Monday, August 27, 2018

The Best Laid Plans by Lauren Gallagher Audiobook Tour

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 listeners. Please recycle your hankies by wringing out and reusing. We'd hate to be the cause of a worldwide shortage of tissues.

Audiobook Details
Length: 8 hrs, 46 mins
Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo and Lia Langola

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~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I read, and loved, The Best Laid Plans when it was first released. Gabe and Shahid’s journey was heartbreaking and Kendra’s offer to help make their family complete warmed my heart. Not surprisingly, the journey the three embarked upon curled my toes as Gallagher excels at writing steamy scenes, regardless of the pen name and genre a particular book is published under. As it’s been two and half years since I read the book, I hoped that enough time had passed that listening to it as an audiobook would be like reading it again for the first time. I was not wrong. Not only were there details I had forgotten that let me re-experience several of the emotional gut punches anew, but Ferraiuolo and Langola do such a wonderful job on the narration that I found myself caught up in Gabe, Shahid, and Kendra’s lives all over again.

I purposely didn’t re-read my original review so as not to influence my listen or this review – knowing that I loved the book and remembering the story’s basics were enough to have me excited to cue the audiobook up. As I said, within mere minute I found myself sucked into the story, my heart breaking for Shahid and Gabe as yet another adoption fell through because of Shahid being Muslim. Gallagher’s decision to show Gabe’s devastation through Kendra’s eyes was brilliant because I found myself connecting with both characters at once as it not only showed how well she knew her best friend, but how much she hurt for him. Kendra’s reaction to Gabe’s disappointment makes her offer to be their surrogate believable, especially when we get to listen to her internal conflict about it before she suggests it to Gabe. That the characters carefully consider and weigh the possible outcomes of their decisions is just one of the things I love about this book – it’s a level of maturity that is missing in far too many romances. That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of insecurity and thoughtlessness that add to the book’s conflict, but I found those to be more realistic to the situation instead of the contrived angst some authors use to add to a story’s drama. As much as I enjoyed the sex scenes the first time I read them, listening to them is even hotter. My goodness, but the narrators did an excellent job of turning hot scenes into scorching ones. But one of the things that had an even bigger impact on me this time around was the romantic relationship between Shahid and Kendra. I was still new to the M/M genre when I first read The Best Laid Plans and despite having a non-sexual romantic relationship with a gay man myself, reading about one in a romance novel was… well… novel. So what was previously a novelty in a book took on a whole new level of importance during the listen. I felt the romantic relationship between Shahid and Kendra even deeper this time, and it made the story even more meaningful to me as I listened to the audiobook.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this author has a knack for picking the right narrators for her audiobooks and she absolutely did it again. Michael Ferraiuolo has quickly and effortlessly joined the ranks of my preferred narrators. I won’t pretend that I have a clue as to how a Pakistani man raised in the U.S. from the age of four would sound like, but I loved the voice Ferraiuolo created for Shahid and how distinct it was from Gabe’s without being exaggerated. And while Ferraiuolo also does a wonderful job with Kendra’s voice, I was absolutely blown away by Lia Langola’s performance. I’m not opposed to female narrators and have a few favorites I enjoy, but it’s taken a while for me to be able to listen to female narrators perform male characters’ voices. But Langola’s voices for Gabe and Shahid blew me away, and her voice for Kendra was so perfect that I wanted to befriend her. So much snark and even more heart. GAH! I can’t even express how much I loved The Best Laid Plans as an audiobook. I’ve already listened to it twice and have replayed the epilogue a dozen times easily. It’s probably a good thing that it’s a digital copy because I’d wear out CD version far too quickly.

PS – Now that I’ve written my audiobook review, I went back and read my original review and found that some of the same notes in the story resonated with me and that I had a bit more insight into the romantic relationship between Shahid and Kendra than I remembered, but still not to the level I have now. Also, I still detest Gabe’s family, especially his sister.

PPS – I’m excited to have discovered that the trio has another audiobook collaboration out, so I’ll be checking out All the King’s Horses as soon as I can because I haven’t read that one.

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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Michael Ferraiuolo

Michael Ferraiuolo is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and the owner of Iron Works Studios in New York City. As a voice artist, Michael has appeared both nationally and internationally in film, radio, and over 100 audiobooks.

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Lia Langola

Aural Stimulations for Your Oral (& More) Fixations!

Audiobook narrator for sexual self-help books, steamy romance, and erotica.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free audiobook copy of The Best Laid Plans by Lauren Gallagher, narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo and Lia Langola to listen to and review.

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