Summary: If Avery Chambers can’t fix you in 10 sessions, she won’t take you on as a client. Her successes are phenomenal and almost absorb the emptiness she sometimes feels since her husband’s death.
Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple–until Marissa cheats. She wants to repair things, both because she loves her husband and for the sake of their 8-year-old son. After a friend forwards an article about Avery, Marissa takes a chance on this maverick therapist, who lost her license due to controversial methods.
When the Bishops glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.
Genre: thriller, mystery
The first time I picked up a book by the Hendricks and Pekkanen duo in 2018, my mind was blown. It shocked and impressed me that two authors with such distinct voices could cohesively write a book together that felt as though it came from one writer. I loved all the twists and turns, and truly did not see the story moving at all in the direction that it did. I told every single person I knew to go read their first story. I wanted to devour every single book these two created together, and so I have.
The problem is that, with every book they release together, the less impressed I become.
This is such a difficult feeling to explain, because both authors are still talented writers. But after reading one book, it’s like you’ve read them all, and somehow it still feels like nothing compares to the first punch to the stomach that was your first exposure to them. There is such a predictability here that it becomes frustrating.
Marissa and Matt are a golden couple, as the title states. When their marriage starts to fall apart, they instill help from a therapist who lost her license for ethical reasons. However, the reader knows from the summary itself and the authors’ previous stories that this isn’t going to be a cut-and-dry relationship. There are going to be twists and turns galore. There are going to be red herrings littered across every page. You know this because every other book these authors have written is the exact same way.
So every time a new character was introduced and Matt, Marissa, or Avery thought that maybe Marissa’s assistant, Matt’s friend, Matt’s dad, Matt’s secretary, etc. could be the culprit, it was so easy to tell myself it wasn’t any of those people. They were too easy of an explanation. I knew a much larger plot twist was coming, one I wasn’t supposed to be able to predict. The problem here is that, rather than keep racking my brain to figure out what could be the twist, I found myself giving up.
And because I was expecting bigger things at the end of the story, I found myself antsy to keep reading. There are a lot of smaller subplots throughout the book, lots of little information about Marissa, Matt, individually and as a couple, as well as their therapist, Avery. But I Could. Not. bring myself to care about any of their lives outside of learning who the culprit was. I knew the main subplot with Avery would somehow tie together with everything, but because I knew it would, I got absolutely nothing out of her story. Who cared if some hook-up guy snuck into her office? Who cared about her taking her new dog on walks? I found this story to be so littered with mundane events when I knew something bigger was on the horizon, and for that reason I couldn’t get attached to anyone.
I will also say Avery’s therapy tactic was a lot more underwhelming than I was anticipating. Avery lost her license but created a controversial 10-step program for her clients, and she received rave reviews about her work. However, every time one of the next sessions happened, I found myself being extremely let down. There was very little explanation for her methods, which I was looking forward to, and most of the meetings were way too brief for the clients to actually gain anything from them. In one of the meetings, Avery ambushed Marissa at work, begged her to tell Avery the name of the man who Marissa cheated with, and…then they parted ways. What could a client possibly learn from that “meeting”? And in what way is Avery’s therapy style anything to brag about?
Everything about this story felt so bogged down by dull little details. I could tell the authors tried to build the plot throughout the story, but knowing what was coming left me extremely unimpressed.