You Had Me at Hello- Mhairi McFarlane

Rachel breaks up with her fiance, Rhys, and soon after finds out that an old university friend, Ben, has moved back to Manchester.  Rachel and Ben run into each other (literally) and although Ben is now married, the two attempt to rekindle their friendship.  Rachel quickly realizes she wants more than just friendship from Ben, but knows that interfering with his marriage is not an option.  So she just tries to ignore her feelings and move on.  In the process, Rachel makes a real mess of the rest of her life by getting involved with a friend of Ben’s wife and by mucking up a career-making interview.

While the plot and subplots of this cute chick lit were pretty predictable (but really, it’s not like you read romance or chick lit expecting anything other than a Happily Ever After), I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit.   The characters, especially Rachel, were really enjoyable.  Rachel is funny and caring and I liked how she tried to take control of her life in this book.  She seems to have made a lot of her past decisions based on what was easy, letting life happen to her.  Breaking up with Rhys, though, seems to give Rachel the motivation she needs to make some hard decisions.  She goes out on dates with people who aren’t her type.  She tries to make some headway in her career as a newspaper reporter at the criminal courts conducting a big interview and by taking on the role of a mentor.  Sometimes it blows up in her face, but she has finally realized that it is worth the try, even if things don’t end up the way she had planned, even if it means starting from square one.  Again.

The story of Rachel and Ben’s university days unfolds through a series of flashbacks and it is a cute best friends fall in love sort of story.  The timing never quite lines up for the two to move past a platonic relationship, though, and miscommunications pile on to make a real mess of the situation.  At a dinner party, Rachel says something about timing being key in relationships and it seems as if that is particularly true in this story.  Rachel and Ben are doomed to fight timing issues, one or the other always being in another relationship, until the very last chapter of the book.

I think my biggest complaint about this book was that it felt a little on the long side for what it was.  Other than that, this was a fun chick lit with good character development, a sense of humor, and a cute romance.  I definitely recommend this to fans of chick lit– this felt smarter, funnier, and fresher than the last few I’ve read in that category.