ARC Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
by Mhairi McFarlane
Released: March 24, 2020
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks
“If I Never Met You was funny and insightful and I can’t wait to read more from this author.”
~ Under the Covers
When Laurie’s boyfriend of almost two decades ends their relationship, she’s left adrift. Being dumped after 18 years is bad enough, but as they also work in the same law firm they also have to see each other everyday. So, when her ex gets his new girlfriend of only three months pregnant she is left reeling. But, a plan if formed when she gets stuck in a lift with the office playboy; a fake relationship between them, to include splashing of photos on social media and fake dates. She will stop being pitied in the office gossip and show her ex exactly what he’s missing and he gets a veneer of respectability to help him in an upcoming promotion. But, soon it becomes hard to distinguish where the “fake” in the relationship ends and the real feelings begin.
I read my first Mhairi McFarlane book last year and it become one of my best of 2019, so I was really excited to dive on to her 2020 release. I was not disappointed. McFarlane has such an engaging writing style, it completely envelops you into Laurie’s world and has you happily devouring the pages. Needless to say, I think this one is going to be be a best of 2020.
I recently read Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams which was a romance that also tried to tackle a heavy subject matter; sexual harassment. For me, it didn’t do this very successfully, I felt like I was being preached at and told what was the acceptable opinion. Not that I disagreed, I just hated being spoke down to, which is how I felt. However, in If I Never Met You, I felt like McFarlane addressed heavy subjects like misogyny and racism with a much lighter, but no less impactful, touch.
But, this book may not be for everyone, although it is a contemporary romance, it has a HEA, it also has the feel of a women’s fiction novel. This book was very much about Laurie’s journey which just so happens to have a romance along the way. After being in a relationship with someone since her first week in University, Laurie is trying to find her new identity as an individual rather than as the second half of a couple. This is at times funny, Laurie is smart and witty and I loved seeing her gain confidence, and sad as Laurie has to face the rejection of the man she has loved for almost 20 years.
But, lets talk romance. Jamie, the office player and second half of the fake relationship Laurie embarks on, turns out to be so much more than I expected. At first, I thought he would just be a sexy, but fairly two dimensional prop in Laurie’s journey, however, he really developed into much more. As their friendship develops we get to see that “playboy Jamie” isn’t perhaps the man we thought he was, and that everyone else’s expectations fueled by malicious office gossip has painted him in an unfair light. The relationship between them developed really naturally and seeing them both discover what was under the surface was a delight.
This wasn’t the only important relationship in this book though. I recently listened to an episode of the Fated Mates podcast regarding female friendship in romance books. If you haven’t listened to Fated Mates it is a podcast hosted by author Sarah McLean and blogger Jen from Jen Reads Romance all about romance books. This book reminded me of that episode, in a nutshell, women aren’t islands and seeing friendships between women is important. This book compounds that idea and the relationship between Laurie and her best friend Emily was just as important and acknowledged as such, as the romantic relationship.
This book utilises a lot of tropes; fake relationship, friends to lovers, office romance, however, it manages to blend them together in an organic way to create a delightful experience. If I Never Met You was funny and insightful and I can’t wait to read more from this author.
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