“We all make mistakes. Go and take your punishment, then come back and start again. Do even better next time. I know you can.”
Within the first few chapters of “One Plus One”, by Jojo Moyes, you know what’s going to happen. After all, second chances are compelling reading and “One Plus One” is no different. There’s a down on her luck cleaning woman and a privileged man, both single, both with challenges in life. It’s inevitable they are going to connect. But that doesn’t make “One Plus One” any less enjoyable because their pre-ordained journey is as fun as it is sentimental, from first page to last.
Jess Thomas is our scrappy heroine. Separated from her husband Marty for two years, she takes care of her daughter Tanzie and stepson Nicky, Marty’s son from a previous marriage. Tanzie is a math prodigy who doesn’t fit in with the rest of her schoolmates. And Nicky is all teenage angst, a Goth kid who wears mascara and is mercilessly bullied at school. Marty has been living with his mother the past two years and trying to get his life together, so unable to contribute financially towards care for the kids. This forces Jess to work two jobs: cleaning house and bartending. It’s this dual job role where she meets Ed Nicholls.
Ed is a tech millionaire, sitting on top of the world with his own company. But things are not going so well for Ed. He’s involved with an old high-school classmate and wants to dump her. But he doesn’t know how to do it. She wants money to travel so in the most passive-aggressive move ever, Ed gives her trading information on his company in the hopes she will just fade away. Instead, he’s brought up on insider trading charges. On top of that, he has been avoiding his dying father because he doesn’t want to divulge his legal troubles, hence alienating his entire family.
When Tanzie’s school contacts Jess about an exclusive math tournament that could lead to a scholarship at a private school, she jumps at the chance to provide her daughter with a bright future. The problem is that the tournament is in neighboring Scotland and the only car she has is Marty’s Rolls that’s been sitting in the garage for two years. No matter! Jess, Nicky, Tanzie and their large and malodorous dog Norman pile in the car and take off. As the group adjusts to a stinking car and gassy dog, the police pull them over for expired registration tags. Just as the trip looks to be derailed before even starting, Ed Nicholls pulls up to assist.
Jess recognizes Ed right away – she cleans his house and literally cleaned him up from the bar the night before. Ed doesn’t realize who Jess is at that moment. Something just told him to turn around and help this family. And that is when the true journey begins because there is nothing better than a small car crammed with four humans and a dog for people to get to know each other. There are road trip hijinks, family secrets revealed and others kept. Through it all Jess and Ed grow closer (surprise!) until one incident looks to derail the budding romance.
Each chapter is written from a different character’s perspective so we get to know what everyone is thinking. I loved being in all of their heads! Tanzie is adorable, Nicky is sweet, Jess is optimistic, Ed is kind and Norman is definitely a good boy. The story was humorous and emotional but not sappy. I was rooting for a happy ending and wasn’t disappointed. This Chick Lit novel was a perfect summer read with likeable characters that were compelling and not just fluffy. Next time I’m looking for a fun romance with people I want to meet, I’ll definitely be looking up Jojo Moyes!
Lynn Alexander is a recently published author and long-time book, food, cat and college football lover (Go Green!). Her career journey started in upstate New York, writing and recording commercials for radio. She moved to Venice, Florida to manage a restaurant which led her to Naples and Marco in 2002, where she currently books weddings and events for a local resort. Alexander is a Leadership Marco 2015 alum which fed her passion for history and learning. A butterfly at parties but a loner at heart, she loves nothing more than baking yummy desserts then retreating to a quiet corner to read.