Spoiler Summary: Our Love in an Unforgiving World
HUGE GIANT WARNING!!!! If you read this you will be ruining the main novel for yourself. So, if you plan on reading the novel please do not read any further and go read that first.
This summary is for those of you who have no intention of ever reading the main novel, but want to read the short story series. You will be able to follow and understand them if you read this chapter. It is a brief (as brief as it can be), fact-based, telling of what happens in the novel these characters are from. If you fit this description please read on.
Our Love in an Unforgiving World is the story of how Alex and Mercy meet, the struggles they endure during their early relationship, and how they eventually marry. It's also the tale of how they later invite Aiden and Henry into their marriage and form a family, hiding it from the world to avoid the backlash to their careers.
Mercy, who is a world-famous recording artist turned actress, first meets Alex, a world-famous A-list actor, on the set of a film they are chosen to co-star in. There is an immediate attraction, but Alex is hesitant to start a relationship with her due to their age difference. At the time she was 19 and he was 26. After about a year of Mercy demanding Alex decide whether he's going to get over his hang-up about their age difference, he finally gives in to his feelings for her and they become a couple.
Alex meets Mercy's mother and only family, who is dying of cancer. Alex also introduces Mercy to his rather large family in Sweden. Alex is Swedish but has resided in the States for years, and Mercy is Cuban American born in California. His family falls in love with her, and she falls for his family.
When they return from their trip to Sweden, Mercy's mother has taken a turn for the worse. Alex is set to start a new project and must leave Mercy for work. During which her mother is quickly coming to her final days. This takes a toll on their relationship. Alex leaves work when Mercy informs him that her mother only has days to live. Mercy's mother dies. Alex is with her during the death and funeral but returns to work right after to finish his project. Their strained relationship doesn't recover with Mercy's grief, and she decides to end it in order to focus on dealing with her pain. Which she does by writing a new album.
Mercy and Alex remain in love, and speak on occasion, but are apart for almost 2 years while Mercy tours and he continues to act in films. On a break from everything, Mercy receives an email from Alex asking if they can speak on the phone. She agrees and during their conversation, Mercy agrees to meet Alex for a dinner date. Joyce, Mercy's mother's best friend, has stuck by Mercy's side since her mother's death. She suggests to Mercy that Alex wants to rekindle their relationship. During dinner, their love and attraction are too strong for either of them to deny, they decide to try again as a couple.
Things are great. They spend almost a year off from work together. Traveling, spending time with Alex's family in Sweden, and generally having a good time. But Alex receives an offer for work that he had been previously passed over for. He's was hesitant to accept the offer and leave Mercy, but despite misgivings of her own, Mercy encourages him to take the job.
His schedule is grueling and filming is stressful. One day out of frustration at filming delays and not being able to speak with or see Mercy, he blows up at her over the phone when she mentions she'll be going on a mini-tour around the time he is due to finish his project and come home. He breaks up with her over the phone and Mercy is left heartbroken and angry. Alex immediately regrets what he has done, but does nothing to remedy it.
On her mini-tour, Mercy begins a downward spiral that starts when she meets Erin, a party hard musician. While at a club with Erin, she spots Alex out with some blonde. Hurt, she decides to use Erin to make him jealous, which works. She enters an unstable relationship with Erin that involves public sex, drugs, and alcohol. Erin even proposes marriage and she accepts. She pushes Joyce away and when Alex tries to express his concern for her behavior, she doesn't want to hear it. It took finding Erin cheating on her in her own home and bed, to realize she needed help. She breaks up with Erin and enters rehab.
In rehab she repairs her relationships with Joyce and Alex. When she returns home from rehab, Alex comes back to apologize once more, and express his undying love for her. Mercy still entirely in love with Alex, decides to try once more. This time they have learned from past mistakes, and their relationship is better than ever. They move in together, Alex proposes, and they're married shortly after in a small ceremony in Sweden.
Not too long after they marry, Mercy and Alex are once again chosen to co-star in a film together. They meet Aiden, their half Irish, half German co-star, an A-list actor, who has resided in London most of his adult life. He is a year younger than Alex, and he and Alex quickly develop a close bond. Their bromance is so strong, and Alex trusts Aiden so deeply, that when he notices a growing attraction and affection between Mercy and Aiden, instead of being jealous he is aroused with the idea of a threesome.
Aiden and Mercy, although quickly falling in love, think Alex is crazy for suggesting they have sex together. Eventually, Alex convinces Mercy and Aiden to give a threesome a try. When they do, Alex more than enjoys the experience, as do Aiden and Mercy. His love for both Aiden and Mercy, combined with the knowledge that Mercy and Aiden have fallen in love with one another, ignites a desire for them to add Aiden to their marriage permanently.
Again Mercy and Aiden think it's a terrible idea, filled with the potential to end in catastrophe. Alex is insistent that they can make it work and again convinces the two to try. They decide to move to Sweden where they could live more openly and freely away from the public eye. There they could keep their relationship a secret from the press while not hiding their relationship in their day to day life. Aiden becomes Mercy's other husband, but before they make the move to Sweden Mercy finds out she's pregnant with Alex's child.
Both Alex and Aiden are over the moon about the news and the trio relocates to Sweden to begin to build a family. Liam is born. Alex, Aiden, and Mercy continue to navigate life's ups and downs, while successfully hiding their relationship with Aiden from the public eye. Accepted by both Alex's family and Joyce. Two years after Liam is born, Gwen, Mercy and Aiden's biological child is born. Everything is smooth sailing. The public accepts that Gwen is Alex's and Mercy's child, which is the lie they tell to keep their secret.
When Gwen is about a year old Mercy goes to LA to record a new album. Missing her husband and children, Mercy begins to spend time with a beautiful African American bisexual actress named April. She and April develop an attraction and love for one another, but April is not polyamorous. With Aiden and Alex's permission, Mercy and April engage in a casual sexual relationship. April's growing love for Mercy leads her to back off and end their sexual relationships, opting for a monogamous relationship with a woman named Petra. Mercy and April remain friends eventually becoming best friends.
April calls one day, while Mercy is on tour, having recorded and released her new album. She asks if Mercy will co-host a fundraiser for LGBTQ youth with a British actor by the name of Henry Clarke. They all get together to be introduced at Mercy's villa in the French Riviera. Henry has had a celebrity crush on Mercy since he was a teenager, and Mercy is instantly attracted to both Henry's handsome looks and his personality. They're both the same age. They hit it off, both Alex and Aiden see the attraction and confront Mercy. Mercy denies her feelings, not wanting to get involved with Henry, and further complicate all of their lives.
She and Henry though, while working closely together and talking daily for the fundraiser, fall in love despite it all. Henry doesn't want to be in love with Mercy, but he isn't able to deny his feelings while Mercy becomes miserable trying to deny hers. Henry confesses his love for her, in London, after attending Mercy's concert while she was on tour. Mercy kicks him out of her hotel room after his confession, confused and at a loss for how to make her love for Henry go away.
Aiden and Alex see how lovesick and beside herself Mercy is over Henry. Concerned for her well-being and happiness, Alex demands Henry come to Sweden so they can come to a decision about their feelings for one another. Mercy is upset, she doesn't want to deal with it, she wants it to go away, but it doesn't. Henry agrees to come and after a long talk with Alex and Aiden that Mercy wasn't privy to, Alex asks her to decide. Either tell Henry to leave or give in to her heart and make Henry's integration into the family. Mercy wants to tell Henry to leave, but he doesn't want to and her love for him doesn't allow her to break his heart.
Thus, Henry becomes husband number three but it takes time and is hard for Henry to fully get accustomed to sharing the woman he loves, with two other men. He does finally integrate and Mercy falls pregnant with his son. All the while Henry keeps the details of his relationship with Mercy a secret from his parents who are very conservative. With the pending birth of his son, Henry is forced to come clean with his parents. They take it as poorly as anticipated. Henry leaves London angry at his parents for refusing to accept his love of Mercy and their polygamist lifestyle.
Mercy gives birth to Tristan, but immediately after suffers from a hemorrhage. The doctors are unable to stop the bleeding and have to perform a partial hysterectomy to save her life, but Mercy falls into a coma for four days. The husbands are sick with grief. When she awakes they are beside themselves with relief and joy. Mercy is released from the hospital a week after she wakes from her coma, the hospital is surrounded by press and they all know about her relationship with Aiden and Henry.
They face immediate backlash when a gossip site gets government documentation that Gwen and Tristan are not Alex's biological children, and the family is forced to come clean. They all lose work and receive threats against them and their children. On a visit to meet Tristan, Vera, Henry's mother confesses to having been the one to leak their secret to the press, after a letter is delivered to the house threatening the family's life because of their lifestyle.
Furious, Henry kicks his mother and father out of their house. Mercy becomes determined to makes something positive out of all the negative. When news of the letter leaks to the media, the family begins to receive messages of hope and support from other non-traditional families. Families of other polyamorous people and of same-sex couples rallied with them for justice.
Mercy decides to make a documentary giving people insight into her family and other non-traditional families. She calls it 'Our Love in an Unforgiving world'. With April's help and the support of her husbands and family, she is able to secure a director and indie studio backing. The film is completed in time to present it at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival where it takes home highest honors. The film becomes a mainstream success and their careers bounce back from the initial backlash. Mercy and the guys no longer have to hide their loving relationship from the public, and Mercy becomes active in fighting for equal right and acceptance of all LGBTQ+ people and relationships. The novel ends on a scene of Henry finally joining in with Alex and Aiden to be intimate with Mercy. It was the final barrier that Henry had yet to overcome.