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Acts of Contrition

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,844 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
Mary Morrissey is living the life of her dreams. She has a loving husband, Tom, two daughters, and twin boys. But beneath the shiny veneer, Mary hasn’t taken a calm breath in ten years. She lives in a constant state of panic, afraid the secret she’s kept hidden for so long will be revealed, shattering her perfect life.

When addictively charismatic ex-boyfriend Landon James
Paperback, 332 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by Lake Union Publishing
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Judy Collins
Mary is a very likeable character, a strong protagonist readers will relate to, as she is the perfect wife and mother of two daughters and twin sons. She is real and flawed. She loves her family and everything it stands for; she has values and morals.

Even before she married at age thirty, an attorney in her earlier career, her real passion ---to be married and raising a family, similar to her simple, but loving Catholic Italian upbringing. She deserves to happy, having waited so long for this d
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chick-lit
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. And I never lie about books...

I fell in love with this book very early on. There is some very beautiful writing here. I love the language the author uses. She just puts everything out there so easily. Word choices are not canned or commonplace. Things are described in a way that makes the reader easily understand and sympathize with Mary. I felt at home reading this book. Though the topic of the plot wasn't alwa
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I will be nice and say 2.5-3 But honestly I did not like this book. It was cold, clinical a mother trying to right a wrong that was done years ago. Yet she was punishing herself by not allowing her husband to love her and making deals with priests. This could of been a great story. I didn't like how it was written. The writer needed to add more emotion to her characters. I couldn't wait to get through this novel. Thats bad. Wanting an ending? Basically it was how it was wrote, it didn't engage m ...more
Faith Simone
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Family secrets…everyone’s got them. The secrets we keep can either tear our families apart or bind us together. For Mary Morrissey the coin has been tossed and she’s been waiting for over a decade to see which side it will land on.

“I’ve made my family a happy home, but it was a house built with stolen bricks.”

There was no need for me to judge Mary, she did a thorough job of that herself. She’s weighed down with the guilt of her deception but, despite her morally corrupt choices, I empathized wit
Esther Walker
Jun 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
I got this book as a free read from my Amazon Prime account. Well it's true not everything for free is a good thing!! I finished the book because I kept expecting more from the book, however, when I reached the end I was terribly disappointed. Tom and Mary are a couple with four children, Tom manages to forget his prior romance and Mary cannot. She holds a secret from Tom and when she tells him continues to play the martyr roll like she has done in all her relationships. There is not a character ...more
Dee Miller
Mixed Feelings

A good character study, though I would have preferred it to be less preachy. I find it lacks sufficient insight into the psychological damage and risk a woman causes herself by having a long-term, involved relationship without her partner showing a willingness to commit.
Gary Thomas
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and read it in just a few days. I'll definitely check out her other novels, depending on their subject matter. It was refreshing to read someone who has at least a sympathetic view of faith and church. Great characterization, great food for thought, accurate portrayal of some of the intimacies of marriage and extended family--overall, a nicely written, well-paced book.
*Marsha,Marsha,Marsha* It's always Marsha
A beautiful 4.5 read.
I thank Netgalley for the privilege of having this to review.

I was not sure what I was going to be reading or reviewing, even though I had read the blurb. This book was SO much more than I had ever hoped it would be. The story of Mary and Tom and their marriage with the ghost of Landon always at the edges kept me reading and reading and reading. So much it reminded me of: lost love, my own marriage, the secrets that couples keep and the utter work it takes to make a good ma
Kim Weiss
Apr 22, 2014 rated it liked it
This is one of those books--and there are a few of them out there--where most of the action takes place years before the timeframe of the book. Ten years before the book begins, the protagonist, Mary, betrayed her husband. He found out about it, got very mad at her (understandably), and little by little, he gets over it and begins to trust her again. That's more or less the "plot" of the book. Told in first person, much of the book is taken up with Mary's thoughts about how she loves her childre ...more
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Change the number!

There are actually two protagonists here, Mary and Tom and their individual POVs take place in the chapters. The reader finds out in later chapters what it is that Mary is keeping from Tom.

Landon James, the man from her past whom she can't seem to forget, has made the news and Tom again feels insecure in his relationship with Mary. His appearance on television has Mary reminiscing about her time with him.

Missing is the intense anxiety that Mary should be feeling instead of he
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Keeping a major secret for ten years!!!! Any devout Catholic would not be able to do that (in my opinion), but whatever one believes in, Mary's situation depended solely on her decision alone - to keep quiet or not. She decided not too; she came clean and she suffered the consequences.

Here is a story that is plucked from ordinary characters living an ordinary life. Until the truth came out, until the life she once knew was no more, then nothing is ordinary anymore. Mary wanted to confess and sti
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
I did not like book . I think the story line was ok. I felt like the book got "good" half way through it but it did not really last long. I felt that if the author would have kept the pass part all together and the present all together it might have been a little bit better. I don't think I would read this book again. I felt by the 3 chapter I could not wait for it to get over. The book is about lies that have gone to far and the main character is trying to hard to get out of it that lead to mor ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mary has a good life. She's married to a man that she loves, has 4 wonderful children and is close to her family. But Mary has a secret she's been keeping for 10 long years and it's about to come out.

Honestly, it was pretty obvious what the secret was early on in the story and by the time Mary confessed I was ready to pull my hair out. The rest of the book explores faith, marriage and the thoughts of rebuilding when everything y
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Acts of Contrition by author Jennifer Handford is a compelling and heart quivering read. I acquired my complimentary review copy via Net Galley. This is definitely one y'all will want to get your hands on and add to your to read list. No spoilers...I will leave it up to other readers...great book I will definitely read more from this author. Excellent word flow with grace, deeply touching plot that will leave you wanting more. I'd suggest this as a good faith based book, just melted my heart.
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Moved very slow ...

The premise of the story is good. Overall, it moved slowly; the constant switching from past to present was distracting. I believe there was too much "fill" in this novel. Deleting material not pertinent to the storyline would greatly improve readability.
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peaceful ending

This is a story that really shows the struggles and repercussions of dishonesty in a marriage and how if affects the family unit.
Kristina Pullen
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read this in less than 48 hours. Very good and gripping tale.
Sue Lilley
I struggled to relate to any of the characters. The children seemed the most real. Mary was very dithery and I couldn’t see why Landon had such a hold on her for so many years. Tom became a different person by the end but on the whole the book was a bit meandering for me. The premise wasn’t that complicated to take so long to resolve.
Goldie Garnich
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I was completely absorbed in the story.
Her reasons for the characters was interesting.
I would recommend to anyone who appreciates good writing
A very interesting book, although I do agree with Stacie that it's more of a character study than a "traditional" novel. We know from the start what has happened in the past to cause friction in Mary and Tom's marriage, and when that cause of friction (Mary's commitment-shy quasi-ex-boyfriend, Landon) pops back into their life and refuses to go away, how everyone handles it is the main focus of the story. Fair warning, everything after this is spoilery!

One thing that I genuinely liked about the
Ju Haghverdian
I finished this story and couldn't put into words what I thought about it.
I have mixed feelings about it. I liked the writing style, Jennifer Handford has a talent for building up a good relationship between her characters, they are well developed and emotional, they are likable. However, the mix of religiosity was overwhelming to me.

I mean, (view spoiler)
Keith Madsen
May 22, 2014 rated it liked it
This is not the kind of novel I normally read. Basically, it's "chick-lit". It's the story of a wife and mother, Mary, who struggles with letting go of an old romance. Part of the issue is that one of her daughters was conceived by this old flame, and she has hid that truth from her present husband. Sound like a soap opera? Well, basically, it is. I would have to say that it is a well-written soap opera. Jennifer Handford has good descriptive power, and she paints realistic characters. Female ro ...more
Christine Lowe
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Does Confession Absolve Your Responsibility?

How would you respond if your spouse chose not to tell you something of great importance? Something that would probably make a huge difference to both of you. There are sins of commission, things we do that are wrong and sins of omission, the act of not doing something you know is right. This is a subject that a great number of philosophers and famous thinkers could never agree upon. Is one right and the other wrong or are they both wrong? Nobody likes
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Acts of Contrition is a very well written story about a woman who has kept a secret for far too long... a secret that might destroy her happy family. The secret finally comes to light and her world is turned upside down. While a reader will be able to guess the secret early on, the way the family copes and the emotions they experience feel very true to life and make this worth reading.

I had a hard time reading this book, not because it's not good, but because I related so much to the main charac
Diane D White
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Power Of Lies

Lies are tempters, seducers. Some of us lie to ourselves all the time. Our lies deceive us into believing we will come clean "later", that we will cleanse our conscience "soon", that we can survive being seen for who we really, miserably are "someday". Meanwhile we live in fear of discovery before we are "ready".

But we will never be ready. We liars must be pushed into confession. We aren't about to voluntarily face consequences we lied to avoid in the first place, no matter what
Ashley McCabe
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read

Another well written, heart wrenching story by this author. Her stories take you on a journey into real life situations with not all happy endings. Great writer!!
Patrice Annette Clevenger
Such agony

The storyline was challenging. It took many turns., making me wonder about how it might end. Great read and hard to put down. I hated to see it end. A sequel would be great!
Debra Lindquist
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a very good read, but I wouldn't classify it as a Christian novel. I didn't enjoy the nasty words in the book, so almost qui at the beginning. But the author pulled me into the story, simply because I couldn't stand not knowing how Mary and Tom's infidelity issue was going to play out -- would their marriage end in separation, divorce or healing?

Tom was really offended and hurt when Mary confessed to her failures and hidden secrets. Tom couldn't understand her weaknesses until he was put
Cathryn Conroy
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What happens when the seemingly perfect wife and mother with the perfect husband and perfect four children...aren't so perfect after all? What happens if it is all built on a massive lie? If it is all a kind of deal with the devil? That is the premise of this book. Loosely woven around the liturgical calendar of the Christian year, it begins with ordinary time (the season of Pentecost) and extends through several years but ends with Lent and Easter morning. Some parts of the plot of this caution ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked this book, it describe a terrible lie, and the main character is not the victim. the wife of this story betrayes her husband one time and everytime her past comes right in front of her. she carries a huge weight. I liked that even as I think of what the main character did as abominable I feel her pain. I feel her punishment, the coldness in het marriage, the anger in her husband. I liked that the author makes Mary transparent to the reader, all her flaws, all her lies, all her pain, all ...more
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Does it have cheating ?? 2 20 Sep 09, 2014 02:38PM  
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A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Jennifer Handford now lives in the Washington, DC, area with her husband and three children. One of three first-place finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest in 2010, she published her first novel, DAUGHTERS FOR A TIME, in 2012. People magazine hailed it as “a wrenching, resonant debut about infertility, cancer and adoption. Grab your hankies.” In 201 ...more
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“How do you measure what’s real, what’s true? How do you stack up all that’s pure against all that’s evil?” 3 likes
“Yes, Landon. I remember.” “Do you remember what I said?” 0 likes
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