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The Marriage Pact
Cover of The Marriage Pact
The Marriage Pact
A Novel
How far is too far when it comes to protecting your marriage? Find out in this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense for anyone who loved The Couple Next Door.
"Ranks with The Stepford Wives and Gone Girl as a terrifying look at what it really means to say 'I do.'"—Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of The Switch
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.
Praise for The Marriage Pact

"Gripping, thought-provoking, and irresistible."—Dean Koontz
"Riveting psychological suspense! This book will keep you up all night, while making you second-guess everything you know and everyone you've ever loved."—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Right Behind You
"Michelle Richmond is, simply put, a great storyteller. And The Marriage Pact, without gimmicks or tricks, is a twisting, suspenseful, keep-you-up-all-night thriller. But it's more than that, too. It's a deep, insightful, nearly voyeuristic view into modern marriage. . . . A smart, engrossing, scary read!"—Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of The Red Hunter
"With a brilliant premise for a novel of psychological suspense, taut plotting, and deft writing, The Marriage Pact shows in gripping detail just what could go wrong when we try too hard to protect the love we cherish most."—JP Delaney, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before
How far is too far when it comes to protecting your marriage? Find out in this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense for anyone who loved The Couple Next Door.
"Ranks with The Stepford Wives and Gone Girl as a terrifying look at what it really means to say 'I do.'"—Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of The Switch
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.
Praise for The Marriage Pact

"Gripping, thought-provoking, and irresistible."—Dean Koontz
"Riveting psychological suspense! This book will keep you up all night, while making you second-guess everything you know and everyone you've ever loved."—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Right Behind You
"Michelle Richmond is, simply put, a great storyteller. And The Marriage Pact, without gimmicks or tricks, is a twisting, suspenseful, keep-you-up-all-night thriller. But it's more than that, too. It's a deep, insightful, nearly voyeuristic view into modern marriage. . . . A smart, engrossing, scary read!"—Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of The Red Hunter
"With a brilliant premise for a novel of psychological suspense, taut plotting, and deft writing, The Marriage Pact shows in gripping detail just what could go wrong when we try too hard to protect the love we cherish most."—JP Delaney, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before
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Excerpts-
  • From the book 1

    I come to on a Cessna, bumping through the air. My head is throbbing, and there is blood on my shirt. I have no idea how much time has passed. I look at my hands, expecting to see restraints, but there are none. Just an ordinary seatbelt looped around my waist. Who strapped me in? I don't even remember boarding the plane.

    Through the open door of the cockpit, I see the back of the pilot's head. It's just the two of us. There is snow in the mountains, wind buffeting the plane. The pilot seems completely focused on his controls, shoulders tense.

    I reach up and touch my head. The blood has dried, leaving a sticky mess. My stomach rumbles. The last thing I ate was the French toast. How long ago was that? On the seat beside me, I find water and a sandwich wrapped in wax paper. I open the bottle and drink.

    I unwrap my sandwich—ham and Swiss—and take a bite. Shit. My jaw hurts too much to chew. Someone must have punched me in the face after I hit the ground.

    "Are we going home?" I ask the pilot.

    "Depends on what you call home. We're headed to Half Moon Bay."

    "They didn't tell you anything about me?"

    "First name, destination, that's about it. I'm just a taxi driver, Jake."

    "But you're a member, right?"

    "Sure," he says, his tone unreadable. "Fidelity to the Spouse, Loyalty to The Pact. Till death do us part." He turns back just long enough to give me a look that warns me not to ask any more questions.

    We hit an air pocket so hard my sandwich goes flying. An urgent beeping erupts. The pilot curses and frantically pushes buttons. He shouts something to air traffic control. We're descending fast, and I'm clutching the armrests, thinking of Alice, going over our final conversation, wishing I'd said so many things.

    Then, suddenly, the plane levels out, we gain altitude, and all appears to be well. I gather the pieces of my sandwich from the floor, wrap the whole mess back up in the wax paper, and set it on the seat beside me.

    "Sorry for the turbulence," the pilot says.

    "Not your fault. Good save."

    Over sunny Sacramento, he finally relaxes, and we talk about the Golden State Warriors and their surprising run this season.

    "What day is it?" I ask.

    "Tuesday."

    I'm relieved to see the familiar coastline out my window, grateful for the sight of the little Half Moon Bay Airport. The landing is smooth. Once we touch down, the pilot turns and says, "Don't make it a habit, right?"

    "Don't plan to."

    I grab my bag and step outside. Without killing the engines, the pilot closes the door, swings the plane around, and takes off again.

    I walk into the airport café, order hot chocolate, and text Alice. It's two p.m. on a weekday, so she's probably embroiled in a thousand meetings. I don't want to bother her, but I really need to see her.

    A text reply arrives. Where are you?

    Back in HMB.

    Will leave in 5.

    It's more than twenty miles from Alice's office to Half Moon Bay. She texts about traffic downtown, so I order food, almost the whole left side of the menu. The café is empty. The perky waitress in the perfectly pressed uniform hovers. When I pay the check, she says, "Have a good day, Friend."

    I go outside and sit on a bench to wait. It's cold, the fog coming down in waves. By the time Alice's old Jaguar pulls up, I'm frozen. I stand up, and as I'm checking to make sure I have everything, Alice walks over to the bench. She's wearing a serious suit, but she has changed out of heels into sneakers for the drive. Her black hair is damp in the fog. Her lips are dark red, and I wonder if she did this for me. I...
About the Author-
  • Michelle Richmond is the bestselling author of The Year of Fog, No One You Know, Golden State, Dream of the Blue Room, and the award-winning The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress. A native of Mobile, Alabama, she lives with her husband and son in San Francisco.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 15, 2017
    In this uneven thriller from Richmond (Golden State), an unusual gift from a couple invited at the last minute to Jake and Alice’s San Francisco wedding hints at the possibility of a perfect marriage. When Jake and Alice return to the city after their honeymoon, a visitor reveals the nature of the gift: the members of the Pact, an exclusive and secretive organization dedicated to making marriages succeed, invite Jake and Alice to join them. Insecure Jake, a therapist who’s well aware of the fragility of marriage, is eager to join. Alice, a musician turned lawyer, impulsively signs the contract without reading it or the manual outlining the rules. Soon Jake and Alice discover the dark side of a group that never allows a couple to divorce. The Pact will go to any length to ensure each couple meets the terms of their contracts; no infractions, no matter how minor, pass unpunished. Unfortunately, undeveloped characters and lapses of logic undermine the intriguing premise. Readers will hope that Richmond returns to her usual mesmerizing form next time. Agent: Valerie Borchardt, Georges Borchardt.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2017
    Alice and Jake, newly married in San Francisco, make a big mistake in signing up with a secret international cult dedicated to making sure wedding vows do indeed last until death.Jake is a marriage counselor and therapist; Alice is a rocker-turned-corporate lawyer. A famous Irish musician represented in a copyright case by Alice's firm is a last-minute invite to their wedding, and it is he who arranges their most peculiar wedding gift: "a substantial, elegant wood box" labeled The Pact. Jake is thinking it contains scotch, which would be bad--they met at rehab--but it's worse than that. Inside the box is "The Manual," a huge tome in tiny print containing regulations like those of Unit 3.12, Health and Fitness, which specifies that neither partner may gain more than 10 percent of what they weigh on their wedding day. Other rules require that couples exchange thoughtful gifts monthly, take a trip together once a quarter, always answer a spouse's telephone call, and never, ever mention The Pact to anyone. Also mandatory is timely attendance at the group's parties, meetings, and one-on-one sessions. Because Jake fails to carefully read the manual, he's surprised when the penalties for noncompliance start rolling in. For example, at their first weigh-in, they learn extra pounds will constitute a Misdemeanor Six. "After that, things get a little sticky," says a "Friend," as the group members creepily address each other. "You two really need to do your homework." Alice's workaholic tendencies first land her in a nonremovable metal cuff bracelet that may contain surveillance technology, but that's a gentle whisper of what's in store for these two; Redmond's (Golden State, 2014, etc.) novel will appeal to those with a weakness for punishment porn. Also, fans of unsurprising factoids--married people live longer than single people, the best predictor of a marriage's success is credit scores, the higher your income, the more likely you are to get married. Judicious editing would have made a difference. The idea of this book is interesting, and it could have had Stepford Wives-type potential for social commentary. Unfortunately, it's weighed down by a weak, repetitive thriller plot.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    February 15, 2017
    As a wedding gift, Alice and Jake received membership in a mysterious organization called the Pact, which aims to promote secure, happy marriages. Advice such as making sure to answer the phone when your spouse calls seems innocuous, but some of the rules and the means of enforcing them are downright scary. Rights sold to Twentieth Century Fox.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Guilty Minds "A truly chilling thriller . . . It ranks with The Stepford Wives and Gone Girl as a terrifying look at what it really means to say 'I do.'"
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