Imaginary Affairs

Blue Ink Review

Imaginary Affairs 

Robin Z. Arkus 

Lulu, 212 pages, (paperback) $14.99, 

9781684703722 (Reviewed: September, 2019) 

In Robin Z. Arkus’ modern-day tale, Imaginary Affairs, an attractive middle-aged woman from America looks for love the third time around. 

Divorced, widowed, and now living in London, Mallory Hill decides to celebrate her 50th birthday with a 10-day trip to Thailand. At Chiva Som Spa, she hopes to find inner harmony and re-evaluate her two-year relationship with her married lover, Michael. When she agrees to dinner with the boisterous Canadian guest, Brad Miller, sparks eventually fly, and soon Mallory is emailing her best friend back home that “she’s found Mr. Right.” 

The story moves easily between the Far East, London, and a happy relocation to the glitz and glam of Cannes, France. Over the next few months, Mallory anxiously awaits long overdue phone calls and get-togethers promised by Brad, while hoping she hasn’t just imagined a real future together. Meanwhile, she interacts with an entertaining array of suitors, from a fix-up with Derek, aka “Boozy,” whose appearance she likens to one of Snow White’s dwarfs; to long-distance admirer Matteo, who leaves her with nothing but an extravagant restaurant bill; to a demanding widower she monikers “Mr. Mafioso.”

 

Such characters add to the intrigue and are a strength of the novel. Mallory’s impulsive passions, foolish decisions, and choices to ignore the writing on the wall are the crux of the novel.

Imaginary Affairs seems geared toward a female audience drawn to a search for “Mr. Right.” Hopefully, readers will also see it as a cautionary tale about time and self-worth wasted on all the Mr. Wrongs. 

Foreward Clarion Review

BOOK REVIEWS

IMAGINARY AFFAIRS

SEX, DRINKS & GETTING OLDER

September 27, 2019

Imaginary Affairs is a champagne-filled romp that navigates

love and lust with abandon.

In Robin Arkus’s indulgent, humorous, and dramatic romance Imaginary

Affairs, a middle-aged woman looks for love after loss.

After losing two husbands—one to divorce, the other to death—Mallory

finds herself in her most serious relationship yet, though it’s with a married

man who will never leave his wife. Approaching her fiftieth birthday, she

decides that she’s going to redirect her energy into finding her next Mr.

Right.

On vacation, Mallory thinks she’s found him: she shares champagne, long

nights of lovemaking, and fantasies of a future life with Brad. When Brad

starts bailing on their plans, though, Mallory second guesses her devotion

and decides to have fun with other suitors, of which she has plenty. Her

fast-paced, high-class single life in Cannes is full of drinks, gossip, and

men who are never quite who they seem to be.

Though painted as strong-willed, Mallory also exhibits weakness when it

comes to men. Her relationships drive the story; descriptions of her

encounters are juicy, dramatic, and excessive, though the text steers away

from erotic details. Her sexual empowerment is depicted as positive, but in

practice it’s problematic. Some such problems are recognized and explored

as part of Mallory’s development; still, more universal are the text’s

thoughtful idealizations of relationships.

The supporting cast is made up of the men with whom Mallory has flings.

Their antics are entertaining and are the text’s main source of theatrical

tension. In her inner monologues, Mallory grapples with social expectations

in a way that ends up being compliant; she considers herself in debt to

most such social mores. Her relationship with Brad is the story’s central

feature. Mallory’s girlfriends are important, if most so because they help

Mallory to reflect on situations.

Mallory’s breezy story mostly takes place in Cannes; her love for luxury

means that the town is painted as a place built around lunching and

spending money. Settings, from restaurants to homes, are described with

an emphasis on designer names and elegant elements. The Cannes Film

Festival plays in, too; the story celebrity name drops, embellishing its

general atmosphere of wealth and fame.

Approachable prose moves fast through Mallory’s affairs; the end effect is

that the novel reads like a tabloid, building anticipation around Mallory’s

love life. A hasty last chapter catches the audience up on where characters

landed.

Imaginary Affairs is a champagne-filled romp that navigates love and lust

with abandon.

Kirkus Review

A wealthy widow’s search for love leads to a voyage of self discovery and a plethora of complications in this debut novel.

Mallory Hill is a businesswoman who’s experienced a lifetime’s worth of achievement and heartbreaking loss. Born in America, she relocated to Europe, where she built a successful company with her second husband. They sold the company to travel around the world, but he died while they were in Hong Kong. She now divides her time between London and Cannes, France, and dates Michael Graham, a married man who says he will never leave his wife. For her 50th birthday, she treats herself to 10 days at the Chiva Som spa in Thailand. While there, she meets Brad Miller, a retired Canadian businessman, who shares her passion for travel. Mallory is besotted with Brad and thinks he may be “Husband Number Three,” but their romance will have to wait until he returns from Nepal. In the meantime, Mallory ends her relationship with Michael and moves to Cannes, where she will reunite with Brad. While she waits for Brad to contact her, Mallory amuses herself by accepting dates with several eligible bachelors, including Derek Dearing, a paunchy older man, and Dandridge Larkin, a dashing, ambitious producer. Soon Brad’s unusual behavior and a series of broken promises cause her to question if there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Arkus’ book presents an engaging, briskly paced tale of a woman’s quest for love and fulfillment that’s bolstered by a large cast of characters and a wicked sense of humor. Mallory is a winsome heroine whose gregarious and adventurous personality attracts a wide range of friends and potential suitors. Her desire for true love is the story’s emotional center and the source of the novel’s most humorous moments, particularly a country-house encounter with a friend’s randy husband. Her relationship with Brad blossoms quickly, and his character is primarily developed through phone calls and a short visit by his brother, Sanford. The strong supporting characters include Mallory’s close friend Kate Handler, a confidante with an equally tumultuous romantic life, and Michael. A breezy look at romance among the jet set.

Welcome to my Blog

Welcome. My name is Robin Z. Arkus, author of Imaginary Affairs. I’m so happy to have you as a visitor to my blog about my new book. This project is very special to me, and I hope to share some of that excitement with you here.

I’ll be using this blog to interact with you about Imaginary Affairs, expanding on some of the topics in it and blogging on some of the ideas related to my book. This is a great place for you to get to know me, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you, too. What did you think of Imaginary Affairs? What questions do you have for me? How do you relate to my book?

I’ll be returning here frequently with new posts and responses to feedback from you. Until next time, tell me a little bit about yourself.