be complete polar opposites. One is a successful attorney seemingly content with her life; the other is a former porn star who has settled down in the middle of suburbia.

Leda and her husband Stas have just moved into their new house. When domestic bliss is interrupted by facilities issues, the handyman working for their neighbor comes to the rescue. Only…is it what it seems or is he really using their house problems to stalk Leda? Pregnant with a young child, Leda becomes increasingly afraid of Jack. Her husband, Stas is equally thrilling and terrifying. Leda is hiding some secrets from her very sexy younger husband and Jack has just figured out who she used to be. Should she tell Stas about her past, but even more importantly, about Jack? What will he do? It seems like her Russian husband has a few skeletons in his own closet.

This first part of the book was rife with bitterness and complex emotions that one would have moving into a new house. Neither husband nor wife know everything about the other and as Leda becomes more and more terrified everything is magnified for her. The sex with her husband, the fear of what he will do to her when he finds out about her very naughty video. When Jack winds up missing, she is almost certain Stas had something to do with it. Every nerve ending is thrilled with the concept of loving such a dangerous man. But…did he really do it?

The second half of the book is about Lillian, Leda’s very repressed sister. Lil is married to Darren, but their marriage has been reduced to timing their marital activities to try to conceive. It breaks her heart that Leda is already has one child and is expecting another when she can’t even get pregnant. Completely bound by her own expectations, Lillian is very uptight and angry. When she finds Leda’s porn video hidden in Darren’s things, she loses it. Confronting him only adds another layer of ice on the glacier.

The matter is made more complex by the current case Lillian is working on. Abel is a blind developer accused of taking a bribe. His assistant Nan is always present and there is something between the two of them that strikes a chord in Lillian. Abel is a married man, but she can see Nan always there…until she isn’t. Nan is devoted to Abel in a way that he can barely understand. A professional submissive, Nan will do anything for him and in doing so could either damn him to prison or save him completely. If only he hadn’t cast her away. Lillian learns more about Nan and is drawn to it, even as she is repulsed by the sexuality of it.

Lillian begins a journey into Nan’s world, wanting to satisfy a compulsion that started when she watched Leda’s video. What is the fascination with BDSM? Why would a woman want to be submissive and subjected to the things that go on at the Nutcracker, the local dungeon? Lillian is about to embark on a soul wrenching voyage into her own inner darkness, but doing so will allow her to embrace her own demons and finally be able to set herself free.

These two stories wound themselves together seamlessly and I could not get enough. The old style cover brought to mind stories of the 1970s, as did some of the language. Not much mind you. Just when I felt myself drifting back in time, a modern phrase would remind me “when” I was. The complex relationship between sisters is also highlighted here. Love…hate…jealousy…bitterness. It’s all there, ripped open and gasping for air. Leda with her family while Lillian weeps alone in her cold marriage bed—it’s reality. We always want what the other has, even when it makes us feel petty and spiteful. That is the hidden gem inside of this amazing book. Elissa Wald scrapes across every emotion and makes it real. The book is classified as erotic, but there really isn’t much in the way of actual sex scenes. It is the heightened sexual tension and the discovery of the darker, meatier sides of married women as vibrant beings that puts the spark in this tale. Just don’t forget the dangerous men that share their beds. That would be very remiss indeed and you might have to be punished.

If you are looking for a different kind of read that will want to make you cuff yourself to the bed, then you have to try The Secret Lives of Married Women.

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