Love, Honor, Betray by Mary Monroe

c.2023, Dafina       
320 pages

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Those are words you hear when someone is about to testify in a court of law. They put the “sworn” into sworn testimony, and you’ll also find the phrase in courtroom dramas, legal thrillers, and Perry Mason. You don’t hear those words in a marriage ceremony, but in the new book Love, Honor, Betray by Mary Monroe, maybe you should.

He could’ve looked all over Lexington, Alabama, for the rest of his life and Hubert Wiggins wouldn’t have found a more-fitting wife than his Maggie had been.

Before he met her, she’d been sexually assaulted and though she wanted to repeat her vows with someone special, she vowed that she’d never have relations again – which was fine with Hubert. He preferred to sleep with men anyhow, so their marriage was perfect.

Alas, Maggie died just over a year ago and Hubert needed a new wife.

Jessie, Maggie’s best friend, had her sights set on Hubert the day he put Maggie in the ground. In order to land him, she lied to him, said that he’d raped her when he was drunk and now she was pregnant, even though Hubert swore that he was traumatized by loss and couldn’t perform in bed because of it.

Jessie was sure she could cure Hubert’s problem. In the meantime, she wasn’t above having a fling when a fine man made it possible.

It was 1941, and sneaking around to see his boyfriend, Leroy, was a challenge for Hubert, especially when the police were doubly-rough on a Black man in a nicer car at night. They didn’t care that Hubert was a respected businessman in Lexington’s Black community. They didn’t care that he was a funeral director, that his business had buried almost all the murder victims of a serial killer loose in the area.

The police might have had something to say, though, if they knew that Hubert and Jessie had murdered a woman named Blondeen…

Love a wild romp between the pages?  Then you’ll be overjoyed with the opening two-thirds of Love, Honor, Betray, where infidelity becomes an art form.

It’s rowdy and fun, in fact, until the books’ pinnacle, at a point where author Mary Monroe might seem to be wrapping things up. But look: there’s a chunk of book left, and that’s where everything falls apart.

It’s as if someone took a hammer to the plot here and busted it to pieces. Characters act contrary to the personalities that were built up for them for 200 solid pages, and they do things that feel disrespectful to gay readers. This destroys the sense of fun that accompanied the everybody-sleeps-around chaos early in the book. Is it merciful or irritating, then, that the story doesn’t tie up loose threads, but it just… ends?

Readers who are comfortable not finishing a book will enjoy this one, if they put it aside before it’s done. Go too far into Love, Honor, Betray, though, and you’ll be sorry you finished the whole thing.