I've now read three books by Mhairi McFarlane and she has quickly moved up my list of romantic comedy authors to the top with Kristan Higgins and Marian Keyes. McFarlane's heroines are smart and independent and funny and a bit beat up by life (that last bit is what makes them so interesting). Though they've been knocked down, they still keep getting back up. So too is the protagonist of If I Never Met You, Laurie.
Laurie is a successful lawyer who has been in a long-term relationship (we're talking close to 18 years) with her partner and thinks that they've finally arrived at the point where they are going to start a family. But she's dealt a devastating blow when her partner tells her that not only is he not ready to have kids, but that he's breaking up with her because he needs some freedom. To add serious insult to major injury her ex is someone who works at Laurie's law firm so she has to see him every day. She's looking for a way to change the conversation. Enter Jamie Carter. Jamie is known as the office playboy. But that reputation has begun to cause damage to his professional chances and he's looking for a way to set a different tone. When the two of them are trapped in an elevator, a plan is hatched.
The plan is straight out of Rom-Com plots 101. The two agree to fake a relationship in order to help one another out. Laurie is given a face-saving way to be at work where everyone knows the gossip and Jamie is able to present himself as a guy who's serious about commitment.
While the set-up is one that will be familiar, the execution is beautifully done. These are fully realized characters with baggage and challenges that will require some work and compromise if they want to get to a happy place. And get there they do in a warm, page-turning kind of way. Enjoy.