I don't read romance novels very often. I'll only pick one up if it seems likely to be quirky with some edgy humor. Less focus on romance, more on the main characters growing as they figure out who they want to be as people and only eventually, maybe, as partners.
So when I read the summary of Scottish-born author Mhairi (pronounced Vah-Ree) McFarlane's "Don't You Forget About Me," I was hopeful I had found the rare romance that would tick all my boxes, and I was not disappointed.
The story opens with a flashback set in 2005 Sheffield, England, where Georgina Horspool and Lucas McCarthy are six weeks away from their final, final exams and graduation. They've never spoken before, but their exasperated teacher, fed up with the lack of attention to the classroom discussion of "Wuthering Heights," forces everyone to switch seats, and they wind up next to each other, required to work together on a shared essay. This in turn leads to a mutual crush and, eventually, as they seriously fall for each other, plans to spend prom night together.
Ending Georgina and Lucas' prom night without letting us know how it turns out, McFarlane skips ahead 12 years and we see 30-year-old Georgina Horspool has not lived up to expectations. Not her own and certainly not those of her mother and sister, as they never pass up an opportunity to remind her.
To pay the rent, rather than writing, as was her dream, Georgina has worked a series of dead-end jobs, mostly in restaurants and bars. At this particular moment, she's waitressing at That's Amore!, a laughably horrible restaurant, where she has to constantly apologize for the sup-bar food. McFarlane treats the reader to Georgina's sarcastic, inner monologue as she deals with the cranky customers, sexist co-workers and Tony, a boss ripe to be taken down by #MeToo.
After Tony fires Georgina for something he actually did, Georgina's sympathetic brother-in-law recommends her for a bartending job to a client of his that turns into a full-time gig at a great new bar and it's here where Lucas McCarthy, an extremely handsome, downright sexy Lucas — walks back into her life, only he doesn't recognize her, or so it appears.
Lucas' abrupt and unexpected reappearance in her life causes Georgina to finally reckon with things she has buried deep inside herself chief among them, what really happened the night she last saw Lucas 12 years ago. As she begins to heal, her life opens up in ways she didn't think were possible, including a chance to reclaim a relationship she believed was out of reach forever.
I thoroughly enjoyed being in Georgina's world with her super-supportive three best friends, a tyrannical roommate, a narcissistic, manipulative ex-boyfriend, and a well-intentioned mother and sister with whom understandings are finally reached as past secrets come to light and are explained.
Lisa Sanning is the adult services librarian at Missouri River Regional Library.