Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North. It’s a psychological thriller, and in equal measures a story about grief and mental health.
Lauren North writes psychological suspense novels that delve into the darker side of relationships and families. She has a lifelong passion for writing, reading, and all things books. Lauren’s love of psychological suspense has grown since childhood and her dark imagination of always wondering what’s the worst thing that could happen in every situation.
Lauren studied psychology before moving to London where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside.
‘I thought she was our friend. I thought she was trying to help us.’
After the sudden death of her husband, Tess is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope. When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is beautiful, confident and takes control when Tess can’t bear to face the outside world. She is the perfect friend to Tess and Jamie, but when Jamie’s behaviour starts to change, and Tess starts to forget things, she begins to suspect that Shelley might not be the answer to their problems after all.
When questions arise over her husband’s death and strange things start to happen, Tess begins to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but who can she trust?
I’m going to try and be careful not to give away anything that might reveal the plot in its entirety, because the emotional crescendo at the end and psychological aspect of the story is what makes it such a captivating read.
When Tess loses her husband unexpectedly her grief envelopes her whole world. She becomes fiercely protective of her young son Jamie, almost to the point of being paranoid and self-destructive. A grief counsellor called Shelley tries to help Tess deal with her loss, but ends up making her doubt herself and her surroundings even more.
The paranoia Tess experiences is magnified tenfold by her brother-in-law Ian. He is pushing Tess to deal with the financial aftermath of the death, pushing entirely in his favour of course. His greed and the fact there seem to be discrepancies and unanswered questions about the death of her spouse make Tess even more sensitive to the odd things that start happening around her.
The author captures the intensity of the grief process and how it manifests differently in each of us. In some people it manifests in feelings of anger, guilt, fear, perhaps even relief depending on the circumstances of the loss. Grief isn’t necessarily rational and can cause an altered state of mind.
I think the most difficult thing is that the people outside of that intense inner ring of grief often lack compassion, empathy and understanding about the way a grieving person may react. They expect the grieving person to deal with it, get over it and just move on to the next chapter of their lives. It isn’t that simple. Grief is a pit of embers that alights when triggered. Those embers may be less likely to precede a fire with time, but make no mistake they are always hidden somewhere deep inside.
It’s a psychological thriller, and in equal measures a story about grief and mental health. How the emotional turmoil caused by despair, death and losing the people you love the most can drive a person to the brink.
North brings the story full circle at the end, and in a way brings the most realistic element of this tale into the last few pages. Tess makes a decision for her own well-being, perhaps not what everyone thinks is best, but in that moment in time it’s the right thing for her or is it?