If I Never Met You

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 24 Mar 2020

Member Reviews

I liked the premise is this book - the fake dating trope gets me every time - but this book was hard for me to get through. The first 100 pages or so take place in Laurie's old relationships the one her partner suddenly ends and it takes longer to pick up from there, too. Jamie and Laurie do not really being their fake relationship about 30% in the novel and it was hard for me to continue to be invested by that point. 

I did enjoy much of Jamie and Laurie's relationship. Both characters are very witty and clever and I loved their interactions and text messages with one another. However, the more we explore Jamie's character, the more I didn't like him. Jamie's backstory felt a little stained, cliche, and inauthentic. Of course, the good-looking guy who gets all the girls has a sad character history and backstory. I think we readers have all read enough of that character trope - I know I have. 

Also, if you're a romance reader, there's not a lot of romance or sexy time in this novel. So, if that's something you enjoy in your romance/contemporary romance novels, this one probably is not for you.
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this is my 3rd or 4th book by this author and definitely my favourite :)

first off - the beginning was insanely hard to read for me. mhairi hit all the nails on all the heads with a breakup of a long term relationship at laurie's age. so many lines i wanted to highlight (will wait for the published book), so many times i thought 'yes, this is exactly how i felt'. it was hard but also validating, kind of. i can see how spending that much time on all that might annoy/bore other people because they want to get to the fake dating and all that jazz, but i actually really enjoyed it (as much as one can enjoy reliving their own heart being ripped out of their chest) and thought it was very realistic. laurie was much stronger and more mature than me though, especially still working with dan and dealing with the 'friends' that bitched about her. one thing in the book that really resonated with me, i don't remember the exact wording, but how laurie was coping and doing well, but only in ways to make other people comfortable. because people do tend to get uncomfortable/over your grief before you do, especially if they haven't been through something like it before. but anyway, i digress.

then the lift happens, the fake dating starts, and we all know where this is going to end up. but i absolutely loved it. had such a great time reading it, it absolutely flew by. it was paced so well, everything flowed perfectly. it was hilarious and adorable and i felt all the feelings. i loved laurie and jamie. i loved how they both grew, i loved following along with their relationship. i absolutely loved the female friendships,  i loved jamie's best mate hattie (and the email he sent her, gah!) and his family, my gosh. my heart. so many feelings.. on top of all that goodness, mhairi's humour is right up my alley, always makes me laugh. the come on eileen made me laugh out loud (scared my cats). 

one thing i almost (jk) deducted a star for - this book NEEDS an epilogue. for real. mainly because i want to know how the cats get on ;)

tl;dr - loved it.
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this digital ARC.
If I Never Met you is about a woman named Laurie who is promptly dumped by her boyfriend of well over a decade and is completely caught off guard. First, he tells her he never wants to have kids and he isn't happy with her anymore. Two months later, we learn that he's already with another woman AND she's pregnant. Can it get more cliched than that? Would you like more tropes? How about we sprinkle in fake dating? She and Jamie Carter, who has a reputation for being a playboy, decide to start fake dating so she can make her ex jealous (Did I mention they all work in the same office) and he can look good with the bosses to hopefully make partner. How can it possibly go wrong?
I really struggled with the beginning of this book. I'm unfamiliar with this author so it took me quite some time to get used to her writing style. She's from the UK and her writing is so inherently British that I felt like I was reading another language in the beginning. I felt like I jumped into the middle of 12 conversations going on at once and it took a while to settle down. I nearly DNFd the book honestly because Laurie was in such a pity party for a good 20 percent of the book that it wasn't enjoyable. Dealing with a breakup after a long term relationship is one thing but then getting slapped in the face with learning about her ex's baby and girlfriend is a lot to pile on. It wasn't really until 40 or so percent into the book that I was enjoying what was happening. Fake dating is a great trope that I will never get enough of, especially when you sprinkle in meeting the parents under these false pretenses AND sharing a bed. It's the middle chunk of this book that saved it for me. I enjoy when the characters become vulnerable and show a different side of themselves that the other never knew about. I like it enough to give it three stars but I had issues with the writing as well as the pacing. I felt that there needed to be more flourish to the bigger scenes. Confession of feelings? I felt the stirrings of their love but it needed more oomph. It was one step above paint by numbers. Same thing with the climax of the scene and a number of other points in the book. I could see the chemistry and Laure's/Jamie's feelings growing but you never quite go over the line to where you're squealing about it. The author does a great job in the angst department though. I'll give her that. It's a middle of the road romance that I enjoyed to give the rating it gets but not enough to rec or fall in love with it. I don't think I'll be clamoring to read any more from her. This was decent enough.
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If I Never Met You is a charming, heartwarming, witty, and fun rom-com that also packs an emotional punch, which sets it apart from many other books in its genre. This was my first by Mhairi McFarlane and I just love how she writes. I'm a sucker for some good banter and the chemistry between the main characters was certainly not lacking! 

Laurie Watkinson had been with her university love, Dan Price, for 18 years. Then seemingly out of no where Dan decides that he is done with their once unbreakable duo. Dan, who never wanted such things as marriage and babies, is in a new relationship with a baby on the way. Laurie is understandably devastated. The cherry on the top of this disastrous sundae is that fact that Laurie has to see Dan at work since they are both lawyers at the same firm. 

Then enters Jamie, fit and known to be quite the man about town. Jamie is striving to become partner of the firm that he, Laurie, and of course Dan all work at, but his playboy image was not impressing his bosses. 

Then one evening, Jamie and Lauren get stuck in the firm's elevator and Jamie had heard the news that Laurie and Dan were no more (I mean, who hadn't?!) That's when he proposed an arrangement that they both could benefit from and it turns out Jamie Carter is much more than appearances would suggest. 

If faking love is this easy... how do you know when it’s real?

Another shining element of If I Never Met You that I have to gush about was the magnificent side characters. I just loved Laurie's friends and her mother and her friend. Jamie's family and Hattie. Their coworkers. Even Laurie's awful father. Oh! I'm gushing, but they were just all so incredibly emotion-evoking. 

This was such a fun and witty read! I absolutely loved the ending and how well the characters were written. I was so emotionally invested in each of their outcomes. Overall, this emotional rom-com was quite simply put, just lovely.

Some favorite quotes:

"When people did monumentally awful things to you, it seemed they didn't even have the courtesy of being original, of inflicting some unique war wound, a lightning bolt-shaped scar."

"I must have been a genocidal warlord in a past life to deserve this. Or the kind of person who puts their bag on the seat next to them on public transport in rush hour."

"You didn't expect to get sex looks from a foam sausage."

"It's a helluva drug, eggnog."

"We don't only divine character in how people handle wins. You see more in the disasters."
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It's cute but not life-changing. Her biracial-mess is rarely mentioned so she didn't read as a woman of color for me. But it's a cute debut.
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If you're anything like me, you may find it near impossible to not dive head first into a book about fake dating. And if you are, then go forth because despite not being a romance, in the sense that this book is really about exploring Laurie and her journey to healing/recovering from a breakup of a relationship of 18 years, this book does the fake dating trope so well! And I especially love that Jamie and Laurie are attorneys and so they do fake dating in the most legit way. (However, if they had listened to my own crim law professor, they definitely would not have written their contract down because they would have obeyed mob rules. Lol.)

The book starts out a little slowly, it takes a while to get to the fake dating, which was the part I was most excited about, so I had to keep reminding myself that this book is contemporary fiction and not a romance. Nonetheless, we meet the love interest early and he's a bit of a womanizer. Eventually, the break up happens and then Laurie's kind of spinning internally trying to figure out what she did wrong. I really appreciated that despite the awfulness of the break up (I mean, 18 years!!!), Laurie spinning out doesn't seem to effect her job. There are times in the book where her job is effected and that was troubling, but mostly she's clearly excellent at her job and that was really lovely to read about. I really enjoyed Laurie's friends, Emily especially, and her no nonsense approach to fake dating is a terrible idea, and then a 180 because Jamie's fit. 

Mostly, I really liked Jamie and the evolution of his character as Laurie got to know him better. I really appreciated that part of the story. I also really liked the discussion about relationships that occurred in this book. It felt very modern and centered in the dating scene today. 

This book is maybe a little too long and it does drag at times, which is why I gave it a four star rating, but I would recommend because I thought it was really fun and clever. I kind of wanted to just keep reading about Jamie and Laurie for a while longer at the end of the book because I was enjoying my time with them. I would also really like spin off books for both Emily and Nadia, so... is that a thing in contemporary fiction? I'm too spoiled with romance. 

Anyway, shout out to Netgalley and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read this book early in exchange for an honest review. It is appreciated. 

CW: Cancer diagnosis, bad parents, fall out from an emotional affair, one scene that felt fat shaming, past predatory sexual harassment (specifically remembered traumatic incident when a main character was underage), challenged racism re: where are you from and a couple other microaggressions, discussions about pregnancy and having children
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If I Never Met You was my first Mhairi McFarlane book. When I first picked it up, I didn’t realize she’s a British author, and for some reason (perhaps because I’m not British) it took me a beat to find my rhythm. But once I settled into the subtle language differences and pacing, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I always thought enemies to lovers was my favorite trope, but I’m finding I really enjoy the whole “fake dating” trope, too. 

Laurie finds herself single after an eighteen year relationship comes to an abrupt and unexpected end. What’s worse is that they work at the same law firm, so avoiding her ex isn’t really a possibility. 

After work one day, she and the office Lothario, Jamie, get stuck in an elevator together and devise a mutually beneficial plan: they will fake date to 1) make Laurie’s ex jealous and 2) convince the firm partners that Jamie can have a settled relationship to improve his chances at making partner.

As with any case of “fake dating,” they face the very real possibility of developing real feelings.

Jamie and Laurie’s banter is fun and witty, and yet they bring out the best in each other. He encourages Laurie to stand on her own two feet and embrace her strengths. She realizes he has a fiercely loyal streak and is not at all the playboy he’s been made out to be.

I love the biracial representation and all the feminism. And the female friendships are so wonderful. I loved it. 

This is definitely a slow burn romance. And once they do fall for each other, theirs is a closed door romance. It’s very low steam, so if that’s your preference, this would be a great pick.

I gave it a solid four stars.

Thank you NetGalley and Harper Collins for my e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Oh my goodness, I loved everything about this book.

Laurie’s BOYFRIEND of 18 years decides to call it quits. Laurie has to find herself again and rebuild her life at age 36. When the new hot guy Jamie and Laurie get trapped in a lift together and decide to make a plan for the future. 

This book was full of witty, sarcastic heartwarming banter along a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It had be giggling from time to time and I couldn’t put this book down. It was such a delight. 

Laurie deals with self discovery, coping with the loss of her significant other, while building stronger relationships with the people who really matter. 5 beautiful stars 🌟 

Thank you @netgalley for an ARC for my honest review. I loved it.
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This is a classic 90’s style rom-com very much in the Bridget Jones vein. As such, I thought it was a lot of fun. Written in a very specific Mancunian slangy style, it had a specificity of voice and place that I very much enjoyed. Watching these two knuckleheads fall for each other (fake dating is very much my catnip) without realizing its was mutual was also big fun.

I was given an Advance Reader’s Copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I always enjoy Mhairi McFarlane’s books, but I always find myself wishing they moved a little quicker! I loved these characters and their relationship, I just wish we’d gotten a little more of it instead of just at the end. That said, the wait was worth it, and I thoroughly enjoyed this fun, quick read.
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I love a good romcom that puts a smile on my face, makes me laugh out loud and makes the characters easy to connect with. This one was so good. I enjoyed the story the whole way through. This is the first book I’ve read by this author I know it won’t be the last.
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*** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ***

I had a number of issues with this book:
* Starting off on a bad foot: the opening sequence is very "I'm not like other girls" and woof, I'm just so sick of that.
* the pacing: the "fake dating" plot does not kick in until fully 30% into the book. It really, really could have gotten going faster.
* Alarming amounts of casually ableist language: let's all do better with this!
* Chemistry???? There are lots of kinds! None of them were apparent to me.
* POV: I think this is evidence this book is not quite a romance but dressed up as one. A book in third person past tense, only from the woman's point of view, serves to make the male main character so opaque, which makes it a less intriguing relationship.
* Tonal shifts: I thought this was supposed to be a lighthearted fun kind of book, but then there were some HEAVY TOPICS and I was not ready for them.
* Race questions: I don't have answers, but I do have questions. What is the purpose of making the main character biracial? Is this book a part of a larger pattern of white authors writing biracial characters to relieve themselves of the responsibility of doing justice to characters of other races? Is it a good idea for a white author (I'm quite sure) to write racism into the book?
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Quick, quirky and fun read. Definitely not my preferred genre but it was fun nonetheless. Thank you Netgalley.
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***I received a copy through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.***

I have mixed feelings after finishing this book. It was an enjoyable read, although a little slow to start. I think the storyline was interesting enough to keep me engaged but I kept waiting for the the good stuff. I was just shy of halfway through before Laurie and Jamie really kicked things off, which was a bit surprising. I don’t feel like there was enough of them together, which is disappointing since I loved their chemistry. I also felt there were too many topics that were trying to be covered: breakups, fake relationships, pregnant girlfriends, cancer, sexual abuse, dead siblings, etc etc. These topics were grazed over and took away from the main storyline. I know it was designed to make Jamie and Laurie closer, but it felt like these heavy hitting subjects weren’t given the time they deserved.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read but it left me wanting some things different.
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I’ve read all of McFarlane’s books and I always enjoy them. This definitely made me laugh and for the most part, reading it was fun. Her writing style is very unique, and very “millennial”—full of cut offs, references to culture & social media, and the dialogue is extremely conversational. There’s very little flower and ornament; it’s unfiltered 21st life. 

If I Never Met You is somehow both general fiction and a genre romance. The first 1/3rd is about Laurie coming to terms with the end of an 18 year relationship. I was worried that the “love interest” wouldn’t make his appearance until near the end of the book, but the romance plot starts shortly thereafter and carries the rest of the book. It becomes a great fake-relationship/friends-to-lovers story, with a big part of the conflict being Laurie’s perception of Jamie as a playboy. I loved how she saw him through almost anthropological eyes, like she was studying “the smooth playboy in his natural habitat.” The way she responded to him was hilarious, and I laughed out loud a few times.

I really liked a lot of what was explored about masculinity, relationships, and trusting yourself. McFarlane does not pull any punches in her sharp commentary on how society views women in relationships, single women, and women with careers. She also touches on how Laurie, as a black woman, navigates this differently than the white women around her. 

What was off-putting to me is that I did get a “not like other women” vibe. There were great female characters—Laurie, Emily, Nadia—but most of the women were painted as manipulative mean girls. To be fair, ALL of the men were awful, but it did seem like Laurie “got” Jamie’s attention because she was “different.” I hate, hate this set-up, but I don’t know if I’m being too sensitive to it or if other people felt it too. 

And, in terms of the romance: I enjoyed Laurie-Jamie’s friendship, but I had difficulty seeing the HEA in their relationship. But maybe that’s just my cynicism!

This book touches on some heavy themes and I don’t know if it dealt with them all that well. Some of them felt more like emotional plot points because once the emotional outcome had occurred, they were never referenced again. Please see TW below. 

All in all, I enjoyed reading it. It isn’t my favorite McFarlane, but it was a fun read, made me think, and definitely made me laugh. I might change my mind as I think on it more, but for now I’ll recommend it to anyone looking for a good mix of fiction & romance. 

PS: very very low heat. 

**Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an advanced ecopy in exchange for an honest review.**

TW: racism (challenged), sexism & misogyny (challenged), sexual abuse of minor (referenced on page), death of sibling, cancer.
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If I Never met You is a cute rom-com. Laurie's long time boyfriend dumps her seemingly out of the blue (though even Laurie will admit things were changing). He immediately impregnates someone else, despite telling Laurie he isn't ready to be a father. Jamie is trying to get ahead in the workplace but his playboy ways have made him a less appealing candidate. 

Laurie and Jamie have a chance encounter in an elevator at work that leads to them starting a fauxmance. I love a good fauxmance and Laurie and Jamie did not disappoint. Laurie is a lot of fun, and not willing to be kept down. Despite being a playboy Jamie isn't a chauvinistic jerk, he's actually very considerate of Laurie's feelings and concerns regarding the whole process.

I really liked the ending of the book. I thought how everything came out was well done and plausible and led to their happily ever after.
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I loved this funny rom-com!  I like Mhairi McFarlane's books!  Her characters are well written, the plots are interesting and she's easy to read.

I highly recommend this book.

Thanks to William Morrow and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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If I Never Met You was a quick read, in every aspect. The characters developed quickly, the plot was a quick push into the relationship between the characters and the romance was so quick I blinked and it was gone. 

The premise is awesome and that's why I wanted to read it to begin with. I loved the children aspect and having to relearn how to date after being with someone for so long - it's real and something that people most definitely can relate to in this day and age. 

However, the whole relationship and romance seemed terribly rushed. There was such limited build up and growth between the two leads that it was difficult for me to "buy" their relationship. Which, at first is manageable since it is supposed to be fake, but there should have been deeper connections and communication to make it to the end point. 

Overall, it was a decent read. I didn't hate it by any means, I just wish there would have been more development between the characters.
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This is my first time reading a book by Mhairi McFarlane, and I enjoyed her style. The writing here is a bit more realistic and lacks the cheese that a lot of romcoms seem to have. It is, however, quite cliche and easy to predict where it's going-- though I wouldn't say that's necessarily a bad thing. In a way, it's sort of like getting on a theme park ride in that you know where you're going, but you enjoy the journey along the way. Laurie and Jamie are adorable and worthy of a Hallmark-style romance movie.  I liked it and would recommend to fans of the genre.
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overall i thought this was a bit boring. it's fake dating! isn't that supposed to be fun? overall i just found this lackluster despite the fun premise.
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