It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of The Plus One Pact by Portia MacIntosh. Published by Boldwood Books on 21st May, this lovely book is now available for kindle, in paperback and as an audiobook. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
And I’ll mention Rachel just once more – do you know, she’s been telling me for ages that I really should read one of Portia’s books, and how much she thought I’d enjoy her writing. I’ll admit I wasn’t too sure – I’m not always drawn to a book described as “hilarious” in case I might not agree, and I really thought her books were quite firmly targeted at the younger end of the market. Well, Rachel was right (as she so often is!), and I was wrong – I really loved this one, and might just have found another author to add to my favourites…
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…?
A brand new romantic comedy from bestseller Portia MacIntosh, perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley, Sophie Ranald and Mhairi McFarlane.
I’ll admit – being a tad shallow at times – that one of the first things that delighted me about this book was that it was set in Leeds. How often does that happen? Not nearly often enough – and what’s more, it was a Leeds I entirely recognised. What a refreshing change – and not just Leeds itself, but there’s a really pleasing Yorkshireness about the whole book (especially where Cara’s family are involved) that I thoroughly enjoyed.
But setting that aside, I really enjoyed the story too. Ok, I know the “plus one” challenge (and the coupled-up really have no idea how difficult that can be…) and the friends-to-lovers scenario have been done quite a few times before – but I think the main reason that didn’t matter one jot was because of the wonderfully drawn characters. I really did like Cara and her nice self-deprecating humour: she’s worked her way through every remotely suitable male on the dating site she uses, mainly by swiping left, and she doubts she’s ever going to find the coupledom she craves for.
Stood up yet again by one of her last chances, she’s approached in a bar by Millsy – fit, popular, and maybe a little out of her league. And so begins one of those lovely friendships where they both decide they can help each other out and make their lives rather more comfortable. What follows is a sequence of events where things frequently go distinctly haywire – misunderstandings big and small, a few secrets, a touch of slapstick at times – as we get to know both characters better at the same time as they get to know each other.
And of course, Cara and Millsy aren’t the only characters – there’s also a wonderful supporting cast of casual encounters, friends, employers, hairdressers, ex-lovers and extended families, and many of these well-drawn individuals could almost sustain books of their own. I had a particular soft spot for Cara’s family – her (very Yorkshire) mum and dad, and brother Oliver with his feminist fervour.
At well into my 60s, I do suspect I’m probably way outside this book’s target audience – but with my newly rediscovered love for a good rom com that didn’t bother me one bit. This was just an incredibly feel-good read, never remotely cheesy, filled with ups and downs and twists and turns – the dialogue absolutely sparkles, the humour’s well-judged alongside the emotional content, and the writing’s quite excellent. It was heartwarming, real fun, and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end – and this certainly won’t be the last time I pick up a book by Portia MacIntosh…
About the author
Portia MacIntosh is a bestselling romantic comedy author of 12 novels, including It’s Not You, It’s Them and Honeymoon For One. Previously a music journalist, Portia writes hilarious stories, drawing on her real life experiences.Sign up for her newsletter here.