Eddings. Mazey. The Plus One. St. Martin’s Press, 2023. 304 pp. ISBN 9781250847041 $16.99
“She’d known him her entire life, but this felt like the first time she was ever really seeing him.” *swoon*
Childhood nemeses decide to fake date for a wedding in Mazey Edding’s latest romance novel. Thankfully, they annoy the crap out of each other more than are mean or true enemies. When Indira walks in on her boyfriend Chris in a compromising position with a blonde and a jar of peanut butter, she grabs her stuff and her feral cat and crashes with her brother and his fiance. Both doctors themselves, they are hosting their old friend (and her sparring partner) Jude, on leave from a doctors-without-borders type stint that he’s doing to get a free ride through medical school. The time with GHCO has left its mark: sleepless nights, low energy, tension, survivor guilt, and little laughter now make up the once fun and funny Jude. Dira, a psychiatrist, slowly comes to recognize Jude’s behaviors as suffering from PTSD from the atrocities he’s witnessed. While her training and background are handy, she doesn’t see her role as fixing him.
The cheating ex is the cousin of a groom and in the wedding party, so not only will Dira have to make nice, but of course, one-up the asshole. Enter Jude, who finds being around her comforting, and they decide it’s a win-win to act as supports for one another at the upcoming nuptials and many prep sessions and outings leading up to the wedding. They don’t talk about the fact she remembers their last hug before he went away, and he remembers the details of her cheesesteak order. Finding her old journals leads to her sharing some of what she wrote about him, and them reminiscing the occasions he was chivalrous instead of just a teenage douchebag.
The novel features forced proximity, only one tent!, relentless roasting, naked people getting walked in on (accidentally), hurt/comfort and fake dating, along with were real mental health and grief issues that are handled beautifully by imperfect adults. Snippets of Dira’s own therapy sessions are interspersed and are wonderfully reassuring for all of us that self-awareness is a huge part of coping and healing.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #ThePlusOne from #NetGalley.