Book Reviews, Romance Novels

Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

Fake Dating is a one way ticket to falling in love.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

  • Buy the book here
  • Page Count: 432
  • Genre: Romance
  • Content Warnings: discussions of previous sexual harassment and death of a child

Laurie’s life is turned upside down when her long term boyfriend ends their relationship. Laurie knows this is going to be hot gossip in her office, considering the pair was a staple ‘workplace couple’ at their firm. Matters are only made worse when Laure learns that her ex got another woman pregnant. Looking to save face, Laurie strikes up a deal with the resident office player and bad boy. Jamie needs to be in a stable relationship to show the partners of the firm that he’s mature enough for a big promotion.

Laurie and Jamie plan a mutually beneficial plan to flaunt a fake relationship to all of their coworkers. Their calculated social media posting make waves in the office gossip, and leads Laurie and Jamie to fall deeper and deeper into this fake-dating scheme. Fake dating was a no-feelings deal, but is Laurie at risk of falling for somebody she never expected to love?

This book has similar notes to the office romance of The Hating Game, the fake dating schemes of The Love Hypothesis, and the snappy British romcom banter of Love at First Fight.

While a lot of romcoms with a dramatic breakup to kickstart the plot tend to move quickly, If I Never Met You takes time to deal with the fallout of Laurie’s breakup. She’s been dating the same man since university and was hoping to have children with him. The betrayal leaves an obvious scar and unearths a lot of grief. I give the story credit for dealing with a breakup in a romcom for more than five pages because we all know life is not so simple as one evening of crying, a pep talk, and then, poof! all better. That being said, this novel definitely falls in the slow paced category. The fake-dating plot does not come in until a sizable portion of the story has already taken place. Jamie feels like an act two player instead of a key character in the story.

And reader, this is a slow burn. Like, no feelings shall appear until the bitter end slow burn. Understandably so, because the book opens with Laurie going through a horrible breakup! She needs her time to heal and get to know the romantic lead before anything serious can happen.

Romantic lead Jamie doesn’t stand out from the romcom lineup. As in, in a lineup of hot male leads with a bad attitude but sweetness beneath the surface, I wouldn’t be able to pick him out. Jamie is just… everything you expect him to be. He’s snarky but sweet to Laurie. He banters with her and feels like the perfect representation of a likable bad boy. Jamie has an attitude but not too much of an attitude as to make him unlikeable. There was nothing about him that really stuck out to me. It was clear that his place in the story was to be the person Laurie could love after her boyfriend’s ugly betrayal. But I did not feel that his character brought much intrigue to the story beyond this.

This is a romcom, but the story is much more about Laurie and her emotional journey than a cute little romance. The story explores both her past personal relationships and the trauma from her childhood. There were cute, funny moments, but there were also extremely serious notes. If I Never Met You is a story about heartbreak just as much as it is one about love.

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