With Consensual Infidelity, Kasyee Smart explores the temptations, the taboos, the tribulations, and the triumphs behind an open marriage. Subtitled The True Story of One Ordinary Couple's Experiment with Swinging,Consensual Infidelity is a fascinating and down-to-earth look at a subject all too easily dismissed as mere fantasy.
What immediately sets Kasyee's story apart from the fictionalized fantasies that dominate the shelves is the way in which it's told. Seeing their marriage open up through the eyes of the wife, as opposed to the husband, grounds the story and makes it more accessible to the reader. It's an honest and emotional tale, with insights both startling and amusing, that you just can't imagine coming from any woman's husband.
Here we get to experience the full range of experiences and emotions, right from the initial shock and insecurity, through the first giddy infatuation, the blissful consummation of a fantasy, and the emotional and intellectual difficulties in dealing with the consequences of such a drastic change in a relationship. What makes it so accessible (and, ironically, so shocking) is the fact that Kasyee and Justin appear to be your ordinary, average, everyday couple. There's no hint of kinks or infidelities, and no outward signs that either might be interested in opening up their marriage.
In case you think this is just a story about sex, it's so very much not. This is a story about relationships, plain and simple. It's a story about friends, lovers, and the intermingling of the two. Kasyee and her husband aren't looking for a nameless one-night stand or an anonymous thrill to get it out of their system. Once they've made up their mind and become committed to the experience, they look for something that any reader can sympathize with - an expansion of their relationship, and an enhancement to their love.
Things go so well for the couple that the ending, when it does come, is a bit of a letdown. Not because it's tacky or cliched or unbelievable, but because it's entirely too believable. Reality and fantasy don't always mesh, and consequences have to be dealt with, no matter how inconvenient they may be. All-in-all, however, it seems to have been a good experience for them, and one that added something to their lives - which is a wonderful message to take away from such a taboo subject.
[Reviewed by Sally]