If I Never Met You

Fake dating, a common romance novel trope, is one of my favorites.  I love the (usually) slow burn of two people realizing they have legitimate feelings for each other while pretending to be in love.  Until the last quarter of this book, it was going to be a solid 4 stars but some last minute plot points took me out of the story.  A solid romance that I wished was a bit more cohesive.

From Goodreads:  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. 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 of all, this book was very funny and I genuinely laughed out loud a few times. The dialogue between characters was believable and well-written—there is nothing worse than cringey back and forth conversations in a romance novel and the thing I loved the most about this book was the chemistry between Laurie and Jamie.  Their conversations were great and it was delightful to watch them fall in love and be honest and open with their feelings. I truly believed these two would be in love.  There is no big, penultimate scene where one part of the couple doesn’t believe the other when they say they are in love; instead it is mutually believed they have a real connection and want to be together.  They treat each other with respect, even when at odds with each other and that was refreshing.

I read romance novels to escape from reality and to read some hot sex scenes involving attractive people.  This book, while mostly fun and lighthearted, features one of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever read in a romance novel.  When Dan tells Laurie that not only has he met someone else but she’s pregnant and he’s going to be a dad (after telling Laurie he didn’t want to settle down or have kids), I felt the absolute GRIEF that Laurie felt coming off the page.  It was emotional and realistic and just awful.  Kudos to McFarlane for making the tension in that scene so realistic.  To my second point about romance novels, there is no sex in this book whatsoever.  Not even a fade to black which was a bit shocking.  Most modern romance novels at least give the reader SOME hot and heavy action but there was none. This isn’t a negative, just a warning if you are looking for some smut 😉

Just as I was thinking the outside tension in this book was wrapping up (and it was about time as this book is a hefty 432 pages), a childhood memory of an almost sexual assault pops up out of NOWEHERE.  At this point in the book, Laurie and Jamie have dealt with various other issues including a sick parent, a jealous co-worker, and an absent father (just to name a few).  To throw this issue on top of an already long book seemed frivolous and pointless.  While it DOES to lead to Laurie making a decision about her father, I feel there were other ways McFarlane could have written that.

Overall, this was an enjoyable, realistic romance with great characters and two people with great chemistry.  My wish is that the book was little shorter and didn’t have so many obstacles for Laurie and Jamie to face.  I liked this enough to give the authors other books a shot and would recommend this for fans of sweet romances.

Favorite Quote: “Yes, staying together out of love, not paperwork, was romantic. But if you flipped it around, he was also saying marrying made it too difficult to leave.”

Author: Mhairi McFarlane

Published:  March 24th, 2020

Rating: 3.5 Stars

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