Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Best Laid Plans by Lauren Gallagher

It’s a foolproof strategy...until the emotional balance shifts.

After yet another adoption falls through, Gabe is ready to give up, and Shahid isn’t far behind him. Apparently, being a gay couple—half of which is Muslim—is just one strike too many for the powers that be.

When their friend Kendra offers to carry their baby for them, both men balk at first, but gradually warm to the idea. Especially Gabe, whose bisexuality is open to the chemistry among the three of them.

The plan seems simple. Kendra and Gabe, foregoing the cold, impersonal IVF clinic, paperwork and red tape, will conceive the old-fashioned way. They’ll all share parenting responsibilities, and live happily baby after.

But as the heat flares between Gabe and Kendra, Shahid’s long-suppressed insecurities bubble to the surface. Then some unexpected news catches the trio off guard and derails their plans—and now one heart could be left out in the cold.

Warning: Authors subsist on the tears of readers. Please recycle your hankies by wringing out and reusing. We’d hate to be the cause of a worldwide shortage of Kleenex.

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Samhain  Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

It’s not a big secret that I love ménage romances featuring a woman and two (or more) guys. It’s a bonus if the guys are bisexual so that there’s a bit of man love to spice it up even more. In the case of The Best Laid Plans, one of the guys is bisexual (Gabe) and one is homosexual (Shahid) and to be honest I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to work out. I don’t mean the mechanics of it sexually, but rather the emotional connections, specifically between Shahid and Kendra. But considering that the whole point behind the unusual arrangement was so that Kendra could be a surrogate for her two closest friends and because I’ve read several of this author’s books under her various pen names, I was more than happy to give The Best Laid Plans a read. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the book’s warning to heart and wasn’t prepared for tears and gut shots that were landed as I devoured the book.

When I started this book, I really liked the premise behind it. But as I read on, I loved the premise. Gabe and Shahid are a married interracial homosexual couple who practice different religions and they’ve been trying to adopt a child for a few years. The book opens with Kendra narrating and knowing with just one look at Gabe – who is her work colleague and best friend – that the couple has suffered yet another failed adoption procedure, their third. I think seeing her friend’s heartbreak through Kendra’s eyes made it impossible for me not to connect with the characters from the beginning because not only could I “see” Gabe’s pain, but I could “feel” Kendra’s heart ache for him and Shahid. Her inner musings about how solid and loving Gabe and Shahid are as couple and what great parents they would be make it easy to see why her mind wanders to the idea of being their surrogate. That it took her a couple of weeks of contemplation before she broached the subject with Gabe added a level of believability to the story. There was no jump to “Hey, why don’t I have the kid for you?” moment, but rather a thoughtful decision pondered and made – even if it did happen off page. Even when Gabe broaches the subject with Shahid, it’s after he’s thought about and then they both consider it before and after their joint conversation with Kendra. These were adults considering as many of the potential obstacles and consequences of the proposed surrogacy as they could instead of just jumping in feet first with their eyes only the prize. I really liked that the situation was treated with the seriousness that it deserved and not merely glossed over for the sake of getting straight to the baby making.

Once the decision was made and they decided upon natural conception methods, the sexy fun times were hot and got even hotter once Gabe suggested that Shahid join them in the bedroom, if only to watch, so that he’d feel more involved. In fact, the various pairings and attempted pairings not only added to the book’s heat, but also made the relationship feel real as it progressed from just friends to more. Watching the connection that formed between Shahid and Kendra was heartwarming and had me shedding tears when Shahid finally realized the he loved her romantically even if he wasn’t attracted to her sexually. Gabe’s family was nuts and I’m not sure how Kendra made it through that dinner without slapping Gabe’s sister. Oh but the things we put up with from family, especially during the holidays. Kendra’s news had me dashing for the tissues, as did the fight between Gabe and Shahid, but it was the meeting with Nimat in the Epilogue that had me setting my Kindle down because I couldn’t see through the tears. Happy tears really are the best. I truly believe that Gallagher outdid herself with The Best Laid Plans and this is a book I know I will read again many, many times.

Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer who has recently been exiled from the glittering utopia of Omaha, Nebraska, to an undisclosed location in South America. Along with her husband, a harem of concubines, and a phosphorescent porcupine, she remains, as always, in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia. For the moment, she seems to have eluded her nemesis, M/M romance author L.A. Witt, but figures L.A. will eventually become bored with the wilds of Spain and come looking for her. And when that time comes, Lauren will be ready. Assuming L.A. doesn't have her hands full keeping track of Lori A. Witt and Ann Gallagher, which she probably will.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Best Laid Plans by Lauren Gallagher to read and review.

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