Permission by Jo Bloom

Can your marriage survive if you’re both sleeping with other people?

After more than 20 years of marriage, Fay and Steve are happy enough, though life’s become routine and lacks excitement. Fay believes an open relationship could reignite the spark they’ve lost. But can sex ever just be sex?

Steve eventually agrees to the idea of sleeping with other people, but first they must set some ground rules; no sex with friends, no telling the kids, and a limit on how many times they can see the same person. Can their marriage survive non-monogamy – even if they have permission?

Permission is a contemporary novel that had such an intriguing storyline I knew that it was a book I needed to read! I find books about marriage, relationships and family life completely fascinating and in Permission there are so many different themes appropriate to modern day relationships. As the reader becomes more involved in the intricate details of an open marriage, not everybody will have the same opinions about how the characters react and judgements will be made (and sometimes reversed!) but I don’t think anyone will be able to predict their own feelings about what happens to Kay and Steve…

As with many marriages, it always seems to be one partner who makes the decision to enter an open relationship and one partner who goes along with it for usually for many other reasons but NOT because they want an open marriage! And here it’s Kay who wants to try something new whilst Steve agrees to go along with it to keep Kay happy. They are very adult and business-like about it , setting up ground rules so that no one will get hurt that way…or will they? A no strings affair without feelings attached is the ideal isn’t it but Steve struggles to raise much enthusiasm about a sex only relationship with another woman. Whereas Kay fully embraces her new role, Steve is left coping with the fallout at home and it becomes clear that their arrangement isn’t just affecting them…

This is a character driven domestic drama that will probably divide its readers but for me personally, Kay was an incredibly unsympathetic character whereas Steve maintained the dignity within their home life. This could be because of my own feelings about infidelity but I felt that I knew from the start that what Kay was suggesting was far more than an “adventure” and so the author very cleverly lets her actions speak for themselves. The underlying issues that led to this couple making such a decision are gradually revealed leading to some very emotional confrontations.

Permission is a beautifully written book that may divide its readers depending on their own views about the sanctity of marriage and how it needs both parties on the same page to even attempt the things described here. But the author has used the premise to create a believable storyline with characters you will either love or hate but who will burrow their way into your heart anyway.

Highly recommended by me.

Permission was published by Legend Press on 28th July 2022.

Jo’s debut novel, Ridley Road, was published in 2014 and adapted into a major four-part series for BBC One in 2021. Jo has worked as a freelancer in the communications field for over twenty years, with a focus on arts publicity and e-learning. She also contributed to the book review section of Time Out, London for a few years. Prior to this, she lived and worked in Prague and New York. She now lives in Brighton with her family. Permission is Jo’s first contemporary novel.

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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

2 thoughts on “Permission by Jo Bloom”

  1. I suppose it makes a change to have the wife suggesting opening the marriage, as it is usually the husband who requests it. Of course, there is never such a thing as no strings attached and it not affecting your marriage… so I can imagine this must be an interesting look at that.

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