Acts of Contrition by Jennifer Handford


 Mary Morrissey is living the life of her dreams. She has a loving husband, Tom, two daughters, and twin boys. But beneath the shiny veneer, Mary hasn’t taken a calm breath in ten years. She lives in a constant state of panic, afraid the secret she’s kept hidden for so long will be revealed, shattering her perfect life. When addictively charismatic ex-boyfriend Landon James reappears during his high-profile Senate campaign, Mary’s fears become even more real. A conditional Catholic, Mary bargains with God, negotiates deals, and promises to be the best wife and mother ever . .
if only He can get her out of this tight spot. What once seemed unfathomable ? a deep, heartbreaking divide between Mary and Tom ? is now their new normal. Can they find a way to rebuild their life together? Is forgiveness possible? Acts of Contrition is a richly drawn story of faith, family loyalty, and forgiveness, even in the face of moral ambiguity, guilt, and broken trust.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18640739-acts-of-contrition?ac=1
I have to say this book took me on a different journey than I expected.  If you are looking for a romance with sex then you won’t find it here.  You will find a story of a family who has to deal with real issues and a plot that will leave you thinking and accepting that we all need to do some acts of contrition and seek redemption in life.  This is not a religious book, but there is a strong Catholic theme throughout the book.
Mary is currently a mother of four, married to a man she is deeply in love with and lives with a secret that she knows could tear her family apart.  Giving up her law career to be a stay at home mom, she focuses her every minute of the day towards raising four God fearing adults and being the loving wife that Tom deserves, but there is always the motive in every action that is seeking redemption and forgiveness for her past sins.  She had love Landon for ten years, but he was never able to commit and give that love back.  He had his sights set on a political career and family was not in his future.  Giving up on him she met Tom and became engaged, but Landon never left her heart.
Tom was a God fearing man who took the role of protector and provider for his family seriously.  Having a father who was addicted to whiskey and a brother who followed in his father’s footsteps, he also felt a sense of responsibility to them and his mother.  All he wanted in life was a wife who would love him and take care of their children and he found that in Mary.  What he had trouble with was accepting that Mary still have some feelings for Landon and the jealousy that came with it.
Landon grew up without a father for most of his life.  In his early years his father was there but always reminded him that people come and goes, no one ever stays.  As if he was preparing Landon for his departure, Landon was left with a mother who was mentally gone after being abandoned by his father.  This stayed with him his whole life and even though he did truly love Mary, he couldn’t commit to her so he put his personal life aside for politics.  Once he had achieved his goals, he reached out to Mary and just needed that small connection, even though he knew it was going to disrupt her life.  When he was confronted with the reality of their relationship he was forced to make a choice that
would haunt him forever.
This is not a story of a love triangle, it is a story of a woman living with a choice she made years ago knowing it could come back at any time and tear her world apart.  She loves Landon but she makes it clear she is IN love with her husband.  We watch her as the truth comes out and how she reacts to it, plus the author gives us a chance to watch Tom come to terms with the truth and be faced with the same choice she was faced with years ago.
I think the author did a wonderful job with this plot in allowing us to not only see the side of each character but pushing us to feel empathy towards them and giving us an understanding of how deep this pain and confusion was for all of them.  I was sucked in at page one and finished rather quickly as I was so wrapped up in them I lost total track of time.  There isn’t the suspense and drama you find in books these days but there is an intensity and raw emotion that won’t let go of you till you have finished the journey with them.
I give this book five stars not only for the writing style and character development, but the story itself left a lasting impression on me.  It broadens my way of thinking about others actions and gave me the big picture of motives for why people do what they do.  We can’t be quick to judge in all situations, even the people involved have to make choices without all of the facts.  I really value the message in this book and would recommend it to all readers.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CHTJFY4/ref=as_li_ss_il?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00CHTJFY4&linkCode=as2&tag=crysmanrev-20    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/acts-of-contrition-jennifer-handford/1117261629?ean=9781477809501&itm=1&usri=jennifer+handford