Review: The Marriage Pact

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The Marriage Pact4 out of 5 stars to The Marriage Pact, a thriller and suspense novel written by Michelle Richmond and set to be released on July 25, 2017. Many thanks to the author, NetGalley and the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Bantam, for the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC). I really enjoyed reading this novel and felt it had a lot of contained suspense, as I couldn’t put it down but it wasn’t the kind where you were scared; you just desperately wanted to know what was going to happen.



Why This Book


I’d seen the book on a few people’s Goodreads To Read or Currently Reading lists, and it looked interesting. I requested a ton of books on NetGalley to try to earn my 80% badge, and I got lucky when they approved this request.



Plot, Characters & Setting


Alice and Jake had been finalizing the list of 200 guests for their upcoming wedding when she won a big case at her law firm and felt compelled to invite one more guest and his wife: Liam Finnegan, a client who made a point of telling Alice’s boss how instrumental she was to winning the lawsuit. When they arrive home from their honeymoon, Jake and Alice open the Finnegan’s gift, an invitation given only to a select few to join “The Pact,” a group of married couples who call each other “Friend” and help ensure everyone’s marriage is successful. At first, it seems a bit odd but given their history as a couple, both think it’s a good idea and jump in with open arms. They meet Vivian, who is their guide for the initial few months, and begin reading the bylaws, a huge tome of a contract that dictates how often they must give each other gifts, plan vacations, see other Friends, talk to one another, et al. And if they do not, there are consequences with differing levels of punishment. As the weeks go by, Alice and Jake don’t take the group too seriously and begin accidentally committing minor infractions. The punishments begin, and it starts to completely unnerve them both. When they push back and try to leave The Pact, they’re essentially told “No one ever leaves The Pact. And The Pact never lets anyone go.” Alice and Jake attempt to follow all the rules, but work gets in the way, and Jake meets another Friend, whom he once knew before he was married. The woman tells him about the dangers of The Pact, but it’s too late to save themselves, she warns. Weeks go by where Alice and Jake try to balance everything, but frequently find themselves with intrusive and harmful punishments… all culminating in Alice’s disappearance and Jake flying to Ireland to find the creator of The Pact, in hopes he can convince the strange woman to let them leave.



Approach & Style


I read the novel through a Kindle Reader on my iPad. It has about 5200 lines, which works out to about 400 book pages. There are over 80 chapters, as each one is short and focused on a multitude of events happening in Alice and Jake’s lives.

The novel is told in past tense (with a few exceptions for present tense) and with Jake as the first person narrator whose point of view and perspective dominates the story.

It took me about 5 hours to read the novel. I read 20% the first day and then 80% the second day. I couldn’t put it down on the second day and only did so to go out for dinner. I found myself so interested in the middle section that I sometimes skimmed pages to get to the action, as I was shaking trying find out what was going to happen.



Strengths


The idea behind The Pact and the story is excellent. The divorce rate is too high. People take one another for granted. You’re often left on your own to solve marital issues unless you push yourselves to attend therapy. It sounds like a fantastic idea: a group of Friends meant to help you focus on your life as a couple, some rules and guidelines to ensure you are constantly thinking about the other person and minor punishments meant as little reminders not to get off track. But when it gets out of hand, and you realize this is more like a cult who like to torture one another, wow… the subtle actions and words really leave you right on the line, trying to decide is this really happening? Is this one bad apple making the group worse than it really is? Are they truly a cult or is it all a game? Who is behind this? And it quickly becomes a page-turner, where you don’t want to put it down.

The book can seriously play on someone’s fears about marriage. It makes you think what the point of it is, how and when you separate yourselves as a couple and two individual people. You see the love between a newlywed couple being ripped apart over minor issues in the hope that it will teach them not to ever let something big or bad happen between them. The intricacies of how The Pact always knows what’s going on, how they simply just accept what happens to them and the balance of power between all the couples… really gets you ignited and passionate over what’s right and wrong in this book. All good stuff, especially when you have such an emotional gut reaction to what’s happening. The descriptions of the behavior, the punishments and the setting really help create the suspenseful drama.



Concerns


When I read a book, I throw myself into it, usually letting most unbelievable things go if they are meant to drive the action or plot forward. I’m pretty forgiving when a situation happens that probably wouldn’t or couldn’t in real life. It’s a book. That’s what drama is for. If I want reality, I’ll look at my own life. And that’s what readers will have to do with this book — let some things go —
as there’s a 1 and a million chance something like this could ever happen, but there are at least 10 situations where some readers are going to say “No way. That’s ridiculous.” And they’re right, but then again, this is a story meant to entertain and scare you. So… I worry that some readers are going to be disgruntled with parts of the plot, and I can’t say much as I don’t want to give away spoilers. But a few easy examples… (don’t read the next paragraph as it’s not really a spoiler, but does give a bit of action away).

Why would a lawyer sign The Pact without reading it? How could they not go to the police? How did The Pact know things about Jake and Alice’s past? Why would you not ask the question to the leaders: “What should I do? If I don’t attend your meeting today, you will punish me. But if I miss this court date, I lose my job. It’s not that you aren’t important… but without a job, how do I live?” That last comment is in reference to a major part of the plot where Alice is asked to do something by the same person who is helping her move forward at the law firm… and if she does do what they ask, she’ll get in trouble at work. Something just didn’t jive well for me there. I kept thinking to myself…. ask them what they want you to do and stop saying “I just won’t show up to the meeting with the Friends.” At that point, they’d already been punished a few times… why??? And they also hadn’t read the full bylaws. I wanted to smack them for not reading the whole thing.

I loved the first 80% of this book. I put it down to go to dinner at a point where it was absolutely unreal and intense in the suspense and drama. I was so excited to finish it when I got home. And then I did. But the ending was not sufficient for me. It’s a good ending, but it wasn’t the one I wanted. Alice and Jake are essentially faced with a choice in the last few chapters, one which as they learn more about The Pact, they realize what has truly happened in the last few months. And they have a decision to make which is a good thing, but wow… I think I might not have done that if I were in their shoes!



Author & Other Similar Books


Michelle Richmond has several other books which I will definitely peruse, as I enjoyed her writing style, characters and plot very much in this one.

The story felt like a cross between “The Stepford Wives” and the movie “The Gift.” The people in The Pact all feel like a cult being controlled by someone behind the scenes as the Wellingtons do Stepford. And Jake and Alice receives strange gifts with scary alternative meanings and consequences as occurs in the movie “The Gift.”



Questions & Final Thoughts


I really like this book despite a little concerns with the ending. It’s the kind of book where I want to keep talking about it. But I won’t give away spoilers. So… a choice for you: (1) Read the book and then let’s talk about it, as there is a lot to say, or (2) Don’t read the book and we can talk about it but I’m gonna reveal all the spoilers so you totally understand it!



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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17 thoughts on “Review: The Marriage Pact

    Nel said:
    June 21, 2017 at 8:47 AM

    I’ll take the spoilers version, thanks, lol. There is no way I would ever let a group of friends control my marriage; especially random group of strangers calling themselves friends. All your questions are super valid!

    Liked by 1 person

    BrizzleLass said:
    June 21, 2017 at 3:17 PM

    Great review, this isn’t the kind of book I would read so happy for you to throw spoilers my way! This sounds like an insane idea! The first thing I thought reading the review was “hold on isn’t she supposed to be a lawyer why is she signing anything?” I don’t understand authors sometimes!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      June 21, 2017 at 3:20 PM

      I know! The husband makes a point of saying “shouldn’t you read this” and her excuse is “I just want our marriage to work out. It’ll be OK.”

      Then 100 pages later… the cult wants her to sign papers stating her punishment, and she actually says “I”m a lawyer. I don’t just sign things.”

      I think I might have dropped the F bomb or passed out at that point from the stupidity.

      Liked by 1 person

    Sophie @ Blame Chocolate said:
    June 22, 2017 at 11:52 AM

    The premise sounds very interesting but creepy. It’s like you said, someone with marriage phobia would probably freak out while reading it! But I think it’s still quite intriguing and it made me want to find out what happens and who’s behind it all.
    Great review, James! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    shalini said:
    June 22, 2017 at 12:16 PM

    Oh i wanted to read this book since I heard about it.. Will get it soon thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    luvtoread said:
    June 22, 2017 at 10:05 PM

    Great review! I just recently finished this book – my review will post sometime in late July (around the pub date), and I also could not put the book down. I was hooked from the first page and had to keep reading so I could find out what was going to happen. But, while I found it totally engrossing and entertaining, I could not get over the fact that a lawyer just signed a contract without reading it. It was so unbelievable to me and many of the events that happened I couldn’t believe either. I also couldn’t get past them carrying their cell phones and using their credit cards when they were trying to escape. Even though it wasn’t very believable, The Marriage Pact certainly was entertaining!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      June 23, 2017 at 7:59 AM

      Hi. I always wondered when to post the review. I do them immediately after reading the book now. But I wonder if it’s better for the author to wait until the day’s published?

      As for this one… exactly. Lots of concerns with the plot points or reality of this one, but if you suspect those, the action is exciting. What made it more noticeable was she later made a point of saying she doesn’t just sign things. So why even bring either scenario up if you will just contradict yourself! LOL Thx for the share.

      Liked by 1 person

        luvtoread said:
        June 24, 2017 at 4:50 PM

        It usually says in the fine print of the ARC when the publisher would like the review posted – it is generally not until after the book has been published, but some ARCs don’t specify, and other ARCs will say to publish review within a few weeks of the pub date. I don’t know that anyone ever actually checks on it – I see tons of bloggers posting ARC reviews on books that don’t come out for months. I always wait until either the pub date or after the pub date, but that’s because I like to have my posts scheduled out.
        Yeah i just didn’t understand why there was that big point about not signing things after she had already signed something unread… the book felt very much like the characters were only doing things the author wanted in order to fit the plot. But as annoying as that was, it sure was an entertaining read! I literally could not put the book down.

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        June 24, 2017 at 5:47 PM

        Thanks for the heads up and guidance. As for the book, total agreement. Read thru quite quickly.

        Liked by 1 person

    Tanya MacPherson said:
    August 7, 2017 at 4:52 AM
    Stephanie said:
    August 29, 2017 at 8:55 AM

    **** Spoiler Alert****
    There were things I loved about this book and there were parts that were 100% unrealistic. I did not like the ending. Did they ever make it out of the desert??? This book reminded me of the Stepford Wives meets Scientology!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 29, 2017 at 9:00 AM

      Haha! I can tell you, but not on here! LOL It was a hard to accept ending tho. Good call on Scientology.

      Like

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