Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: The Best Laid Plans

The Best Laid Plans
Sarah Mayberry
Contemporary Romance
Harlequin Super/November 2010

From the back cover ~

On the edge of something big!

Boundaries. The key to how corporate lawyer Alexandra Knight manages her busy life. However, lately all her precisely drawn lines are getting blurred. Blame it on her out-of-control biological clock that is ignoring her single status... and on Ethan Stone.

Because her sexy, no-strings colleague has posed an outrageous solution to her dilemma - he'll be her baby daddy. This from the guy who avoids all commitment? Okay, so they're attracted to each other. Really, really attracted. But crossing the line from coworker to co-parent with Ethan could ruin Alex for all other men. After all, when you've had the best...

I have a confession to make -hero/heroines as lawyers - not my favorite. In fact, I'm less likely to pick up a book if the hero or heroine is a lawyer. The one exception is a Julie James book. I like her lawyers. :) Anyone else, unless it's a romantic suspense, I can do without them. In Sarah Mayberry's latest, an author I adore, both the hero and heroine are lawyers. I wasn't crazy about that but it's a Mayberry so an auto-read for me.

Alexandra Knight is a smart career woman who, up until 18 months ago, was in a long term, committed relationship. She's now single and feeling that baby clock ticking away. Her ex made it clear that he didn't want kids but Alex thought he would eventually change his mind. He didn't, they split and now she's running out of options. After doing some research, she decides to use a sperm bank. She finds out that you can basically order the sperm on line. Isn't the internet grand? Alex is intelligent and practical. She wants to fall in love, get married and have a kid or two but she doesn't feel that time is on her side. I liked that Alex was realistic in her plans to have a child. She didn't completely give up on her dream of a traditional family, she simply modified her plans to fit her reality.

Ethan Stone is a partner in the same law firm as Alex. He's an older hero, 42, which I thought was a nice change. I suppose Mayberry could have gone with a younger guy but I'm glad she went a few years older than Alex's 38. Ethan has a reputation as a player, one that he doesn't rightfully earn but doesn't do anything to correct either. He does date but nothing serious. He not looking for serious. He's been there, done that and has no desire to try again. He did have hopes of having children but those hopes were put aside when his wife left him. When he finds out about Alex's situation, he sees the possibility of having a child of his own.

Alex and Ethan are not only partners in the same law firm, they are friendly outside of work. They have the occasional lunch together and play racquetball every week. They're not close friends, Ethan has a reputation and Alex doesn't want any involvement with a player. I'd say they're comfortable in each others company, talking of work and life in general. No sharing of secrets or any intimate details. They're both aware of the attractiveness of the other but neither chooses to act on that attraction, preferring to remain just friends.

Mayberry could have gone either way with this. She could have had Ethan try to wine and dine Alex into having a child with him. Ethan could have made Alex think he wants her when all he really wants is a child. But she didn't go that route and I'm so glad she didn't. Ethan, it turns out is an honest man and approached Alex with his plan that they become co-parents. It would be set up like a divorce without the marriage. They would arrange custody and financial obligations in the same way divorcing parents would, except without the drama. It made sense but it also came across as very cold, certainly not romantic. And that was the main problem I had with the story, not enough romance. I think I would have been happy had they gone ahead and became co-parents. It would have been interesting to see them remain as friends throughout the pregnancy and after the baby was born. Instead I kept waiting for the romance to happen.

The first approximate two-thirds of the book is about the process Alex, then both Alex and Ethan, go through of having a child through non-traditional means. We see Alex and Ethan get to the point where they are ready to go to the lab, undergo the process necessary to have a baby through in vitro. It was all very clinical with them trying to keep it more like a business transaction without all the emotional baggage that goes with creating a child with someone you love. Since this is a category romance, it's short, just under 250 pages. If it had been longer I'd have been okay with the amount of page time devoted to the process but it took time away from the romance.

But this is a romance so Alex and Ethan become romantically involved. This turns their relationship upside down and pulls some great emotional moments from both characters. I absolutely loved the last third of the book. Alex is still hoping for a man to love and who loves her. Ethan doesn't think he can give her that. He's afraid of taking the chance at anything permanent. It's a real roller coaster of a romance with neither Alex or Ethan sure of the others feelings.

So, not my favorite Mayberry but it still had well developed characters and an emotional ending. If only there had been more romance. . .

Rating: B-


  1. Ooh I enjoy older heroes too!

    I don't mind lawyers, but I do mind heroines that come across as baby crazy. Just because I can't imagine myself in that position. *shrugs*

    This does sound interesting though and SM is an auto-buy author for me as well. :P

    Excellent review!

  2. I love Mayberry's books as well so I will be giving this one a try. I agree it's nice to see the H/h a little older and more mature. Tell me was it based in Australia?

  3. I really liked this one. I felt like I understood where Alex & Ethan were coming from with their deferred dreams.

    I agree that there weren't enough romance scenes but I did like how Mayberry snuck in those 'dating' elements like Ethan cooking dinner for Alex and taking her to the mosaic exhibit.

    I also realized that I tend to like Mayberry's SuperRomances slightly more than her Blazes (except for Anything For You.)

    Great review, as always! :)

  4. ames ~ Agree about the older heroes, they're yummy! Hope you enjoy it!

    BPB ~ Melbourne. :) I love that her books are usually set in either Australia or New Zealand.

    Scorpio ~ You're right - they were like dates even if Alex & Ethan didn't think of them as such. I think I'm leaning more towards her SuperRomances too.

  5. Ah. I wasn't sure about this one, Leslie. It has some elements I love -- the older hero (I hate saying that) is one of them. But, that biological clock theme is not a favorite at all and as much as I love Mayberry that has kept me from getting this book.

    I love your review and your take on this book.

  6. Great review Leslie. This book is very intriguing and I think if it's been a contemporary romance instead, it would have work better :)

    Hmmmm, I think I'm still going to get it :)

  7. Hils ~ I know the bio clock theme is one that many readers aren’t crazy about. Had it been another author, I doubt I would have read it.

    Nath ~ thanks! Umm… it is a contemporary. :) If the baby obsession doesn’t bother you, I think you might like this one.