Book Review: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

Every Vow You Break
Peter Swanson

I’ve been trying to decide what kind of rating to give this atmospheric thriller about Abigail Baskin, a young woman on her honeymoon. Abigail’s marriage to Bruce Lamb isn’t off to a great start. Weeks earlier at her bachelorette weekend, she slept with a stranger. She’s filled with guilt, but the fling has convinced her she wants to spend the rest of her life with Bruce.  

Bruce has made all the arrangements for the honeymoon and they arrive on Heart Pond Island, an isolated luxurious retreat off the coast of Maine. It looks beautiful, but something strange is going on. It’s nearly empty, except for the overly attentive waitstaff and only one other newlywed couple. What’s even weirder is that the rest of the guests are men, and Bruce seems to know them all.

To Abigail’s horror, one of them is the stranger from her bachelorette weekend.

I liked the setting and the story’s premise and that made me want to know how it all worked out. I could picture the island and its rocky coast. Swanson also does a good job describing Abigail’s character. She has an interesting background. For years, her parents ran a theater where they produced plays and musicals and Abigail grew up in this theatrical atmosphere. She’s also smart and wants to be a novelist. When she moves to New York for a publishing job, she meets Bruce, a wildly successful businessman. What he does is vague, but that’s what kept me reading. I also liked that Swanson included literary, movie and musical references. The title is a line from the song by The Police, “Every Breath You Take,” a creepy suggestion that Bruce may be a little too controlling.

So all good buildup with a lot of strange conversations and uncomfortable setups on the island. Of course, a logical person would question the arrangements, never to be in the position that Abigail finds herself in. But characters who make bad decisions and go along with what we all know is trouble are what you want in a thriller.

Despite not really liking any of the characters and, I’m sorry to say that includes the heroine, I wanted her to escape danger. The problem was, just as things were getting interesting, the plot made an outlandish turn. Completely unbelievable! Swanson uses all the thriller/horror tropes as Abigail tries to escape danger and that includes gory and misogynist violence in the story’s final scenes.

Swanson wins in a way because I didn’t want to put the book down, but honestly, I was shaking my head through the last fifty pages. So I’m giving it 3 stars because I liked most of it, but was disappointed with the finish.

Some bloggers liked the book and others felt the way I did. You can check out their reviews here:

Lisa’s Cubby
A Sip of Book over Coffee

Do you like thrillers? Have you read Every Vow You Break?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

16 thoughts on “Book Review: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

  1. Character likeability is important for me to keep reading. Knowing Abigail’s fling has convinced her she wants to spend the rest of her life with Bruce makes her unlikeable to me. That said, I love characters with publishing aspirations. 🙂 Thanks for the honest review, Barbara!

    1. Hi Jill – yes I agree with you. She did some other things that made her unlikable. I do like a suspenseful plot but this was a bit too much. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment! 🙂

  2. Ugh. The disappointing ending. I just finished watching the end of Ozark and found it to be a copy of the end of The Sopranos (also disappointing).
    On another note, Every Breath You Take is also the name of an Ann Rule crime account that I read several years ago. The Police have done well with the spin-offs!

    1. Hi Lynette – I still need to watch the last season of Ozark – it’s hard to end a series. I remember that with The Sopranos. And yes, The Police have benefitted from these books 😉 Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      1. Oh no need to apologize! I need to watch the last season again to get up to speed bec I don’t remember a lot. I also don’t mind a little hint like yours! 😉

    1. Hi Noelle – yes it was too bad. I hate to be negative but the ending was a little too ridiculous for me. I know that’s part of the whole thriller genre – readers want a wild finish.

  3. I hate books that draw you in and then disappoint with cliches or outlandish twists. It’s too bad the author didn’t take the time to make the whole book good.

    1. I know, so do I. I know this guy is a popular author and from the reviews I’ve read, his other books have been much better. I just liked the cover and the premise so that’s why I picked this one. Thanks for stopping by to check it out, Ann! Hope you’re keeping cool today – it’s super hot here 🙂

    1. Hi Robbie – I don’t think I’ll read another of his books, although some of his earlier ones are supposed to be excellent. I’m drawn to thrillers, but always a little disappointed by most endings. Thanks for visiting!

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