The Plus One by Mazey Eddings – ARC Review!

Some facts are indisputable. The sun rises in the east, sets in the west. Gravity exists. 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.

Indira and Jude may have grown up together, but closeness certainly does not make the heart grow fonder. Childhood enemies, they now find themselves thrust together in the preparations for Collin (Indira’s bother) and Jeremy’s wedding, and with Jude struggling with his social skills and Indira’s ex constantly sucking the face off his new girlfriend, the two decide to form a kind of truce and become each others dates to the wedding. Anything to make the situation a little easier right? Only, neither of them could have expected the amount of feelings that faking a date would bring about, nor the amount of trauma that they are trying to hide from one another. Indira and Jude may have once hated each other, but now there is the chance for more, they just have to be open to it.

So, first up you absolutely don’t have to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one, In fact, it wasn’t till I had finished reading that I actually found out it was book three in a series, so although the previous two books both sound like brilliant reads, you don’t have to have read them to fully enjoy this one. Indira and Jude were both brilliant brought to life characters. Indira a therapist and Jude a Doctor working in war zones abroad. They each carry their own trauma, something that eventually brings them together, and this just made them read more real as characters. Indira is witty, sarcastic, an absolute extrovert and someone who wears her feelings on her sleeve. Jude on the other hand tends more towards the introverted side of the spectrum. He is only himself with a few trusted people, and when he does open up we see his witty and slightly more free side than the one he tends to show.

Though the story focuses mainly on Indira and Jude, we also get a stand out cast of side characters, some of which are MC’s from the previous books, but my favourites were definitely Collin and Jeremy, Indira’s older brother and his fiance whose house her and Jude end up staying in. These two were so cute together and I loved seeing their interactions and their obvious love for each other as well as for Indira and Jude themselves. All of the side characters bring a little levity to the story in parts, and I enjoyed the scenes where we got to see them all interact together.

Now for the romance. As a whole I enjoyed it, but I was a tiny little bit disappointed by how quickly the enemies turned to lovers. In fact I would say it reads more as childhood frenemies to lovers, because it’s pretty quick after Indira and Jude get back in touch that their feelings start to come out. I did feel it was maybe a little rushed, and would have enjoyed a little more of their jibing and arguing before they eventually did the deed, but that just be my need to have as much tension and delayed gratification in my romances as possible.

Despite my lack of enjoyment over the development of their relationship, I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration of it. These two characters come with a whole heap of emotional baggage; Jude with his PTSD from his time as a doctor in war zones and Indira with her abandonment issues. Edding’s did a fantastic job of delving into these traumas for both of our characters, Jude’s unwillingness to open up about his PTSD, both not wanting to drop his trauma onto others and also not wanting to seem weak and Indira with almost imposer syndrome for her job, not believing she can be a good therapist to others when she isn’t in a good head space herself. She allows them to work through these in a reasonable way and the one thing I loved was that, even at the end, her character’s weren’t ‘fixed.’ They had done work, but acknowledged they had a way to go and, in fact, that they might never be the person they were before, but this was never seen as a weakness or a negative, rather something to be praised, something which is incredibly rare to see.

I did feel like the pacing of this one was off a little in parts. The story could have finished about 3/4 chapters earlier than it did, and I did feel my attention wavering towards the end there. As well as that I felt like the author spent a lot more time focusing on the characters overcoming their trauma, than developing their relationship which I didn’t mind, but it just took away from the actual romance aspect of the story. As a whole though I did enjoy it, and will definitely be checking out the first two books in the series, as well as anything else the author writes.

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