If I Never Met You
By: Mhairi McFarlane
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…
I was sold on this book because I was told it was a romance. It was in an email I got about hot new romance books (or something like that I’ve read a lot of romance lists recently). The blurb also has a setup for a very common romance trope. This was not a romance. It was a woman getting over a long term relationship with a little bit of romance thrown in. Which is fine, I’ve enjoyed those books, but it was not what I was expecting, and I ended up hating this book because of it.
Twenty percent of the way into this book Laurie has been dumped by her boyfriend of eighteen years, found out that he had an emotional affair, and then only days after they broke up, he’s knocked the new woman up. This is, of course, after he told her he just needed to find himself, that he didn’t want to be a father anymore, and a bunch of other bullshit. He also tries to make her feel bad for him and like he’s a good guy, but basically, he was a piece of shit.
It’s not until well into the second third of the book that we even start to have any kind of interaction with the new guy. She spent most of the book thinking about her ex. She compares everything Jamie does to her ex. She sobs over her ex all the way up to the end of the book, which takes place over a few months.
The more I read, the more horrible stuff you discover about her ex as well as things that happened to her. He cheated on her at one point. She forgave him. He told her he’d never do the same to her. She took care of most things in their life and was always pushing him to succeed and being encouraging, while he held her back so as not to cause a scene or make things uncomfortable. She was left alone with a pedo at eight but was thankfully able to escape before anything happened. Her father was horrible and rarely in her life.
It wasn’t until seventy percent into the book that the romance started to pick up. Jamie clearly likes her, but Laurie is, of course, still talking about her ex and is also stuck on the fact that Jamie is thirty-one to her thirty-six. I could not roll my eyes hard enough over that one. Five years between a couple is nothing, especially in your thirties.
Three men in this entire book didn’t suck; Jamie, Jamie’s dad, and a coworker of Laurie’s. Everyone else was awful. The male employees at the law firm Laurie works at all need to be hit with sexual harassment lawsuits. They were fucking terrible.
Jamie is rarely in the book. His page space is nothing compared to the time spent on Laurie’s ex. The parts he is in are fun because, once again, he’s one of the few men that isn’t complete garbage. Before they knew each other, she made all kinds of assumptions about him, and after their first initial time together, she learns that he’s almost nothing like her impression. Still, she spends most of the last half of the book defaulting to those assumptions.
If this book hadn’t been sold to me as a romance, I might have enjoyed it. It would have at least been a three-star. Instead, I hated just about every moment. I wondered if I was the only one, so read some reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and it turns out I am the only one that didn’t like it. A lot of the reviews ended up pissing me off with their views on “normal” romance, but before I go into a rant on the way romance as a genre is viewed by a large portion of people, I’m going to stop.
If you’re looking for a book about a woman coming out of a long term serious relationship, discovering herself, and realizing that she can love again, then you might enjoy this book. If you’re looking for a book about a relationship that becomes love between a couple, this is not a book for you unless you feel like reading the last twenty or so percent.