⭐️⭐️ REVIEW: Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane

I’ve been putting off writing this review because I really had to mull over how I wanted to rate it. The book is not bad, but it was not at all a successful reading experience for me. For some reason, McFarlane’s books continue to be marketed as rom coms, with cute covers and blurbs that don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the emotional stories inside. I even checked the marketing for this one after reading, and saw something about it being “funny” and playing up the “forced proximity” and “roommates to lovers” angle. Which… is absolutely not what the book is about. Sure, our heroine moves in with a roommate, but the romance is a SMALL part of the book, and it’s woefully underwhelming. It’s also riddled with red flags that I could tear apart if I wanted to. But I don’t, because this is actually women’s fiction, and the romance is essentially a subplot in a book about moving on from past relationships and understanding gaslighting.

Let’s talk about the plot for a minute. The book is about Harriet, a woman whose relationship ends with an engagement. Harriet had already been thinking about breaking up with her boyfriend, so when he springs a proposal on her in front of his family, she knows that she needs to accept in public and then let him down easy in private. The end of that relationship brings up some larger issues, and Harriet is forced to confront them after she moves out. Wanting to get her own place as quickly as possible, Harriet moves in with a stranger in need of a roommate. Cal and Harriet don’t get along at first, but they soon realize that they’ve made terrible first impressions. And as Harriet spends more time in Cal’s home, she acknowledges that her past relationships may have been more troublesome than she wanted to admit.

It’s easy to frame this as a romance, because the changes in Harriet’s life come about after she moves in with Cal, and technically they do end up together at the end. But… it’s a lot more complicated than that. Gaslighting, cheating, and abuse are all themes, with a significant portion of the book spent on personal growth and emotional discovery. Harriet spends most of her time away from Cal, and the moments they’re together are not what I’d call swoony. Case in point? She’s not even sure that he’s single for the vast majority of the book, and when they do finally get together, it’s sort of like… that’s it? The women’s fiction element is stronger, and I think McFarlane’s work needs to be marketed towards an audience who will appreciate it. This is my second experience with her work, and the first one took quite awhile to win me over, though it definitely did – because the characters at least spent a lot of time on the page together. This never hooked me. Not only was the story much heavier (and less romance-focused) than anticipated, but it was also FILLED with British expressions that I didn’t understand. I’m familiar enough with the culture that I can usually piece together phrases I don’t know, but I spent a LOT of time deciphering text. So you can see why the reading experience was not successful for me, though not necessarily because of the quality. I had to give this a low rating because not much worked for me and the marketing is misleading, but women’s fiction lovers who go in with different expectations may have an entirely different experience.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3SIcWJw


Blurb:

International bestseller Mhairi McFarlane delivers a sharp, emotional new novel about a woman who calls off her engagement to “the perfect man” and moves in with a charming stranger who makes her question everything about her life, her past, and the secrets she’s kept for far too long…

Harriet Hatley is the most in-demand wedding photographer in town, but she doesn’t believe in romance, loathes the idea of marriage, and thinks chocolate fountains are an abomination. Which is why, when her long-time partner proposes, she panics. Suddenly Harriet is single… and living down the hall from her ex. She needs a new apartment, like, yesterday.

Enter Cal Clarke, a hopeless romantic who just experienced his own wedding-related disaster. Harriet and Cal are like chalk and cheese, but as they go from strangers to roommates to friends, it becomes clear they’re both running from something. When Harriet’s most heavily guarded secret comes to light, her world implodes. And Cal, with his witty humor and gentle advice, is a surprising source of calm at the center of the storm.

With her career, friendships, and reputation on the line, Harriet must finally face her past in order to take control of her future. Because if she’s willing to stop playing it safe and risk everything to share her truth, real love and happiness may be waiting on the other side…

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3SIcWJw


So which McFarlane book worked better for me? Just Last Night!

International bestseller Mhairi McFarlane explores lifelong friendships, long-buried secrets, and unexpected love in a heartfelt, emotional new novel, perfect for fans of Evvie Drake Starts Over, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird, or In Five Years.

Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.

But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.

In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction…

They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?

Read the review here

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3gyEIIC


About the Author:

Sunday Times bestselling author Mhairi McFarlane was born in Scotland and her unnecessarily confusing name is pronounced Vah-Ree. After some efforts at journalism, she started writing novels and her first book, You Had Me At Hello, was an instant success. She’s now written five books and she lives in Nottingham with a man and a cat.


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