Book Title: The Marriage Pact
Author: Michelle Richmond
REVIEWED BY: MARY
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Fiction
Pub Date: 07/25/17
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples. And then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.
My husband is redoing our kitchen. There is not a surface on the first floor that is not covered by tarps or the contents of kitchen cabinets and drawers. I know he will do an amazing job and the end result will be beautiful. In the mean time, I’ve developed an eye twitch and have thought about moving into a hotel with the kids until he’s done so I don’t flip out and accidentally murder him after tripping over a pot and landing on a drawer full of silverware. Marriage is complicated like that; sometimes you’re filled with love and admiration, other times irritation and murderous rage. It’s a balancing act like anything else. Marriage is a partnership, the better you know your partner, the more successfully you’ll be able to navigate. I can safely say that my husband and I know each other infinitely better now than when we were newlyweds. We’ve been through so much together since we were married, things like loss of loved ones, buying a house, having babies, raising babies, changing jobs, leaving careers, returning to careers, and now a DIY kitchen redo (possibly the biggest test of character so far). I read somewhere once that a good marriage means falling in love over and over again, for the rest of your life, just with the same person. I agree wholeheartedly. I love my husband for very different reasons now than when we first met. The fact that he understands instinctively that I need sushi and quite a few cocktails to ease my kitchen redo induced eye twitch is just one of the many. The fact that we openly joke with each other and our friends about my obsessive love of cleanliness and order and his obsessive love of messy DIY projects is another. Our friends joke about the same things in their relationships. But what if joking about such things was a crime?
Jake and Alice are newlyweds. They are happy and in love and they really want to stay that way. Alice is a lawyer just starting out in a large law firm, where the hours and the work are grueling, but necessary if you want to move up and prove yourself to the partners. Jake is therapist. He owns a small practice with two other therapists, each with their own area of expertise. Jake works primarily as a youth counselor, helping troubled teens navigate the rigors of their adolescent years. He recently began seeing couples seeking therapy to save their struggling and fragile marriages. The research he does about marriage and the leading causes for divorce motivate him to try even harder to make his marriage successful. Jake is confident that if he is aware of the pitfalls that often derail a marriage, he and Alice can avoid them and have the happily ever after they dream of.
As Jake and Alice sort through their wedding gifts, they come across an odd gift from a client of the law firm Alice works for. She had spent many hours working on Finnegan’s case, which the firm won, which meant a financial windfall for the already wealthy man. The gift he gave them is an ornate box with the letter P embossed on the top. The box is locked and there is no key. When Alice and Jake thank him for the peculiar gift he tells them that one of his associates will stop by their home to tell them what the box contains, if they are interested. Intrigued, the young couple agrees to meet with this person in order to find out what mysteries the box contains.
Jake and Alice are informed that the box is an invitation into an exclusive secret society known as The Pact. They were hand picked to join the secret community by Finnegan himself. The secret society was founded by a woman named Orla who lives in Northern Ireland. The sole purpose of The Pact is to keep the union of marriage strong and healthy. The group meets periodically for parties and is described as a group of like-minded people that believe in the institution of marriage and work as a support system for other married couples to lean on so their marriage can last forever. Though they find the idea slightly odd, Jack and Alice are intrigued. Both of them want their marriage to last, so they agree to move ahead and join The Pact, they figure they’ll take all the help they can get, and after all, marriage won’t always be new and exciting. The Pact requires that couple sign contracts. These contracts outline the rules of The Pact, one of which is that they may never mention The Pact to non-members. There is a Manual that they are to read and memorize; within it consequences for rule infractions are outlined. While the whole thing seems rather ridiculous and elaborate for a made up set of rules to Jake, he’s willing to sign if Alice is, and she seems excited by the idea of being part of a secret society. They figure it will give them the opportunity to meet other married couples and go to a few fun parties. They did not however take the fine print seriously.
When Alice reveals at the first party they attend how many hours she’s been working to another lawyer she meets, she soon receives a summons of her own. This one from The Pact, it states that she is not making her marriage a priority and she must pay a fine as well as undergo reeducation. Jake and Alice quickly learn that the members of The Pact take the rules written in the Manual very seriously. When they try to communicate that they were under the impression that the rules were just a joke, they are eerily ignored. The members inform them the sooner they make their peace with The Pact, the easier things will become. If they continue to be disobedient members, things will go very wrong for them very quickly. What started as a fun way to socialize with other married couples quickly turns into a dark secret that threatens to ruin their careers and their plans for the future.
Determined to find a way out of The Pact, Jack tries to uncover information that may help them, but finds a dark, twisted cult that has never let a member leave alive. He finds that once you’ve signed the contract to be a member of The Pact it’s binding…for life. Worse, he finds that The Pact is focused on Alice and her commitment to their marriage. Jack desperately tries to take the attention off his wife, willing to sacrifice his safety for hers, he finds himself in grave danger at the hands of a sadistic cult.
The Marriage Pact is an intriguing and obscure thriller about a cult like society that strives for perfect marriages that last a lifetime. The members of this society go to great lengths to ensure all members are fully focused on the success of their marriage, no matter what it takes. Words like reeducation, infractions and sentence will send chills down your spine when reading this dark tale. I loved this book! The cover is eerily beautiful. That combined with the fact that I have long been intrigued by secret societies as well as terrified of the laws that bind them had me hooked from the minute I started reading.
The Marriage Pact is chalk full of thrills and dark twists and turns that will keep you turning pages well into the night. This psychological thriller is a 5 Star read that pairs well with Black Saint Peter Old Vine Zin and a quiet corner in which to take refuge from any DIY projects that may be taking place in your home.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.