The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond is not a chic lit but a psychological suspense novel examining how far two people will go to save/stay in their marriage. Alice is a successful lawyer, Jake a partner in a psychology practice and are about to get married. Alice invites a client, Liam, to their wedding, he gives them a box without a key.
They agree to meet the holder of the key, Vivian, who makes the suggestion that they enter The Pact - "a group of like-minded individuals’ intent on achieving a similar goal". The Marriage Pact means that they have entered into cannot be broken and is a lifelong commitment". The Pact requires Alice and Jake to be invested in their marriage, give monthly gifts, plan trips once a quarter with no tag along friends/family etc. All the rules are laid out in The Manual. There are consequences/penalties (misdemeanours or felonies depending upon the seriousness of the offence) if The Pact is not adhered to! Penalties range from the seemingly innocuous - the recreant member is put under further observation, made to wear a GPS bracelet, for example, to reeducation and finally disappearance as nobody leaves The Pact alive.
Jake and Alice agree to enter The Pact but it all goes pear shaped when monthly gifts and holidays are forgotten. interest in the marriage wanes. Jake meets someone, Jo-Anne, who he knew from University. She is also part of The Pact and warns him it is much more dangerous than it first appears. Their Pact Friends find out and the penalties are severe! No one can leave The Pact alive so Jake and Alice spend weeks trying to balance their lives but still receiving painful and intrusive consequences which culminate in the disappearance of Alice. He flies to Ireland to beg the creator of the Pact to release them from this life long commitment.
The story is told through Jake's eyes and the chapters are very short. I normally don't like novels written in the first person narrative and I only got into the book and started enjoying the plot by chapter 7 and there is a great plot twist at then end that I did not see coming. The shortness of the chapters makes the story seem choppy and a series of thoughts that don't flow together. The premise of the book is great, the execution of it is unusual and I think that, for me, is where it misses the mark and fell down slightly.
I got this free from NetGallery as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Available here: Amazon UK