Mhairi McFarlane What happens when the one that got away comes back? Find out in this sparkling debut from Mhairi McFarlane.
‘Think of the great duos of history. We’re just like them.’
‘You mean like Kylie and Jason? Torvill and Dean? Sonny and Cher?’
‘I think you’ve missed the point, Rachel.’
Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart. It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.
They’d been partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on: Ben is married. Rachel is not. Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.
I picked this up as a bargain e-book and it was a 99p very well spent! I loved this book, easy to read, good characters, funny writing and a plot that managed to keep me guessing. I usually feel with chick lit, romance type stuff that you know the main character will get her man in the end, the fun is in reading how it happens, however in this story I really began to doubt that this would happen. It is a good writer that can do this and you will have to read it to find out what does happen in the end.
Rachel and Ben met at Manchester Uni and had a strong bond. Their story is revealed through flashbacks, and it is obvious from when they first meet that their relationship is special. Unfortunately Rachel is dating someone else and can’t admit to her true feelings. Ben is a serial monogamist and they go through University as firm friends. As we eventually find out they did get their shot but due to their insecurities and some unfortunate timings things don’t work out. Ten years in the future Rachel is in the process of ending her relationship when Ben re-appears in Manchester but he has a wife in tow too.
Meanwhile Rachel has stayed with her boyfriend Rhys from Uni, they are now engaged but all is not rosy and Rachel finally breaks off the engagement. She finds a plush flat to house sit and moves out. As she and Rhys have been together for 13 years this is a huge deal for Rachel. She has been putting up with things for so long it is now time to figure out what she actually wants from life and whether she is going to have the courage to go out and get it. This is true in her professional life too where she is a court journalist for a local newspaper. She has been doing this for a long time and enjoys it, but is she going stale? Has she missed her shot at the big time? When she has to mentor the new girl on the block Rachel’s ideas and ideals are all put to the test. The lessons Rachel learns at work as well as in her personal life through the novel take her on a real journey. Even though she is already around 30 it feels a bit like a coming of age tale too.
Rachel engineers a meeting with Ben and over a few false starts they begin to grow close again. She has to deal with the fact that he has moved on and accepts an invitation to a dinner party at his house with his new wife and another insufferable couple. This provides a chance for plenty of embarrassment and humour and for Rachel to meet a potential date, as well as get a good look at Ben with his wife. The wife is, of course, beautiful, clever and has lots of money! But Rachel can’t escape the feeling that Ben isn’t really happy with her, and she convinces herself that she can be just good friends with him anyway. So what’s the problem?! Ben is committed to his marriage, it has its rocky moments but he wants it to work out. It does get difficult to see that there is any way that things will bring Ben and Rachel back together as anything more than friends.
But this is more than a ‘will they won’t they’ story. There is a great ensemble cast of characters. Rachel has a great group of friends who are all fully three dimensional people having their own ups and downs through life. They have all been friends since Uni and are not afraid to speak their minds to each other, sometimes with rather funny and dramatic results. They are certainly not afraid to advise Rachel in moving on with her life and in not getting too close to a married man. We also get Rachel’s take on their relationships. Theirs was such a believable friendship, and some of the antics between them had me laughing out loud. Verdict: So read this if you like a romance with twists and turns, an ending that keeps you guessing until the end.
Read it if you like a laugh and witty writing and read it if you like characters that come off the page they feel so real. Reviewed by Helen