by Jean Marie Davis
Genres: Family Life, Fiction, General
Published on July 15, 2021
Pages: 268
Format: Paperback Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher

Espouse: (v.) to take in marriage; to make a marriage permanent by court decree; the court-approved process by which couples may stay together beyond the legal 15-year term
There is no such thing as divorce. Fifteen years is the legal life cycle of a marriage. If a couple wants to stay married, they must hire a lawyer and petition the court to become espoused.
After 14 years of marriage, Sara and Thomas Healy are still in love. Their decision to go to court to be espoused permanently is a source of great embarrassment for their children. Avery is ready for the benefits of uncoupling, and Sam really doesn't need the social stigma of parents who decide to stay together, on top of everything else. Lame!
Their espouse attorney, Gwen Stevens, has other problems. The judge for the Healy case is her nemesis, Carly Abraham, also known as "the Wicked Witch of the Bench." Judge Abraham was previously married to Gwen's husband Dennis, from whom she uncoupled after the allotted 15 years. She hates espouse lawyers on principle and seems to have an extra dose of dislike for Gwen personally.
While the Healys struggle through the espouse experience-trial separation, uncouple counseling, and ongoing financial burdens-Gwen has to deal with the judge and her own struggles at home. In this fight for love, who has the answers?

I loved the premise of this book. What would life looked like if all first marriages dissolved after 15 years? What if couples had to prove that they wanted to stay together longer than that?

The world building is the core of this book. The story follows the Healys, who want to stay married. This is embarrassing for their children who are singled out by their school for counseling because of their unusual home life. Their children’s friends are so for them that they won’t get to have two houses, two Christmases, and two birthdays. Can you imagine being so deprived? Why are their parents being so selfish?

Their lawyer Gwen has been married for 26 years to a man who was previously married to the judge in the case. The judge hates people who want to get espoused and she really hates Gwen. She decides to make the Healys follow the letter of the law to see if she can convince them to uncouple.

The judge’s clerk and his wife are due to uncouple soon. Both want to apply to be espoused but can’t quite bring themselves to say it outloud.

Another couple recently uncoupled but are starting to spend more and more time together. That’s not normal behavior.

Each of these groups decide what their lives and marriages are going to look like during the course of the Healys’ trial separation and counseling. Meanwhile their children are all trying to deal with parents who are going against the norms of society.

I enjoyed this book. I liked seeing how she decided what this world was going to look like. The end result is a fun satire of marriage and divorce.


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