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Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You
Mhairi McFarlane
Harper Collins AUS
2019, 416p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

When Laurie’s partner of eighteen years, Dan, dumps her to ‘find himself’ (and leave her on the shelf at 36), she is blindsided. But not as blindsided as when he announces that his new girlfriend is now pregnant.

Working in the same office with Dan is soon unbearable – until the day she gets stuck in the lift with her handsome colleague Jamie. Jamie is looking for a way to improve his reputation in the company and what better way for Jamie to advance and Laurie to give the rumour mill something else to talk about than a fake relationship?

As Laurie and Jamie progress from Instagram snaps to dates, dancing and more, Laurie feels herself falling further for her unlikely hero. But you can’t break your heart in a fake relationship. Can you?

So I love Mhairi McFarlane, I’ve said that before so many times. A new book from her is like a gift and a new book at Christmas time is even better. I grabbed a copy of this one from NetGalley a little while ago but I kept it for my holiday because it would be like a reward. Get through 2 days of driving and then you can read a new book by a favourite author. And this one has one of my very favourite romance tropes – the fauxmance.

Laurie is 36 and has been with her boyfriend Dan since university, when they were 18. She’s been planning to try for a baby soon and she thinks Dan is on board. But after a night out where she realises just how terrifying the dating pool is now, Dan blindsides her by telling her he’s not happy and that he not only wants her not to come off the Pill, but he actually doesn’t even want to be with her anymore and that they should split up. Although he denies that anyone else involved, he eventually has to tell Laurie that he has a new girlfriend just 10 weeks later – and that his new girlfriend is pregnant in a slip up.

Laurie is completely devastated. She faces starting again in her mid-thirties, knowing that her chances of being able to have a child have now been drastically reduced. Dan, whom she loved and whom she thought loved her, has completely eroded her self confidence and belief in herself. She wants to know what she did wrong, so that she doesn’t do it again. And when Dan helplessly tells her that it’s not anything she’s done…’s less than helpful. Because if it isn’t, then how can she fix whatever it is about herself that made him leave?

A chance encounter in a lift with a handsome work colleague leads to a crazy idea – Laurie and Jamie will fake a relationship for mutual benefit. Jamie is a bit of a commitment phobe, but one who wants to be partner. The bosses aren’t keen on a man without a stable home life and Laurie is a favoured employee. Dating Laurie will definitely boost Jamie’s stock big time. And Jamie is smart, excellently dressed and beautiful. Laurie wants Dan to hurt like she did.

I enjoyed this a lot. Laurie is a really wonderful, well rounded character. She’s excellent at her job, she’s hard working, and passionate about what she does. She was comfortable and secure in her relationship with Dan, pushing him to be the best he could be professionally. She is completely shocked when he ends it and utterly heartbroken. But slowly, without Dan, she realises that with him, she hadn’t been living her best life. She was more about supporting him and getting him to where he needed to be. When Jamie suggests the fake romance, for Laurie it’s a way to kind of get one back on Dan for the hurt he has caused her. But soon, the fake romance brings Jamie and Laurie close together.

One thing I liked about this was the way in which they got to know each other. This is no insta-romance with insta-chemistry. Laurie is recovering from a real shock and Jamie doesn’t have any interest in the beginning, in being in a relationship or even in a one night stand with Laurie. He wants to advance professionally and he knows how smart and well liked she is at work and how having her on his side, will really help people see him in a new light. At first it’s carefully constructed Instagram photos and fake dates but soon it morphs into them telling each other their deepest feelings, supporting each other through truly deep and distressing personal scenarios. There’s a building of trust and like as well, even though they obviously see each other as attractive people, it’s not about that for the longest time. I felt like they had really built something that would carry them through – both of them had seen the other during some really difficult and emotional times. Laurie had not only the break up with Dan but also other things in her personal life as well and Jamie was very supportive and defensive of her. I also liked that he pulled Laurie up on her misconceptions of him – Jamie had a bit of a reputation that had followed him from his previous job but apart from his first appearance in the book, he rarely acted like what had been said about him. It takes Laurie a little while to judge him as she finds him, not on what she’s heard of him.

I thought this was a cute, fun read, perfect for summer and being on holidays and relaxing. It’s not my favourite Mhairi McFarlane – I honestly think that will forever be It’s Not Me, It’s You – but it was highly enjoyable and something I’d probably read again in the future.


Book #214 of 2019


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