Title: Best Laid Plans
Author Name & Publisher: Jan Gayle (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: July 12, 2016 – 240 pgs
Nicole James is a hard-working single mother who has dedicated her life to raising her son and providing a safe, loving home for him. Austin is a senior in high school now , and for the first time, Nicky is allowing some time for herself. When she meets Lauren Thomas, an architect at the firm where they work, they both fall deeply in love. Lauren is smart and charming and wonderful; she fits perfectly into Nicky’s family, which includes close friends who have stood beside her. But Nicky’s troubled past and Lauren’s societal fears present seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Nicky is a talented draughtsman, with a teenage son and a very complicated and scary past. Lauren is a successful architect, new to the firm and absolutely gorgeous. The women are really attracted to each other and after some initial flirting they have some very hot dates together that end with some great sex. Lauren is not out though and the main problems they encounter are related to that. I found that aspect of the book very interesting as it seemed strange that she felt she couldn’t come out to her mom or at work in this day and age. She had good reasons though and her struggles were well written and made for a fascinating read. I really wanted her to find the strength to be open as her relationship with Nicky was so dependant on it. They made a great couple and the love and tenderness between them was evident. The love scenes were beautifully constructed and felt very real and true.
The other part of the story, regarding Nicky’s ex boyfriend, Michael, was scary and horrible and the threat was there throughout. The tension was well done and Jan Gayle knows how to crank it up a notch when required. Nicky was such a great character – strong, intelligent, feisty and very sexy. She had been through so much for her age but had managed to make so much with her life. I wanted her to be happy at last with a woman who really loved her. I really enjoyed this book and would love to find out what happens next……
There are actually some parts of this that I don’t know how I feel about, but most of it is a nice, romantic story of two women who fall inexorably in love with each other. Lauren, however, isn’t out, either at work or with her family. In fact, no one but her sister knows, and Lauren’s fear is founded on an incident from her childhood involving her mother and her uncle. This means that when the two women are discovered together in public by an executive in their company, Lauren withdraws completely, and ends up hurting Nicky. Nicky gets to a point where as much as she cares about Lauren, it isn’t worth it to be treated in that manner whenever someone sees them together. She breaks things off. For Lauren, Nicky may just be the one person important enough to come out for. Nicky’s past isn’t all roses either. She was abused at home, along with her mother, by her stepfather. And as a teenager, when she ends up pregnant by the boyfriend she’s using to prove her heterosexuality, she finds out that he has a lot more in common with her stepfather than she’d thought. Now, fifteen years later, her ex is getting out on parole and she doesn’t know what to expect. It may cost her, and those around her, their lives. This is the part I don’t know how I feel about. I like the story of Nicky and Lauren getting together. I liked seeing Lauren grow and realize that Nicky is important enough for her to start living openly and honestly. This part of the book I really enjoyed. The end was a bit violent, which was kind of out of the blue, and jarring. Also, everybody just kind of took it in stride, with no big blowups or freakouts. I would have expected more of a reaction. All in all, it was an enjoyable read, and I liked it.
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Jan Gayle was raised in a small farming community in central Illinois. Upon graduating from college with a B.S. in social studies education, Jan joined the U.S. Air Force. She later accepted a commission and served for twenty years as an Air Force officer. As a new lieutenant, she deployed to Desert Storm. She returned to the Middle East for another deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom fourteen years later. While on active duty, Jan visited over forty countries and was assigned to locations all over the United States. She continues to work for the Air Force as a civil servant, but her true passion is her small woodworking business where she builds custom wood furniture. Jan lives with her wife Jules and their two boys. She started writing on a dare and was immediately hooked. Live and Love Again is Jan’s debut novel.
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