If I Never Met you by Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 41qbp1hsgrl._sx322_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 1st January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 431

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

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…

Rating: four-stars

 

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!

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

 

34109621Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 1st January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 315

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 07.03.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to rise again…

The hilarious new heartbreaker from Mhairi McFarlane!

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…

Rating: four-stars

 

Georgina is working in probably the worst Italian restaurant in Sheffield, has a narcissistic boyfriend, a patronising family that doesn’t understand her life choices, a housemate from hell, and then she’s not only unfairly sacked from her job but also finds her boyfriend in a very unambiguous situation with his PA. And this is when she’s thought things couldn’t get possibly any worse… But at last luck seems to be on her side when she gets an unexpected job offer at a newly refurbished pub, run by the brilliant Dev. However, then she meets Dev’s brother, and business partner, Lucas – her first ever love. She immediately recognizes him, but he doesn’t remember her. Or maybe he doesn’t WANT to remember her?

I think Georgina, as a main character, may trigger mixed feelings but I liked her. She was funny and sharp and relatable and her life was so full of problems: she loved being a waitress, even if she was working at the worst place possible so when she’s fired, in front of the full restaurant, she’s truly shocked. She feels comfortable with her boyfriend but then she discovers something and even though she’s so right about her decision he doesn’t want to let her go. Her flatmate seems to hate her, leaving her passive – aggressive notes and her step – father also seems to hate her, and for sure he doesn’t appreciate her, and so on, and so on. So really, to be honest, nothing comes easy to her. But I loved the fact that she never gave up, that she tried to process her dramas and, despite all of the troubles, she’s happy with her life. – even though she sometimes felt like a failure, sometimes didn’t know what to do with herself and her life. The continuous reminders of her being thirty and that perhaps it’s really time to slow down and do something useful (ie. get married and start to produce children) also didn’t help. But she was strong, she had great friends and she never gave up, and this is why I liked her so much. Of course, there is still some self – doubt but on the whole she was more or less happy with this what she had and she felt comfortable in her own skin.

The romance aspect was, in fact, the background story – it was Georgina’s tale, and I loved it that way, though, I must admit, Lucas was absolutely, totally delicious. Yes, let’s swoon a little about Lucas. Sigh. I simply adored him, even with him blowing hot and cold. The younger Lucas, the one that was Georgina’s boyfriend, came across as absolutely brilliant, responsible and honest teenager while the older one seemed much more moodier but there is a reason to this, oh yes, there is. But let’s put the moods aside, guys, he was simply perfect. And had a dog Keith – what more would you need, right?
Those were actually the characters that made the book so outstanding, I think. They were all so brilliantly developed and full of personality and even if they were absolutely unlikeable – yes, I’m looking at you, Geoffrey, you little toad – you had to appreciate how much work went into all of them, how realistic they all felt. They were strong, not too meh, complex and complicated, just like they should be.

The family dynamics in the story were so well captured! My heart broken at Georgina’s attempts to hide the truth from her mother and sister and, as it turned out, they wanted to do the same. Also, at the fact that she still couldn’t process her dad’s death, at the guilty feeling she was still having – she really had a heart in the right place. The descriptions of the dysfunctional family from Georgina’s childhood were so realistic and plausible, as well as the family from her present days – the meetings at her sister’s were hilarious, especially when we think about the grandmother Nana Hogg, and also full of hurt, pain and bad feelings.

Sure, there were also some things that felt undone or ended abruptly, or too conventionally, like with the short drama with the diary, I’d love a little more depth and development in the Georgina and Lucas’s relationship but they were only small bumps on the otherwise smooth journey but on the whole the book was written in a very easy to read, flowing style that I enjoyed very much. The plot was relatively simple but Mhairi McFarlane’s take on it simply brilliant. There were moments that it felt predictable, the will they/won’t they were there but it was written in such a refreshing, engaging way that it truly didn’t bother me. The events felt so natural, the pace was just spot on, the romance was well developed and I literally raced through this book. The humour there was just my kind of humour, I loved Georgina’s sharp tongue and her one – liners and the banter was witty and warm. It was a perfect mix of laugh, tears, heartbreak and hope. There was much more to this book that you could initially think. It’s about not allowing others to put you down, about raising above, about getting over your old demons. A hilarious novel with an unexpected depth to it, story about second chances, coming to terms with your past and growing to value yourself. There are some very strong messages in this book, wrapped up amongst the laughs so if you’re looking for a light, heart – warming story that will make you think as well, don’t hesitate and treat yourself to “Don’t You Forget About Me” – highly recommended!