Like a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer

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Like a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer

Like a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer

This was a pretty good read

I liked it quite a bit but it does have its bumps. I think what I enjoyed the most is that while I found some problems in the story, the actual writing style was really nice. McBrayer sure can write and I was surprised by how fast I flew through this book. A book that had a lot to do with many things that I could not relate to, yet I could not stop flipping the pages. I’ve heard some people classify this as contemporary, and others as a romance, but really to me this was both of them combined at about a 50/50 mix. If you go into this read just expecting contemporary, you might be disappointed because this is definitely a romance too. For my personal tastes, the 50/50 worked well and it reminded me of books that I used to read a while ago so I enjoyed that familiar feeling.


The premise is about getting to middle age and starting a new job that is a struggle to balance with being a mother of two young kids, but a lovely bonus is that you realize you just met your soul mate. Unfortunately, the problem is your soul mate is not your husband that you come home to every night after your new job. With a premise like that, I’m sure it is no surprise that I have to mention that one of the storylines in this book is about cheating. This is not a book for everyone so if reading about cheating in books bothers you, I would pass on this. I found that this story reminded me of some of the earlier sapphic books I ever read. Sapphic books have really changed over the years but there used to be many toaster oven romances about a woman who was married or engaged, normally to someone pretty awful or abusive, but they would meet a woman and fall in love, and try to decide where their life would go from there. So while this infidelity toaster oven romance trope was nothing new to me, I liked getting to read a type of story that I have not read in a long time.

I found the characters to be very interesting. While I really liked Jane “the other woman” almost the whole book, the main character Merit had me very up and down. There were times I felt so much sympathy for her, and other times I wanted to yell some sense into her. Corey, the husband was also an interesting character for me. It’s funny but in reading some of the other reviews, people thought he was just the worse when I actually think he wasn’t so bad. To me, he seemed too comfortable in his little world, and because of that very absent when it came to marriage and some fatherly responsibilities. I think part of the problem was that he’s not a mind reader and Merit wasn’t a good communicator or good at standing up for herself, so why would he change. I mean don’t get me wrong, it was a bad marriage and I was invested in what Merit would do, but the fact Corey wasn’t so terrible, allowed me to have at least a little sympathy for him which made the whole dilemma even more interesting to read.

This is getting kind of long but I want to briefly touch on a few of the bumps:

1. I forgot to mention but this is also an age-gap romance so I think McBrayer having the younger Merit call Jane “Bitch”, and having the older Jane call Merit “Little Bird”, all the time was to show the age difference but it was annoying and weird instead.

2. My second issue was the romance progression. It had a wonderful slow-moving friendship, and a chemistry-filled coupling, even without explicit sex scenes (although sex was both had and talked about a lot), but there were not enough in-between moments. There was not enough of learning Merit’s true feelings and the pinning you’d expect. There is plenty of that after they start having sex, but that middle of really seeing Merit’s feelings change from friendship to how she could fall for a woman isn’t where they needed to be.

3. My third issue was that I wanted to see more independence and growth for Merit. I think her character arc had so much potential but it didn’t quite get there.

4. My final main issue was the ending. While it was fine and I liked it, I wanted more. We find out ‘what’ happens, but we don’t know ‘how’ it did. For being on this long journey, that all led to this one final decision, having a time jump that skips the messy, or happy, or sad, or whatever parts, well it skips all the good stuff I was waiting for. Is having an emotionally charged 20 extra pages too much of an ask? I don’t think so with how good of a writer McBrayer is, I think it should have been in the book.

TLDR: This review was way longer than I wanted it to be so this part is very necessary. While this was a story that had some obvious issues, it still was one of the better page-turners, in contemporary fiction, that I have read lately. McBrayer sure can write, and she had me hooked on the story almost immediately. I think I’m a little disappointed because I think this book could have been great, but as it stands this would still make a really good vacation/beach read when you just want to get lost in a book that has good pacing and is just very readable. This book will not be for everyone so I would recommend it for people who like both contemporary and romance, and as long as you don’t mind reading an infidelity storyline. I would definitely read McBrayer again since I found her writing style to be a very comfortable read. 3.75 stars.

An ARC was given to me for a review.

Like a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayerLike a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer

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