I was sent this book in exchange for an honest review.
When Houses Burn by Laurèn Lee
Opening sentence:”Dr. Hedley, your next patient is here to see you.”
I have to say, I whizzed through this easy-to-read psychological thriller. Narrated by psychiatrist Dr. Delilah Hedley, we meet her just as she takes on a new patient, the enigmatic Lucas Finch. The thing is, Lucas has been court ordered to attend these sessions due to the fact the house fire that killed his parents may or may not have been started by him.
Married Dr. Hedley is immediately attracted to him, as she puts it, ‘he could’ve been a Greek God in a past life.’ This sets the scene for the twisted romance element that is central to the plot. We are given flashback chapters to Delilah’s past, centring around her personal traumas and troubled relationship with her abusive husband, which could explain her feelings for Lucas, despite being married.
Dr. Hedley is a hard character to read, on the one hand she comes across as determined and intelligent, then on the other, she stays with her abusive husband and never quite gives a valid reason for that. Also, there are certain points in the plot when she walks into situations without properly thinking them through, in ways that, for me, didn’t make sense to the character, frustratingly she even acknowledges this, ‘I knew better, and yet, here I was, trapped between an abusive, cheating husband and a man who may very well be manipulating me.’ I would be inclined to take this as an admission of human flaws, we are all guilty of doing things we know we shouldn’t after all, if it wasn’t for the ending…
For the sake of no spoilers, I won’t go into details, but I will say that this book finishes with Dr. Hedley so easily swept into an insane situation that, for me, it required a suspension of disbelief to think we are meant to believe this character, that has been established as a respected psychiatrist, would let her life spiral in such a crazy, illegal direction. Perhaps a little more build up and more exploration of Dr.Hedley’s thought process would have helped to make the ending feel a tad more seamless.
Overall though, I enjoyed the premise of this book, there is always something exciting about forbidden romance, especially when an element of danger is thrown into the mix in the whole Clarice / Hannibal Lecter way, but if the characters had been fleshed out a bit more, especially Lucas, who had the potential to be a really interesting villain, then I would have found it a richer read. However, I would definitely put this on my holiday TBR list, it’s entertaining, well-written escapism.