ARC Review: The Plus One by Mazey Eddings

  • Title: The Plus One
  • Author: Mazey Eddings
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Release Date: 4/4/23
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary: Some facts are indisputable. The sun rises in the east, sets in the west. Gravity exits. Indira doesn’t like Jude. Jude doesn’t like Indira. But what happens when these childhood enemies find the only thing they can rely on is each other? On paper, Indira has everything together. An amazing job, a boyfriend, and a car. What more could a late twenty-something ask for? But when she walks in on her boyfriend in an amorous embrace with a stranger, that perfect on paper image goes up in flames. Jude has nothing together. A doctor that’s spent the last three years traveling the world to treat emergencies and humanitarian crises, a quick trip home for his best friend’s wedding has him struggling to readjust. Thrust into an elaborate (and ridiculously drawn out) wedding event that’s stressing Jude beyond belief and has Indira seeing her ex and his new girlfriend far more frequently than any human should endure, the duo strike a bargain to be each other’s fake dates to this wedding from hell. The only problem is, their forced proximity and fake displays of affection are starting to feel a bit… real, and both are left grappling with the idea that a situation that couldn’t be worse, is made a little better with the other around. What starts out as a fake wedding date turns into something these childhood enemies never expected in the next sparkling romantic comedy by Mazey Eddings.

I have read and enjoyed all three of the books in Mazey Edding’s A Brush with Love series. (You can read my review of A Brush with Love here). I love a series like this one where the author explores the lives of each of the members of a friend group or family in a different novel.

I love a good childhood friend’s to lovers story. At first, it seems as though Jude and Indira didn’t like each other as children and that they continued to strongly dislike each other as adults. However, as the story unfolds, the reader learns that Jude has been carrying around mementos of Indira from childhood. It becomes clear just how much Jude cares and has always cared about Indira.

Indira is a therapist and clearly has a high level of emotional intelligence. It seems unlikely to me that she would openly treat someone she’s known since childhood with contempt as she does to Jude at the beginning of the novel. Of course, I knew that their “fake dating” plan would lead to them falling for one another, but it didn’t sit quite right with me. At least, Eddings shows Indira’s therapist pushing back on her view of Jude at the beginning of the novel and says to her, “Perhaps it would be easier to sit with your emotions if you two can find level ground.” I’m glad that Eddings included this moment and that Indira does agree with the doctor.

Edding’s commitment to “write love stories for every brain” is admirable and so important. In the last installment of the series, Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake, Eddings explores what a romance looks like for someone with ADHD. In The Plus One, one of the main characters experiences PTSD from his experiences treating patients in areas dealing with humanitarian crises. Eddings handles Jude’s experiences tactfully and thoughtfully. She lets the reader into his head to give them a sense of his experiences. Futhermore, Indira, is able to recognize Jude’s symptoms and show him empathy. It is important to tell stories like this and to destigmatize taking care of one’s mental health.

The moments of Indira and Jude struggling with their mental health also reveal how strong their relationship has the potential to be. In one moment, Eddings describes Indira as “so alone in her misery.” Jude sees this and picks up on it. He immediately says, “I want to help you…Can you tell me how?” That is absolutely the perfect response when you see someone you care about struggling.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading all three of the installments in this series so far, and I hope Eddings writes a story for Thu next.

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