If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date: 1st January 2020
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 431
Genre: General Fiction, Romance
If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?
When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.
Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…
Laurie Watkinson and Dan Price have been together since university, that is, for 18 years. They love each other, they’re comfortable, they have good jobs as lawyers at the same firm in Manchester and they enjoy their lives. And are even thinking about starting a family. That is, until it turns out, that Laurie is thinking. Dan is over – thinking: he doesn’t want the same things are Laurie wants. He wants out. He dumps her. And immediately starts a relationship with another woman who also immediately fells pregnant of course. To tell that Laurie is devastated would be an understatement.
One day she’s stuck in the lift at work with Jamie Carter, the firm lothario, and they decide to stage a “faux – mance”, as they both can benefit from it. Let’s the fun and games begin, right? Has Laurie supposed that there is much more depth to Jamie than she’s thought? Has she expected that this fake relationship will help her build self esteem and confidence? How it is actually going to end?
The absolute highlight of this story was how the romance aspect was developing, how it underlined the importance of friendship before anything can happen but also, and believe me, yes, we know the formula, we know those arranged and fake office romances are similar, predictable and likely to end in tears, this time the plot simply brilliantly worked in this book. Also, the characters are one of the strongest points here. They’re believable, likeable, and although there were some moments that made me roll my eyes thinking, yeah, for sure, this is going to never happen in real life, like the conversation between Jamie, Dan and Michael, I mean, who would allowed to be talked to like that, I was totally engrossed in their lives, and this is always a good sign. When you get to know Jamie, you quickly learn that he’s not this pretentious, irritating, arrogant Lothario that other think he is. Yes, he is ambitious and hard – working but he truly knows where the priorities are and there is this gorgeous, lovely vulnerable side to him. It was not to be hidden that he respected Laurie, acting like a gentleman, always putting her first, which was a great change after getting to know Dan.
Laurie, even though she’s also ambitious and hard – working, she’s also smart, funny and sharp. It’s so normal that her confidences sky – rocketed downhill after the break – up, and it made her feel even more realistic and genuine, because let’s be honest, who wouldn’t feel like that after ending a relationship that lasted nearly half of your lifetime, right? I loved to see her growing in confidence again, mending her heart, seeing another perspective. They were both so at ease in each other company, I adored their banter.
The beginning was brilliant but then it went a bit confusing for me, and it felt like this until Laurie and Jamie’s deal, as then the story really gained speed and started to fill with McFarlane’s hallmark sarcastic humour – just what I like best. I adored the fact that this time the author’s observations and descriptions of feelings and emotions were spot on. The author has a way with words, even the normal banter between the characters feels fresh, sharp and authentic. She has paced her story really well (well, except for the part right after the beginning until the deal – I know, I know, I’m repeating myself!) and made it unique and refreshing, without making the plot unnecessary complex and complicated. Her characters are realistic and have depth to them, much more that you could expect.
It was a funny (even though this time the humour didn’t resonate with me right from the beginning and on all levels), light and witty book, also filled with insightful thoughts. Although at the beginning I couldn’t connect with Laurie, I’m not sure why, it was somehow hard to keep track with her but it quickly changed and I started to love her, her being so smart, seeing under the surface, seeing things that other didn’t want to see. It was a lovely, heart-warming and entertaining read – if you get through the most confusing first part. It touches upon some tricky issues, such like dysfunctional families, love, hate, betrayal, hope and loss and the author deals with them all in a skilful, gentle way, not forgetting to balance the most heavier parts with humour. What I really liked is the fact that the book is not too sugary, you know, it’s not heart – ripping but also not only sweet, charming and beds of roses kind. Highly recommended!