The Partner Plot
Grade : A-

The Partner Plot is a fun, fast read with loads of charm. It’s easily one of the best second-chance-at-love stories I’ve ever read.

High school sweethearts Xavier Wright and Violet Greene live big. They are the coolest, sexiest kids at their school, and their breakups and makeups are legendary. Their relationship is combustible - the chemistry between them burns hot and heavy non-stop, sometimes flaring up into their infamous fights but never burning out. They dream just as big as they love. Xavier plans to be the next great basketball star, Violet plans to take over the fashion world.

That they aren’t great at the long-distance thing doesn’t surprise either of them once they are at separate colleges, but everything else about the experience does. Violet, never a good student, finds her niche and becomes one of the brightest stars on campus, while Xavier, the kid everyone just knew would shine, finds himself bench-sitting his freshmen year and injured and out of the game by Christmas, his sophomore year. Determined not to be what holds his girl back, he breaks up with Violet and allows her to move on and move up.

And move up, she does. Fast forward ten years: Violet is a celebrity stylist on the shortlist for a coveted position on the thirty under thirty list of Look magazine, an industry standard. She is with Karamel Kitty in Vegas, attending an opening at a swanky new club and ensuring her client is at her most fabulous as she is seen and photographed by all the right people when she runs into Xavier again. Time falls away and from the very first moment they dance, she finds herself enthralled once more.

This scene isn’t Xavier’s life. He wouldn’t be at the club at all, but he’d won a room at the luxury resort in Vegas and treated himself and his cousin to a wild weekend getaway. As a high school teacher, he’s become Mr. Sedate and Responsible. But seeing Violet has brought to the surface the charming, reckless side of himself he has kept suppressed for over a decade. The two drink and dance the evening away - and wake up married.

Fortunately, a double check of their marriage certificate shows theirs was a fake wedding, and the rings on their fingers are cheap plastic. They agree to go their separate ways and put it all behind them. But when Violet is doing her interview for the coveted cover spot with Look magazine, her lying, cheating ex comes up, and she finds herself claiming she’s happily married in order to put the discussion back on track. She hopes no one she knows outside the fashion world will read the thing, but of course, life never works that way,

Xavier is stunned to find himself congratulated for marrying Violet when he returns to work. He gives vague answers and vacant smiles to everyone’s excitement, anxious to talk to Violet and see what she is thinking when he gets the phone call. The one he’s been waiting for that will offer him a chance to move to college coaching. The university hadn’t thought a bachelor, especially of the kind that Xavier had been while he was on their campus in his heyday, was the kind of guy they wanted on staff. But the new, responsible Xavier looked good on paper, and the addition of a wedding ring shows them he’s finally settled down. Violet, too, finds being married is helping her professionally, and they both decide to give it a few months, put on a good show of being together, and cash in on the possibilities it represents before going their separate ways. It’s the perfect plot, exactly the kind of bold move they used to utilize back in high school until they realize they hadn’t considered how much the spark between them has rekindled. When it comes time to let go, will they really be able to part yet again?

There is so much I loved about this novel. One of the best things is how the author uses her unrealistic plot point (being married is good for a career in the 21st century) realistically. It is made clear that the university coach demeaning Xavier as a singleton is being a jerk and providing him with fodder for a lawsuit. It is also made clear why Xavier is willing to put up with it; he doesn’t feel he has a lot of options to be promoted, and he sees this as his best chance. With Violet, we also see some practical applications to her wanting to be married. It’s almost impossible to use this trope effectively in a contemporary novel, but the author really does hit it out of the ballpark here.

Another positive is the maturity shown by both Violet and Xavier. I like stories about grownups who aren’t hot messes but actually know how to hold jobs, get themselves fed, and basically function as human beings. Xavier and Violet are both invested in their careers and put in the time necessary to build them. Violet’s job has especially demanding hours, and I appreciated how she is reflective enough to question how she would find time for someone like Xavier, who is based in a small town for most of the year. Major kudos to the author for showing both the good things about small towns and small-town living without in any way disparaging big cities and the high-powered careers of some of the people who live in them. Violet doesn’t see the people in her hometown as more caring, kind etc. (and not all of them are depicted in that light) than her successful friends and clients, which makes a refreshing change for most romances (and Hallmark Christmas movies). She also doesn’t tank or discredit everything she has built because of love.

Another wonderful aspect is how the author shows growth in both characters from their teenage selves while still maintaining the core of who they are. Violet is still impetuous, fashion-oriented, and a touch volatile, but she has also tempered all those characteristics with some self-reflection and maturity. She understands more clearly what she wants and what she will and won’t sacrifice to get it. Xavier is learning to be happy with the person he has become, which is so different than the person he hoped to be. He recognizes the mistakes he’s made along his path to adulthood and has worked to improve himself. I loved that as a teenager, he is all bluster and bravado and that the hallmark of his adulthood is meaningful, genuine communication.

The Partner Plot is a fabulous tale about how two people living vastly different lives can make long-distance love work. I would recommend it to fans of contemporary romance.

Reviewed by Maggie Boyd
Grade : A-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : February 25, 2024

Publication Date: 02/2024

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Maggie Boyd

I've been an avid reader since 2nd grade and discovered romance when my cousin lent me Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe in 7th grade. I currently read approximately 150 books a year, comprised of a mix of Young Adult, romance, mystery, women's fiction, and science fiction/fantasy.
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