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The Marriage Pact

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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.

432 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 25, 2017

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About the author

Michelle Richmond

32 books1,025 followers
Thank you for stopping by! To read my serial novella, sign up for my newsletter at michellerichmond.substack.com

I also share books I love & glimpses into my writing life on TikTok: @michellerichmondwriter.

I grew up in Alabama and have lived in California for 20 years, with a two-year stint in Paris. My 2017 literary thriller, the Sunday Times bestseller THE MARRIAGE PACT, examines marriage under the extreme pressure of constant monitoring from a powerful organization called The Pact. The Pact promises to help couples have a happy, lasting marriage...but the punishments for breaking the rules are severe. THE MARRIAGE PACT is available in 31 languages.

My latest novel, THE WONDER TEST, a suburban suspense novel set in Silicon Valley (Grove Atlantic in, 2021) was an Amazon Best Book of July. In a starred review, Booklist called THE WONDER TEST "a gripping blend of danger and sharp social commentary on high-stakes education, the 1%, and suburban tropes." The first in a series, THE WONDER TEST introduces a tough and spirited new protagonist, FBI agent Lina Connerly, and her teenaged son Rory.

To get updates, exclusive previews, free audio short stories, and (coming soon) serialized fiction, sign up for my newsletter at michellerichmond.substack.com.

You can also read my true stories of living in Paris, traveling, and writing at wanderingwriter.substack.com

My previous books include the New York Times bestseller THE YEAR of FOG, GOLDEN STATE, HUM: STORIES, NO ONE YOU KNOW, DREAM OF THE BLUE ROOM, and THE GIRL IN THE FALL-AWAY DRESS (stories).

I like to write about ordinary people in crisis: a kidnapping (The Year of Fog), a hostage situation (Golden State), a decades-old murder that became a true crime sensation (No One You Know). My novels are often set in San Francisco and the Bay Area, where I've made my home, but my books also take inspiration from many of the places I've lived and traveled. My story collection HUM (2014) features Americans caught up in espionage, surveillance, and all manner of marital crimes.

If you love discovering new books, or if you've enjoyed any of my books, I'd love to send you my author newsletter! It includes notes on what I'm reading, and dispatches from the writing life. You can sign up for the newsletter at http://michellerichmond.com.

Back story: I knew I wanted to be a writer for almost as long as I can remember, way back when I was a kid growing up in Alabama. I used to write skits to perform for my parents with my two sisters. After graduating from a huge public school in downtown Mobile, I studied journalism and creative writing at the University of Alabama, then worked in advertising, as well as in restaurants and a tanning salon (!) for a few years before enrolling in an MFA program in creative writing. I bounced around the South for a while and lived in New York City for a couple of years, with a brief work stint in Beijing, before settling in Northern California in 1999. I've been writing here in the fog ever since.

My first book, The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress was a short story collection that I wrote during my years waitressing and doing other odd jobs in Knoxville and Atlanta. My first novel, Dream of the Blue Room, was inspired by my time in Beijing. My second novel, The Year of Fog, gathered many rejections before being acquired by a young editor at Bantam. The Year of Fog was a life-changing book in that in allowed me to connect with readers in ways I'd never quite imagined, and it gave me the freedom to pursue writing full time. Writing is my dream job. It's a job I do alone in a quiet room, but because it allows me to connect with readers, it never feels lonely.

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Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,573 followers
January 15, 2019
4 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.

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.

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.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,004 reviews36k followers
March 13, 2017
"Hi Friend"......
There is an assumption we have about marriage which involves two people building a life together, but must we shed our former selves?

The National average cost of a wedding in America is $29, 858

Over 50% of marriages end in divorce. A few reasons documented are: infidelity, abuse, money problems, sex problems, children, time apart, household responsibilities, friends, irritating habits, family, expectations, and personality conflicts...just to name a few!

I'm dying to 'spill the beans' about the juicy parts of this story, "Friend", but without a signed contract from you - I'm afraid I can't do that.

However, "Friend"......I happy to share a preview, a few thoughts -about Michelle Richmond's new novel, "The Marriage Pact".
BUT..... first let me ask you a few questions?
..... Do you believe that a long marriage will go through periods of happiness and sadness and lightness and darkness?
.....If you were newly married and committed to never getting divorced do you think you would be willing to sign a contract with "FRIENDS" if they have your success and happiness in mind?
..... Did you know that monogamous marriage was only established in Western societies about 800 years ago?
..... Did you also know that married people live longer than single people?

"The Pact is a group of like-minded individuals intent on achieving a similar goal".
"Created in 1992 on a small island off northern Ireland by Orla Scott. The Pact has increased exponentially in size and commitment since that day. While our rules and bylaws have changed, our membership has grown, and our members have spread far and wide, the mission and spirit of The Pact remain true to the concept in the beginning". If you were a member, "Friend", you'd get a complete copy of the rules and regulations yourself.

"The Pact grew out of the failure of Orla's first marriage.
With the modern world evolving the way it is, marriage may be left behind. Orla saw a purpose for fighting for the success and well-being of marriage and created an organization to support marriages succeeding. It's possible that the single-family modern marriage may no longer be efficient. Yet - all marriages need to evolve - need challenges - and a supportive designed organization was created with that purpose in mind. The organization will need to evolve over time too.

Not anyone off the street can join THE PACT. Newlywed couples have been vetted and invited in. If they accept - they each receive 'The Manuel' .... which they are told to memorize....with rules to follow:

I'll share a few of the RLUES of "THE PACT", but not all secrets.....LAUGH WITH ME .... THIS BOOK IS KICK OF FUN.....( but some turds will toss this book - with its manuel out the window and think it's insane)
---I THINK THIS BOOK IS FRESH WITH HIDDEN BRILLIANCE.....AND it's SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH FUN... (however It might have been a tad shorter).
For the first 64% I was NEVER BORED: not one lag moment!
Then, I did hit a few spots - for a short time -where I was less interested, and mostly getting impatient to see what was coming next.
Soon enough, the story kicked into high gear!!! I loved the ending!!!!!

THE FUN RULES......[which made me want to sign the contact]. I tried to get Paul to agree..... lol. We were laughing silly. He came up with some other cool ideas himself - marriage insurance -- etc.

1. Every month the married couple must give each other a gift - it doesn't need to be expensive but it does need to be meaningful. There are consequences if you forget. .....I WONT SHARE THE SPOILERS of these "consequences"
2. There are some social parties in Hillsborough - and Woodside - MANSION HOMES in the Peninsula - here in the Bay Area. NOTE: THE PACT is not a POOR MAN'S club.
3. Each member must plan a travel trip away from home for a period of no less than 36 hours every quarter. --no other friends or family should be accompanied. Failure to plan at least one trip during a 12 month. Could be considered a felony. Chuckling?
4. Whenever receiving a phone call from your husband or wife, you must answer it.

A little about the characters ----
Jake is the narrator. I LOVED HIM!!!! It was also an enjoyment for me, having read several books by Michelle Richmond, before, having her create a MALE narrator. I think Michelle did a fantastic job!!!

Jake is a therapist - he works with teenagers and kids and recently has taken on marriage counseling for adult couples.
Alice is an attorney-- but also plays guitar and sings. She used to be in a band. A musician at heart. She didn't go to Law School until she was 30.

Jake and Alice lived together for a couple years. Their marriage is new - and getting the background of them is completely engaging!
As the reader... we attend the wedding! Michelle simple has us in the palm of her hands. Her writing flows - it's natural - and exciting!!
Jake and Alice have a house in SF. There is much I admire about this couple - I like them both.
I enjoyed reading about Jake and Alice's little habits together - from eating pastries in the morning- or one of them cooking bacon- all the dinners at home- their dialogue.
A fun plug for Philz Coffee......( only the best coffee in the Bay Area)....LOVE THE BAY AREA DETAILS..... nobody does them better than Michelle Richmond--- ( born in the South)..... but has lived here so long - she's like a native!

PARTS OF THIS BOOK I can't share my 'FRIEND' .... until you sign that contract and send it back to me.....
Are the details of THIS STORY - THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS- PROBLEMATIC MEMBERS - THE BRACELET & COLLAR- "Fernley" - Details about other members: Finnegan, Dave, Joanne, etc. HALF MOON BAY AIRPORT -Personal Trainers -weigh-in's- restraints - Draeger's Market, jealousy- lies by omission- and Bay-to-Breakers.

We have much to discuss, "Friend".


Thank You Netgalley, Random House, and Michelle Richmond -- I LOVE YOU BOOK, "Friend"!!!!!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
March 22, 2017
Is there a secret to a long and happy marriage? Is there one thing, a group of behaviors or conditions, which could ensure that a couple can weather the stresses and strains most marriages encounter and stay married until death do them part?

If you ask Jake and Alice whether they wanted their marriage to last, and believed it could, they'd say yes, although perhaps somewhat dubiously. While Jake, a successful therapist, grew up in a home where his parents' relationship was strong (and is still going), Alice, a singer-turned-lawyer, had a fractured home life, with a family whose demons ate them alive. While Jake saw proposing marriage as a way to hold on to Alice, she saw it as an opportunity for the security she never experienced.

Right before their wedding, Alice works on a case involving a somewhat-famous musician named Finnegan. In the flush of pride at the case's successful outcome, and the anticipation of her wedding, somehow Alice invites Finnegan and his wife to her and Jake's wedding. Surprisingly, he accepts, and the couple is a sweet addition to what turns out to be a beautiful day.

Finnegan's wedding present leads Jake and Alice to an organization called The Pact. The Pact has one simple goal: to ensure marriages succeed. Supportive of that goal, Jake and Alice agree to join. While at first they are dazzled by the parties that their fellow members through, and the fellowship of the group, it's not long before they realize that while some of The Pact's rules—you must give your spouse gifts for no reason a certain amount of times each year, you must plan a non-work-related vacation for just the two of you once a quarter, always answer the phone when your spouse calls—seem innocuous, no infraction of any rule is tolerated.

As Alice's work schedule heats up and she must spend more time at the office, she quickly runs afoul of The Pact's rules. When one minor infraction leads to another, she and Jake realize that this group isn't quite what they imagined it was. And when Jake learns from an old acquaintance some of the measures The Pact uses to ensure marriages succeed, he knows that they need to break their commitment to the group. But The Pact never leaves you, and you never leave The Pact...

I found this concept really intriguing at first, and Michelle Richmond's writing, which I so enjoyed in her previous book, Golden State (see my original review), definitely kept me turning the pages. But the further I got into the book, the more I didn't like it. I just found the whole concept of The Pact and its means to an end utterly preposterous, and I found it really hard to believe that a lawyer and a therapist would so willingly allow themselves to be controlled by a group like this.

Reading The Marriage Pact reminded me a little of reading some of Stephen King's books in the late 1980s through the mid-1990s. Not that there were elements of horror in the book, but that I felt Richmond, like King, had such a brilliant ideas for a book and then little by little, it went more and more off the rails until it was just completely out of control. And while I can handle that in certain books, because of the way this book was rooted in such a solid concept like marriage, suspending my disbelief so completely just didn't work.

I may wind up in the minority here, so if the plot as I've described it intrigues you, definitely give it a shot. I'll still be waiting for Richmond's next book to come along. And perhaps I'll pick up a few rules from The Pact, at least as suggestions...

NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group—Ballantine provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,600 reviews24.8k followers
July 22, 2017
This is a psychological suspense thriller with an interesting premise. In a world where so many marriages fail, what would you be prepared to do to make sure your marriage will be successful? Jack and Alice are given a box as a wedding present from Liam Finnegan, a client of Alice. Once a singer, Alice is now a lawyer and Jake is a therapist. part of a successful psychology practice. Liam asks them questions about their marriage where upon they are invited to join a rich and exclusive group. On returning from their honeymoon, Vivian explains The Pact, and the rules and regulations which aims to ensure that their marriage succeeds. They are presented with a manual with the rules which include that they have to answer every phone call from their spouse, give gifts, travel etc.. Failure to uphold the rules will result in penalties. The Pact was set up by Orla upon the failure of her marriage to support marriages. The story is told through Jake's perspective.

For different reasons, Jake and Alice are drawn to joining The Pact and without looking closely at the contract, sign it. At first, things are hunky dory, Jake and Alice's social life become a string of glamorous parties held by members who refer to each other as 'friend'. However, Alice's professional obligations, like preparing for trial, impede her capacity to adhere to the rules. In some strange and eerie way, The Pact appear to be remarkably well informed on their infractions, and punishments are enforced. Jake meets someone who implies that The Pact are a sinister organisation that controls couples and their marriages. There is only one problem, it is difficult to disassociate themselves from this cultish group. The Pact never leaves you and you never leave The Pact. Jake and Alice have fallen down a very dark rabbit hole.

The novel requires a fair degree of suspension of disbelief to get the most out of the story. However, if you are prepared to do that, then this is a fast paced and entertaining story with shades of the Stepford Wives. Jake and Alice are educated people operating from a place of insecurites and misplaced hopes to surrender control of their marriage to an outside agency and signing contracts without fully understanding what they were letting themselves in for. Michelle Richmond's writing is really good in enticing you into the book and in sustaining your interest through out with suspense. The Pact is a seriously creepy phenomena, I was imagining it being imposed throughout society, yikes! Whilst this not a novel without its flaws, I enjoyed reading it. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,067 reviews3,609 followers
March 23, 2017
The perfect combination of bizarre, strange and just down-right creepy!

Alice and Jake receive a very strange gift for their wedding. A locked box, compliments of their new friend Finnegan, Alice's new client. The box as well holds a cryptic note to be revealed upon their return from their honeymoon.

Warning bells! Of course this would have been the opportunity to have just walked away. Strike that… run away, and agree never to open the box. Oh no you don’t! Curiosity killed the cat...

"The pact is a group of like-minded individuals’ intent on achieving a similar goal"

Newly wed Jake seems to be questioning Alice's level of love and commitment right from the start. Maybe this marriage pact would be a good thing to help hold onto his new wife.

But now the Pact is controlling every aspect of their lives. Can they just leave? If in fact the Pact will even let them leave?

This book had me hooked from the start and I absolutely could not put it down! I kept thinking, where can this go? There is part of you that is going to shake your head and say "Oh come on! This is just crazy!" Then that little inner voice says... “But what if?”

It does go a bit off the deep end in the last third of the book, and the relentless pace slowed. But come on, that fast and furious pace couldn't continue nonstop! Something had to give. The ending for me was, well… You’ll just have to decide for yourself.

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group and Michelle Richmond for the advanced copy in exchange for my review.
Profile Image for Holly  B (Short break!).
812 reviews1,862 followers
August 3, 2017
WOW! This was a fantastic read. I loved the fast pace and suspense. It was very clever and had me on the edge throughout.

Some of the "pact" rules - 1. When your spouse calls answer 2. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly 3. Plan a trip together once a quarter 4. NEVER mention the PACT to anyone.

The adorable newlywed couple Jake and Alice are professionals and eager to start their lives together. As a wedding gift, they receive a mysterious gift. Later, they learn of the contents and end up signing a contract that forever changes their lives.

The Pact.....an exclusive group? ....a club?......a cult?????

Jake, "What can they do, cart us off to marriage jail?" Dave, "You don't leave the pact and the pact doesn't leave you." "No one leaves alive, that is" Alice, "Jake, I'm scared." Jake, "We have to find a way out."

The author delivers a thrilling mysterious ride that I won't forget for awhile!
I absolutely loved the book. For now, bye friend. (The club members refer to each other as "friend" and not by their name).
Thank you Michelle Richmond and Netgalley for my arc. Publication date is July 25, 2017
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
May 23, 2017
3.5 Stars* (rounded down)

Could you imagine being married to someone and being obligated to stay with them forever with no way out ? Because you made a Marriage Pact to stay together? And you love each other and you were already making the commitment and it seemed fun, exciting, ominous and oh so mysterious? And heck, what could possibly go wrong, right?!

Jake and Alice are a happy couple about to get married. Jake is a Psychologist and Alice is a successful Attorney. Right before the wedding, Alice makes an impromptu decision to invite a client from her law firm, named Finnegan, to her wedding. Finnegan, immediately sends them a gift in a wooden box that can only be opened with a key that he, of course, neglects to provide. They are immediately intrigued. And so it begins.

After their wedding, Vivian, a Friend, explains the rules and regulations of the Pact to Jake and Alice. If they join, they can't ever leave and it is a bond for life that cannot be broken. They will become members of an elite society of Friends. The Pact will only enhance their marriage and their love for each other. They must do things: give small monthly gifts to each other, plan trips.. be invested in their marriage. If they fail to comply, there will be consequences. Penalties. Alice and Jake are intrigued and they decide to join and are excited to begin this chapter of their lives. And when one slips up, or seems less interested in the marriage or forgets to give a gift, what happens? Their Friends find out. Alice and Jake do not take this seriously - but believe me, they should. Penalties are assessed and some are severe. Quite severe. And unfortunately for Alice and Jake, some lessons are hard to learn.

Personally, I don't agree with being required to do specific things for a spouse in a marriage (and my ex-husband was vehemently opposed to doing anything out of obligation during our marriage (and no, that's not why we are divorced (lol)). And the fact of the matter is, I'm not into being punished because I didn't do "enough." I think a lot of people are with me on that, though you may disagree... but the only way to know for sure, is to read the Pact and roll the dice.

I have to say that I liked the premise of The Marriage Pact. I found the book to be freaky and disturbing, but in a good way. Further, I liked both Alice and Jake - though their actions frustrated me at times. All of their Friends were quite creepy. I hope I never make Friends like that. Unfortunately there were passages in the book that I felt were long and drawn out and neglected to hold my attention. In addition, the ending disappointed me. Had it been different, I would have rated this book higher. I had previously read Michelle Richmond's The Year of Fog and loved it and wanted to love this one. This book had potential but something was missing for me, that said, something about this is intriguing... intriguing enough that it is worth the read.

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine and Michelle Richmond for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 5.21.17.

*Will be published on Amazon on 7.25.17.
Profile Image for Sarah Joint.
445 reviews984 followers
July 23, 2017
Creepy, unnerving, but thought provoking.

Hello, Friend.

What we have here is a very original and well thought out story. It's very intricate. The characters are multi-layered and complex. Alice especially, I found fascinating. In a way, I wish we had been granted looks into her head... but not knowing what she's thinking definitely ups the suspense factor. Like an actual relationship, we are left wondering what's going on in the other person's head with no way to know for sure.

Alice is a former wild child rockstar turned lawyer. Jake is a therapist. They've found love with each other and seem to have a good relationship. Alice's decision to half jokingly invite a client to her wedding will alter the course of their lives and relationships forever. He and his wife are all too happy to accept, and offer the newlyweds a very strange gift... an invitation to join The Pact.

Buy your partner one thoughtful gift a month. Take quarterly vacations with each other. Don't snoop on your partner. Don't cheat. Never ignore the phone when they call. Don't put your career before your spouse. Many of the rules that form The Pact seem like a great idea... a way to keep marriages happy and healthy. The Pact members don't get divorced. The couples involved seem like newlyweds, content and in love.

The thing is, once you sign those papers... you're in for life, Friend. They can demand your presence at any time. Attendance at their functions is mandatory. Breaking the rules (of which there are many) results in punishment, varying from a slap on the wrist to things much more extreme.

It doesn't take Jake long to resent The Pact. They signed without much thought. Worried about keeping his free spirited wife by his side, he has no problem signing when she wishes to. He has worried about keeping things new and exciting now that they're husband and wife. This is certainly different. So begins their journey with The Pact.

No spoilers in this review. I refuse to potentially ruin it for anyone. This is a bizarre book. Immensely readable but a palpable sense of dread can be felt by the reader throughout.

So why four stars instead of five? I had a hard time wrapping my head around a lawyer signing a contract without knowing absolutely everything it entails. The book also slowed down and almost lost me somewhere around 60-65% where things started to feel a little stale. I think there's a few parts that could have been eliminated without sacrificing the story. It did eventually pick back up and held my attention again. Worth the read.

I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and Random House, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,135 followers
April 1, 2017
ONE thing is for sure, THE MARRIAGE PACT is not chick-lit......not at all what I expected.....but so much more.

The gift from a FRIEND......

Although newly wed, Jake and Alice are not kids nor uneducated, one an attorney, the other a therapist; HOWEVER, when they receive the mysterious box (with no key) for a wedding gift and invitation shortly thereafter to find out its contents, they agree to meet with the bestower, and foolishly end up signing a contract for what they believe to be fun-filled times to enhance their new lives together....and meet new FRIENDS.

"Do Not Mention The Pact"......

But all does not go according to plan.....They should have read ALL the rules.....THE PACT is not only exclusively secret, there can be devastating consequences if ANY rules are broken.....and punishment can be severe. (Yikes!)

"We have to find a way out"......

THE MARRIAGE PACT is an entertaining and super suspenseful thriller with a satisfying creep factor; and while I did question some of the character's actions from time to time, it did not deter from my reading enjoyment......As for the ending....thought it quite apropos.

"Fidelity to the spouse, Loyalty to the Pact. Till death do us part."

Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.2k followers
October 20, 2018
Traveling Sisters Group Read with Brenda, Diane, Jan, and Jennifer

Brenda packed up her books and hightailed it out of the coulee, leaving me lost in the coulee all by lonesome to write this sister review.  I will refrain from expressing my over excitement within this review as to not trigger a rare rant from my normally very positive sister.  For me and my sisters (minus Brenda) we mostly all had similar thoughts on The Marriage Pact however not all of us enjoyed this one the same.  

THE MARRIAGE PACT by MICHELLE RICHMOND is an interesting, intriguing, entertaining, creepy, and a thought-provoking suspense thriller novel that really took me by surprise in how much I enjoyed this novel. We were quite intrigued with the unique premise of this book and I found it fascinating. There were definitely some aspects of this novel that we found to be quite outlandish and unbelievable but putting that aside this novel did work for me and some of my sisters.

MICHELLE RICHMOND delivers a story that requires some suspension of disbelief here and this was where I initially had a problem with this book as I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do just that.  For most of us we were able to get past it and enjoy the story for what it was and for me I couldn’t put this novel down.  For Brenda and one other sister this affected their enjoyment resulting in a very different rating from me and my other sisters.  

All of our Traveling Sisters Reviews can be found on our sister blog:
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,734 reviews14.1k followers
October 13, 2017
2.5 The suspension of belief. A great deal of which is required for this read and something at which I was only partially successful. A couple gets married, she a lawyer, he a therapist, they receive a mysterious box from a virtual stranger. A box that contains the beginning agreement to enter into a lifelong pact, a pact to make their marriage last, supposedly forever. First inkling of trouble for my skeptical mind. Would a lawyer sign this without reading it first? Anyway got past that hurdle, but then.......

Well, it is the then and what follows, places my rational mind couldn't seem to go. Even taken in the context of the story, so much didn't make sense. All knowing and seeing eyes, tracking, kidnapping albeit sometimes willingly. These are all professional people, why would they go along with this? Cults, Scientology, all contain professional people who do go along with things like this, so it is possible but.....if so many people involved how did the bad eggs end up being allowed to go rogue? Well there you have it, too many questions, not enough answers to explain this plot.

Will admit the first third intrigued me, why I'm giving this a loose three, but the middle seemed too outlandish and I couldn't go there at all. An interesting concept and I admire the author trying to stretch her writing concepts. If you look at the reviews, many readers had no trouble going where she was taking them. Enjoyed a few of her previous books more.

A sisters read, where we once again were divided but that division made for an interesting discussion.

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,026 reviews58.9k followers
November 19, 2017
The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond is a 2017 Bantam publication.

A little wobbly- but a nice concept- all the same.

Alice, high from winning a big case, invites her client to her upcoming nuptials, in one of those moments when you say something flippant, not expecting to be taken up on the offer. But, not only does the client accept the spur of the moment invite, but he and his wife do indeed attend Alice and Jake’s wedding. They also send along a most curious gift… and invitation to join an elite group dedicated to keeping a marriage working.

Fresh from their honeymoon, Alice and Jake readily accept the terms and conditions of ‘The Marriage Pact’ – a decision they will soon come to regret.

The couple jumps in with both feet, adhering to the rules of the pact, until Alice somehow says something offensive and must pay a penalty, and Jake meets an old friend who warns him the pact and its members can be dangerous.

The couple soon finds themselves living a literal nightmare trying to find a way out of the trap they have set for themselves.

The suspense builds as the invasiveness of the pact increases as do punishments for missing appointments, or not leaving the correct number of gifts for your spouse, per month, or if work occasionally takes precedence, to name a few.

As the pact continues to micro-manage their lives, Alice and Jake do indeed find their relationship strengthen as they have only each other to hold on to and must depend and trust the other completely to find an unlikely escape.

This story has a ‘cult’ like quality to it, which shows how easily and innocently one can get sucked into a scenario like this one. It also had a quirky ‘Stepford Wives’ vibe as well, which should send a few chills down your spine.

But, the story, which started off very strong, lost momentum and became more and more outlandish the further along it went, veering off course to the point I began to wonder just how far out of hand it was going to get.

But, the point finally comes where the couple finds themselves facing the ultimate conundrum- a decision about their future must be reached. The reaction you have to the book’s conclusion will depend on how you feel about the couple’s final choice. You will either love it or hate it….

Overall, the story had much potential, but failed to maintain that initial strength. Instead of going out with a bang, is closed with a whimper, leaving me feeling underwhelmed.

2.5 stars rounded up
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
612 reviews19.4k followers
July 13, 2017
What if you could ensure the success of your marriage by following some guidelines? Well, this book will show you how in this chilling tale.

This is the story of Jake and Alice. Jake is a psychologist, Alice is an attorney and they recently got married. On their wedding day they receive an intriguing gift; a wooden box with the inscription "The Pact" on it. This box cannot be opened right away, first one of the members must introduce you to The Pact's philosophy and manual. Initially the instructions are easy to follow such as always pick up the phone when your spouse calls but soon it becomes restrictive and scary when there are severe consequences to violating the rules.

The book is narrated by Jake, the husband and is told in a straightforward narrative. Another of The Pact's rules of is that spouses must maintain the weight they had on their wedding day within a 10% deviation allowance . There are quarterly weight-ins of the couples and when rule is broken the overseers impose severe penalties. In the book Alice's attention is called when she goes over her weight and the overseers make her meet with a trainer every morning at 5 A.M. or suffer severe consequences. Personally, I would love to be penalized with this rule as fear of physical abuse would be the only motivator that would get me to exercise regularly in the morning. I'd love to exercise without fail but sometimes (or most of the time) I prefer to stay home reading. Can you blame me?

The story reminded me faintly of Orwell's 1984 because of its indoctrinating ideology, controlling overseers, and the severe punishments imposed on those who break the rules. Also, the members call each other "Friend" in a way that sounds very similar to "Comrade". I would have liked if the entire Pact's manual would have been included as an appendix. I would have read it out of curiosity, the book mentions some rules and I found them interesting and fascinating.

Overall I enjoyed this chilling thriller and recommend it to all those who love suspenseful books and intriguing subject matters. I think this story would make a great book club discussion.

Thanks to NetGalley, Michelle Richmond, and the Bantam Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review.

Review also posted on blog

About the author:

UPDATE: Forgot to mention, the first rule about the Pact club is you do NOT talk about the Pact club ;)

Profile Image for Jill McGill.
223 reviews180 followers
July 9, 2017
Wow! What did I just read! That was a wild, crazy, and twisted ride... and I loved every minute of it!

It all starts out when Alice and Jake receive a bizarre wedding gift from one of Alice's new clients - A membership to "The Pact". This is a club that promotes long-lasting and healthy marriages... no one gets divorced and no one leaves "The Pact" alive. So, with one click of the pen, they decide to sign the contract - How bad could it be? After all, it's promoting healthy marriages, right?

Alice and Jake find several good things about "The Pact" rules - Answer the phone when your spouse calls, buy each other a small gift each a month, take a mini vacation somewhere every quarter. Doesn't sound too bad, right? But slowly it starts to take over their lives. Now they are having doubts about joining this club - or could it quite possibly be a cult? They want out, but can they just walk away from this bizarre group? What happens if you start questioning "The Pact"? Some members have died very mysteriously, but you are not allowed to talk about that or something mysterious will happen to you.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond is a well-written, fast-paced novel with a brilliant plot that had me on the edge of my seat, I was hooked from the very start. Buckle up for the ride of your life my "Friend"! Highly Recommended!

*I want to thank NetGalley, Michelle Richmond, and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,122 reviews30.2k followers
October 11, 2017
3.7 stars rounded up for originality to The Marriage Pact.

This was a Traveling Sister read and made for some fun and interesting discussions in the group!

What I enjoyed: the fresh storyline, the marriage statistics throughout (data geek), Jake (the narrator)- endearing, tries so hard as a husband, and some of the rules of the pact! Scheduled vacations? Who doesn't want those? 🌴

What was harder for me to like: some of the other rules were outlandish and difficult to accept. The punishments and shaming (especially about weight) were a little over-the-top for me, and I know a few others in the group, too. The book could have been edited down a little and still had the same wow factor, and the writing could have been a little tighter.

Overall, this was an entertaining, thought-provoking read with a side of creepy! Perfect for October!

Thanks to all the sisters for the great discussion, which helped me process my thoughts on this complex book! Please visit Brenda's and Norma's blog for amazing reviews and more:


I received this book from a special book friend. Thanks, T! ❤️
Profile Image for Lisa.
750 reviews
March 11, 2020
Unfortunately for me this book sounded interesting but fell short it was long winded drawn out & failed to grab my attention pity as it started well but flopped...Dang that annoys the crap out of me oh well onwards & upwards. the characters didnt appeal to me could not connect to any of them, juast a average read for me.
Profile Image for Purple Country Girl (Sandy).
150 reviews23 followers
June 8, 2017
I won a copy of The Marriage Pact in a Goodreads Giveaway.


Oh The Marriage Pact, how I wanted to love you. With such an interesting concept and the Fight Club-ish warning on the back cover that members are to “Never mention The Pact to Anyone,” I was super excited to dive in. Alas, the honeymoon was over about halfway through the book.

The Marriage Pact revolves around Alice, a lawyer, and Jake, a therapist. Three days before the couple is to be married, Alice meets Liam Finnegan. She is working as an associate on his case and, when he tells her how much he loves weddings, she invites him to attend her upcoming wedding. The day before the nuptials, Liam sends the couple a gift: a locked wooden box labeled “The Pact.” This present brings them into the fold of The Pact where the members are determined to do whatever it takes to make their marriages succeed. Members are to adhere to The Manual which outlines the rules and regulations of this secret group. Rules like always answer the phone when your spouse calls, give your spouse a gift each month and plan a trip together each quarter seem like nice gestures that can be easily achieved. The fact that there is a section labeled Arbitration, however, raised red flags for me but apparently not for Jake and Alice.

Jake and Alice decide to accept the invitation to join The Pact. At first, nothing seems untoward and they go about their days as a newly married couple. When Jake runs into an old college friend at a party hosted by another Pact couple, he is a little unnerved because she indicates there is something sinister about this group. The cult-like nature of The Pact further intensifies when Alice begins to get overwhelmed at work and doesn’t come home many nights until very late. The Pact deems this a violation and she is whisked away from home to a secret facility in the desert to face the consequences of putting her job first. When she returns, she is determined to follow the rules whereas Jake is getting more and more concerned, especially after having secret meetings with his old college friend to discuss The Pact.

Just how far will The Pact go to ensure its members follow the rules to making their marriages work? Quite far, it turns out.

The book is told from Jake’s first person POV. I liked Jake for the most part but I did not really care for Alice. Having her presented to us only through Jake’s eyes could be part of the issue. Her character is painted with Jake’s insecurity and she comes across as kind of empty and also a bit untrustworthy. Another downside of Jake’s POV is the intrusion of his practice and patients into the story. I didn’t give a fig about his patients and his little blurbs on marriage got my nerves quickly.

At first I enjoyed The Marriage Pact. There is a bit of a big brother thing going on where The Pact seems to know everything the couple does. It’s creepy but also intriguing. Unfortunately, as the story progresses, I realized how stupid Jake and Alice are for joining what is an essentially a cult that threatens disciplinary action if they do not follow the rules. Expecting them to blow off their jobs for The Pact is ridiculous, especially for Alice who is in the middle of preparing for a trial. It becomes even more absurd with the type of discipline that is meted out. Not only that, the way over long passages detailing the discipline are just too much. It comes across as shock value.

It’s definitely not a win for me. I did like the beginning but found the more The Pact interfered in Jake and Alice’s lives, the less I liked the book. I think if it had stuck to the creepy big brother is watching them vibe, it would have been far more interesting but when it became more about shock value, I started to lose interest. There are some good ideas and good writing but I just feel it missed the mark for me.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
168 reviews284 followers
July 16, 2017
The Marriage Pact, Michelle Richmond’s most recent work, is a solid but not particularly noteworthy selection that asks: “how far would you go to protect your marriage?” In this book, unfortunately, the question is far more intriguing than the answer.

Newlyweds Alice and Jake receive quite an unusual gift for their wedding. An invitation to join The Pact. An exclusive, secretive group whose sole mission is to preserve and uphold happy marriages. Sounds good, right? Well, Alice and Jake agree. And so initially they’re seduced by the glamor and promise the organization represents. Free vacations? Hobnobbing with the beautiful & talented? A guaranteed successful marriage? SIGN ME UP. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Admission to The Pact comes with a draconian set of laws and the consequences of breaking them? DEADLY.

Now with that premise, one would think HOW THE FUCK CAN YOU GO WRONG??? But, oh how you can. The Marriage Pact took a concept rife with nefarious possibility and FLATTENED IT INTO THE GROUND. Yes, there are moments of danger and excitement. But overall it’s just rather meh.

And that meh-ness can be placed squarely on our narrator, Jake’s, head. I know the man’s a therapist and as such would more readily self-reflect, but FFS…..NO MAN (or woman) ACTS LIKE HIM. He’s all tea, sympathy, & self-congratulation 24 HOURS. A. DAY. A complete Marty Stu. It’s hard to even feign interest in the guy because he’s too damn vanilla. So vanilla that he becomes nails-on-the-chalkboard level annoying. He actually utters the line: “as always, I completely agree with my wife,” in a completely serious, non-snarky tone. IS HE A STEPFORD WIFE??!! When you begin rooting for the supposed villains because you’re so done with the protagonist…... that’s a problem.

It’s an even bigger problem because Jake’s seemingly bland perfection is contrasted against Alice, forcing a comparison that is unfair and unwarranted. By making Jake a Marty Stu and pairing him with “commitment-phobic,” “workaholic” Alice, the narrative’s basically elevating Jake’s status above that of his wife. Further solidified by having Alice say such nauseating things as: “you’ve been so good to me, Jake, and I just want to be worthy.” The man is (again) being portrayed as superior to the female. Let’s just ignore the tiny fact that Jake has an established career and Alice is just starting hers. But yes, JAKE IS SOOOO PERFECT. Gag. The book addresses *some* of these issues by its conclusion, but not sufficiently as to erase the earlier created dynamic. And Jake remains the tedious, sanctimonious, blowhard he is. #FREEALICE2K17.

A twisty, shocking, out-of-the-box ending might have saved this book. But NOPE. We were again spoon-fed tedium. There are a few minor curve balls, but nothing GASP-worthy and, more importantly, nothing to override the negative aspects of the story.

2.5 stars

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for a complimentary copy of the story in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,156 reviews1,514 followers
July 16, 2017
Alice and Jake have come to a time in their lives where they believe they are ready for that next step of getting married. Alice was once a singer in a band but now is settling into her career as a lawyer while Jake has been busy setting up his practice with his partners as a psychologist. The pair had planned on keeping the wedding somewhat small and simple but at the last moment Alice invites a wealthy client and his wife on a whim.

Once invited to the wedding Alice's client sends a mysterious package to the couple as a wedding present. After the honeymoon it's explained to Alice and Jake that the present is an invitation to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact. The Pact is supposed to be a group that helps couples succeed at marriage and keep them happy and intact so Alice and Jake don't see the harm in joining but had no real idea of what they would really be in for.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond is one of those thrill rides that I find myself unable to put down once I've started reading because I honestly could see this happening in real life. Alice and Jake while both successful at their careers are both a bit worried about married life so it seemed logical for them to jump at a chance to help make sure they succeed. Once the story gets into the depths of just what they have agreed to I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see just what would happen to them next.

My one complaint leading me to rate this book at 4.5 stars would be I so wish the author had added an epilogue to the story. I suppose though when I want to to continue reading when a book is over that is somewhat of a good thing though as I was clearly hooked on Alice and Jake's story. The ending after all that had happened just didn't seem as satisfying to me as I would have liked and felt it needed a bit more.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
Profile Image for Jan.
424 reviews252 followers
August 20, 2017
4.5 stars

Clever and unique, dark and chilling-all rolled into one great read!

The Pact...Sounds innocent enough.

Newly married Jack and Alice receive an invitation from one of her clients to join 'The Pact', an elite club of sorts, designed to promote a healthy and long lasting marriage. Long lasting in that there are NO divorces among the members. The Pact has rules that must be followed, all designed to keep a marriage fresh and happy. Some of the rules are fun, like giving your spouse a thoughtful gift each month. But then there are the rules that are a bit harder to swallow, like you must maintain your wedding day weight, or always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Breaking any of these rules has consequences. That's when things start to get really intense and creepy....

This was one wild ride, and really held me captive to the end, which also didn't disappoint.
I think the only thing that held me back from giving this a full 5 stars was because some of the scenes were just too unbelievable to get behind, even knowing that they helped add to the intensity.

There are many things to love about this book, but one of the best things I enjoyed most was that it was told from the male perspective. I found this to be really refreshing, especially regarding the subject matter!

This is my first encounter with this author, but it certainly won't be my last!

ARC provided by NetGalley
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,243 followers
July 25, 2017
The Marriage Pact is a club. There are rules you must follow: always answer when your spouse calls, give your spouse a thoughtful monthly gift, take quarterly trips together, maintain your wedding day weight, never ever mention the pact to anyone. Oh and you can't ever leave the pact. Breaking any of these rules has consequences.

So when Jake and Alice receive an invite to the pact as a wedding present. Immediately, they are intrigued. A club to promote a happy marriage? What could be wrong with that? And honestly...what do they mean there will be consequences. What are they really going to do when you accidentally break one of the stupid rules?

What ensues is a fascinating, though-provoking suspense thriller that veers into creepy cult territory. The story has an interesting outlook on marriage, making it almost seem like a frightening commitment. Interestingly enough, it is told from Jake's perspective - something not usually seen, as I feel it's usually the wife's perspective. Thank you women's fiction, I guess? Using Jake to tell the story gives an original feel.

There are definite Stepford Wives and (if you've seen the movie) The Gift vibes throughout.

I won this through goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for STEPH.
225 reviews36 followers
March 24, 2022
Never invite a stranger to your wedding!

Like a puppet in a crazy game of control and false principle, Jake and Alice’s lives were turned upside down after becoming members of a very mysterious group known as “The Pact.”

This is sinister. I just feel bad for these people. Marriage is supposed to be fun, a bond between two people who decided to achieve greater happiness by being together, this book marred that purpose through threats and ridiculous rules.

A very slow read. I think I slept through some of the pages a couple of times. The chapters were a bit repetitive. It was going great in the beginning but I slowly lost interest in the middle up until the latter part. And the end? A bit ambiguous.
Profile Image for Pauline.
746 reviews
November 3, 2022
The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond is a suspense novel that is dark and disturbing. Alice and Jake are given as a wedding present an enrolment into a club where married couples help each other. This is no ordinary club and things are not what they seem. I found this book very creepy. I would like to thank NetGalley and Penguin Random House Uk -Michael Joseph for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Danielle (The Blonde Likes Books).
590 reviews331 followers
May 26, 2017
Therapist Jake and rock-and-roller-turned-lawyer Alice have just gotten married and are happily in love. Prior to going on their honeymoon, they received a mysterious gift from one of Alice’s high profile clients, and were told that everything would be explained to them when returned from vacation. Upon arriving home, they meet Vivian, who explains that they have been invited to join a secret membership-only group known as The Pact.

The Pact promises to support them in their desire to have a happy and fulfilled marriage. The rules laid out seem straightforward – be honest with your spouse, always answer the phone when your spouse calls, travel with your spouse once a quarter, and so on. Enticed by the promise of a marriage that lasts forever, Jake and Alice sign the contract, however they soon learn that they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. The Pact takes their rules…and consequences…very seriously. After realizing they signed up for more than they bargained for, they also realize there is no way out…

Let me just start by saying that The Marriage Pact was SO GOOD. It’s been a little bit since I’d read a 5 star book, but this broke the slump for me – I completely loved it and was instantly hooked! I’ve read so many suspense/thriller books centered around marriages that are told from the wife’s point of view, that reading this told from Jake’s point of view was refreshing. It was really interesting to me to read his thought process throughout all of this while he guessed what his wife was thinking.

The Marriage Pact was perfectly creepy and was the perfect combination of thriller and cult manifesto, and I loved it. I could not believe some of the things that were happening and had a really hard time putting the book down. I was constantly flipping the pages to find out what was going to happen! I had a ton of theories, and none of them were quite right. Despite the fact that Alice drove me up the wall sometimes, I was completely rooting for Jake and Alice.

I’ve seen some other reviewers mention that they didn’t totally love the ending, and I will say that the end of the book was not at all what I expected and did get a little out there, but I actually liked it. While I was expecting the exact opposite of what happened, I think the ending the author chose fit with the characters more. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I would have loved to see an epilogue to see where our couple was six months or a year down the road.

Overall, as previously stated, this was a 5 star read for me. I’ve never read anything quite like this, and it felt like this book was written just for me! The creep factor combined with the cultish aspects were exactly what I was looking for – I just didn’t know it! A big thank you to Netgalley, Michelle Richmond, and Bantam for an advanced copy of the book. It was my pleasure to provide an honest review. The Marriage Pact comes out on July 25, 2017, so be sure to pick this one up!
Profile Image for JanB .
1,143 reviews2,506 followers
October 13, 2017
This was a Traveling Sister read with Norma, Brenda, Diane and Jennifer. It generated some interesting discussions!

I thought this book was well-written with a unique plot that had enough suspense to keep me turning the pages. A newly married couple, Jake and Alice, are invited to join The Pact, an exclusive club that has numerous rules and regulations designed to keep couples happy and married for life. It soon becomes clear the club is actually more of a cult with stringent rules and consequences for breaking them. Some of the rules are great: regular gift-giving, always pick up the phone when your spouse calls, quarterly trips...sounds good to me! Other rules, well, not so much. It doesn’t take long before rules are broken and Jake and Alice are subjected to quickly escalating consequences. Since membership is for life there is no quitting and no escape.

At first glance it seems preposterous that a couple could get caught up in something like this but the author did a great job in setting the scene and the characters' backstories to make it plausible. Yes, the wife is an attorney but she had strong fears and motivation to want to do whatever it took to keep her marriage together. They wouldn’t be the first intelligent people to join a cult, one that leaves the rest of us wondering how and why it happens.

The reader has to suspend some disbelief, as there are shades of a sci-fi quality to the story. For instance, how is the Pact all-knowing when an infraction occurs when there are thousands of members across the globe? It’s best to not think too hard on minor points as these and just enjoy the story. I enjoyed seeing Jake and Alice work together as a couple, and I liked the statistics and insights on marriage that were included.

Creepily disturbing yet thought-provoking, I found this one a compelling read and I recommend it.

This Traveling Sister review and others can be found at:
Profile Image for Krystin | TheF**kingTwist.
465 reviews1,729 followers
September 4, 2022
Book Blog | Bookstagram

"I expected marriage to be a door that we went through. Like a new house, you step into it, expecting it to be an unchanging space to inhabit. But, of course, I was wrong. Marriage is a living, changing thing that you must tend to both alone and together. It grows in all sorts of ways, both ordinary and unexpected."

That has L. Ron Hubbard inspiration all over it – minus the alien nonsense.

A newlywed couple, Jake and Alice, receive as a wedding gift an invitation to join The Pact – a group whose sole focus is to help marriages last forever. Soon Jake and Alice find getting out of The Pact's contract is not as easy as you would think it would be for adults who just don’t want to do a thing anymore.

First, the idea that two honeymoon-phase newlyweds would be all, “Oh no! Are we doing this wrong? Somebody help us! What if we break up!?” is just kind of off-brand for newlyweds. Like, Jake and Alice are a psychologist and lawyer, respectively. We’re talking about educated people. Or at the very least, they are people who should have their shit together enough to look at The Pact contract and say, “this seems kind of weird.”

So, besides the fact that Jake and Alice ever joining The Pact was such a stretchy stretch, the parts where they are getting embedded with the cult, held together by a set of Draconian laws, seemed legit and evoked all the maddening feels you get from cults.

But the rest of the novel was so increasingly outlandish, I just couldn't with this. The cult turns into this unstoppable rogue monster that seemed to exist only to torture people under the guise of saving marriages. The leader goes on a rant about unused toasters, but it didn’t really clear up her fucking issues for me. I was just like, bitch find a more positive hobby and stop freaking out about other people’s marriages and toasters.

Like at one point, Jake has lunch with a friend inside The Pact and next thing you know, that friend is naked in a cell with walls that slowly move to crunch her like she’s in a Super Mario game.

The Pact is just a bunch of weirdos playing Mad Max with marriages outside of the actual law, and that’s not a thing you can do without consequence. I think this book would have worked best in a dystopian future kind of setting.

This is just... weird and frustrating. It was not for me.

⭐⭐ | 2 stars
Profile Image for Petra.
814 reviews77 followers
July 17, 2017
What are you willing to do to keep your marriage alive?
Shortly after their wedding, Alice and Jake receive an invitation to join The Pact, an organization whose objective it is to keep their members' marriages intact because marriage is for life...

I had a love-hate relationship with The Marriage Pact. While it was totally readable, fast-paced and even quite gripping, I couldn't suspend disbelief enough to really get behind the story. I had trouble finding Alice, a musician-turned-lawyer, and Jake, a marriage counselor (how convenient), to be credible characters. She's a lawyer! He's a marriage therapist! And they end up in this situation?? Jake being a therapist counseling couples allowed for lots of "psychological" information and statistics relating to relationships/marriages to be included although I failed to see how his therapy sessions helped the story.
Alice remained quite a colorless character, which is perhaps due to the fact that the entire story is from Jake's first-person point of view.
I also found it really infuriating that nothing was explained. Without wanting to give the plot away, things happened that made me want to know how on earth The Pact could have managed that. From about 60% onwards, it began to turn into something resembling a science fiction story and that's when the eye-rolling really started, and then there was that ending. Typical "and that's it???"-ending.
Now, that sounds very negative, I know. But I did actually enjoy reading this. There was something utterly gripping about it. The first 60% anyway. So, provided you're happy to suspend disbelief and to not question the hows and whys, then this is quite a thrilling and entertaining domestic suspense story, and Michelle Richmond has managed to come up with something quite different in this genre. Well done for that.
I've decided to go for the middle rating here. The first part was closer to 4 stars, the latter part closer to 2 stars, hence 3 stars.
I received an ARC via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,745 reviews1,616 followers
December 11, 2017
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice was once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a lawyer. Jake is a partner in a physchology practice. They received 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 rules are simple, stick thoroughly to The Pacts rules. There can be devastating consequences if the rules are broken. This is a suspense thriller that touches on creepiness. The story is told from Jakes perpective. Although I have given this book 4* I could not quite believe that a lawyer would not read all the contract and still sign it.. It's not as if the couple were young and stupid!

I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin UK - Michael Joseph and the author Michelle Richmond for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,760 reviews1,218 followers
August 16, 2017
I loved this author’s The Year of Fog and No One You Know and I want to read every book she writes. I think that I’ll read Golden State next, another story set in San Francisco. I have all her books I’ve not yet read on my to-read shelf.

I was afraid that I wouldn’t like this one and was warned that it gets very weird. Yes, it does, but I was surprised how much I loved it. I liked it start to finish. It’s a page-turner and an excellent psychological thriller.

It was really fun for me to read a thriller and not be too afraid to read it before bedtime and not be too freaked out in general. I do scare easily. Jake’s and Alice’s situation and predicament is so far removed from anything in my life that I could feel the tension and suspense and, yes, some horror too, without feeling true fear.

What might have been the most fun for me reading this story was enjoying how she perfectly captures descriptions of my neighborhood. It was so much fun! The author always gets 100% right my neighborhood, the city of San Francisco and areas around the greater San Francisco Bay Area. So true of the three books I’ve thus far read by her. My favorite quote about the neighborhood: “ten blocks from the edge of the continent and the least sunny beach anywhere.” This author lives/has lived in San Francisco for a long time but is not a native, and she manages to “get San Francisco” and the Richmond District better than any other writer I have read.

Great storytelling! The characters are engaging and I had a blast rooting for and/or against them. I particularly enjoyed the very interesting two main characters.

There were some scenes that were extremely painful for me to read. Toward the end, events felt a little too compressed and maybe something felt slightly off to me, and some earlier things in the story (especially characters) weren’t returned to or tied up/revealed and those I’d like to have seen in some way, and though I did love the very end, how on one level it was a resolved situation and how in another way the final resolution was left up to the readers’ imaginations, the way my mind goes, I wasn’t entirely happy with it. So 4-1/2 vs. 5 stars, rounded down. I could have gone with either 5 or 4 stars when taking into account the pleasure I got as I was reading the book.

I did see one (I’m fairly sure) mistake, a very, very minor thing since it’s a barely mentioned part of the story: There is no Ph.D. in psychiatry and earning one wouldn’t make someone become a psychiatrist. It’s a Ph.D. to become a psychologist and an M.D. in psychiatry to come a psychiatrist. Both are doctors but psychologists don’t go through medical school and psychiatrists/physicians do.

ETA: I love all the marriage & wedding factoids included in the book.

And, this book comes very close to a 5 star book for me and I might change its rating at some point.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,574 reviews271 followers
April 1, 2020
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
― Michelle Richmond, The Marriage Pact

Hello Friend.

You will have to read the book to understand my introduction.

The Marriage Pact is a Taut, fun and strongly creepy mystery that involves two newlyweds who get an invitation from a friend to join a club of married couples. The focus of this group? To always keep their marriage new and exciting.

Wow..sounds great..right ??

Of coarse, there are..well..some issues..just a few.

Because this pact is like the Hotel California..you can check out any time you want but you can never....

Read the book friend.

This was a really fun book with a heck of a twisted premise. However, in this crazy world in which we all inhabit, it is not inconceivable that something like this could happen.

I flew through this one in a night..I was also in a reading rut and this book helped bring me out of it so cheers for that .


The ending was really creepy and I think it leaves the door open for a part two. And I would gladly read that as I loved this book.

If you are a mystery lover and want something pulsing with twists, something a bit different, something with a heck of a creepy edge (that is putting it mildly), then check this one out..friend.
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