(ARC) The Plus One Pact by Portia MacIntosh

What if your plus one could be the one...?

Cara has officially run out of men. Her most recent dates have gone from bad to worse, and when her dating app informs her there is no one left in her area to choose from, she is at a dead end.

But with a summer of events ahead of her, she needs to find a solution, fast; someone to keep her company at the never-ending weddings, family gatherings and gender reveal parties that she can’t face going to alone. So when she meets handsome, confident, Millsy on a night out she may be in luck. They could not be more different in personality, but he too has a summer of events ahead and is desperate to get his family off his back about finding a ‘nice girl’. What if they made a pact to help each other out and be a plus one for the summer? Just as friends of course...? 

I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of this novel, with thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood Books. After receiving it yesterday morning, it was promptly finished this morning at 1:21am (to be precise), because it had such a good flow and kept me guessing, that I didn't want to put it down.

Before requesting any ARC, my first test is the cover, does it appeal to me? I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but honestly, in the book world (but not in real life, definitely don't judge a book by its cover then), the cover tells you a lot about how good the book is. This novel had a very appealing cover, and thankfully the story inside lived up to the expectations.

The second test is the rest of it, and that's simply the novel itself. The notion of being a plus one to important events as friends has been around for some time, in both novels and films, but this one stood out by itself simply due to the fact that it wasn't a cookie-cutter plot-lift. Reading from one chapter to the next, I honestly couldn't figure out for some time who our leading lady was going to end up with. While typically in a romance novel the two characters mentioned on the blurb are going to end up together, there were so many side-twists and new information revealed that honestly, until about the last five or six chapters, who Cara was going to end up with wasn't clear, and I thoroughly enjoyed that.

While this is a light-hearted novel, it does cover some deeper subject matter, including the leading lady's concern about her appearance and her reasons for changing it, combined with her desire to find a partner, but not settle. Cara is a likeable character, but I found that the book was a little lighter on character development, but stronger in plot points. I would have liked to seen more character development of both our leading lady and man, rather than the realizations that occurred, which we're not always privy to prior to the change, but this is not done in a way that is overly distracting, just more of a niggle.

(Spoilers briefly ahead)
I was also a little perturbed with our leading lady's family decision to not only invite her ex-boyfriend to stay with them, but to stay in her old bedroom. The old relationship wasn't a good one, and I would hope that my family would have respected me enough not to do that. Neither of our families seemed to be perfectly on the ball, and that is real life, it's not always going to be perfect, which did add a good sense of realism here.

Overall, this was a light-hearted, fluffy romance that is perfect for a summer escape. Nothing too serious, and not simply a re-used plotline with different characters, this novel did keep me on my toes, guessing until the last quarter or less, who Cara was going to end up with. I do have to note as well that I did love the light nod to Bridget Jones, along with a few favorite tropes being utilized in a clever way. A poignant novel in parts, leading to some excellent quotes ready to go on my board, this was a great, light-hearted summer read.

Rating: 3.5/5

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