Apr 15 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Cara McKenna’s Her Best Laid Plans (April 15, 2014)

Her Best Laid Plans by Cara McKennaCara McKenna
Her Best Laid Plans
Harlequin's Cosmo Red Hot Reads / April 15, 2014 / $3.99 digital

Experience Ireland—the dramatic beauty, the warm hospitality…and the smoking hot local guys!

Imagine nursing a pint in a cozy, authentic country pub, far from Cork's busy city pulse. Getting here took you a plane, bus, taxi and…um, bicycle. But just as you're resigning yourself to drinking beside grey-haired farmers, you see him—a man with the looks and charm to soothe any heartbroken girl.

He's your bartender. Your really, really gorgeous bartender.

For American Jamie Webb—recently dumped and housesitting for two weeks—Connor Kelleher is like a six-course feast after a 23-year starvation diet. But it's gotta be casual. She's just begun rerouting her life after a three-year man-related detour. Still, a sexy romp (or twenty!) with Sexy McBartender?

But what happens when Jamie's best-laid plans for no future plans with any man begin to change?

I've enjoyed the Cosmo Red Hot Reads that I've gotten my hands on, and Cara McKenna's Her Best Laid Plans was no exception. I really liked how the focus was on our heroine, and how there was just a bit of a twist near the end.

Jamie Webb is young—she's 23—and looking to take her life off hold after a failed relationship where she put the guy first. The wild trip overseas to have some fun is a great premise. I envied her, and reading the author's letter to the reader, I liked that personalization too: I think we all wish we'd had some sort of step away from responsibility and had just gone forward with pure fun when we could. However, even on this wild irrepressible trip before she goes home to buckle down and go back to school...Jamie is smart. I liked that she exercised caution, and put a brake on things the first night.

Jamie's hero, Connor Kelleher, is also fabulous. He's a hot Irishman, and who doesn't love that? But more—he's refreshingly normal. Just a working guy who had a bit of a wild past and is working through it. But a regular past, nonetheless—something any one of us might have gone through—and I appreciated that. A bit of debt, some irresponsible fun, and now he's grown up and is moving past it. I loved how although it was a short read we really get to know Connor. He's a good guy, a bit of a flirt, and really getting things on track. He works, and he has definite goals that he won't let anything stop him from achieving. I usually like and sympathize with the heroine more in books...but I think Connor is my favorite in this instance. 

Also worth noting is that this story is hot—and I know you're thinking “Well, duh, of course”—but it's not (just) about outrageous sex and a kinky fling. In fact, all this is pretty vanilla. But hot vanilla. Quality vanilla. Expensive Madagascan vanilla. You just want to roll around in it and enjoy the heat, the emotion, the connection. Jamie and Conner have great chemistry, of course, but also good old-fashioned fun. He's a charming flirt, and Jamie appreciates him for what he is. Even better though is that Conner has depth. The fact that this happens during Jamie's trip compresses the relationship—and I liked how both see it for what it is...but still fall anyway. Everything in the story is realistic but wonderful. It's what you'd hope would happen to you and/or your friends.

I do have to say—and probably because I'm picky and it's a personal pet peeve—I did feel it was a bit more “Happy For Now” than “Happily Ever After,” but I can see it working out. I think I just wanted Jamie to be a bit more enthusiastic and say a bit of what had been in her head. Nevertheless, it's a very romantic, lovely story, and I'm definitely going to be watching for more of Ms. McKenna's books.

Learn more or order a copy of Her Best Laid Plans by Cara McKenna, out now:

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