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By: M. J. Pullen
The Marriage Pact #3
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Publication Date: 7/12/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. A very fitting title and cover.
From Atlanta to Alabama, M. J. Pullen delivers her third installment (The Marriage Pact #3) with a group of thirty-something girlfriends, BAGGAGE CHECK. From emotional baggage, complexities, wit, wisdom, and love. The game of life. How will each play the game?
As the book opens, Atlanta girlfriends, Suzanne, Marci, Beth and Kate are headed to Charleston, SC where they would all be at Kiawah Island and drinking soon. A luxurious rental house—technically supposed to be a bachelorette party for Suzanne.
Rebecca and Marci had been part of the same circle of friends for more than fifteen years, since Rebecca had escaped to Georgia her senior year in high school, but they could never seem to get comfortable being alone together. Rebecca supposed the fact that she was in love with Marci’s husband, Jake-- didn’t help.
Rebecca, age 35 a flight attendant out of Atlanta receives a phone call from her mother back in Alabama, and returns to the town and a past, she so wanted to leave behind. A town and people she wanted to forget. She had exchanged this unpleasant life for an orderly one. She was not looking forward to returning.
When she was growing up, in the rural small Southern town, a town barely able to support the weekend dance hall that only served soda and doubled as a senior activity center during the day.
Then there was (is) Sheriff Deputy, Alex Chen from the same Podunk town where they had grown up. A guy who played football with her brother, who still has feelings for her. She had no intentions of getting involved with him, or does she?
Her mom, Lorena was a hoarder and has a psychiatrist. OCD plus now she is confused and dissociative. Mental Illness. A traumatic event. Rebecca’s brother Cory died in a car accident in 1997 when he was eighteen. After Rebecca moved to Georgia for her senior year and went to college it became harder for her father to keep her mother in check.
Rebecca begins questioning her own life. For the last ten years she had been too busy lusting after a man who did not love her. Her career. She had been free on weekends and rarely made her way out I-20 West to Alabama. How would she face her own past and present?
Now Marci wants to know if her husband is cheating?
Rebecca had left all these things behind long ago. It was easier. There was something unhealthy in the way her mother clung to each piece of matter around her. As though by holding on to the everyday items, she could hold on to Cory.
She herself, had replaced the past with a senior year trying to fit in with the kids from a rich Atlanta suburb, trying to live up to other people’s potential. From the sorority at UGA, still the regional alumni VP, where she hoarded social connections, the way her mother hoarded garage sale furniture.
Rebecca loved her orderly clean life. Being the kind of person who could be a blank slate, a smile that reflected back what people wanted to see in themselves. No pets, no artwork, no low cut blouses or profanity to offend a potential suitor’s mother. She had built her life on being the girl-next-door clean, as asset to any man of wealth and reputation.
And yet, she slept alone. The men of wealth and reputation wanted blue-blooded women like Suzanne, who could wear high heels and silk scarves and manage to curse while sounding feminine. Rebecca had never been able to pull off either. Was she trying too hard to be something or someone different?
What about Alex? The boy who was there all along.
However, on the opposite side, we hear from Marci Stillwell, through her Blog (The Care and Feeding of a Suburban Husband) with a series of entries about her life. Is her picture perfect husband, lovely home in the suburbs, beautiful daughter and amazing life, what it appears to be?
Everyone is busy rushing to grow up, however, do we wish we had spent more time enjoying our time being a kid? Always striving, while losing the enjoyment of playing the game (journey).
“Life isn’t perfect. Love isn’t perfect. People are taken from us too soon, lives unravel, families crumble. Even when we stay together, we take each other for granted, and the love that should lift us up to be better people sometimes leaves us room to become selfish, righteous, or controlling instead.”
How does love survive? Win or lose, just get back out there. Sometimes you have to know the tears of loss to appreciate the joy of winning. Sometimes the people who need love the most are the ones who seem to push it away.
Being an Atlanta gal, and a Southern native, loved discovering this author. This was my first book in the series and working my way backwards to the prior books. I enjoyed the comparison of marriage, relationships, family and friendships (Life) to the game of (Sports). More than just about the "score" at the end of the game. " If you live in GA or AL, there is always sports.
"Adversity cause some men to break; others to break records.” – William A. Ward
Beautifully written, with human insights, a contemporary look at the lives of modern women, their complexities, family, friendships, and the strong need of acceptance and love. Dealing with the past, in order to move forward with the future.
The Marriage Pact series begins with Marci and Jake, Suzanne and Dylan, now Rebecca and Alex--from witty, quirky, emotional and inspirational. Love and Loss. Heartwarming, important life lessons, and self-discovery.
Fans of Emilie Giffin, Sarah Pekkanen, Jane Green, and Jennifer Weiner will enjoy BAGGAGE CHECK! We are, in many ways, defined by our baggage.