If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

Raw from a break-up she had not seen coming, Laurie gets stuck in a lift with Jamie Carter, the office Lothario, and together they hatch a plan to their mutual advantage – Laurie can make Dan jealous and stop feeling like a victim; Jamie can impress his boss and get a promotion. I’ve read quite a few ‘fake romance’ novels over the years (try Something Stupid by Victoria Corby) and this is one of the best. The plan is to put photos of their dates on social media, but, of course, these things never go to plan.

Laurie accompanies Jamie to a family party and sees him in a new light – the real person underneath the façade – and the inevitable happens. They both seem to bring out the best in each other; Laurie comes out of her shell and Jamie is much more caring than his office image.

It becomes clear with hindsight that the relationship between Laurie and Dan had not been quite as idyllic as she had believed. She had given in to what he wanted quite a lot and repressed her true self. Once she got over the pain, she would realise what a lucky escape she had had. The way he had broken up with her and his behaviour since should make her realise how selfish and despicable he was. Add in that she still had to work in the same office, a toxic den of malicious gossip, racism and sexism, and no wonder she was looking for payback.

I have read (and loved) all of Mhairi McFarlane’s books and this is no exception – dry humour, well-drawn, believable characters, witty dialogue, and Manchester setting. It would make a great rom-com. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a copy to review.