Review: The Best Laid Plans by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookthebestlaidplans
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Super Romance
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ethan Stone
Heroine: Alexander Knight
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 9, 2010
Started On: November 2, 2010
Finished On: November 3, 2010

Yes, Sarah Mayberry has done it yet once again, stringing all my emotions taut enough to form a permanent lump in my throat which refused to melt away until I read the beautifully done epilogue which was just sheer perfection. Reminds me why even though this title’s release date was said to be the 11th of this month, when I found out that the Kindle version was already available, I basically put everything else on hold and grabbed myself a copy – knowing that I would be safe in Ms. Mayberry’s hands. Sigh! And I can’t wait for her next book though I am still reeling from the remnants of emotions left over from this one.

The Hero: Ethan Stone or Pretty Boy as his brother Derek calls him is a man so scarred by the immense betrayal that his ex-wife Cassie had left him reeling in after she had walked out on 12 years of being together, 8 of which they had been married that Ethan has lost his faith in the concept of marriage and happily ever afters with anyone else. At the age of 42, Ethan is one of the youngest partners of Wallingsworth & Kent and a family lawyer that makes him a witness to the ugly side of people who have sworn to love till death do them apart, which makes him further wary of trying to start anything serious with a woman. Ethan’s younger brother Derek and his wife Kay together with their children Tim and Jamie is the closest to the family life that Ethan so badly craves even now during unguarded moments. Described as being tall, dark and handsome with a fallen angel’s face and dark blue eyes, Ethan sets many a female heart aflutter wherever he goes. His one vice is his love for good food and wine which is a constant source of amusement with his family, Ethan is a man who cooks to relieve stress – and oh boy, can he cook! Now why can’t we ever land someone like him! Sigh!!

The Heroine: Alexander Knight (Alex) or slow poke as Ethan calls her is also one of the youngest partners at Wallingsworth & Kent and one of the best corporate lawyers around. Being calm, cool and efficient with whatever Alex chooses to do has been her motto in all the hardships that her life had dealt her. Growing up never knowing her father, Alex had just been 12 years old when her mother Rachel Knight had had an accident fracturing her skull which had left her needing constant care and attention which had turned the tables around on the lone parent and child. But a determined Alex had seen it through and cared for her mother until her imminent death and then put herself through law school to land a partnership at one of the most prestigious law firms in Melbourne a mere seven years after graduation. With jaw length dark hair, wide mouth and eyes too large to be conventional Alex too has had her fair share of betrayal from Jacob, the man she had lived 7 years of her life with, hoping that his initial dislike at the matter of having kids together would fade away with time until the topic had come to be a matter of discontentment and anger between them until Jacob had left her life 18 months ago.

Storyline: It is when Alex runs into Jacob with a baby in his arms, the Jacob who had even refused to discuss the possibility of having a child with her that stuns Alex into thinking about the best years of her life wasted with a man who hadn’t really loved her enough to want to share everything with her. And when it hits too close to home that the family and children that she has so badly craved for all her life might not happen with her eggs dying up on her in a couple of years, Alex is driven to do what she always does – take charge of her life and turn it around and work for what she wants. When in a moment of weakness Alex confesses all of this to her partner and racquetball buddy and the star of her crush Ethan, everything starts to change. Knowing that meeting someone, dating them and finally being able to broach the subject of children and the possibility of having kids together would take more time from her than she has, Alex does the only thing left to do – contact a sperm bank and decides to become a single mother, a fact Ethan learns about which propels him to offer himself up as the sperm donor.

The First Encounter: There is no part in the story that mentions how and what happened when Ethan and Alex had first met, but rather describes the moment that Alex had first seen Ethan walking towards her with the senior partners at her law firm after being lured into working for Wallingsworth & Kent. Something deep inside her had fluttered at the mere sight of him and in her heart had called out “Hello heartbreaker”.

Time period: This story has a contemporary setting and takes place in Melbourne, Australia.

Awareness between hero and heroine: Though both Ethan and Alex acknowledge the fact that they both find the other attractive, neither Ethan nor Alex feels inclined enough to mess up the friendship between them by making things complicated by wanting more from the other. Ethan had instinctively known that Alex deserves much more than he is willing to offer and works hard to keep things on a platonic level between the two. And though Alex knows that Ethan is the most handsome and compelling man she has ever met, Alex is a woman who is far too practical to throw herself at a man who she feels she is better off being friends with.

The turning point: When Alex breaks down in front of Ethan and Ethan is witness to the deep yearning in her voice as Alex talks about the babies and the family that she so wants, something inside Ethan refuses to let him forget but rather taps into his long locked away desires for a family of his own. But marriage and relationships are not for Ethan and he proposes the next best thing, he would provide the sperm for his and Alex’s baby and take an active role in his child’s life and plans it in such a way that only two lawyers can. But the best laid plans as always have a way of backfiring on them in the best possible way in the end.

Ending: It wasn’t by any means a smooth road to happily ever after for these two. Though Alex acknowledges the fact that she has fallen completely in love with Ethan and Ethan confesses to falling for Alex as well, there are still obstacles between them, namely the deep emotional scars within Ethan that has to heal before he is able to make a full commitment to the one woman who means everything to him. I just loved the ending of this story. *sniffles*

Likes: One of the first things that drew this book to me (apart from it being a story by one of my favorite Harlequin authors of course) was the beautiful cover of this novel. The cover just touches something deep inside of me, which depicts a scene from the novel before things get complicated between Alex and Ethan. I just love the way Ethan is bending towards Alex as if to whisper sweet nothings in her ear (a gal can hope always *wink*). The next thing that drew me in was the depth of character development in this story. Ms. Mayberry always does a splendid job with her characters that draws you in right from the very beginning of the story. And she has once again proved to me why I just adore her books. I also loved the fact that the obstacles that both Ethan and Alex faced in attaining their happily ever after wasn’t solved with a quick rip of the band-aid off the wound that has been festering inside Ethan for years. Just loved Ethan from his head to foot and ahem all that in between. I just wanted to hug him and face his ex-wife with a sword of my own whilst I was at it! Yes, fiercely protective I am of my Ethan!

Dislikes: I was a bit disappointed with the lack of steam between Alex and Ethan in the 1st half of the book though it totally goes with their characters and the story that unfolded. But I just had a craving to see Ethan lose all control for Alex and just give me something to sigh and moon over in between!

Recommended for: Those who love Harlequin romances, Ms. Mayberry would never steer you wrong though if you are looking for hot and frequent lovin’ you aren’t going to find it in this one. Just enough emotion to punch you in the gut!

Favorite Quotes

“Idiot,” he said.
Then he lowered his head and kissed her once, very hard, on the mouth.
He looked as surprised as she was when he lifted his head. For a moment they stared at each other, then Ethan’s gaze slid to her mouth again.
“Alex,” he said so quietly she almost didn’t hear him.
He lowered his head again. This time his lips were gentle on hers, the pressure more a question than an expression of frustration. For a moment they stood together, neither of them moving, joined only by their mouths and his hand on her arm. Then she parted her lips the tiniest fraction. The merest hint of an invitation. He sighed and slid his hands to the nape of her neck and opened his mouth over hers.

Ethan found him in the kitchen, pouring himself a more conservative Scotch. He met his brother’s eyes and took a deep breath.
“I appreciate the concern but I’m fine,” he said.
Something warm and wet fell onto his hand. He looked down at it. It took him a moment to understand that he was crying. He put down his glass.
“Jesus,” Derek said, and then his brother’s arms were closing around him and he was being held tightly and couldn’t keep the rest of the tears from falling.
He fought them every step of the way until Derek gave him a shake.
“Cry you big dickhead. It won’t kill you.”

When is the next title from Ms. Mayberry going to be out? I so want it, like now?

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo | Harlequin

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