I actually read The Marriage Pact and wrote the review back in April. I've had some time to think about it more and my brain is still of the opinion it is extremely well-written but leaves you think, "WTF?"
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.
The Marriage Pact is an intense and twisted story that kept me reading until almost 3:00 in the morning. Told in first person from Jake's point-of-view only, it reads like you and Jake just sat down for coffee and a "How I met my wife" type talk.
And, then, just like when the box shows up at Jake and Alice's door, everything takes a terrible, terrible turn.
At first glance, the idea of a secret cult controlling the every move of two well-educated adults is absurd. But, is it? The author expertly weaves a scenario where the desperation of the characters to prove their devotion to each other combined with the unsatisfied longing within themselves to prove the authenticity of their love makes their obedience to The Pact plausible.
Though there are slow passages, such as Jake's endless quotes and research on marriage, what kept me reading until the end was the single thought of, "There's really no way out for them."
Fair warning, infractions against the Pact result in punishment. Those scenes, while not overly violent, are graphic and unsettling.
This very much reminded me of Stephen King's story Quitters Inc. which appeared in his short story collection, Night Shift.
Even though I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the ending, I would recommend this for an engaging reading.