Book Review: Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

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A (very) brief plot overview

Independent commitment-phobe Hannah falls in love with charismatic Mark and marries him just a few months later. When Mark fails to return from New York when he promised, Hannah accidentally uncovers his secrets and realises just how little she actually knows about the man she has married.

What’s good about it?

It has everything you would want from a good thriller – a protagonist you want to be okay, multilayered characters, plot twists, dark secrets, exposed lies and the feeling of imminent danger. In that respect, this book ticks all of the boxes. Whitehouse’s writing is adrenaline inducing and I found myself not wanting to put this book down.

Even though Mark is a tech millionaire and there were huge relationship ‘red flags’ that you would hope that anyone would have pressed for more information about, the storyline isn’t unbelievable. You can see how Hannah would get swept along with Mark’s charisma and charm, especially after her brother accuses her of pushing everyone who tries to get close to her away. At times, you find yourself wanting there to be a totally innocent explanation for Mark’s behaviour simply because he makes Hannah so happy and their life together sounds idyllic. For me, Hannah is the biggest strength in the novel because you are genuinely on her side throughout it. Not all writers create main characters that make you feel like that, so Lucie Whitehouse has done well in that respect.

Even though this is an extreme and quite bleak storyline, I quite like the message behind it of getting to know who you choose to spend your life with properly. Whilst I am a bit of an old school romantic, I have read countless stories about women being duped by men with past lives, secret families or bad intentions. This book almost acts as a warning to anyone who is so desperate to prove they aren’t afraid of commitment or settle down by a certain age – don’t loose your head to something that might seem too good to be true. It’s a bleak message, but one that is vital in the age of things like online dating where anyone can pretend to be anyone.

What’s not so good?

I honestly think I have inherited my mum’s skill to guess the ending of a thriller from the first few chapters of a book. Whilst it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading (I quite like the smug feeling of being able to say ‘I knew it’ when I get to the end) I just can’t help but wish that it was a little harder to know what was coming.

I also can’t help but have the little niggle that had Hannah Googled Mark’s name or his company, she would have found out most of the plot twist from the moment she met him. As Mark was introduced as a tech millionaire, I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t have Googled this just to check out if he was lying or not when they met. Had Hannah done that, there wouldn’t have been a story, but had Hannah done that then it would have been a little more realistic.

Rate me: 7/10. If you were a fan of Netflix’s ‘Dirty John’ or a lover of Gone Girl, then I think this one will go down well with you.

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