Title- If I Never Met You
Author- Mhairi McFarlane
Genre- contemporary romance
POV- third person, past tense
Trope- fake dating, office relationship
Cover– representative of the genre
Comps– It felt like a mix between “The Dating Plan” and “The Hating Game.”
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…
First chapter- I’m not a fan of many text threads in novels, especially not the first interaction of the first chapter. But I AM a fan of short chapters. This was so quick I barely got the foundation. It sounds like Laurie is in an 18 year relationship that’s about the collapse. It sounds like she is a lawyer with no plans or marriage or kids yet feels social pressure from fellow women that she needs to be a certain type of female to fit in a stereotypical mold.
Character Development- Laurie seemed stuck on Dan for a bit longer than I wanted.
Prose- emotions fell flat and dry
Dialogue- felt a bit preachy at times
Inclusivity- okay, so this topic will be controversial. I’ve heard from many authors/readers that white authors should write white characters and Black authors should write Black characters, etc. I have two opinions on this. I don’t 100% fully agree with this because if we only write what we know then there will be no diversity in books. I’m straight, so does that mean all my characters have to be straight? No. In my novels, I have people of color, secondary characters that are gay, and also have representation of characters that are even blind or bound to a wheelchair physically or have PTSD. However, I have not had experience in being blind or physically or mentally disabled. YET, I felt uncomfortable reading this book when the only point of view was a Black woman and the author is from Scotland. I had expected the author to also be Black, especially when multiple situations were brought up regarding race specifically. Maybe I’m processing it backwards, but overall something didn’t feel right. Maybe if there were two points of view, where Jamie also had chapters, then it would feel “better?” because we know the author isn’t male, yet she’s writing from a male POV. This is very common for authors to do. So, I guess my question is, are we as a society okay with females writing a male perception point of view despite not knowing their perception of real life? And then furthermore, are we as a society okay with white authors writing a character who is a person of color? If the answer to those are different, then why? I’d love to hear more feedback.
Thoughts while reading-
Page 30- I love that they say mum instead of mom.
Page 52- this is another book where the politics and social issues feel forced and preachy at times.
Page 136- the lawyer based contract email is ridiculous in a fun y way but also makes sense for their careers.
Page 236- everything is about to shift if they spend a whole weekend away together.
Page 386- frustrated with the lies and men using women to get ahead. I’m sick of the social media culture and annoyed in general.
Page 409- sometimes it feels like co temporary romance books end too quickly. I recommend this book overall for someone who likes office romances and or fake dating relationships.
In response to the reading group guide questions:
Equality in a relationship doesn’t mean the same thing to me as complete opposite of “old fashioned” way of doing things. For instance, it might be considered old fashioned for a man to take care of the finances. My husband does that so, yes, we are old fashioned in that regard. But it is also old fashioned for a woman to do all the cooking. My husband does all of the cooking in the home too. Equality is unique to each relationship ship and also changes over time as the relationship shifts.
In response to the question about lying always coming back to haunt you. I do agree with this. Every person lies. All of y’all lie, you can’t deny it. Yes sometimes you’re caught and sometimes you’re not, but honesty is the best policy. It’s hard though. Sometimes we don’t even admit to ourselves we are lying.
For the next question- I despise social media. The only reason I have it any more is it feels like a necessity to try and sell my product (books) without spending thousands on ads. In my ideal world, we’d all live in 50-75 person villages, bike everywhere, take care of one another as a family, grow food ourselves & kids okay outside all day. We’d throw out the televisions, microwaves and definitely every Alexa.
Next question- I believe that Laurie made the right decision for her in regards to the relationship with her father. It isn’t something I’d be strong enough to do, but boundaries are also a good method. Often though others still cross the boundaries … so what happens then? Give an ultimatum?