The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen <— This one sounded right up my domestic thriller alley (had that stalker quality that gets me on edge), and I’ve already loved a couple of other books by these authors, so when it went on sale I one-clicked it SO hard.
It hooked me from the start. I loved being in the wife’s head, mulling over everything she was going through, all her trepidations, her suspicions, her fears, her reasoning…
She hasn’t stopped thinking about it either. Still, if she could undo it, she would. She’d give quite a lot for it never to have happened.
Yet, something unexpected is woven into Marissa’s shame and regret—a deep thread of warmth that comes from the sensation of feeling cherished. Of being truly seen.
That said, as the story got going, I found myself losing interest (and I’ll tell you why, shortly).
So what’s it about?
A wealthy young couple in love with a child, but one night while he’s away, she cheats on him. Guilt is wracking her brain, and she wants to come clean, but in her mind, to do it right, she’ll need a mediator of sorts. So she hires a therapist whose technique appears to be foolproof, IF the couple follows her rules by the letter. 100%.
I’ve worked with many couples who’ve endured far worse issues than infidelity. I could tell him about my success rate, which is even higher now that I’ve shed the constraints of traditional therapy and created a new method, one that’s all my own.
And when things come out, it definitely shakes things up,
There’s a hitch in my energy, which I’m careful to mask. All couples have secrets. The Bishops are no exception. There’s more than just infidelity here. Marissa’s cheating is a symptom, not the source of their fundamental breakdown.
Twelve minutes ago, they breezed into my office—glamorous, affluent, enviable. The golden couple. Now the underlying tarnishes they’ve never allowed the public to see are already beginning to show. It’s going to get a lot uglier soon.
…but even more so when the wife starts receiving notes from a potential stalker. Could it be the guy she cheated with??
But the therapist has her own issues, and then the crazy begins to collide!
Other people’s issues are so much easier to fix than my own.
So why am I less excited about this one?
I’m going to blame the therapist. She felt less like a therapist, and more like a detective. It’s as if this whole thing was a detective or private investigator story, under the guise of a “therapist” and marriage counseling.
“Most therapists only know what you tell them,” I say. “Even if you try to be one hundred percent honest, you create an illusion based on your perceptions and unconscious biases. I need to access who you are when I’m not around in order to learn the truth, and for our work together to be effective.”
Clients understand they’re in for something different when they come to see me. But they don’t realize the full scope until they learn I’ll be scrutinizing their lives on my own time and on my own terms. Some of them terminate our contract on the spot. But most stay; sometimes even the ones I least expect.
Instead, she stalks the people in her client’s lives, makes strange phone calls, even to the extent of faking “who” she was to sneak out personal details. Her strategy is getting to know her clients even more than they know themselves so she an better manipulate them. *hrmph* And yes, she was incredibly, strategically manipulative.
An unconventional therapist, I admit this made sense for the story and her character, but I just wasn’t in the mood to be in her head and basically be stuck following a detective around in half of the story.
I wanted more psychology and domestic-thrillery-stuff. I’d get it if the wife (or husband in this case) was doing all of the snooping to get to the bottom of their current issues, but the therapist? Nahhhh.
Also the fact that there were at least two simultaneous mysteries going on, (the one the therapist was dealing with was getting on my nerves, and was just over-the-top). In the end, that part fell flat.
Of course the fact that there were two simultaneous scary issues happening (both on that stalker-ish level), lots of strange, shady-like side characters (and mannerisms), making everyone suspect, is good for a thriller. But once all the reveals came to light, it was good, but not great for me. Throwing tons of suspicion everywhere and keeps you guessing, (yes, I DID enjoy the main reveal), but I was just over it by the end.
3.75 stars! <— Great writing, and a story that kept me guessing, and wanting to finish to find out what was going on, but left me feeling less thrilled than I anticipated.
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