If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane takes one of my absolutely favourite romance tropes and brings something fresh to it. It’s sweet and funny but there’s also a surprising depth to it and I loved how relevant and real it felt. I loved the romance but I also loved the diversity, the friendships and the many other little threads woven through the story.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT
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?
The fake relationship trope is one of absolute faves, so when I heard one of my favourite writers next book was gonna have just that I knew I had to read it. Yes it’s been done many, many times before but McFarlane brings something fresh and new to it. With a feminist slant to it and some clever messaging around social media and dating apps this feels very now and extremely relevant.
Main character Laurie is very relatable and incredibly likeable. She’s clever, determined, good at her job and fiercely loyal to her friends. Her devastation at long term partner Dan leaving her and moving straight on with another woman is very real and I was angry and upset right along with her.
It makes it very believable that she agrees to a fake relationship with co worker Jamie, despite warnings from her best friend Emily that she’s not cut out for lying and there will be consequences.
Jamie for his part is new book boyfriend material. He’s just lovely. He has an admittedly well deserved reputation with women but he’s completely upfront and honest in his views and is actually very sweet, attentive and considerate to Laurie.
They may be very different but it’s clear from the start that they’re perfect for each other. They just seem comfortable together, they understand each other and yes there is most definitely a spark. It isn’t insta love however so it’s a joy to watch them discover their feelings gradually.
I also have to say how much I loved the secondary characters. They may not all have big roles in the story but each and every one was memorable. Nadia in particular was an absolute stand out for me, in a batshit crazy, unintentionally hilarious kind of way. I want her as my bestie.
Another highlight for me was the depth to the story, the other threads woven through which highlighted a lot of very current issues, the everyday sexism Laurie faces in a workplace dominated by men, the racist comments, dating apps, the dangers of social media and also families. It’s incredibly well done by the author. I’m positive every book McFarlane writes is better than the last and I just love her style.
Overall this is a great read with real depth, diversity and wonderful writing. I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a contemporary romance.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. This has in no way influenced my review. If I Never Met You will be published on the 1st January 2020 (so not too long to wait)