Saturday, 1 October 2016

Review: The Last Plus One by Ophelia London, Lindsay Emory and Alexandra Haughton

I'm deep into the university semester, so it's been novellas all 'round for me lately (as you can probably tell by the last 3 reviews). The latest is The Last Plus One, an anthology featuring one story each by Ophelia London, Lindsay Emory and Alexandra Haughton, all set at the wedding of a senator's daughter in Maine. Here are my thoughts: 

Bringing Home The Boss by Alexandra Haughton - 4 stars
Maggie's parents are the senator's groundkeeper and housekeeper, and she's always straddled the line between being a family friend and being the help. She's now a founding partner of a successful sportswear company, and no-one there knows of the circumstances in which she grew up, so it's a problem when her business partner and friend invites himself along as her plus-one. Cruz is entirely unaware of what he is walking into, or the trouble he is causing for Maggie. All he knows is that he can feel Maggie slipping away from him day by day. He doesn't know why, and he doesn't know how to fix it, but maybe accompanying her to this wedding - despite her protestations - will help. 

Maggie and Cruz's story was by far my favourite of the three. It was so evocative, with Cruz trying so hard to anticipate Maggie's needs and wants, and Maggie just attempting to hold it together long enough to make it back to life in Austin. The romance unfolded naturally and beautifully, and I loved it. 

Always on My Mind by Ophelia London - 3.5 stars
Ashton is the groom's sister, and she's agreed to be George Hawkin's date. For all he was originally her brother's friend, Hawk and Ashton have been best friends for years. Hawk has been biding his time, but with Ashton moving to Switzerland and him interviewing for a job at a prestigious private school, it's now or never if they're ever going to be together.  

Hawk and Ashton are very different people. She's a sex-positive therapist and researcher with next to no filter, and he's a buttoned-up teacher. I liked both characters, especially Ashton. The conflict between the two started off well, but I felt like it dropped off towards the end. They kept rehashing their differences, then did this big "I was wrong to want you to change", "No, I was wrong to want you to change" but it was just this big blame-myself-and-love-the-other-fest and I was left with little idea about how they were going to manage their differences - which had been so reiterated throughout - in the future. It wasn't a big thing, 

When We Were Young by Lindsay Emory - 3 stars
Bridesmaid and wedding planner Claire is livid when she finds out that Tom Harrington has been brought in as a last-minute groomsman. She hates him, and he hates her, and she doesn't know how they're going to get through this wedding being civil to each other, given their constant animosity and the unresolved one-night stand from college that still hangs over them. 

Emory did a good job of redeeming Claire, who had been called 'Wedding Planner Barbie' and 'The Meanie' by the two previous heroines. Unfortunately, the hero got no such treatment. Caught up in the fact that Claire doesn't fawn over him, he plays a cruel prank on her, throws her phone into the ocean and just generally acts like a dick. The bride spends the whole story reassuring Claire that Tom is really a nice guy, and she's right: he is a textbook Nice Guy. I'm deducting .5 stars for my issues with Tom, but even I have to admit, the ending still gave me loads of feels. 

The thing I enjoyed most about The Last Plus One can't be put down to any one story, but the way each built on the last, so that aspects of the same event as interpreted in varying ways. The characters in each story see things from a different, completely understandable position. Maggie (Story #1) thinks Claire (Story #3) is trying to prove she's a better friend to the bride and make a move on Cruz. Claire is genuinely perplexed by Maggie's attitude towards her, but in her anxiety over planning the wedding does accidently come across aggressively. Ashton (Story #2) is sour that, despite being the sister of the groom, she's been left out of the wedding party, and transfers her resentment to Claire as the wedding planner. Claire only took on the wedding planning because the Maid of Honor is sullenly useless, and because its something that she's good at, a way to pay back her friend for something that happened in the past. 

I loved the way it tied together as an anthology, and I'm off to find more multiple-POV, same event anthologies, stat!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...