February 15, 2014

You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlene

a debut book by Mhairi McFarlene
published on November 8th 2012 by Avon
Adult Fiction/UK Fiction/Contemporary Romance
436 pages


What happens when the one that got away comes back?

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.

From the moment they met they’d been a gang of two; partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on. Ben is married. Rachel is definitely not. In fact, the men in her life make her want to take holy orders…

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.

If you love David Nicholls and Lisa Jewell, then this is the book for you. Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you’ll be hooked from their first ‘hello’.

“Isn't it weird how we make big decisions in life based on the strangest, most random things?”

I have to express my appreciation toward You Had Me at Hello's cover first. Really, this kind of cover is the one that would really draw me in. First, it has a title that (no matter how much you try to ignore 'the ring') reminds you of that Jerry Maguire movie. Right? RIGHT? Second, the tagline: What happens when the one who got away comes back? Well, hello, Katy Perry, that line totally won me over! Also, the handwritten type of font, the colors, everything in the cover blends beautifully, and I don't know about you, but to me, that cover is totally lovely!

A tale about two bestfriends who fall in love is a premise that WILL NEVER get old. We ALL love this kind of story, no matter how cliche it sounds. Ben and Rachel are bestfriends. They hit it off since their freshman year at college, spending so much time together to finally find comfort in each other. I love their friendship! The attraction is definitely palpable (It's always the people around them who notice it first before themselves, right?), definitely. Problem is, Rachel already has a boyfriend and Ben always has a line of girlfriends that constantly changes all the time. Do they really have feelings for each other or is it just one of them?

10 years later, these two people meet again after a decade of silent. Rachel is freshly out of her engagement with Rhys (the boyfriend whom she dated for 13 years... talk about 'WOW'), BUT unfortunately, Ben is already married *sad faceee* He just recently came back to Manchester to build a life in his hometown. Complications, misunderstanding, complications, miscommunication. Along with the story, we also get some answers in the form of flashbacks to reveal what actually happened between Rachel and Ben in the past. (('The moment', albeit not surprising, is my favorite scene in the book. It's touching and honest, actually made me teary-eyed for a while.))

But what I actually like about You Had Me at Hello is the small details; supporting details of the story. Rachel's job, for example. She works as a crime reporter, and parts of the book also talked about the (complicated) life of it. The whole fiasco with Zoe and Simon is pretty entertaining (ANNOYING, though), a side 'meal' to complete the whole. Also, Rachel's bestfriends! Every one of them, with their different personality, adds some 'spices' into the story. They're quirky, fun, sometimes silly, but seems so lovely to hang out with. And then, I don't know, the Brit factor? While reading the book I was constantly reminded of Jojo Moyes' Me Before You (another UK adult fiction that I REALLY love), and it made me think that UK fiction has some 'characteristics' that made reading them feels 'different' somehow. I don't really know how to explain this, but this one was a quite a factor for me to like the book.

“It's pathetic, I knew I did from that first moment we met. It was... Not love at first sight exactly, but — familiarity. Like: Oh, hello, it's you. It's going to be you. Game over.”

Overall, if I have to compare this one to other 'bestfriends turned lovers' that I have read (Cecelia Ahern's Where Rainbow Ends/Love Rosie, Robyn Sysman's Just Friends, or Jessica Thompson's This is a Love Story, for example), I definitely find You Had Me at Hello a bit better than all of them. McFarlene got the perfect wit to go with this kind of 'rom-com'; the writing is engaging, there's humour, lots of swoon-worthy moments, laughs, but still realistic and relatable somehow — at times I found myself reflecting to what was written in the paragraphs. With just the right amount of lovey-dovey romance, it's such a perfect read for this Valentine-y days of February ;)

Read what other readers said about this book on Goodreads: Namratha Kumar | Keertana | Rachna R

What are you reading this February to get you in the lovey-dovey mood? Any romance or similar books like You Had Me at Hello that you love? What's YOUR favorite 'bestfriends turned to lovers' story (or MOVIES, even?) Do tell, I'd love it so much if you're willing to share with me! :D

Have fun and read some more,

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