Carey Baldwin | The Marriage Secret

The Book: 

The Marriage Secret by Carey Baldwin
Published  February 11th 2022 by Bookouture
Date read: February 2, 2022

The Characters: 

Holly
Zach

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Buy it on Bookshop.org | Amazon


The Plot (from Goodreads):

He married me despite my darkest secret. But am I safe now that I know his?

From the outside, my marriage to Zach was perfect: dream home, a perfect baby girl and passionate, all-consuming love. When we met, I confessed my darkest secret to him and he never judged me for it. Instead, he vowed to always protect me whatever the cost.

But as I cradle my gorgeous baby, I have to accept that the husband who used to be my everything, has changed. At first it was little things: expecting me to keep to a strict schedule, picking out my clothes for me. Now, he controls every aspect of my life: from how much money I have, to when I leave the house and who I can see.

One fateful night, a young woman is found murdered and Zach is a potential suspect. Turning towards me, a look of warmth returning to his eyes, he swears he’s innocent, and I realize there is only one solution. If I agree to be his alibi, he will keep my secret and our daughter can grow up in a loving home. In that moment, I do what any faithful wife would do: I stand by him.

But I know deep down, only one of us will make it out of this marriage alive.

Click here for book spoilers for <em>The Marriage Secret</em>
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Marriage Secret, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist:

The journal entry in the beginning was Tamara’s. Zach was sleeping with her as well as the two medical students. They had a pact to kill Holly and Tom so they could be together. Zach drugged Tom and killed him, but then backed out of the plan before killing Holly. To get revenge, Tamara started killing the medical students to warn him.

Holly and Tamara make a plan to drug Zach at a conference and take pictures of him doing fake cocaine to disgrace him. Holly secretly plans to kill Zach, which she thinks works, but he had taken something to counteract the sedative.

The Ending:

Zach shows back up at the house where Holly and Tamara are sitting down to tea. There’s a scuffle and Zach and Tamara both die. Holly had orchestrated everything but claimed self-defense. Holly, the baby, and Zach’s mom live happily ever after.

The Review: 

TW: abuse, controlling husband, gaslighting

The marriage secret starts off as your typical heart-wrenching story about a trapped woman looking for a way to leave her abusive husband. If she divorces him she will likely lose custody of her newborn, so she has to get more creative.

While this plot is definitely one I have read before, Holly’s character kept it fresh. Despite Zach’s intentions, she was no doormat. She realized very quickly that Zach was gaslighting her, and immediately made a plan to get out. Her scheming was the best part of the story.

The ending was very abrupt. The jump from a  steadily advancing plot to a series of rapid twists was jarring, and the reveal felt very rushed and unrealistic. It felt like the author was throwing everything at the reader in the last 20% just for shock value, without much thought to the feasibility if this were real life.

The audiobook quality was great–I would give the production five stars. It is narrated by Stephanie Cannon, who has read a few of Riley Sager’s books as well as The Holiday Swap, which I loved. Her voice was the perfect fit for Holly’s personality, and I definitely think listening to the audiobook enhanced the reading experience for me. She spoke clearly enough for me to speed the book up to the max to fly through it in one sitting.

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