Title: The Marriage Trap
Author: Sheryl Browne
Published by: Bookouture
Publication date: 30 July 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Karla watches silently as Jason hurriedly packs his belongings into a suitcase. She knows that her stillness is unnerving him as she watches his every move from the doorway of their bedroom.
Clothes are screwed up and packed into the case, along with a watch she bought him for his last birthday and his precious laptop. He takes everything from his bedside table. Everything except the framed wedding photo, which now stands alone. Karla strains to see the smiling faces in the photo. If only she knew then what she knows now.
‘I’ve fallen in love with someone else,’ he’d said to her, just moments earlier. The brutality of those words hit Karla hard and she struggled to breathe as she took in each word in turn.
You may think you know what Karla will do next. But you’ll be wrong. Because Karla isn’t who you think she is. Only she knows what’s about to happen. And you will never see it coming.
It was the blurb that attracted me to pick up this book. “My husband has been keeping secrets for a long time. He thinks I don’t know what he does outside of this house. But I know everything…”
The book opens with Karla, the protagonist, watching her husband stuffing the last remaining contents of their wardrobe into a suitcase. Leaving his wife of 12 years and two children, for another woman, it’s a good strong start to the book which then skips back to three months earlier and the plot starts in earnest. Involving a tragic accident involving Karlas twin sister, Sarah, when they were young children, an overbearing, bullying father and his wife, Karlas mother who holds the key to all their family secrets.
I almost gave up on this book half-way through, I have no shame in admitting that, but I pushed on regardless as there was a slither of hope in me that the plot would pick up from it’s sluggish, repetitive presentation and get going. I am sad to say I was wrong on this account, but the chapters were short enough that it felt like progress was being made and I am proud to say I got through the drudge.
The main issue that I had with the book is the fact that the main two characters – who are clearly in love with one another throughout – wallow so much in their own misery. Yes. There are plot elements in the book that push the self-pity onto them, but their thoughts and their actions greatly conflict with one another to the point that it made me as a reader frustrated with them rather than sympathetic towards their situation. As their marriage breaks down both adults start thinking selfishly, rather than on how to make things work properly for the sake of their children, this would have been alright if they weren’t both ramming the ‘think of the children’ attitude down the readers throats. All the while they’re hitting the dating sites and going out clubbing and picking up strangers; with the feeble excuse of flu to the work-place; an office wouldn’t buy a worker having flu for an extended period of time – just saying!
The whole plot was drawn out and felt lazy – with the main two characters (Jason and Karla) overthinking the same things and doing nothing about it other than brood on their emotions; it gets tiresome very quickly and while I persevered until the book, hoping that something of interest would happen at the end, I honestly wish I hadn’t! The ending was predictable, unfortunately, and as a reader let me wholly unsatisfied. It felt as hollow and pointless and made me really regret the time I invested into it.
This is the first book I’ve read by Sheryl Browne and while I don’t rate how this particular book panned out I enjoyed her writing style and attribute that to the face I kept the pages turning and finished the book. Her style isn’t complicated and I found it easy to keep up with and follow. So, I wouldn’t turn down reading another book written by her in the hopes that this one didn’t speak to me for plot reasons rather than authors style.
As another note, I am fairly sure this book could benefit from another proof read as I think Jason changed his name to Justin at one point?