Desert Isle Keeper
The Plus One Pact
An absolute delight from beginning to end, Portia MacIntosh’s British rom-com, The Plus One Pact, delivers a heartwarming romance that is sitcom-level funny.
This sweet friends-to-lovers story with a chick lit vibe is narrated by twenty-nine-year-old Cara Brooks, an escape room designer and a self-proclaimed dork. (If you’re unfamiliar with the torturous fun of an ‘escape room,’ then here is a quick explanation. You are locked in a room with a group of people for an hour and must work together to find confusing clues and solve absurd puzzles that will enable you to open the six million padlocks that come between you and freedom.)
Since breaking up with her boyfriend over a year earlier, Cara has searched the shallow online dating pool with zero success. With her high school reunion and her annoying cousin’s wedding fast approaching, the insecure Cara is especially anxious to find a date to accompany her to these dreaded events. Her seemingly hopeless situation turns around when a kind stranger, Joe Mills, a.k.a. Millsy, saves her from the humiliation of being stood up at a bar. The super cool, confident, and fun-loving Millsy reveals that he is facing a summer of social engagements to which he would love to bring a date. However, his penchant for ridiculous party girls has caused his plus one privileges to be revoked by his friends and family. So, Cara proposes that they serve as each other’s plus ones and the deal is sealed.
While this might sound like a fake dating novel, it isn’t really. There are a few fleeting fake dating moments, but the plus one partners repeatedly tell everyone that their relationship is platonic. Of course, as Millsy and Cara spend time together dealing with party mishaps and the perils of family gatherings, they come to realize that love comes when you least expect it.
There is so much to like about The Plus One Pact. MacIntosh’s simple, but well-constructed plot contains hilarious conflicts, unexpected turns, a sexy reveal about Millsy’s mysterious job, and a highly amusing subplot centering on Cara’s feud with her soon-to-be-married diva cousin and her difficult ‘Momzilla’ aunt.
I so enjoyed the good-natured main character. Her wry sense of humor and honest insights are endlessly endearing, and her search for a romantic partner, which is inextricably tied to her exploration of self-identity, will be relatable to many. Even though Cara doesn’t view herself as hip or cool, she actually is, but lacks the confidence to spread her proverbial wings and fly. The character arc that she experiences in this regard is rather inspiring.
Compared to Cara, Millsy is a much less developed protagonist. He is loyal, kind, and says all of the right things, but he is a little too perfect. (Well, except for hitting on a bride at her own wedding. But, he is likeable enough to forgive him that one transgression.) Despite Millsy’s somewhat one-dimensional personality, the burgeoning romance between him and Cara has genuine depth. Romantic sparks between the couple are slow to materialize, but the time that MacIntosh spends building Cara and Millsy’s beautifully functional relationship is worth the page time.
Portia MacIntosh’s The Plus One Pact is a must-add title to your summer reading lists. This rom-com will hug your heart and put a smile on your face. It is the book equivalent of eating a chocolate ice cream brownie sundae – unputdownable and deeply satisfying.