Almost a DNF at 12%. What happened next?
March 24, 2020
William Morrow Paperbacks
Blurb: 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…
We all have certain expectations when we pick up books by authors we’ve read before. Admittedly that can be unfair to an author who is trying something new, unless we’re also willing to give it a fair shot. I did not know or understand what was going on in the first 15% of the If I Never Met You. I mean, I understood that Laurie and Dan had been together since they were 18 and now 18 years later, Dan wants to end it. And, I can more than understand the need to rant over such a situation and to feel lost and moaning. However, I didn’t want to read it, especially since I was in no way invested in the characters so early on and the early bit made me dislike the characters. For some reason, (the current state of the world? Masochism?) I continued to read.
It wasn’t until 25% in that I finally had a laugh (which was my expectation coming into the novel) and I relaxed into the novel.
Mhairi MacFarlane did change my mind regarding the main character of Laurie. She is a well-rounded, well-developed character who charters so many extremes and is almost virtuous to a fault, until the ending when her unwillingness to bend, to accept that other people can change almost becomes her personal undoing. I love her smart snark, her lack of coyness, her strength.
Jamie, the womanizer, is a nice counter-balance, especially as he unfolds as a well-rounded character who I came to really like. He has a nice cover and everyone judges him by it, rightly or wrongly. I won’t go into everything I liked about him because some of it might drift into spoilage.
One aspect I very much appreciated was the friendship between Laurie and Emily. I loved when Laurie expresses who the love of her life is. Powerful and heart-warming.
I have a great deal of respect for what MacFarlane attempts to do in If I Never Met You. She tackles so many issues–racism, misogyny, sexism, abuse, death, infidelity–perhaps too many at one time. Sometimes it feels like the reader is being preached at constantly. This might not be a bad thing except for the fact that the majority of her audience is the choir who understands first hand.
This is one of those times when I’m glad that I continued on with a book. If I Never Met You does have some issues that could have been smoothed, and I seriously believe that someone should have really reconsidered the beginning, but it is a good novel. It’s intelligent and witty and heartfelt.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
3 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies