Wednesday, July 9, 2014

ARC Review: One Plus One by Jo Jo Moyes

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted stateside, she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation, Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story that reads like a modern-day Two for the Road.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

What I thought about One Plus One

This is one of those books where I look at the other 5 star reviews and ask myself whether I read the same book. I've been following the outstanding reviews for this author and decided to give One Plus One a try. While I didn't hate this book, I didn't love it either.

I had some problems with this book from the start. The beginning felt like I was dropped right into the middle of the story and I struggled with multiple point of views from multiple characters I hadn't met yet. It was a bit unsettling to start the book that way, and at one point I put it down, read a different book and came back to this one. Not usually a good sign. But once I got to know who the players were, things became better.

Jess is a good woman. She works two jobs to support her two children, the youngest with an ex-husband who's been missing from the picture for a while. The other is her ex-husband's son from a previous marriage. She barely makes ends meet, is quick to excuse her ex-husband's lack of financial support. When her daughter is recognized for outstanding math aptitude and receives a scholarship to a prestigious school, Jess has to find someway to make up the extra money that the scholarship doesn't cover.

Ed's a wealthy co-owner of a software company and he's gotten himself into a bit a trouble. He's also one of Jess's cleaning clients. Turns out his inability to cut his girlfriend loose ends turns into insider trading accusations and investigations. After a drunken night at a pub where Jess works, his life becomes linked with Jess's, and he ends up escorting them all, including the family dog, to Scotland for the Math Olympiand, Jess's last chance to get the money she needs to send her daughter to a better school. Turns out Ed has a pretty big heart too. I liked that about him. He wasn't afraid to use his money or his time to help others.

I did like this story for it's message about not giving in to negativity in the face of struggle, and Jess's love for her family was just heart-warming. I especially liked how she interacted with Nicky. She's not related to him by blood, yet that doesn't matter when it cam to nurturing him. Nicky might have been my favorite character.

As for Ed, I did have some sympathy for his situation, especially the loss of his friends because of a very stupid mistake. But when it came to the romance between Jess and Ed, which I was looking forward to reading, it fell short for me. When they finally get a moment of privacy and come together, it happens off page, and I thought the intimacy between these two main characters was missing in a big way. That is probably my biggest complaint with this story. I didn't feel the connection between these two main characters. I wanted to -- I waited for it, and the feeling that these two characters had to be together just never came for me.

If you are looking for a "white-knight" sort of story and don't mind the knight having a bit of tarnish, One Plus One might be for you.

3.5 stars

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