Friday, April 11, 2014

[ARC Review]: "Her Best Laid Plans"

Her Best Laid Plans by Cara McKenna
Publisher: Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin (April 15, 2014) 
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Erotica

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 City’s busy pulse. Getting here took you a plane, bus, taxi, and...erm, bicycle. But just as you’re resigning yourself to drinking beside gray-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 re-routing her life after an extended, man-related detour. Still, a sexy romp (or twenty!) with Sexy McBartender? 

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

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My Review:

I think I'm at a bar.

The answer came almost immediately. You think?

Unconfirmed. Could be in a retirement home.

LOL So much for our visions of raunchy Irish flings!

I seriously won't be shocked if somebody announces it's bingo night. So what are y--

Her fingers froze midtext. A man had materialized behind the bar. A different man. A man born in the last three decades.

And sweet Jesus, what a man.

She deleted the message and tapped out a new one.

Hang on. An oasis just appeared. Must ascertain whether it's a mirage or not . . .


A sexy fling in Ireland? I'm in! Honestly, that's all I needed to know when I picked up Her Best Laid Plans. I have a serious weakness for Irish heroes and romances set in Ireland. I'll forgive Jamie and Conner for staying in the US in the end, but I was disappointed that she didn't move to Ireland. Perhaps because I want to, and I would happily take her place. However, I understood why she made her choice.

“Good,” he murmured. “Let me figure you out.”

She smiled at that, unseen. Of course he'd want that – to mess around and discover how she worked, how to make her respond. He probably threw out instruction manuals before assembling furniture or programming stereos, just for the challenge. Fine by her. Let the man tinker. Let him master her.


“I love your voice,” she murmured.

“You want to hear me?” Even that question was doing the job, like liquor snaking through her.


“Sweet or dirty?” he asked.

“Whatever you're thinking.”

He obeyed without hesitation. “I'm thinking I can't remember ever wanting someone so badly. Being this hard. Wanting so badly to taste a woman. Taste you. Make you come. Make you ready – make you wet, and . . . what's the word?” He bit her softly. “Lush,” he concluded.


Besides the setting, I truly enjoyed this quick novella. Jamie and Connor's chemistry burned bright and my Kindle was definitely smoking!

“Name your prize.”

She thought a moment. “If I win, a glass of your finest whiskey. On the rocks.”

“Fair play.”

“And if you win?” She leaned in, cocking the cue along her thumb and knuckle.

“If I win . . . if I win . . . “

His fingers drummed the table's ledge until Jamie raised her eyes.

“Your finest kiss,” he said with a devil's smile. “On the mouth.”

From the start, the banter was lively, and made the story fun and flirty.

She traded him a bill for five one-euro coins, then left another bill on the bar for her pint. He slid it back over.

“Damages,” he explained. “On behalf of all men, for whatever injury your ex's done to my gender's already suspect reputation.”

Connor made me swoon a dozen times over. I'm ready to catch a plane to the green isle, hoping to snatch up my own Connor!

She shot him a dry smile as he sat back down. “Feeling confident, I see.”

He shrugged innocently. “Never hurts to be prepared.”

“In case some sex suddenly breaks out, like a freak rainstorm?”

He laughed. And fuck, what a laugh. “Just in case.”

I can't tell you how many other little quotes I have highlighted. Quotes that made me smile or laugh, giggle or sigh, swoon or blush. McKenna has them all bundled into this quickie!

“I like figuring you out,” he announced. “I'd like to do more of it before you leave Ireland.”

“I'd like that, too.”

“I'll be the foremost expert before you know it.”

“What happens once you know me completely?” she asked. “Once you know every little thing that makes me crazy in bed? Once the car's been built and all the figuring out is done with . . . would you get bored after the mysteries have all been solved?”

She'd meant it more to tease him for his tinkering fixation, but the way his expression changed, she knew the words hadn't landed with any levity. His brows drew into a dark line, something like disappointment or offense tensing his features.

“Sorry. I didn't mean to be a downer.” Shit. How had she already violated their pact to keep this casual? Barely five minutes after they'd finished having sex, and she'd managed to cloud their weird little marriage-free honeymoon with talk of the worries they'd never need to face.

He stroked his palms up and down her arms, face softening some. “You're my lover,” he said quietly. “Not my project.”

While the sex and chemistry was amazing, Cara McKenna also provided a solid, if quick, story. I liked these two and while, yes, I often wanted to shove Jamie out of the way to keep Connor for my own, I did feel that they would make their HEA work.

I will be reading more of McKenna's books, as I liked her writing. Now if only more authors would write contemporary romances set in Ireland, I will be a very happy reader! Hint, hint . . . And I want romances, ladies, not chick lit! :)

4 1/2 STARS! 

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest opinion.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Cara McKenna; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them.

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Have you read Cara McKenna? Do you read the Cosmo Red Hot Reads? Do you have a favorite?

Do YOU have any contemporary romances set in Ireland to recommend to me? I've asked this before, I know, but I'm always hoping that more will pop up if I ask again! 

And yes, I've already pre-ordered my own copy for my Kindle. Because I want to revisit Connor and Jamie again and again! :)


Until Next Time,


  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!


suepeace said...

I've preordered this! :)

The_Book_Queen said...

Yeah! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :)

Sharonda Lowman said...

love those Scottish men!

The_Book_Queen said...

Hehe -- Irish in this case. :) Still both = sexy! :)

Ann Lorz said...

Nice post!

Anna@herding cats&burning soup said...

Oh I love her books. Didn't know she was doing one for this line. Nice!

Pat Egan Fordyce said...

I soooooo want to read this! Great review. Can't wait to get it!

Pat Egan Fordyce said...

TBQ! I got it and loved it, except it needed to be longer! Your review was perfect!

The_Book_Queen said...

Oh, yes -- if it had been a full length novel, I think I would have died happy! :D I'd kill for more, but was content with what McKenna gave us.

Andrea @The Bookish Babe said...

Cara McKenna is probably my very favorite author. And this novella, was so perfect. And I agree that Conner was seriously the best. Great review!

The_Book_Queen said...

Oh, yes, I'm anxious to read her full length novels now. And Connor = happy sigh! :)