Plus One by Scarlett Parrish
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
At the opening of the book, we meet Lydia. She's having trouble finding a job - probably because she has long bright pink hair. She's just getting started at an interview for a job in a university library when she's interrupted by Dr. Spencer Flynn. His copying machine is broken and he can't translate the shorthand notes that were left for him. Luckily for Dr. Spencer, Lydia CAN read shorthand, so she offers to do the transcription for him. And of course, it doesn't look too shabby for her interview that she's being so helpful before she even has the job.
Right from the start, Lydia and Spencer have this smartass banter back and forth between them. They seem immediately drawn to each other, maybe more out of curiosity than anything. She's a beautiful 23 year old with pink hair who is looking for a job; he's a 42 year old professor of math geekiness. Of course, there's nothing about that that says "ideal couple", but if you've ever read a romance novel, you know it won't be long before they're having some hot monkey math nerd sex.
After Lydia fixes a copier, transcribes shorthand notes, and finishes her interview, Spencer gives her a ride home in his candy apple red mustang. When they arrive at her apartment, they chat for a little while before Spencer gives Lydia the sexiest kiss I've ever read about. I'm telling you, the genius in Scarlett Parrish's writing is her ability to write the unspoken along with the spoken. Writing them in such a way that they flow together so perfectly that you're completely caught up in the experience and the feelings of what the characters are going through.
You know the hot kiss isn’t going to be enough for either of them. Eventually Spencer pays Lydia a visit at her apartment and they have hot couch sex. Which turns into a blowjob in his office at work (Lydia DID get the job, obviously), which turns into them being in a relationship where the sex is incredibly hot all the time, although Lydia doesn’t know how to define what they’re doing. Are they boyfriend and girlfriend? What? She’s totally into him, but she somehow doesn’t feel as if he is as into her. She’s constantly questioning the things he does - like, he takes her to a restaurant out of town.....she thinks it’s because he’s embarrassed to be seen with her. Chalk it all up to insecurity and a lack of communication, but we’ve all been there. We’ve all dated that guy that we felt was too good to be true and in turn, we questioned his every action and his motives - just looking for a problem. And if there is a shortage of problems, we’ll just start creating them in our head. Yea - we’ve all been there, done that. Lydia is no exception. But their relationship continues on, and they make plans to go out IN town, but at the last minute Spencer cancels. A family member is sick, he says. Of course, Lydia doesn’t exactly believe that. This is when her self-doubt really starts eating away at her relationship. She feels slighted and ignored.
After this, Spencer calls her and wants to talk. She thinks he wants to have THE talk....they one where he says they can’t see each other any more. Come to find out, that isn’t the case at all. Spencer confesses that he has a seven year old son - and that is who was sick. He knew that she thought he was lying when he cancelled their date, and he wanted to reassure her that he wasn’t. Lydia doesn’t quite know how to take the news about the son. Immediately she feels that she’ll never be as important to Spencer as his son, Lucas, is. (Which is so selfish of her.) She feels like she’ll never be more than 2nd place in his heart. (Lydia, can I smack you now? Please?) He apologizes and tells her that he should have mentioned it before now, but he just didn’t know how.
Things continue along, and then when Lydia isn’t invited to be Spencer’s “plus one” to a gallery opening, she decides to buy a ticket and go with her gay BFF. She dyes her hair to its natrual color (which Spencer has always been dying to see), she gets all her fancy duds on and heads out to the party. At first she’s all blasé about it - and then Spencer spots her. AND. HE. LOSES. HIS. SHIT. Come to find out it was his babymama’s exhibit and Spencer was there with his son. And yea, Spencer acts like a bastard. I understand why he was mad, but damn it, the way he talked to Lydia made me want to smack him. And even though I can understand why he was mad that she came to the gallery, he was disrespectful to her. Very disrespectful. And of course, this spells the end of their love affair....temporarily, at least.
Some time passes and Spencer shows up at Lydia’s house to apologize and talk it out with her. They end up having “we’re still sorta mad at each other” sex (which is always hot), and he does apologize. Several times. But for Lydia, it’s not enough. He disrespected her in public - in front of his colleagues - and some private hot nookie isn’t equal to the public humiliation and she sends Spencer on his way, their relationship is finally over. (Yea, right....)
Eventually, Spencer does what Lydia (secretly or not so secretly) wanted all along - he publicly acknowledges her in a way that can leave no room for doubt that he is not even remotely embarrassed by her. He does it in front of a room full of his students - knowing that the college grapevine will have the news spread far and wide within hours. He calls the library and has her bring over a book and then once she’s in front of his class, he proceeds to invite her to dinner with his parents and his son. (Swoon) At first she doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing, and then she gets it and she agrees to dinner. He sends he away with a short note, written in shorthand, that he needs transcribed. And apparently the letter - just three sentences long - was just want she needed to hear.
Damn it, y’all - there is no epilogue! AGH! I really hate that I’m so damn needy that I have to know - in writing - what happens after the characters find their HEA. I like it spelled out for me in black and white. And really, I would LOVE to know what the note said! Scarlett....you reading this?? What did the note say?? I mean, I can guess what it said. But geezums, I need to know!
Despite my pathetic need to always have one more chapter.....I loved this fucking book so much. I love a plucky heroine who is a bit different, has a strong character, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. I might have wanted to smack her at times, but it’s always easier to judge someone’s actions when you’re not in their shoes. At the end of the day, Scarlett Parrish writes characters that are so fully fleshed out that I care enough to want to scream at them and tell them to communicate and just work it the fuck out and be happy.