Screwball romantic comedies are like souffles—they have to
be frothy enough to be worthy of the genre yet substantial enough to satisfy on
all levels. And a bad one leaves a horrid taste in your mouth. Fortunately,
Hank Edwards is a master chef who doesn’t have to worry about his main courses
and his latest rom-com, Plus Ones, is no exception.
Gorgeous Evan Dresden meets beautiful Paul Cooper at a
dinner party hosted by Alden (Evan’s college chum) and his partner John. But
before love can blossom, a series of social blunders prevents Evan and Paul
from getting together. However, they keep being invited to a series of summer
weddings—always as “plus ones,” attached to other men. Each thinks of the other
as a serial dater and not husband material, but their attraction is
unquestionable. How do they finally get together? I can’t tell you, but I can
tell you that getting there is half the fun.
Edwards’ creates some wonderful characters here. Evan is
clumsy and, at times, churlish but also charming and complex. His intended,
Paul, is also a bit of a prickly pear, which only adds to the difficulty of
pairing these two off. And Edwards’ is a damn funny writer, turning some
laugh-out-loud phrases. Unlike so many other practitioners of the genre,
Edwards’ relies on good characterization and interesting situations to give his
humor organic origins instead of trading on weak stereotypes.
On another level, Plus Ones is a neatly done send-up
of the whole gay wedding scene, satirizing everything from traditional
ceremonies to Wild-West themed hitchin’s. And in that vein, Edwards’ hilarious
anal-retentive, homoNazi wedding planner, Jeremy, threatens to steal every
scene he’s in. The book is worth the money for this character alone. Another of
Edwards’ talents is the amount of punch he packs into a relatively short book.
We get three or four weddings, as many potential and ex-boyfriends for our main
characters, a cuckolded wife, and a beautifully resolved love affair (with its
accompanying twists and turns) all in 146 pages, but not one thread is left
But what else could we expect from the creator of the
marvelous Charlie Heggensford series? Edwards has a real flair for this sort of
romantic eroti-comedy and, although I know he’s branching out into other
genres, I hope he never leaves this one fully behind. If you love Heggensford,
you’ll love Plus Ones.
And if you’ve never read Hank Edwards before, this is a
perfect place to start.
Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler