If you are looking for a light summer romance, I would recommend One Plus One by JoJo Moyes. I discovered this author in 2013, when my summer book club read and discussed the bestselling book Me Before You. Me Before You was perfect for book clubs as it integrated some humour, romance, well-developed characters, and a surprisingly emotionally charged story dealing with assisted suicide. Anticipating another substantial read, I was keen to borrow One Plus One from the library this summer.
Although I would not recommend this title for book clubs (as it is really a conventional “chick-lit” romance), it was an enjoyable read. The author is very adept at creating quirky, well-developed characters. Jess Thomas is a single mother trying to raise a math-whiz daughter named Tanzie, who delights in completely insane algebraic equations (and conversation starters like “do you know what my name is, converted to binary code?”), and an introverted stepson who suffers the emotional scars of abandonment by both his mother and father. Struggling financially as a house cleaner and a barmaid, Jess finds her family challenged by a lack communication and town bullies (who abuse her stepson Nicky because he chooses to wear eyeliner and her daughter because of her homemade clothes with sequins).
Jess finds herself at odds with Ed Nicholls, a self-absorbed tech millionaire embroiled with his own legal problems (he is charged with insider trading). Despite their initial dislike of one another, they find themselves thrust together by circumstances. An unlikely and comic road trip follows, complete with kids and smelly dog, and their mutual attraction gradually develops amidst chaos…and despite the fact that he packs several sets of the same jeans and t-shirts, and she insists on making sandwiches for every meal with the cheapest ingredients and tapping her bare feet on his dashboard. Predictably, their relationship is challenged by various obstacles and misunderstandings.
Part of the appeal of the book is that I, as reader, could confidently predict a happy ending for all concerned. Since the narrative perspective shifted throughout the book, I really had a chance see the children as distinct characters, and to see their confidence grow as their relationship with Ed and their own mother develops and blossoms. At one point, Ed desperately buys all the glasses off a drug store rack, scrambling to return to Tanzie and replace her damaged pair before her Math Olympiad begins. Ed has come full circle – from selfish to caring. Eventually Ed “felt Jess’s injustices more fiercely than he ever felt anything for himself.”
Why would I want to read a light romance? Once in a while it’s nice to read a character-driven book where love prevails, family units emerge strong and happy, and life’s problems are overcome with a positive attitude.
If you are looking for reliable romance review sites, try:
All About Romance: http://www.likesbooks.com/
This site includes a selection of reviews, a monthly essay about a specific book, links to their reader awards, message boards, and discussion lists. Readers can get historical “cheat sheets” for romance reading, a list of author aliases, and recommendations for readalikes. The site also features a power search where readers can browse by sexual content, from mild to sizzling.
Dear Author: http://dearauthor.com/
Eye On Romance: http://eyeonromance.com/
Heroes and Heartbreakers: http://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/
Fantastic Fiction: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/