Mhairi McFarlane has become one of my favorite romance authors. I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of her books, and I was eagerly anticipating the publication of her latest novel, Mad About You (2022). McFarlane has a fun, engaging writing style, and I often feel more emotionally connected to her characters than other romance novels.
The book begins with our protagonist–a wedding photographer–getting ready for the bride’s arrival, when the best man informs her that the groom has left. Harriet sees a bit of the aftermath of the disaster before she considers herself fired and hightails it herself.
Shortly thereafter, Harriet finds herself single as well, after her long-term boyfriend, Jonathan, proposed to her in front of his entire, awful family. She had clearly told him numerous times that she never wanted to get married, but he always ignored anything that didn’t fit with his plans. It made her realize once and for all that he was not the man for her.
Because Harriet had been living with Jonathan, she was pretty desperate to find a new living situation quickly. Fortunately her friend is a real estate agent and got her a room in a really nice house at a price she could afford. What Harriet didn’t know about her new roomie–Cal Clarke–is that he was the groom who left his bride at the altar, which neither one realized until the best man from the wedding shows up at Cal’s house.
Neither Cal nor Harriet are excited about this situation. Cal wants to forget about that day, and Harriet has a hard time thinking positively of a man who would leave his betrothed at the altar. But the two get along and help each other out with their respective exes when things get difficult. Soon, they are friends with some significant sexual tension.
Like all of McFarlane’s books, I enjoyed this one as well. I always like her writing, and I did appreciate Harriet’s relationship with her best friends as well as the nuance she brought to Harriet’s relationship with another ex-boyfriend. However, it’s not my favorite. I felt like there could have been more interaction between Harriet and Cal. It wasn’t quite as satisfying of a slow burn as I found in her other books. And even though everything worked out and it was well-written, I found the ending a little painful to read.
***SPOILERS*** What we find out later in the book is that Harriet’s earlier ex–Scott–is the reason Harriet stayed so long with Jonathan. Scott was very emotionally abusive and was shrinking Harriet’s world down to nothing when she was finally able to get away from him. When she sees him again, he is engaged to another woman who looks about as miserable as Harriet used to feel with him. Harriet decides she must warn this woman and writes her a long letter, delivering it to the hair salon where the woman works. But Scott gets the letter and declares war on Harriet using social media–calling himself the victim–and trying to ruin her business. But another woman hurt by Scott sees his social media, and she meets up with Harriet. Along with Scott’s current partner, the three woman conspire to ruin his upcoming wedding. I think these wedding scenes were supposed to feel redemptive, but they just made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. This is the part I found painful to read, and I kind of wished we could just focus on Harriet and Cal. ***END SPOILERS***
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