I have become a big fan of Mhairi McFarlane, and although I haven’t yet made it through her entire repertoire, I’m making progress. So, when I saw that Just Last Night (2021), McFarlane’s latest book was available, I snatched it up. I love McFarlane’s writing (even though she uses so many English idioms, I sometimes have a hard time understanding her). Although this wasn’t my favorite romantic story of hers, I’m very glad I read it.
Eve is the main character. She is one of a quartet of best friends who have been close for years. Justin is a friend to all, Susie is Eve’s best girlfriend, and Ed is the man that Eve has been in love with for years. Back in the day, Eve felt like they were so close to coming together but it never quite happened. Now Eve has to suffer through watching Ed get engaged to Hannah, a woman who is unlikeable for many reasons.
Something wholly unexpected occurs that changes Eve’s life forever. Her perspective on life, friendship, and love are all thrown into turmoil. Through all of this, Eve meets new people and learns more about herself and what she needs in life.
Eve’s best friend Susie is killed by a car when she is walking home. The driver was having a medical emergency. I thought McFarlane did an amazing job with Eve finding out about the death of her best friend and her subsequent grief. It felt realistic and real, and it made me cry.
Eve, Justin, and Ed try to contact Susie’s brother, Finlay, who lives in the states and has been estranged from the family. Susie’s father has dementia and doesn’t recognize his own son or understand what has happened to his daughter.
While going through Susie’s things, Eve discovers that Susie had a one-night-stand with Ed and never told her. She feels betrayed by both Ed and Susie and doesn’t know what to think of her friends anymore. Eve and Finlay get off to a rocky start as they struggle over Susie’s things. It gets worse when Eve accidentally encourages Susie and Finlay’s confused father to take off to Scotland.
Reluctantly, Eve agrees to travel with Finlay to Scotland in order to try to find his father. During the trip, the two become closer as forced proximity and a common goal is wont to do. Ed suddenly becomes very protective of Eve when she leaves with Finlay. Eve finally figures out that Ed has never really liked her, he just likes the idea that she adores him.
I thought the best-written parts of this book were Eve dealing with the unexpected and tragic death of her best friend, and her unrequited yearning for Ed. They have a complicated, unhealthy relationship. I could relate to her hopeful longing, but it was satisfying to see Eve break away from him.
Finlay certainly has an interesting backstory, but I felt like I couldn’t quite get a handle on him because we really don’t know that much about him. So, even though I’m glad Eve ended up with Finlay, the romance was a little underwhelming compared to some of McFarlane’s other stories. ***END SPOILERS***
You can find all my reviews on my blog.