The Marriage Lie by Ali Mercer



Fourteen years ago Stella did something she has regretted ever since. But she did it for her daughter. Now, that mistake could mean she loses her precious girl forever…

Stella follows her handsome husband Rob to the beautifully laid-out table in the restaurant he’s chosen specially for her fortieth birthday lunch. As the waiter pops the champagne, Rob proposes a toast and their crystal glasses clink together in celebration.

But Rob is about to drop a bombshell on Stella. He wants a divorce. If she doesn’t agree – he will tell their innocent daughter the one secret he promised to keep. Stella has a choice to make. To fight for her daughter, there is only one person she can turn to for help. A woman she hasn’t spoken to in over a decade. But to do it means facing up to her biggest regret, and risks losing Georgie forever, once she learns the truth… 


The Marriage Lie gets off to an interesting start when Stella goes for a romantic birthday lunch with her husband, Rob, who then surprises her by announcing he wants a divorce. If Rob doesn’t get what he wants, he will tell their daughter, Georgie, a secret they have both been keeping from her. A secret that could fracture Stella’s relationship with her only child.

Rob also takes Stella to a rural cottage he has been renovating and abandons her there. Shocked and distressed, Stella takes in her new surroundings and realises Rob has been planning this for a while and has furnished the cottage with the bare minimum of what she will need. However, Stella soon gets angry and is determined to fight for her daughter regardless of the consequences.

While the book is described as being gripping and emotional, it doesn’t quite live up to its billing as it fails to hit the mark in either case and falls away into something far more mediocre. As Stella deals with the bombshell divorce, the story flashes back to when she first met Rob and the early stages of their relationship. While Rob seems like the perfect boyfriend material, there are hints that he is manipulative and being economical with the truth. When Stella is involved in a serious car accident which claims the life of her father, Rob vows he cannot live without her and proposes to her despite the fact the accident has left her unlikely to bear a child. An unconcerned Rob vows he has never wanted a child and makes her promise they will never pursue it.

The secret Stella has been keeping becomes obvious as soon as she returns from her honeymoon and is told her younger sister, Molly, is pregnant and wants to give her child to Stella to raise. Despite his previous protestations, Rob seems surprisingly okay with the idea as long as he is not the one changing the nappies and Georgie soon becomes their daughter. Stella had always planned on telling Georgie the truth about her birth mother but the timing was never quite right and there never seemed to be a burning need as Molly was no longer part of their lives. As far as shocking secrets go, this one does not warrant the blackmail situation Stella now finds herself in and is a complete letdown.

When a tragedy forces Stella to make contact with Molly, her sister finally reveals the truth about why she pushed her family away and why Georgie can never be told the identity of her father. Sadly, this revelation isn’t a startling one either and is easy to work out long before Molly opens her mouth. Stella now has an additional secret to keep from her daughter, one that Rob can never know, but it soon becomes clear that Georgie has to be told Molly is her birth mother if Stella is to beat Rob at his own game.

The book is more a family drama with a few predictable twists thrown in rather than a thriller but it is ultimately unsatisfying.