Here's Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane

Things you took a little longer to like, you liked longer, Anna had observed before. 

Title - Here's Looking at You
Author - Mhairi McFarlane 
Publication Date - December 5th 2013
Publisher - Avon
Format - Kindle Edition 
Pages - 400

The blurb

Our heroine Aureliana returns to school after fifteen years for a reunion. School doesn't hold happy memories for her, as being a roly-poly Italian (known as the Italian Galleon), and always armed with a Tupperware full of pungent Mediterranean food, she was bullied incessantly for throughout her years there. Now in her 30s, Aureliana wants to put the past behind her once and for all and face up to the bullies who made her life hell. But she is much-changed from the girl she once was - all curves and because I'm worth it hair - and no one recognises her when she arrives. Losing her bottle, she backs out on her plan for revenge and slinks off, hoping never to be reminded of her years at school again. But fate gets in the way, and after the reunion her path keeps crossing with James - major hunk and Aureliana's major crush back at school. But alas, as a cronie to the bullies, Aureliana to this day believes that his beautiful exterior hides an ugly interior. As they continue to cross paths a love/hate relationship ensues until eventually, something shifts, and they both start to discover what the person underneath is really like.  

Becca's thoughts

Oh! How I adored Here's Looking at You! Absolutely adored it. This is pure chick-lit, a beautiful story about second chance love, letting go of the past and smiling towards the future. I would re-read this again and again just to stupidly grin at the events that take place within the pages. 

Mhairi McFarlane begins her story with a blast from the past. She tugs the reader back in time, to Rise Park Comprehensive in East London, to the last day of term for Aureliana in 1997. I loved the name of Mhairi's main female character. It was pretty, sounded rather like some sort of flower, and I guess it sounded quite old-fashioned too, in my mind. The opening scene of the prologue drops you straight into the leaver's Mock Rock, an event for all pupils to get dressed up as their favourite pop stars and mime the words to the songs. From this moment on, I knew I was going to love Aureliana. She was shy and bullied an awful lot, but when her crush, James Fraser, makes an appearance it's as if she lights up from within. What follows from the Mock Rock is a horrible, embarrassing moment. One that she will never forgive James Fraser for. For just a second, she really, truly believed that he had actually noticed her, but unfortunately for Aureliana, it was not to be. From that moment on, the name James Fraser caused a storm inside of Aueliana, a storm that would last for years. 

Mhairi opens Chapter One by bringing the reader back to the present day. Anna, now a grown-woman and without her puppy-fat, is storming ahead in her career. Trying her hand at online-dating and dragging herself along to one disastrous date after another, she's beginning to wonder where all the good men have gone. I loved that the whole speed-dating aspect was included, it made it such an entertaining read and very giggle-worthy. What also caught my attention was how Anna would sit herself down at the dinner table with her latest date-ee, and imagine how her wedding speech would play out. It was hilarious and added such a playful side to her character. As the story goes on, Anna begins to find herself in a very surreal predicament. She comes face to face with her arch-nemesis, Mr James Fraser himself, all grown up and still, she thinks, the little pig that he was all those years ago when they were at school. 

I really, really enjoyed reading this book. It was a romantic, funny story that held me captivated from start to finish. Mhairi's characters were perfectly put-together and each had a wonderful personality all of their own. Watching two characters be re-united after a terrible past was incredibly intriguing and I enjoyed reading how it all played out, from not only Anna's point of view, but James's too. It was exciting, the chapters weren't a million miles long which made it seem more fast-paced. It didn't drag out any needless parts which I find some stories tend to do, and it was utterly impossible to put down. Each chapter held me captivated and I adored how easy it was to lose myself in the story. 

Becca's Books is giving Here's Looking at You a very worthy rating of five stars! I would recommend this book to everybody. Chick-lit lover or not. It was sensational, and I cannot wait to read more of this brilliant author's work. 

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