Book Review: If You Were Me

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Author: Sheila O’Flanagan
ISBN: 978-0-7553-7848-7
RRP: $29.99

Sheila O’Flanagan is an author I have become quite fond of in the time I’ve been reviewing for Beauty and Lace. She isn’t someone I had read prior to that, being far from my usual genres of choice.

If You Were Me is the latest in a long line of bestselling novels for the author and as I write this it is sitting in number 1 on the Irish charts. It sees Carlotta O’Keefe happily engaged to safe and stable Chris, wedding plans are coming together nicely and her career is going beautifully. The only thing that is less than ideal in her life is the strained relationship with her in-laws. Carlotta is ambitious, driven and dedicated so her first thought on waking up late in a hotel far from home the day she’s due to return from her business trip is how did this happen. This is disastrous because if she misses her train she may just miss her future mother-in-laws 70th Birthday celebrations and that is not an option.

One extra hour sleep could well change the entire course of Carlotta’s life. Events seem to conspire against her making the plane and eventually she concedes, deciding to spend the time seeing the sights because it would be a shame to waste the opportunity.

I enjoyed this story but it didn’t grab me in the same way her previous work has. I’m trying to think what it was about this one but it’s hard to put into words. The premise was fantastic but there was something that didn’t quite resonate with me in the execution.

As a child Carlotta had a wonderful best friend, they shared everything and as their feelings grew they even got one date, but no kiss. In the darkest hours of that very night his family disappeared never to be seen again. Eventually Carlotta moves on, she puts it behind her and puts the pieces of her broken heart back together.

Imagine her surprise to come face to face with a very grown up Luke Evans in the foyer of the hotel she just discovered is fully booked and doesn’t have a room for her.

Throughout the course of the novel we discover the story behind the late night disappearance of the Evans family and as we get to know Carlotta better we see her dedication in a slightly different light.

if you were me

I think part of my issue with this novel is that I find some of the behaviour questionable so it was hard to really connect with the characters.

First love comes with so much promise that when the love leaves you heartbroken before it has been fulfilled it is sure to leave scars and often change you and your views on love. In Carlotta’s case it has left her wanting security, stability and compatibility more than passion and romance, and she’s happy with that. Will the blast from her past leave her yearning for the passion she deemed unimportant?

O’Flanagan’s locations are descriptively written evoking the beauty of the surroundings and she really does make you think. The random meeting of young lovers does interest me and I love reading what authors do with this, in this case it fell a little short of the mark for me but that could say more about my headspace than the book.

At times I felt that it was all just a little too neat, events lined up a little too easily and things worked out a little too cleanly.

Overall this was still an enjoyable read that I’m sure fans of O’Flanagan’s other novels will love, and I will still be interested in her future releases.

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