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Before We Met

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Hannah, independent, headstrong, and determined not to follow in the footsteps of her bitterly divorced mother, has always avoided commitment. But one hot New York summer she meets Mark Reilly, a fellow Brit, and is swept up in a love affair that changes all her ideas about what marriage might mean.

Now, living in their elegant, expensive London townhouse and adored by her fantastically successful husband, she knows she was right to let down her guard.

But when Mark does not return from a business trip to the U.S. and when the hours of waiting for him stretch into days, the foundations of Hannah's certainty begin to crack. Why do Mark's colleagues believe he has gone to Paris not America? Why is there no record of him at his hotel? And who is the mysterious woman who has been telephoning him over the last few weeks?

Hannah begins to dig into her husband's life, uncovering revelations that throw into doubt everything she has ever believed about him. As her investigation leads her away from their fairytale romance into a place of violence and fear she must decide whether the secrets Mark has been keeping are designed to protect him or protect her...

288 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

Lucie Whitehouse

14 books368 followers
Lucie Whitehouse was born in the Cotswolds in 1975 and grew up in Warwickshire. She studied Classics at Oxford University and then began a career in publishing while spending evenings, weekends and holidays working on the book that would eventually become THE HOUSE AT MIDNIGHT.

Having married in 2011, she now divides her time between the UK and Brooklyn, where she lives with her husband. She writes full time and has contributed features to the Times, the Sunday Times, the Independent, Elle and Red Magazine.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,421 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
January 29, 2020
so i'm kind of loving on all these british psychological suspense thrillers. even though they don't really stay with me for very long, i just really enjoy the journey.

i loved the first lucie whitehouse book i read, The House at Midnight, which was a kind of riff on The Secret History. if anything, this one is a kinda sorta spin on Gone Girl in that it exposes the secrets a marriage holds, and reminds us how difficult it is to ever really know someone, especially when it concerns the lives our beloveds live before they meet us.

hannah and mark had something of a whirlwind romance, and have been married for eight months. before mark, hannah had been living a life full of casual relationships, having seen the hysterical mess her mother had become when she suspected her husband of infidelity, and vowing that she would never find herself in a similar situation. hannah reasoned that the best way to avoid becoming that woman was to remain emotionally uninvolved, and she had - focusing on her career and enjoying a series of one-night stands while retaining her autonomy.

and then she met mark.

mark seems to be the perfect man - he is english, like herself, very loving and very successful while still remaining down-to-earth and not consumed by material gain. for him, she gives up her vow, leaves her own successful career in new york to marry him, and moves back to london. everything appears to be going perfectly, until the night she finds herself at an arrivals gate at heathrow to meet him after one of his business trips, and he isn't there. she isn't able to reach him on his phone or through email, and she suddenly finds herself behaving exactly like her mother - searching for clues about what could have happened to him, and not liking at all what she finds.

what follows is a series of revelations and unexpected ripples in the happiness she thought they shared, and as the synopsis says, she must decide whether the secrets Mark has been keeping are designed to protect him or protect her.

i loved the journey of this book, but i was kind of unwowed by the ending. it's not a cheat of an ending, not really, but it does poke a few of my readerly raw nerves that i cannot go into in any detail here, as they would be totally spoilery. but it involves character and consistency and liberties that work in a book but would not play in the real world. but this is a book, so what's my problem?

nothing at all. it's definitely a good read, if you don't stop and question too much and just enjoy the book like a regular person would and get over your damn self, karen, you will have a wonderful time with it.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Kelly.
878 reviews4,024 followers
July 8, 2015
Okay, ladies, we need to talk. The review space for this book is going to get the brunt of something it probably doesn't deserve, but is a good example and there there is something that I just don't understand that we need to clear up. Dudes, I suppose that you can offer your opinions, but I'm not sure that you'll have as many answers to all of my questions.

So I've read a lot of romance novels over the course of my life. Starting far too early, I've been reading the fantasies of grown-ass women written in the 80s and 90s, fantasies that came out the other end of many years of life lived, gendered, sometimes historically fucked up and repressed in a way that I couldn't begin to understand as a pre-teen, with no exposure whatsoever to this sort of shit. It was a weirdly post-modern experience in the most literal sense- I turned on the porn in the fourth act without any idea of the beginning or end of it and how we got there and thought that this was the way that it was. It took me a lot more time than it should have to figure out that this was not the only way it was or possibly should be. It was pretty much a ragefest when I slowly, and then all at once, figured all of that out.

It's been a number of years, but I've got another ragefest simmering, and once again, its over a group of books written by women, I would imagine largely for women (sadly), rooted deeply in the imagination of women. I may be slightly more equipped to understand it, but still find myself sputtering. I'll try to articulate as best I can, though.

Here goes:

I have read a large, but growing group of books with female protagonists who make my skin crawl in a growing, but then finally undeniable way, to the point that I am forced to put the book down. The Lantern was the first example where I was able to put a finger on it. But there have been more. This book was a huge example. I just tried to read The Husband's Secret and it was exactly the same shit. Whitehouse's House at Midnight had it blatantly at the beginning and then was run through with a more sinister, belowground version of it through the rest of the book. Jane Green's books do it, some of Emily Giffin's do.

The major thing that all these books have in common a female protagonist who opens the book trying to prove herself to us, from the first page. She will insinuate or outright tell us, over and over again over the course of the first few chapters (and throughout the book in case you forget) that her heroine is superior to those around her.

Well sure, you might say. All books need to get us connected to their heroes and make us interested in their story. That seems reasonable.

And I agree with you- but not in this case. Because the way these books establish this connection is through this nasty, gendered way that's sometimes perfectly blatant and straightforward, and more awfully, done largely through the use of code words and subconscious dog whistles that I would sometimes imagine that the author isn't even aware they are using. They are the sort of words that you absorb and feel eager to repeat because you know they gain approval and are a natural part of the landscape of the kind of books you write- like how good female characters' "eyes dance" and sympathetic protagonists always "arch their eyebrows" to show their sardonic, likeable humor in fantasy novels. It's an instantly recognizable, subconscious code to anyone who has ever read the genre- relax around this character. Breathe easy. This is one of us.

And it's these books' horrible idea of what "one of us" means that is just killing me. The code for "one of us" that these books push is wrapped up in this deeply fucked up mess of capitalistic, traditional feminine, societal and high-school-code status symbols that would be fascinating to untangle if they weren't so awful.

Here's a typical mix of how it goes:

Capitalistic: In the first few chapters, we'll be treated to a demonstration of the characters' wealth and status. Usually this involves a recitation of various expensive, luxury brands and expensive objects that she has access to. Usually there is some Puritan excuse about how she married into this wealth, or got it from someone else, or how she has worked her whole life in comparison to her layabout family. If she doesn't have wealth, either she will spend the whole book being superior to those characters who do have wealth, or will appreciate it in a nice "if only I could have it" wistfully annoying way- and be sure she will be awarded it by the end of the novel, all the while protesting that she "would rather have had....." (blah blah blah morally superior thing). I have no literal idea what books want to accomplish with this- giving us the aspirational fantasy we want, but still ascribing to its reader the work ethic that will reassure us that it is okay for us to want it? Is this a "celebrities they're just like us!" moment- we're delighted to be brought into the orbit of such a high status woman and, like the popular girl on the playground choosing to talk to us, we'll be so delighted to have the privilege to be inside her mind, we'll attach to her immediately because she gave us that honor? I'd say maybe it was an American thing, but I've seen it in British novels as well- sometimes even more blatantly.

Ah, and then there's the misogynistic, high-school-mean-girl shit. Even worse. We are constantly treated to descriptions of what these girls look like and what they are wearing- we are told about it every time they change clothes- every time their hair is out of place. And I guarantee you we're going to get words like "slender"/"thin"/"she didn't have a perfect body but she'd never had trouble attracting a man"- and, of course- "she wasn't model thin like those blonde girls who sat at the popular table in high school, but she was...." (blah blah blah morally superior). It's all about the girl on girl crime. In The Husband's Secret, within twenty pages, the main character had bitchily taken down most of her friends with one catty swipe of claws and established her and her family's superiority to them. Often this is done by sheer comparison of description and the adjectives chosen, added up. Like... I don't know... this is supposed to speak to my deep-seeded sense that I am really better than all my friends? Especially if they are pretty- if we have to have the almighty crime of admitting that they are prettier than us, then they have to suffer. They will be dumb, mean, selfish, ambitious, rude, sexual in a "distasteful" way (probably coming on to your husband or being "indiscriminate" in her tastes), have a difficult personality that "only appeals to some", be an actual angel come to earth that all of us can make fun of in our heads for thinking unicorns exist or whatever. How fucking DARE they be prettier than us- don't worry, we'll provide you with a reason to hate them. That is if any other woman is allowed to have an image at all. Get off the stage, I am the fairest of them all.

But most of the time other women are on stage- because these books- it's like a constant game of one-upsmanship in a very specifically female way. Our protagonists have to come out on top in comparison to other females, even if only by implication (and of course the protagonist would never think of it that way! But she's rewarded with that victory anyway). Everything that happens- the plot she's involved in, her observations and interactions with other women and especially her romance- all read like points on a scoreboard. These are not books about personal transformation except on the most surface level, and usually only in the service of getting one of these status-y things. These books read as competition, like some sort of fantasy of jealousy, of being the person that others envy- all with the excuse of moral superiority that just happens to grant you all the high status stuff that you wanted.

It's gross. It so often reads like a shy girl's fantasy come to life- someone who would have wanted to be queen bee and be just as bitchy as that blonde girl, but never had the balls to actually do it, and so constructed an idea of themselves based around being morally superior to it, while all the while wishing they could be part of it. It's sick- it's the worst feelings that girl-on-girl envy can produce, and what's worse, I am expected to identify with them. It's a martyrdom complex taken to an extreme. It is a childish emotional depth that I cannot accept.

What the actual fuck, ladies? Like... is this a genre thing? Is this still the leftovers of all the competition that women felt they had to do for men, because they thought they were the key to survival in the world (and still think this)? Is this something we're going through the motions of and have gotten to the point where we fill in an out-of-date formula and don't even realize what we're doing?

It's like women still trying to prove how "normal" and "likeable" they are by spitting out a bunch of words that they think do that- isn't this what I'm supposed to want?? Do you love me yet?? Do you approve of my totally normal, not weird beautiful character who is better than everyone?? Is this what you wanted from me? Why are we still trying to please men and judgmental women who were never going to like you anyways??

It's sad and gross all at once.

And no, I don't think that this is a case of really good characterization. I see this too much. Either something has infected this genre- too often and grossly called "middlebrow" fiction- or there's something going on that we haven't confronted. I don't accept that this is what we honestly want out of our protagonists, ladies. It can't be. Can it?

Especially because it is so desperately fake- that's what I saw in the Lantern. There was a fascinating person with interesting ideas (or the start of them anyway) behind that woman who put on a fake feminine voice and flashed her diamond ring and big house-porny house at the beginning to let us know we should envy her. Why the eff are we leading with that diamond flashing woman all the time? House at Midnight did it too- I haaaaattteeeed protagonist at the beginning. Could we talk more about how middle class she was and how all her friends were super rich and classy and amazing and went to Oxford?? Oh please, can we?? And then the rest of the book, her relationship with her boyfriend was basically just a show to generate jealousy, and based on an attraction that seemed to be based on nothing at all that we're actually shown. But, again, there were some moments of truth in the book- again, towards the end, once she seemed sure that she had us and we weren't going anywhere. They peeked out here and there. I couldn't even get past this lead-in with Before We Met- maybe it would have been the same here.

Why do we think this is what we need to get women to invest in other women characters? Why do we need to envy them or hate them? Or at the very least be super smug about relating to them? (I'm not talking about identifying- which is different and more truthful. I'm talking about blatant ploys for readers to insert themselves like talking about how they were never one of the popular girls or can't believe they ended up with this gorgeous husband, surely he will leave me.)

I've sort of noticed this for awhile, but I think that part of my anger about this was that I thought I had discovered a subset of the genre where I was safe from all this. I have since discovered that it has a name- "chick noir." Which I HATE. Please let me be clear about how much I HATE that. But at least it put together a group of books that I was almost invariably interested in. As far as I can work out, the label seems to mean that the book is probably some type of psychological thriller, focused on a woman, probably having a lot of domestic backgrounds and settings, probably involving a romantic relationship of some kind. (Hence the horrible "chick" I assume.) But my favorite part of the genre has absolutely been the amazing main character females and the fact that we get to spend a whole lot of time inside their heads because of the psychological thriller part. Gone Girl and Gillian Flynn's other novels are probably the best examples of this fledgling drama, but there are other ones. Tana French's The Likeness would count as one of them, too. I just finished Sacrifice by SJ Bolton, I'd put it in there too. I found them an honest relief. Barely a flicker of the tangled mass of handed down feminine horror show shit that had characterized these other books (unless it was briefly organic to the plot or character development)- sometimes I didn't even know what the woman looked like! And guess what? it couldn't matter less to the plot if I did or not. And I was totally enthralled with being inside their heads- usually they were smart, smart-alecky, and smartly constructed messes of actual human beings.

What a fucking relief.

But you know what I've discovered, reading reviews of these books? That people seem absolutely offended by these characters' refusal to perform the usual feminine rituals of self-hatred, self-abnegation, to provide us with words that are supposed to make our brains light up with envy, of giggling behind our hands at some other woman, telling us how beautiful the character is to give her currency when she does bad things. Of course, especially in the Gillian Flynn novels, the main characters ARE deeply fucked up, and often this is in direct engagement with their feminine societal roles, or in direct reaction to it. I'm not asking anyone to like these characters- but what I was shocked by were reviews calling characters "sociopathic" for refusing to perform these rituals.

Is anyone else watching that show UNreal, yet? About the backstage drama at a "Bachelor" like show? If not, I don't know if I can recommend it- but I can assure you that it is among the most fucked up shit I have ever seen. The whole show is about women doing horrible things to each other, often in the service of a male presence who is barely even there, but they are always aware of in the back of their mind- they only make their presence felt occasionally, but that's all they need to do to send these women back into the most horrible spirals. They don't even need to be there for women to act on their behalf. And the women running the show KNOW what the worst things they can do each other are. It's the worst gendered horror I've seen in awhile.

I don't get it. Why do we like watching other women, fictional or not, do this? Why are we reading books about it? Why do we allow ourselves to subconsciously code characters in this way and reject characters who don't follow it?

I think this is part of the reason I've loved, to no end, Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels so much. For not a second, for not an actual second, does that narrator of those books put on a pose for me, the reader. Oh, she does to those around her and a lot of what she goes through is about feminine role construction, but not to me. not to me the reader. It feels like these characters that I complain about are doing it to me, the reader. That's, in the end, I think what infuriates me the most. It's like these books, these authors, stopped halfway. Yes, all these things these characters do and say happen and people feel this way- but why? And please stop, please stop giving me those stupid pop psychology answers and easy outs like we always get.

And I'm not just citing pretentious European literature and trying to compare apples to oranges. Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed tried to engage with this status fight thing by at least acknowledging it- her character was the embodiment of this female status envy. She bought into it a bit in a way that was not helpful, but it was transfixing to watch because of it. There are others that do the same- even Plum Sykes' Bergdorf Blondes, which was all about labels and brand names at least had an honest heart to it that made the labels all so much comedy.

A line I will never forget from a romance novel, written in the early 2000s- it's from the fourth or fifth in one of those family romance series, where there are several siblings and each book is about one member of the family finding their true love or whatever. The love interest is being introduced to the wider family for the first time and the love interests from the previous three novels appear to pick up their children and kiss their men after some sort of Christmas performance. The character observes something to the effect of:

"Here they were, three shining angels, each one more beautiful than the last, sunbeams shining in the eyes of women who have found their true places in the world."

It's said with envy and longing, and is the occasion for the new protagonist to go into the depths of self-hatred and darkness and turn around all the more determined to prove herself to her big, handsome man and prove to him, and to us the reader, that she is just as worthy of love as those "beautiful angels". And she totally does- putting herself in unreasonable mortal danger with her PTSD diagnosed paramour for no reason whatsoever other than the deep feelings of inferiority these women inspired.

I'm just so over it. Maybe someone can explain it to me and tell me why the sorts of books I'm describing are appealing. I mean, is it in the same way that celebrity gossip sites and fashion police shows after red carpets are? Okay- but then come out with the cattiness. What I can't stand is this thing where we wrap it up in sanctimonious moral superiority and pretend like it's something else so that we can feel better about ourselves. Like... is this really the fantasy we like? We actually want to be these women? Surely not.

More than anything else, I feel like it is a waste. An utter and complete waste- because just like that woman in The Lantern- there are so many more interesting things that we could talk about if we let down our guard for approximately two seconds. Stuff that slips out between the cracks, stuff that we only get to long after you're sure that I won't leave you. It's like the fucking cocktail party with work acquaintances that won't end. Can we do the shots of tequila like two hours earlier to give us all the excuse to be silly and be normal people? Can we stop looking around furtively and looking for the person we're supposed to be impressing?

This is fiction, forgodsakes. Do you really think your readers are like all those people who were mean to you in high school? Do you really think, have you really absorbed that lesson, that this is what people are like?

Let it go. That's what books are for. We get to get away from things and show our true selves.

Otherwise it's not worth it.

Ladies, talk to me. Let's discuss. Explain this shit to me. Because I have had it.

Profile Image for Leanne.
129 reviews287 followers
March 11, 2015
Before We Met was a perfectly fine book – I finished it, which is a feat (recently, I was wondering why I have so few 1 and 2-star ratings, which led me to the theory that I have a very low tolerance for following through with anything I find slow or irritating), and I was compelled to keep turning the pages. However, that's one of its only merits, as the premise of the book is not particularly imaginative, the characters aren't particularly complex or developed, and the writing is fairly average.

The basic story is that Hannah, a woman who values her independence and avoids commitment due to the failure of her parents' marriage and her mother's subsequent decline, finally meets Mark and marries him in a whirlwind romance and engagement. Cut to several months later, when Hannah goes to meet Mark at the airport when he's expected home from a business trip. He doesn't show up, and this is the catalyst for Hannah to start digging through his slightly mysterious history and uncover all of his deep, dirty secrets.

I am about as clueless as frequent readers get when it comes to predicting twists, and even I found nothing exceptionally shocking about the plot progression. I was eager to know what happened for interest's sake, but I was missing the heart pounding and stomach clenching that goes along with a truly suspenseful mystery/thriller.

I wouldn't go out of my way to dissuade someone from reading Before We Met, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it. I've had about enough of every other book being compared to Gone Girl – I can never help but get my hopes up, and the similarities are usually limited to a) a marriage, and b) some type of secret or manipulation. But GG defied the typical psychological thriller formula, and "formulaic" is the perfect word to describe this one (along with most other books of this ilk).
Profile Image for Lisa.
750 reviews134 followers
June 22, 2016
It's hard to give a thriller with no thrills much more than 2 stars. This was very predictable. There was lots of filler. You could just read every tenth page and you really wouldn't be missing too much. I think I'm a pretty tough reviewer of thrillers. Lately I feel like I'm pretty bored and it takes a really good one to surprise me. I'm going to take that as a hint that I need to lay off the genre for a while (with the exception of a few sure-fire amazing writers. Linwood Barclay and Paula Daly, you've made the cut). 2 unenthusiastic stars for this one.
Profile Image for F.
294 reviews253 followers
July 3, 2018
This was another book that my receptionist in work gave me to read.
"because you liked Gone Girl"
It was nothing like Gone Girl.
Profile Image for Patrice Hoffman.
553 reviews259 followers
March 31, 2014
Hannah lives a charmed life with her husband Mark up until he's MIA at Heathrow airport. After waiting for him for hours, hoping that his flight home from New York hasn't turned into a disaster, she finally goes home. The morning brings with it a host of problems unforeseen where lies once told are slowly unraveling. Lies that threaten their charmed life.

Before We Met is the novel by Lucie Whitehouse that has been compared to Gone Girl. I really hope that every new novel that features a married couple going through what married people do, doesn't have to hold the weight of this same comparison. Seriously, this novel doesn't add up. Neither does Gone Girl for that matter, but it isn't fair. So based on its own merits is the spirit in which I write this review.

Hannah is a peculiar character that I never once found an ounce of concern for. She's worked on not repeating her mother's sins. You know the type of woman who pretty much chases her man away by never being able to trust him. Hannah doesn't want to be that woman. It isn't until she's given reason to doubt her husband that she finds herself down the road of no return. A road full of mystery, intrigue, and suspicion.

Before We Met did not start off being a good read for me. I thought it was boring and predictable. And as mentioned before, I couldn't ever warm up to Hannah. I almost felt that she was naive and kept blinders on for some obscene reason. She seems to find so much information in an afternoon. What cloud was her head in until now? After I forgave Hannah her shortcomings, I was able to enjoy the story.

Ultimately, Before We Met turned out to be a gripping story of suspense begging readers to question what do they really know about anyone. It doesn't seem so easy to take someone's word for it anymore. That's pretty scary. If you can't even trust the person you've pledged til death do you part to be completely transparent and honest, than who can you trust?

Copy provided by Bloomsbury publishing via Netgalley

Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,421 followers
March 20, 2018
What would you do if your husband did not return from a business trip to America when he was supposed to, with a string of explanations to excuse his absence? How would you feel if his assistant and business partner had thought you were away on a romantic trip to Rome together? For Hannah this is her current reality, and whilst she attempts to uncover this current mystery past secrets keep emerging that make it harder and harder to know exactly who she is married to.

This was a solid thriller, throughout. I was intrigued and the story-line was both inventive and yet believable enough for me to be invested in the story-line. For me, the last portion was where this altered. I found I guessed at the climatic ending long before it was actually revealed and, so, my interest started to dwindle a little. I still thought this to be well-set up and executed but found I could not continue to love this as much s I initially had, when the suspense had been lessened from the proceedings.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,738 reviews14.1k followers
January 2, 2014
I have always thought that the publishing of different genres always comes in waves and am so hoping that the vampire/shape-shifter novels are on there way out. Though I know there are plenty of readers who still like them and after all we who don't (like me) do not have trouble finding something else. Right now it seems as if Historical fiction and since the success of Gone Girl, psychological fiction as well are being published in mass. Since these are my two favorite genres this makes me very happy.

This is the first novel I have read by Whitehouse and was amazed at how well the book flowed, perfectly paced with constant revelations that kept the book moving quickly. A marriage that may not be what it seems, secrets of course and a family that is certainly dysfunctional. Although I guessed some if it, there were still a few surprises that I did not.

Pleasantly surprised at this good escapist fiction and it was a perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday.

ARC from NetGalley.
Profile Image for Blair.
1,770 reviews4,249 followers
February 22, 2022
(Review originally published on my blog, November 2013) Lucie Whitehouse's first two novels, The House at Midnight and The Bed I Made, are among my favourite books. I found them both completely unputdownable, believable and compelling, with brilliant, very real characters. So as soon as I learned that her third book was due out in January 2014, I had to get my hands on a copy of Before We Met as quickly as humanly possible, and you can imagine how excited I was to read this advance copy.

That said, however, the premise didn't immediately grab me. Hannah is a thirtysomething woman in the midst of a career crisis, recently having returned to London with her husband, Mark, to whom she's been married for less than a year. Hannah and Mark are both Brits who met while working and living in New York, and while Mark has a successful software business in London, Hannah can't find work and feels unmoored and friendless. So when Mark doesn't make his flight back from New York one weekend, and a bout of paranoia leads Hannah to uncover some extremely odd discrepancies in his finances, she begins to panic. Is he having an affair? Planning to leave her? It pretty quickly becomes apparent that the truth is far more complicated than that.

Before We Met is slower to get going than its two predecessors. I initially struggled to care much about Hannah's problems or the history of her relationship with Mark. This wasn't because of the way it was written, more because the subject matter didn't really appeal to me and the characters were too affluent and privileged for me to relate to (although, as it turns out, this fact is pretty crucial to the plot). However, the narrative has the same irresistible quality as Whitehouse's others: it would be fair to say I didn't care about Hannah as much as I have about the author's previous heroines, but I really wanted to know what was going to happen to her. The strongest parts of the book, for me, were those that involved Hannah working alone, chasing the truth.

In my review of The Bed I Made, I wrote about my concerns that Whitehouse was 'in danger of being pigeonholed as a writer of superior chick-lit... [and] the literary talent evident in her writing will end up being overlooked'. Although I liked the book, I do feel a bit like that's what's happened with Before We Met. It's obviously not chick-lit, but it's clearly being positioned to cash in on the post-Gone Girl twisty female-orientated thriller trend, from the fact that Gillian Flynn's bestseller is actually mentioned in the blurb, to the 'secrets within a marriage' theme, to the black-with-a-splash-of-bright-colour cover. Similarly, the narrative is very focused on delivering intrigue and shocks - it feels tightly edited and is stripped of the atmospheric descriptive power that I've always thought was a part of the author's signature style. Personally, I found this to be detrimental to the creation of tension, but I still found the plot compelling, even though I wasn't very surprised by the twists.

I'm in two minds about this book. I've loved Whitehouse's previous novels so much and I had such high expectations, and I can't deny that I was a bit disappointed in how the story in Before We Met panned out. Perhaps it should have been longer, or more detailed, or had a different setting, or a different ending - I can't quite put my finger on what it was that made this less successful for me. That's not to say I wouldn't recommend it. If you're a fan of this type of thriller, Whitehouse's superior talent undoubtedly raises it above the vast majority of the identikit Gone Girl wannabes out there, and it's extremely readable. However, if you haven't read The House at Midnight or The Bed I Made, I'd recommend you try those too, to really get a feel for her style.
Profile Image for Violet Stone.
327 reviews32 followers
October 12, 2019
It was just so boring

Like, what do I say? I pretty much DNF'd this one. It drug on and on with her husband not contacting her while he was overseas so she snoops in his office because she doesn't trust him? I kept constantly shaking my head at her choices and just the overall direction this book was going.

I feel like it maybe would have been better as a movie.
Profile Image for Mackenzie - PhDiva Books.
418 reviews14.4k followers
July 10, 2017
This was a tough book to rate! I ended up very gripped by the story, so I went with a 4 over a 3 (maybe it should be a 3.5?). The beginning was slow, and there were a few points in which I had literally no idea where the story was going--the momentum stopped for a bit but there were a million questions remaining. It ends up being twisty and with tons of shocks and twists. The entire ending is heart-pounding as it heads to the ultimate reveal. I recommend this book to psychological thriller lovers!

This novel tells the story of Hannah. Hannah is a Brit living in New York and working in advertising when she meets Mark through mutual friends. Despite being a textbook relationship-saboteur, Hannah falls for Mark (a fellow Brit) and they marry and move to London. The book opens with Hannah meeting Mark at the airport after a business trip, but Mark never shows!

Hannah begins to unravel a number of questions about her marriage as she tries to find out where Mark is. As Hannah looks more deeply into her husband, it becomes clear that she may not really know him at all! Has Hannah been too trusting? Or is she going crazy? Is Mark as perfect as he seems? Is Hannah doomed to follow in the footsteps of her mother?

I don't want to spoil so I won't go more into the plot, other than to say the more Hannah learns, the more enthralled I became. Stick with it through the first 10-20% and you'll be glad you did!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
January 25, 2014
A number of times while I was reading Lucie Whitehouse's new novel, Before We Met, I thought to myself, this is kind of like one of those flicks on Lifetime Movie Network. You know the ones I'm talking about. But believe me when I tell you, that description isn't a bad thing, because this book hooked me completely from start to finish, even as I had an idea about how things would unfold.

On what seems like just a typical Friday night, Hannah Reilly decides to surprise her husband Mark by meeting him at London's Heathrow Airport, where he's scheduled to arrive on a flight from New York. This is familiar territory, as Mark's company used to have New York and London offices. But once everyone from his flight makes it through customs, Mark isn't among the crowd. Hannah is concerned, but can't seem to reach Mark—his cellphone goes right to voice mail. Did he miss his flight? Did something happen?

The next day, she gets a phone call from a tremendously apologetic Mark, who explains the reasons he was detained and unable to call. But that is after she finds out from one of his colleagues that he said he was taking Hannah to Rome this weekend. And why isn't Mark at the hotel he usually stays at while he's in New York, and why hasn't he given her a number to reach him at?

Although Mark promises to return on Tuesday, Hannah is becoming more suspicious, although she swore she'd never be the type of woman who spied on her husband and pried in his business, after she saw what her mother's similar actions did to her parents' marriage. But the more she looks into things to find answers, she finds only more questions. How much does she actually know her husband? Who is the woman he's apparently been talking to on the phone behind closed doors? Is Mark in some kind of trouble with his business?

Lucie Whitehouse ratchets up the suspense incrementally, to the point where you're not quite sure what to believe either. While this book veers into territory we've seen numerous times before, it's a credit to Whitehouse's storytelling ability that you can't stop reading, you can't stop wondering just where things will go. Are there valid excuses for what Hannah finds out? Has Mark been trying to protect her, or simply himself?

This was a quick read for me, and one that completely satisfied me. It doesn't matter that there weren't many surprises—even as you see things coming and you know what questions Hannah should be asking, you want to find out where the story will go. That's the mark (no pun intended) of a pretty great read.
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,109 reviews2,666 followers
February 20, 2014
Hannah Reilly had been living in New York for a number of years, working in a job she enjoyed and meeting up with friends on the weekends, partying on the beach and generally enjoying life. Hannah was a Brit, having grown up with her family just outside London; her mother and brother Tom still lived there, Tom now married to Lydia with two children. He was always on Hannah’s case to meet a guy and settle down, get married, have kids. So the weekend she was once again partying with her friends and a new man arrived, she had no idea her future was about to change dramatically and very quickly.

Mark Reilly was a caring, sincere and genuine guy, and Hannah found him getting under her defences, getting through the walls she’d built around her heart. Though slow to start, their romance was suddenly fully fledged and when she invited him back to spend Christmas with her family in England, only a few months later, her family realized their Hannah had finally found a man she cared deeply about.

Suddenly she was married, had moved from New York back to London and settled into Mark’s beautiful home, and all in a period of five months; Hannah still couldn’t quite believe it had all happened. Mark was a highly successful businessman, owning his own business which he had started at age 23. Consequently he travelled a lot, especially to New York – that was how she had met him after all. So the evening he was due home from yet another business trip to New York, she was waiting at Heathrow for his flight to arrive. She had battled freezing conditions to get there, but she wanted it to be a surprise for Mark.

But Mark didn’t arrive on any of the flights that night; nor was she able to contact him. What was happening? Where was he? As the days wore on and Hannah started to call people who might be able to help her, she realized things weren’t as they should be. The more questions she asked the further away the answers seemed to go… Suddenly she began to question herself – how well did she know Mark? The secrets were becoming obvious – who could she believe? When fear, uncertainty and violence entered her life, Hannah realized that the happiness she had known in the last few months was about to change…

This gripping psychological thriller had me enthralled from start to finish and I thoroughly enjoyed its fast pace, with the twists and turns keeping me on the edge of my chair. I read late into the night to finish it, as I needed to know the outcome! I have no hesitation in recommending this novel highly.

With thanks to TRR and the publisher for my copy to read and review.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,371 reviews920 followers
November 15, 2015
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Hannah has always held herself back from love for fear of becoming like her acrimonious mother after suffering through the divorce from her father. Her uncertainties ceased to exist when she meets Mark; a fellow Brit and a friend of a friend. They fall in love instantaneously and they are married shortly after. A few months into their marriage, Mark is on a business trip to the U.S. and when Hannah was expected to pick him up from his return flight he’s not there. Fearing the worst, she’s finally able to get a hold of him but his excuses only cause her suspicions to grow. As her concerns continue to mount, the cracks in her life begin to appear and nothing is as it seems.

The story alternates between the present and the past, when she first met Mark, and rehashes she knows about him. Hannah’s uncertainties make her realize foolishly how little she truly knows about her husband which causes her to investigate and uncover unpleasant information. ’Before We Met’ captured flawlessly how suspicion and doubt can morph into a crazed paranoia where you aren’t able to clearly discern what is right before your eyes. The building tension is well-done and turned this into quite a page-turner, however, it was quite clear what was going on before Hannah finally caught up with the rest of us. I kept hoping that an unexpected twist would happen at the end but it never did.

I have always been a fan of psychological thrillers and while I understand that comparisons to other novels of the same genre are bound to occur, I can only expect there to be some semblance of originality. Having read ‘Gone Girl’ last year, the comparisons to ‘Before We Met’ are great and while there are slight differences, it only managed to come off as a weaker interpretation. I did have the same issue with both books though, where so much crazy had happened throughout the novel that by the end it had all become so disheveled and unrecognizable from the beginning. It all ended up being a bit too contrived for my liking.

‘Before We Met’ works that little paranoid nerve in all of us by serving as a reminder that you’re never able to truly know a person completely, even the ones you love and have devoted your life to.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,450 reviews7,563 followers
December 10, 2013
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

When Hannah watched her parent’s marriage fall apart, it tainted the idea of a happily-ever-after. Seeing your mother became a raving lunatic, frantically searching through pockets, desk drawers, etc. for clues to an affair that may or may not be happening could do that to a person. Rather than focusing on love, Hannah has always been career driven. She’s made somewhat of a name for herself in advertising and has managed building a life for herself across the pond in New York quite successfully. When mutual friends introduce her to a fellow Londoner on a weekend getaway, Hannah has no idea that she will end up not only in love, but married – giving up her career, apartment and life in New York in order to move back to London with her new husband. Mind you, her new lifestyle is quite comfortable compared to most – a mini-mansion in an up-and-coming neighborhood and a husband who owns a company that he is contemplating selling for millions of dollars should make any girl happy. Unless said husband doesn’t return from a business trip when he says he will and clues to the fact that he hasn’t been 100% truthful about many things during their marriage start to surface.

As always, I am extremely grateful that NetGalley gave me an ARC of this book. However, I find myself in a pickle. Before We Met was a fine book – it was well written, the right length and a quick read. It also was super predictable. I like mysteries to be . . . well, mysterious. Once again (I’ve experienced this reaction way too many times this year) I felt like I was reading a book about what can make a marriage fall apart or how much is too much before you just throw in the towel - not a whoisbad/whoisgood/whatistruth/whatislie that I wanted to read : (
Profile Image for daniela sofia.
581 reviews118 followers
October 21, 2018
Foi o meu primeiro contacto com a Lucie Whitehouse. Tinham-me recomendado os livros dela, ao que parecia tinha uma escrita maravilhosa e um dom especial para o drama e suspense. Acabei por comprar o Antes de te Conhecer, sem qualquer expectativa e sem saber do que se tratava. Vocês sabem que não gosto de ler sinopses porque prefiro começar um livro com a mente vazia e sem expectativas. Começo já a dizer-vos que eu literalmente li este livro num dia. É muito complicado pousar o livro, só queremos ler mais e mais.

Começo por falar na escrita da autora. Sem dúvida que é uma escrita que se destacou perante outros thrillers. Gostei da forma como a escritora consegue falar connosco. Apesar de termos diversas vezes flashbacks do passado isso não quebra a leitura, o que em muitos outros livros acontece. Mesmo quando a personagem principal estava perdida nos seus pensamentos conseguia ser momentos muito interessantes. Acho que é esse o motivo porque a escrita da Lucie Whitehouse se destaca: não é uma escrita aborrecida, é uma escrita cativante. O facto de ser uma escrita tão cativante claro que ajuda a ler mais rápido, a leitura fluí de uma forma esplêndida que ninguém espera.

Outro destaque do livro é sem dúvida a forma como decorre a ação. A autora nunca desvenda tudo, deixa sempre algo mais para ficarmos a pensar e fazer teorias. Lá vem ela e faz-nos mudar de ideias, consegue trocar as voltas e causar mais drama e suspense. Temos aqui mistério da primeira até à última página, o suspense nunca nos abandona. Foi-me complicado conseguir adivinhar o que poderia vir a acontecer, e por vezes distinguir a verdade da mentira foi complicado. Senti-me como a personagem principal muitas das vezes, enganada ao descobrir toda a verdade.

As personagens principais são um casal: Hannah e Mark. Ao ver que encontrava-me perante um thriller com um casal pensei que seria algo baseado ou no rapto do marido ou da mulher. Enganei-me logo. Foi muito melhor que isso. Apesar de tudo foi uma história de amor. Não é um cliché romântico, nada disso. É uma história que de certo modo consegue abrir os olhos dos leitores, mostrar a verdade através da ficção. Sabemos que relações deste género acontecem, mas nunca pensámos nisso.

Recomendo-vos que leiam este thriller. Vão gostar imenso, vão apaixonar-se pela escrita e personagens criadas pela Lucie Whitehouse. Um livro que sem dúvida entrou para os favoritos. Apenas não chegou às cinco estrelas porque esperava um final um pouco mais dramático, porém não deixou de ser um grande livro. Vale a pena dar uma oportunidade ao livro e à escritora.
Profile Image for Crystal Craig.
250 reviews574 followers
November 7, 2015
This book was just okay. It lacked something.

When I begin a book, I need to be pulled into a story, and, unfortunately, this novel didn't have the punch to do that. I never connected with any of the characters - though my attention was somewhat held just enough that I managed to finish; if that makes any sense. I'm sort-of all over with my review, but I want to express my feelings without being too negative. I won't be pushing this book at anyone, but at the same time, just because it wasn't for me, doesn't mean it won't work for you.

A solid two stars. I need to feel something while reading. Without feeling, the story won't remain with me for long, and that's my ultimate goal; to find those books that stay with me forever.
Profile Image for Karen.
879 reviews477 followers
January 14, 2014
I love a twisty, tension filled psychological thriller and this certainly didn’t disappoint. From the moment that newly married Hannah is left waiting at Heathrow for her husband Mark to return from a business trip from New York, the reader is left in no doubt that all is not well. Mark’s initial attempts to explain why he wasn’t on the flight and how he lost his phone don’t entirely convince Hannah, especially when she finds out that his colleagues were expecting him to be somewhere else and she reluctantly starts digging a little deeper into their finances and his business. What she discovers devastates her and although she thought they were both very much in love, she is starting to doubt the man she married. When she questions his friends she discovers discrepancies which make her wonder about his past and the secrets he may be hiding.

Hannah is no ballbreaker, neither is she meek and silly, she is an engaging character with emotions and worries that you could identify with. They were introduced through mutual friends whilst they were both working in New York and she thought she had found her perfect man. She is determined not to be like her mother, who drove her father away with her constant checking and accusations of affairs and has taken a lot on trust. However her discoveries leave her feeling vulnerable and afraid – having given up her NY job when they married to live with Mark in London, she has no resources of her own and her fears that Mark is having an affair and planning to leave her feel very real.

There were so many twists and turns in the story that it was difficult to decide between the lies and the truth.. As the story progresses the tension builds and it takes a sinister turn. There were times when I was so concerned as to the danger that Hannah could be walking into that I was almost too scared to read on.

I’ve read and enjoyed both of Lucie Whitehouse’s previous books The House at Midnight and The Bed I Made but this superbly crafted novel takes her writing to another level of suspense and I loved it.

My thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for the digital copy for review.
Profile Image for Mandy.
165 reviews8 followers
April 15, 2014
Before We Met is billed as a psychological thriller. Hannah and Mark have been married all of 5 months after a 3 month courtship (as it were) and amazingly, Hannah discovers that she doesn't actually know anything about her new husband other than the stories he's told her. Over the course of a weekend, she discovers that he's been lying to her all this time (5 whole months!).

The novel uses flashbacks to corroborate Hannah's memories but as a result, for the first two-thirds of the book, not much seems to actually HAPPEN. Hannah remembers stuff, we're taken back to the event she remembers, and then she realises that maybe it's not true. Cue the next event. By half-way through the book, the reader has pretty much figured it out and is just waiting for Hannah to put all the obvious pieces together. There are no red herrings, no twists. Everything is sign-posted ever so clearly, which makes the denouement all that more disappointing.

The last couple of chapters were actually pacey and engaging but by then it was really too late. This needed a real edit in terms of pacing or, if this was the desired effect, then don't brand it as a thriller.
Profile Image for Patricia.
416 reviews50 followers
October 16, 2013
I believe one of the true pleasures of reading a good book is the anticipation, the wondering what is going to happen next. This book was sure a nail-biter in that regard. Hannah has met and married the man of her dreams. She's a woman who has real trust issues, but she believes she has found her soul mate in Mark. He's perfect, handsome, suave, ambitious, driven, and successful. But then slowly she starts discovering little secrets that make her doubt him. She doubts him, he soothes away her doubts. What a surprise when she, and you the reader, finally figures out what is going on. A real psychological thriller, this book had me captured from the very first page, and kept me wondering until the very end. Loved it!

I received an ARC of this book in return for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Linda Strong.
3,880 reviews1,634 followers
April 22, 2016
Hannah Reilly is happily married to Mark. She has the perfect marriage ... until the day her husband doesn't come home from his business trip.

Hannah begins a search ... and finds that everything he has ever told her has been a lie. His parents are not dead ... he did not meet his best friends in college .... and he has always refused to talk about his brother, Nick. On top of that, her bank account has been wiped out.

When Mark finally shows up, she confronts him with his lies. And he tells her his version ...but is it really the truth ... or some more of his lies?

And when a female acquaintance is found murdered .... she fears for her very life.

This was a rare book I didn't like the characters. I couldn't connect with Hannah .. she seemed so naive for an adult woman. Mark was just too good to be true... until he wasn't.

This was just an okay book for me.
Profile Image for Dario.
51 reviews11 followers
June 10, 2020
Che dire.. veramente un bel libro .. molto scorrevole ed intrigante .. un gira pagina continuo per sapere cosa si nascondo nella successiva pagina .. ed alla fine rimarrete di stucco :).
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews995 followers
November 11, 2013
**4.5 stars**

Psychological Thriller

Coming January 16th From Bloomsbury.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the advance copy via netgalley.

A whirlwind romance. A perfect marriage. Hannah Reilly has seized her chance at happiness. Until the day her husband fails to come home…

Oh goody. Anyone that follows my reviews in various places will know that one of my favourite things is a well written twisty tale, so I put my brain into gear, surrounded myself with chocolate and dived into this one with great anticipation. I have just emerged, sporting a classic case of bed hair, having been taken for a rollercoaster ride of love, marriage, deception and a devilish plot twisting heart of darkness. Fabulous.

So, one perfectly normal day, Hannah Reilly tootles off to the airport to pick up Husband Mark from another one of his business trips – when he fails to arrive she is baffled, worried and yet practical…a few phone calls, a bit of running around and sometime later, everything is seemingly explained. However something is nagging at Hannah and so she begins a journey into Mark’s past..and his life before they met.

Now we readers all know that one dimensional characters will not work with a story like this – so luckily Hannah is anything but. Her background and previous life story is perfectly drawn so that everything she does whilst trying to find out the truth is realistic and likely – even if she seems naive at times. How well do you really know the people in your life? How much do you take on trust? Those questions are covered here an in a clever, compelling and multi stranded tale that weaves a web of deception around the lives of the characters therein – but who exactly is deceiving who and why? Well that is the question is it not.

The story ebbs and flows at a perfect pace, those surrounding Hannah all help and hinder, the drama plays out in perfect harmony….until the impeccable finale where all is finally revealed. Intelligently done, whether you come to the correct conclusions during the reading of this one will purely come down to what your sense of the characters tells you. Who will you trust? We’ll see.

Unbelievable as it may seem, this is the first novel from Lucie Whitehouse that I have read. I now discover that there are two previous ones, both looking equally intriguing. Do not fear, I shall rectify that as soon as possible – watch this space…

Happy Reading Folks!
Profile Image for Cleopatra  Pullen.
1,353 reviews299 followers
January 4, 2014
Hannah sits at Heathrow airport ready to greet her husband of eight months, realising he is not on the flight she expected she waits for the next one to arrive from JFK. In the early hours of the morning she returns home worried and alone. Instantly I was able to imagine myself in a similar situation and measure Hannah’s behaviour to how I believe I would behave, in short sympathise with her. When she finally receives word from Mark, it is to tell her that he will be away for the weekend without a phone. At this point Hannah begins to question her marriage and how much she actually knows about Mark.

Hannah is not a particular complex character but she has a dread of turning into her mother; a wife who drove her husband mad with her constant snooping and accusations of adultery until he left. Her brother Tom is a good secondary character with a much more balanced view of life.
I enjoyed this read, travelling in Hannah’s footsteps as she turns up clue after clue, desperately wanting to believe that she is being paranoid, just like her mother was. With the tension heightened I was as keen as Hannah to hear Mark’s explanation. Unfortunately for Hannah her mind is not put completely at ease and she continues to question her marriage.

As this book hurtles towards its denouement you could be forgiven that you have finished by reading a different type of book than the one you started as things take a turn of the thriller variety. For once I had worked out the twist before it happened which is highly unusual but instead of disappointing me I gave myself a pat on the back!

A well-paced plot and although I was left feeling that there were some unanswered questions it was an enjoyable read and one that I would recommend to other lovers of psychological thrillers.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers Bloomsbury Publishing Plc in return for this honest review.
Profile Image for Jessica J..
1,020 reviews1,962 followers
March 21, 2014
I don't know what's going on with my brain lately, but I've been reading a ton of marriage-themed novels lately. And they're not happy marriage books, either. They're books about married couples who cheat on each other and let the little day-to-day minutiae of life eat away at their relationships.

Before We Met is a bit of a marriage novel, but it bills itself as a psychological thriller and is meant to cash in on the comparisons to Gone Girl. It's about Hannah, a Brit who lived in New York for many years before meeting and marrying Mark and returning to London with him. Hannah is in the midst of a long, discouraging job search when Mark doesn't come back from a business trip as scheduled. Once she confirms that he's safe, her initial suspicion is that he's having an affair. But then she discovers some financial issues, and we're led down a rabbit hole of deception and intrigue.

I just didn't like this one much at all. I never really felt any suspense while I was reading it and I didn't really care whether I found out what was going on or not. The plot itself barely rises above cliche and the characters never really do. And it's pretty obvious, to me at least, that when a character tells a story that it meant to clear up any confusion and there's still more than half a book to go, that character is pretty obviously lying his little ass off. Granted, the character being lied to wouldn't know this, but that's why I felt no suspense -- I was just waiting for Hannah to figure out what was being made obvious to the reader.
Profile Image for i..
331 reviews33 followers
April 1, 2016
This book seemed to me like a cautionary tale for women in their thirties or older who may think that it is still possible to marry a nice guy who is not a psychopath and I didn't like that idea but I liked the book. It makes you want to read on until you find out what is going on.

I recommend this book to fans of mystery novels ,but if you have just started dating somebody who seems to be the one, just don't read it because you may end up asking him endless questions about his past , his school , his friends and googling him on the internet 24/7 just in case. That will certainly ruin the relationship and turn you into a psycho unless he is lying through his teeth and has a hidden past .
Profile Image for Gail.
398 reviews
May 22, 2014
I really wanted to rate this book 3.5 stars but gave it 4 instead of marking it down.

It is an unremarkable psychological thriller and it filled a gap whilst waiting for the next R J Ellory book to come out.

I won't go into he details of the plot save to say we have a mysterious, lying husband, Mark, and his wife, Hannah, who takes to sleuthing to uncover his lies.

I did enjoy it and it held my attention, reading it in one day, but the outcome is completely expected, as is most of the plot if I'm honest.

A nice, easy little read.
Profile Image for Christine.
831 reviews148 followers
June 16, 2014
This is a fairly good psychological thriller to pass the time with, if you have a few hours to spare. It is pretty straight-forward, with no real surprises.

The story is of a newly married woman, who starts to delve into the past of her husband after he fails to return home from a trip. She has an odd relationship with him or so I thought. Strangely enough, she married the man, but is unable to talk to him. Secrets start to unravel. Talking takes place, with a bit of murder thrown in.
Profile Image for Liz.
575 reviews22 followers
February 12, 2016
This book has mixed reviews but I really enjoyed it. I was drawn into the story from the very first chapter and although the feeling of menace grew quite slowly throughout the book I did feel that it was very real. The ending was perhaps predictable but still believable and chilling!
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