Morrison introduces a new threat to Jonny. Reza has temporarily moved in, displaced Jonny from the marital bed, and forced him to wear a genital cage. Charlie loves the sex but she doesn’t care for the mean and brutal (albeit sexy) Reza. So he’s not really a threat, despite his lavishing luxury on her that her own husband can’t afford, and constantly taunting Jonny about how he’ll take Charlie away from him, how he can’t hold her, how she deserves a stronger man.
Now, though, Reza offers up Charlie as a prize should one of his boxers, Tate, win his next big fight. He coerces Jonny to agree. It’s a threat because Charlie thinks Tate hot and the two have crushes on each other. Tate, who really wants her, is much more a threat than Reza, who finds her merely an attractive plaything.
Morrison adroitly juggles everyone’s ambivalence. Jonny hates Reza and what he’s doing but Reza knows how to push Jonny’s cuckold buttons, and Jonny recognizes Reza’s slow torture helps him focus on the work he needs to do to end it.
We get one quick but searing glimpse inside Charlie’s head. She enjoys blossoming from the simple farm girl she was when she came to the big city. She revels in having all these big studly guys lusting for her and satisfying her in bed. She gets a tattoo apparently signifying extramarital lovers.
Her ambivalence feeds Jonny’s cuckold torture. He senses how much she enjoys it. While she always ends up reassuring him, it never puts his doubts and worries to rest. Will this gorgeous babe he was so lucky to land, stay with him despite his poverty and undersize unit? Even after discovering what muscular, well-hung guys can do for her in bed?
And despite her reassurances so far, how will it work when Tate spends 48 no-holds-barred hours with her? She’s wanted him for months, he’s a big bruising boxer, and this won’t be about submission like it is with Reza. She and Tate have feelings for each other, he brutally battled another man to win her, and the sex, when it inevitably happens, is searingly hot. A shattered Jonny feels like he’s watching the two fall in love. Plus they go on romantic hand-holding dates. Tate shows her his sensitive side. Uh oh.
As in all Morrison’s cuckold novels, lengthy so we fully witness the weak husband’s humiliation and pain (plus have to buy more installments) I wish Jonny would man up and find a way to take Reza out, by any means necessary. Canada has tough gun laws but the US border isn’t that far. In any case, a guy smart enough to design a good video game might be smart enough to find some muscle on his own side of the border.
Morrison, though, has shut off most paths of escape for Jonny. Reza is a scary tough guy and their landlord. He owns a $90,000 debt bought from Chinese investors Jonny owes, plus Charlie has been working off their monthly rent payment on her back. Jonny and Charlie are weirdly into the cuckold game. Neither can turn to family. They’ve got no place to go. And Reza has plenty of outside muscle available himself, his boxers and hangers-on.
Jonny is shamed by the truth: he’s pimped out his wife to pay a debt. A stronger man - like Tate - would never have done this.
Morrison in her novels finds ways for the cuckolded husband to plausibly come back in his life and marriage, in his own eyes and his wife’s, after the wife’s dalliance with tougher, younger, more brutal men and the shattering events that causes.