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Acts of Contrition

Acts of Contrition - Jennifer Handford


By Jennifer Handford 

ISBN-10: 1477809503I

ISBN-13: 978-1477809501

Publisher: Amazon Publishing

Publicaiton Date:  April 15, 2014

Paperback: 332 pages

My Rating:  5 Stars 



Mary is a very likeable character, a strong protagonist readers will relate to, as she is the perfect wife and mother of two daughters and twin sons. She is real and flawed. She loves her family and everything it stands for; she has values and morals.


Even before she married at age thirty, an attorney in her earlier career, her real passion was to be married and raising a family, similar to her simple, but loving Catholic Italian upbringing. She deserves to happy, having waited so long for this dream.


Tom, her husband is every woman’s dream, and mirrors his wife’s passion by supporting his family, a caring father, offering love and financial security. (I found myself wanting to be a part of this dynamic unit).


However, Mary has a problem. She suffers from an addiction. She has an addiction to people. Mary, finds herself in an unhealthy roller coaster relationship for years, with charismatic and political Landon James. He was charming, good looking, successful, ambitious and she fell deeply in love. However, Landon was very non-committal, and did not share her happily ever after. She continues waiting for him, addicted to being with him, hanging on his every gesture, waiting for that perfect ending which never came.


After such time, she gives up on Landon (not out of her mind), and meets Tom (the one) and they marry. Now in the middle of her perfect life – her deal with the devil comes back to haunt her.


When Landon calls, her heart melts and she loses her senses. She has been living with the guilt from the past with a secret she has buried. She has kept this secret and lie, in order to protect her own marriage and family.


The deep buried secret now resurfaces, as Landon in running for Senate, a high profile position - her past is about to destroy her perfectly planned life.


A thought- provoking, intense, and poignant story of a moral dilemma--disclosing the truth, versus burying it deep within a perfect marriage. When faced with the question – What would you do, and are you prepared for the fallout? Do you trust your love and your partnership to see you through the most difficult times? By experiencing the bad, can you get to an even better place?


Beautifully written story for the Easter season, as we are celebrate Sunday (same as setting at the end of the book). A time of redemption, love, grace, and forgiveness. There are many parallels to ACT OF CONTRITION, as Jennifer unfolds masterfully.


Flashing back and forth from past to present, from both points of view (Mary and Tom), ACTS OF CONTRITION is deeply moving and full of emotion. A story which will be attractive to a wide audience of readers-from young mothers, wives, to older women, of any faith. An ideal book for book clubs or discussions.


There are other secondary characters in this contemporary fiction, carrying out the theme of “addiction”, in other ways, such as Tom’s brother, Patrick – an alcoholic, his father, also an alcoholic and not so faithful husband, Mary’s sister, Teresa with secrets of her own, and Tom’s mother, who has held strong, and faithful throughout.


Loved the quote under the Reader's Guide at the end of the book by the author: "If Mary were sorry—for the sake of it, because she did wrong and was regretful for it—then her contrition might have been “perfect.” But Mary was seduced by the good life: her husband, her children, and the life she built with them. In a sense, she made a deal with the devil. So she was contrite, yes, but the reader wonders about her contrition. Certainly it was imperfect. She was more concerned about getting caught, about losing what she had, than about coming clean for the sake of it. Is this to say she was a bad person? Absolutely not. It’s to say that she was human.”


Highly recommend this compelling read, and look forward to reading “Daughters for a Time” her earlier award-winning book. As a Professor of Writing at American University in Washington, D.C., Hanford’s strong and keen writing style is most reflective in this powerful and satisfying second novel.


A special thank you to Amazon Publishing and NetGalley, for providing a complimentary ARC, in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/909632891