New Book – After Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

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Publication year: 2017

This novella is a sequel to “You Had me at Hello”, which I read a while ago.

In the novel Rachel breaks up with her long-standing boyfriend just when they are talking about their wedding. Things get complicated when she gets into contact with Ben, who she met at university and was in love with. We learn later that back then Ben kept himself at arm’s length because he respected the fact that Rachel was with Rhys, but it was clear that they both had feelings for each other. It was only the day of their graduation dance that they finally got together when Rachel broke up with Rhys on the phone after he stood her up. But then things didn’t work out as Rhys turned up, and Ben got the wrong end of the stick and didn’t give Rachel the chance to explain herself. Years later Rachel is single, but Ben is married. The novel tells us the ins and outs of their lives as they become friends again, and Rachel realises she still loves him. In the end they get together as Ben splits up with his wife.

Now in this novella Ben and Rachel are together. They are happy together, and two years after the events of the novel, they have moved in together. Rachel’s friends Mindy and Ivor are getting married and are up to their ears in wedding arrangements. Rachel also learns from Ben that Rhys is also getting married and wants her there. Then Rachel gets disappointed when she mentions marriage and Ben tells her that he doesn’t want to go through that again. I think that is quite unfair. He has been married, but Rachel hasn’t. Shouldn’t he decide that kind of decisions with her? No wonder Rachel feels down after he hints at his intentions.

Apart from that, more problems come between them. Rachel has a new colleague, Owen, who is having problems with Esther Cowley, a lawyer who works with Ben. Owen drops a hint about Esther having a crush on Ben. When later Ben picks Rachel up, he behaves rudely with Owen, and Rachel is mortified. Ben is harsh, telling her that he doesn’t like the way Owen has treated Rachel. They argue, which we know is rare for them, and they are tense with each other at dinner. Later when they are at home, they apologise. She confesses that she was a bit worried because Owen told her that Esther has a crush on her man, and Ben also says that he was always jealous after seeing the way Owen looked at her.

Interesting start. I wonder if these two people, Owen and Esther, will cause more strain between Rachel and Owen. And what about Ben’s dismissal of marriage? Is he serious about it? Doesn’t he want to go through it even for Rachel? Or is he pretending he isn’t interested when in reality he is planning to propose to her soon?

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