Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: The Best Laid Plans by Sarah Mayberry

It's been a while, but I finally made it again for the TBR challenge! Yay me! I think the trick is to read the TBR book as soon as possible LOL. That being said, I went with what I was in the mood for and didn't stick with this month's theme. But really, one step at a time, right? :)

The Best Laid Plans by Sarah Mayberry
published by Harlequin in November 2010
"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...
Genre: Category romance, contemporary
Series: None

The Story: Alexandra Knight has always wished to be a mother, to have her own family. However, she put aside her dream in order to build her career and wait till her boyfriend who didn't want children to change his mind. Unfortunately, he never did and as a result, they parted ways after 7 years of relationship. So imagine Alexandra's shock when she runs across him, pushing a stroller with a four month old baby. Another shock is to find out that she's running out of time to procreate. From the doctor, she learns that once she hits 40, her chances to carry a baby to term will be very slim... and Alexandra is already 38 years old. She always thought she'd have time to meet a nice guy, fall in love and start a family, but now, it doesn't seem so. What if she meets someone, but doesn't fall in love? What if they do but he doesn't want children? And when should she bring up the question of children? On the first or third date or 6 months into the relationship? Alexandra finds her answer when she comes across an ad for a sperm donor. Why depend on someone else when she can do it herself?

Ethan Stone is Alexandra's colleague, also a junior partner in the firm they work for, and her racquetball partner. He's also very handsome and eligible, but has sworn off marriage after his divorce. When he accidentally finds out about Alexandra's plan, he thinks it's a crazy plan. However, seeing how determined Alexandra is to go through, he starts thinking... What if he was the donor? After his divorce, he thought kids were out of the picture for him, but what if this was his opportunity? He and Alex get along well and can have shared custody... But can this really work?

My Opinion: So I was in the mood for a Ms Mayberry's book and thought of More Than a Night; however, when looking for it, I came across The Best Laid Plans and thought it'd be better to read that one since I could use it as my TBR challenge entry and here we are :) It's fun when things work out well.

I bought The Best Laid Plans during my "Sarah Mayberry" period. I've never been a fan of category romance, mostly because of the shorter format. However, as there is less and less contemporary romance published (especially non-small-town contemporary romance), I've been trying to get my fix through category romance :) And one name that pops up again and again when it comes to this genre is Ms Mayberry... so of course, I gave her a try and enjoyed her book well enough that I started buying every one of her new releases - and that's how The Best Laid Plans found its way to my TBR pile. Nowadays, it's not that I don't enjoy Ms Mayberry's writing; however, I'm more selective because she often tackles an idea in a book and really, fully developed it... and those ideas don't always fit with my reading taste. For example,  if The Best Laid Plans was published next month, I wouldn't have picked it up. I'm not a fan of books where the heroines are desperate to have a baby... Of course, that'd mean I'd have missed a very solid book though ^_^; So it's good I got The Best Laid Plans when I did :)

The reason The Best Laid Plans worked for me is that Ms Mayberry really made the readers understand why Alexandra wanted a child, a family so much and why she was in such a rush. It wasn't Alexandra seeing all her friends hooking up and wanting to fit in or being afraid to be alone or simply because it was time. No, Alexandra truly wanted a child and you really could feel her desire was genuine. As for her biological clock ticking, well it wasn't just a saying, it was indeed ticking. I liked that Ms Mayberry set us straight on the fertile years of a woman and about how difficult it is to become pregnant and carry to term after the age of 40. As such, Alexandra's urgency, being 38, made sense. Some people might think artificial insemination is cold and desperate and to some extent, it was; however, it was the most reliable of her options and also the most honest in my opinion. To go out there in the dating world and find a man, to settle for someone, simply to start a family... that isn't a better choice.

I really thought The Best Laid Plans started out well and very strong. Both Alexandra and Ethan are likable characters, very level-headed and competent. I also very much liked their approach to the whole theme. I thought Ethan's reaction especially felt very honest. To be shocked at first that Alexandra would consider such a thing and later, admire her for going after what she wanted... and then consider his own wish and dream. Here was his chance to be a father, would he really let it pass? And I'm glad he didn't. In addition, it was good that Alexandra and Ethan were not strangers, but instead, friendly colleagues. I liked that they knew each other, but not inside out and I enjoyed the parts where they got to know each other.

I wished they had had a bit more time to get to know each other though, but that was fine. I also wished they had gone through with the artificial insemination. I think that was a bit of a let-down that they didn't go through, because the whole first half of the book was building up to this moment... And also, it would have been much more interesting to see them deal with it and come together. As it is, I found the romance a bit lacking. I mean, I understand the reasons why they fell in love - after all, they were already attracted to each other prior and after playing house together, getting to know each other better... but it fell a bit flat. The book would have been so much more memorable and interesting if they have fallen in love after she got pregnant in my opinion. Also, the love declaration at the end was a bit rushed so that didn't help my feeling towards the romance.

Finally, Ethan's secret at the end, the reason why he didn't want to commit to marriage again was totally understandable... but given the theme of the book, very predictable as well ^_^; Also, I found it sad that he could not share it earlier with his brother, but I guess it hurt too much... So for him to share it with Alexandra, it showed how much she meant to him.

My Grade: B-. The Best Laid Plans was definitively an interesting book because of Ms Mayberry's approach to the theme and she did have likable characters. However, that aspect put aside, the romance wasn't very memorable resulting in a weaker second half of the book.