Love Nest by Loren Beauchamp (1959)
One of Silverberg’s early Midwood titles, while he was still “David Challon” and “Mark Ryan” for Bedstand Books, and just starting Don Elliotts for Nightstand.
This is an odd, dark story with a bleak but “happy ending.” Mike Foster is a cad married to a very wealthy woman. he used to be a TV repairman and was “seduced” by the defiant, rebellious fdaughter of a industrial tycoon. The couple sleep in separate rooms; Foster has an apartment in Manhattan where he keeps his various mistresses, usually strippers he meets. It’s always the same: at first they are all right with the arragement with this married man, because he has access to his wife’s money and the wife seems to look the other way…or Foster doesn’t discuss his girlfriends (his wife also bops the occasional man); then they want more, marriage and all that, and they know he will never divorce his wife because that would be the end of the money faucet for him. So he goes from one woman to another…
The novel concerns two of his girlfriends, as he goes back and forth between them. Both are “B-girls.” One, Peggy, finds out she’s three months pregnant after Foster dumps her; she blackmails him: she will tell his wife about the affair unless he givs her $10 grand, so she can get an illegal abortion (this is pre-Row v. Wade era) and start a new life in California (10K was like 100K back then, maybe more).
It’s a late term abortion and risky. Foster gets the money and his wife knows what is up but keeps quiet on the matter. Peggy dies on the operating table. Foster confesses what happened to his wife. Foster’s wife confesses her love and wants a new start. A happy ending?
This is unlike the other Beauchamps that are told from the woman’s POV and ends with a sappy romantic ending like Connie, Meg, Nurse Carolyn, and Another Night, Another Love. Foster is left with his guilt over Peggy’s death, wrought with fear that his wife will divorce him, and surprised when she suggests they begin their marriage a-new.