My Forever Plus-One
My Forever Plus-One has the right mix of modern, charming romance and journalistic flair – at first. Then the last quarter of the book falls on its face as childish jealously is injected between the hero and heroine.
Evelyn Rhodes – director on a Jerry Springer/Maury Povich-style talk show – is informed by her boss that she’s been nominated in the Women in the Media awards. This could mean she’ll finally get the leverage necessary to win her way out of the talk show circuit and finally launch the public affairs show she’s always wanted to do. Evelyn has to look up her eternal plus-one for all important events, fireman Owen Hanson, and ask him if he’ll come.
When he’s not taking care of the kids who spend time at the youth center he volunteers at, Owen really likes spending time with Evelyn, but he won’t make the next move and ask her for more – though he sure as hell doesn’t want his fireman friends dating her. He and Evelyn are good at verbal sparring, but romance has never really entered into the equation, no matter how much Evelyn wants only to hang around with Owen and his cute dog, Probie.
A one-night stand seems to change everything, but that one night morphs into two. Suddenly, Evelyn and Owen realize that the attraction they’ve been trying to ignore just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.
But when Evelyn’s scandal-plagued boss seems to be getting too familiar, will Owen be able to admit to himself that it’s love he’s after?
My Forever Plus-One works when it’s about a friendship lurching violently toward love. It gets a lot of those feelings and details right, and on top of that it captures Owen’s firefighter life and Evelyn’s life as a producer very well.
I liked Evelyn a lot – her ridiculous talk-show world, her not wanting to settle down into something confining or overly commitment-heavy – while being totally into the idea of the picket-fence world represented by Owen and Probie.
Owen was more difficult to like. His jealous streak when it comes to Evelyn borders on over-possessive and thus borders on uncomfortable. If any man so much as smiles at her, he bristles and pulls a Tarzan act. But I liked his softer side, as represented with his work at the youth center.
The central conflict of the story is what made me mark the whole book down. While Owen ultimately pulls a great grovel, the conceit that drives the couple apart is annoying and revolves around Owen’s jealousy when it comes to Evelyn’s career – her driving force throughout the book. That he thinks she’d waste time by going back to her ex is bizarre; that he throws a tantrum over her putting work first when he’s a fireman and it’s kind of a necessity of his own job is ridiculous. He quickly realizes he’s being foolish, at least, but the plot point just feels like a page-stretcher; unnecessary and ridiculous.
The setting and the heroine elevate this one above a D, but the hero of My Forever Plus-One is less than stellar. The romance suffers as a result, causing me to give it big disinvite.
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