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Lucky in Love #1

Best Laid Plans

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That time I had the brilliant idea to ask my good friend for lessons in seduction…

Awkward? Maybe. But how else is a good girl going to find out if she likes being naughty? I might be sweet as cherry pie, but I'm also bold and damn curious. And Gabe is charming, trustworthy, aces at seduction (or so I hear) and—bonus!— willing to give me lessons. But to guarantee it won’t ruin our friendship, I have some specific requirements for his instruction. I want these classes to be hypothetical more than hands-on. So what if he’s hella sexy? I can handle that, no problem.


I have it bad for Arden. She's bright, brilliant, insanely fun, and I want to take her home and spend all night together—and then spend the day with her, too. When she asks for my help, I see my chance to win her sweet heart by showing her how much fun we can have getting spicy. Trouble is, she has a different idea of what “bedroom exploration” should mean. Now I’m going to have to get really clever to win her over.

Good thing I know exactly how to upend her best laid plans.

Best Laid Plans is a standalone romance!

300 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 20, 2019

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About the author

Lauren Blakely

223 books20k followers
A #1 New York Times Bestselling, #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling, and #1 Audible Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that's sweet, sexy and witty. Her heroines are strong and smart and her heroes have hearts of gold and fantastic funny bones. She'd love to give you a free book today! Check out her web site to grab your free read: https://laurenblakely.com/one-free-book/

Connect with Lauren here

➜ WEBSITE: laurenblakely.com
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 419 reviews
Profile Image for book bruin.
1,198 reviews297 followers
February 28, 2019
Edited 2/28/19
Audiobook Review
Overall 5 stars
Performance 5+ stars
Story 4.5 stars

Joe Arden and Erin Mallon were perfect for this story and had just the right amount of sexy and playful to really bring this friends to lovers story to the next level. Mallon and Arden are 2 of the few narrators that I enjoy both their male and female voices, but the duet style narration worked really well with them. I wish more audiobooks were performed in the duet style. The interview and Q and A at the end was such a treat! I really enjoyed their candid and funny responses about the audiobook process and things that go on behind the scenes. I about died hearing them recite the phone book and a grocery list, in a way only Joe Arden and Erin Mallon can! LOL! I’m a dog person, so hearing Joe Arden’s opinion on cats was also hilarious. I can't wait to hear them in The Feel Good Factor next!


Friends to lovers is one of my very favorite tropes and Lauren Blakely does it so damn well! I fell in love with Arden and Gabe from the moment the book opens (the cheese!!) and couldn't wait to see how everything unfolded. Blakely gives readers a little twist to the friends with benefits story line, that I found really fun and perfect for our characters. This book was exactly what I needed - a sexy and fun, but not too angsty, romcom.

I'm never a big fan of the manwhore hero, but Gabe definitely proves that though he has enjoyed the opposite sex, once he sets his sights on someone, he is all in. I really appreciated that he took the time to get to know Arden, and recognized that even if he wanted to explore more with her, emotionally she was not ready. I loved that he played the long game with Arden. She was such a fantastic heroine - smart, fun, loyal, witty, and extremely relatable. One of my favorite things about her (besides the fact that she loved books and owned a bookstore!) was how much she valued her girlfriends and friendships. Her Bawdy Ladies book club (what a hoot they were!), as well as Vanessa and Perri were such great additions to the story. Gabe's relationship with his family was wonderful too, especially his bond with Pops.

The slow burn build up between Gabe and Arden was exquisite and I about burst into flames when everything finally boiled over. (Side note: I NEVER in a million years would have thought a sentence with the word 'mime' in it could be so incredibly sexy!) I thought the concerns and bit of drama we encounter in the story were realistic and honest. Is it worth it to risk a rock solid amazing friendship for the possibility of an even more amazing love? There are a few miscommunications and missteps along the way for Gabe and Arden as they navigate the friends to more road, but the resolution was so sweet and perfect for these characters. The epilogues were the icing on the cake and I had a huge smile on my face as I turned the last page. Lots of seeds were planted for Blakely's next book, and I can't wait to read Perri and Derek's story next in The Feel Good Factor!

PS - I also love that Lauren Blakely threw a few easter eggs in for her fans by giving cameos to her characters in Unzipped and also nods to her Heartbreakers series. Such a fun tie in!

4.5 stars

*I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this book*
Profile Image for Lauren Blakely.
Author 223 books20k followers
February 22, 2019
BEST LAID PLANS is now available everywhere!! And these lessons in seduction come with a twist! Grab this deliciously sexy, and undeniably swoony friends-to-lovers standalone romance, available on all retailers!

✦Kindle US ➜ https://amzn.to/2EnvRGn
✦Kindle CA ➜ https://amzn.to/2DV9CWE
✦Kindle UK ➜ https://amzn.to/2Sh6F8b
✦Kindle AU ➜ https://amzn.to/2EkJSV6
✦Kindle Intl ➜ http://blkly.pub/KindleBest

✦Apple ➜ https://blkly.pub/BestLaid-AB
✦Kobo ➜ https://blkly.pub/BestLaid-KB
✦Nook ➜ https://blkly.pub/BestLaid-NK
✦Google Play ➜ https://blkly.pub/BestLaid-GP
✦Audible ➜ https://adbl.co/2BDDTJO
✦Amazon PB ➜ https://amzn.to/2QZi1Oc

Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,997 reviews1,640 followers
March 14, 2019
There's a lot to like with this story. Arden is great as the perennial "good girl" who wants to explore her bad side (in a totally safe way) and Gabe is great as a player who knows gold when he finds it. I loved seeing their friendship, though there's a time-jump so we don't so much see it develop as we see the beginning and culmination.

But then things happened. Frankly, we have hints of the root of the problem early when we see how often Gabe thinks he's communicating when really he's making assumptions. And you see Arden hesitate to disrupt the status quo because she's very into being nice. So I hated it with a dismayed passion when So it's a fail cascade and deeply frustrating.

The rest of the story is pretty standard, though Blakely really brings out the charm in both characters. And once both leads get over their idiocy the ending is outstanding. So this ends up with a pretty shaky 3 stars because those couple chapters are stupidly annoying and the weaknesses telegraphed a bit broadly.

A note about Audiobook: The performance by Erin Mallon and Joe Arden is really outstanding. But this book also tries a new audiobook pattern that I think they called "duet". It's where each does the dialogue for their character, even when the narrative shifts to the other. So Joe will be narrating Gabe and Erin will kick in with Arden's dialogue during their exchanges, for example. This worked extremely well, I think, and made those exchanges really dynamic. They also have an interview section at the end of the book where they talked about recording it together, too. Which may be why that dynamic works so very well—they're actively playing off the performance of each other.

A note about Steamy: This story has Arden's desire for sexual exploration at its heart, so there's lots and lots of sex talk. In detail. There are two explicit sex scenes that are steamy, yes, but they don't dwell on the action at all. So this is on the high side of my middle steam tolerance. It could easily have gone higher but Blakely seems to have concentrated on the relationship and actual intimacy instead and I think that was a very good choice.

* Negative Motivations: I kind of hate that the term "negative motivation" isn't widespread, yet. Since it isn't, I'm going to save off this little jag to append to my reviews that feature the term. Jennifer Crusie blogged about it a bit back and it changed how I understand story. The problem with the term is that if you've never heard it before, you'd assume it meant motivations that are harmful or immoral. Not so. What it refers to is motivations not to do something. The thing is that many of us are motivated to not do things for a lot of different, perfectly valid and reasonable, reasons. The problem is that in a story motivations to not do things are a huge drag on the plot—particularly considering the fact that most negative motivations are overcome by the character simply deciding they don't care any more (or, rather, that they do care and are now motivated to do the thing). So not only do you have a counter to action but you also have a situation where to overcome it, all a character has to do is change their mind. Which means eventually, the reader is rooting for the character to get over him/herself already and do the thing we want them to do. Conflict drives story. Conflict between a reader and a main character drives readers away from story.
Profile Image for Stacey.
1,446 reviews1,154 followers
March 5, 2019
A little sweetness and a lot of spice...

If I could lay all the little pieces of this story out on a table, I could make a pile of the things I absolutely loved about Best Laid Plans. First off, Lauren Blakely you make the sun come out on a cloudy day. Well, maybe not literally, but you do bring a little bit of joy to my day with your funny, little tales. I would be a happy reader if you could please release a new audio every week. That's not too much to ask is it, Ms Blakely? Please, and thank you's...hugs and smooches...an Aussie bottle of wine as payment...(wink, wink).

I loved that Arden owned a bookstore and knew so much about each book she sold. Arden also has an uncanny knack for matching the story of your choice to a wine, which I find very appealing. Her book store was something that appealed to the reader and wine drinker in me. If she added a coffee marching, a comfy chair to read in and a peaceful atmosphere, there's a good chance I'd become a permanent resident.

Gabe was sexy, sweet and HOT!!! Not just HOT to look at either, he deals in HOTNESS all day long, working as the local fireman. Gabe even has a history that's HOT. He had a short-lived career as a pitcher before blowing out his shoulder, ending his career. As he puts it, how many people get to have both their dream careers in their lifetimes? And, Gabe's still a sweetheart who's HOT!!

I loved Gabe's parents, grandfather and his willingness to make and show them, how important they were to him. Arden's friends are a hoot and the women's book club event hosted at her shop sounded like a lot of fun and very sexy.

Last but definitely not least, another little piece that brought a smile to my face was the amazing narration by Erin Mallon and Joe Arden. Together in duet form, which I admit takes a wee while to get used to, they were magic together. It's easy to convince yourself that these two ARE living the life of Arden and Joe. Erin and Joe are so easy to listen to and I never have problems following along.

There were a couple of little pieces that I would have happily left for the birds. Seriously, Arden was a little too sweet, bordering on ditzy. That initial scene with the ex made me cringe with her desperateness. Then, her obliviousness to Gabe's feelings, later on, made her seem callous and oblivious. My eyes went for a wee bit of a roll at those times.

Now Gabe and his dating other women when he knew he had feelings for Arden, was another little piece that I could have done without. I KNOW they weren't in a relationship but how dodgy is it that he was using those women to distract him from his thoughts of Arden. NICE!! Luckily, I don't see (hear...read) him dating, but I KNOW it's happening in the background.

Those two little bits were just little eye-twitches. Besides that, I really enjoyed Best Laid Plans and I know I will be back for more in the future.

Absolutely loved the bonus material at the end of the audio. Joe and Erin having chats about stuff was fun and had me laughing out loud. Definitely, a treat to finish off a great experience.

Profile Image for Yvette ~ Nose Stuck in a Book.
638 reviews653 followers
February 21, 2019
When a book starts off with the heroine getting dumped and subsequently getting comforted by a handsome, shirtless firefighter, you know you’re in for a good story. Especially when the heroine and said firefighter become good friends who are (secretly) attracted to each other. Throw in a proposition that includes exploring the heroine’s naughtiest fantasies and you have an addictive page-turner. I was hooked from the very first page of Best Laid Plans by Lauren Blakely, became enamored with protagonists, Gabe Harrison and Arden East, over a tearful picnic of cheese and crackers, and fell deeper in love with these characters with every chapter.

Can I just say that friends-to-lovers is my FAVORITE trope? There’s always that will they/won’t they aspect between a couple. Will they act on their attraction? Will they admit their feelings for each other? Will they risk their friendship for something more??? I especially love when Lauren Blakely writes a friends-to-lovers romance because her signature whip-smart, flirtatious banter is interspersed with inside jokes and a playful, effortless rapport. There’s also trust already established between them, which is how Arden feels comfortable enough to enlist her friend, Gabe, in exploring her sexuality in Best Laid Plans. She’s determined to shed her sugary sweet, nice-girl persona (at least in the bedroom) and who better to help than her more experienced friend?

Bold, adventurous, uninhibited, and passionate are words that aptly describe both the storyline and the two main characters in Best Laid Plans. Desires are explored and lines are crossed in a tantalizingly slow-burning romance that’s the perfect balance of sweet and sensual. Gabe and Arden brought vitality to each page with their laughter, with their enthusiasm, and with their open-mindedness. I found Arden’s unabashed curiosity to be refreshing and endearing and I loved Gabe’s nonjudgmental, laidback approach to life. The fun-loving energy and the electric chemistry that they generate between them are what make the story such an entertaining, compelling read.

If you’re a fan of friends-to-lovers romances, read Best Laid Plans. If you like your romances lighthearted and with minimal angst, this is the book for you. Or, if you’re in the mood for a swoon-worthy, feel-good romance, Lauren Blakely has got you covered.

*complimentary copy provided by author for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars
Profile Image for Kim.
2,548 reviews152 followers
February 21, 2019
4.5/5 stars
Oh my the cuteness of these two! Arden East is a good, sweet girl who would like to take a walk on the naughty side...but she just does not know how to ask for it so her relationships have fizzled instead of sizzled. She is smart, witty, and organized bookstore owner. She believes in research and getting all aspects of a situation and then proceeding with caution.

Gabe Harrison is a sexy, charming firefighter with a playboy reputation. But he is also always ready to help others. And when they meet during a hard time for her, they begin a friendship that becomes important to them. Gabe might just be ready for more. But since they are fully entrenched in the friend-zone, it is hard to get out of. And she is a bit clueless and does not think he could ever be interested in more with her.

But in her thirst for knowledge, she is not above an experiment and lessons to gain some experience in being more flirty and dirty. And who better to ask than the man she trusts most. There is a misunderstanding of motivation, but both of them want to preserve their friendship at all costs. How much will hidden feelings, desire, and sexual tension affect them while they are playing make believe?

Gabe is such a charismatic and adorable guy. I just loved him! He knows what he wants, just is not sure how to get it. And his friend is tempting him more and more. Their little lessons are getting harder to harder to keep under control. With two people who have always been able to use their words effectively, communication regarding relationships is not so easy. The real fear of losing their friendship is a big deterrent. To have any chance, it will involve taking a risk, speaking up, and moving outside their comfort zones.

This is a sweet, flirty, friends-to-lovers story with sexual tension and a bit of angst. I liked their friends Vanessa, Perry, Shaw, and Derek and I am looking forward to more with them. I enjoyed the small town feel with the quaint businesses and of course...Firefighters! And Gabe's family and his relationship with Pops just made me love him even more. This is one of those books that just makes you smile and you cannot help but get caught up in it.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Follow Me: Reviews by Tammy & Kim (Rachel and Jay) | Facebook | Twitter
July 21, 2019
🎧 Audio Review 🎧

Anyone who knows me knows I love Lauren Blakely books! She always gives us a sweet story with lots of giggles. As always, this book has such witty characters, fun lighthearted banter and perfect chemistry. I always love a friends to lovers story so I was excited to start this one.

Arden is a sweet bookstore owner who is a little sheltered but her love of books has intrigued her interest in what she might want in a relationship. I loved that she is a bookie, so many books were mentioned in this story and I'm going to re-listen to this and make a list of all the ones I need to get to. I loved how shy she was in some ways but how easily she pushed past that because she knew she wanted more. Nothing better than a strong female lead in a book!
Gabe is a hot firefighter with an amazing ability to lighten up any situation! I loved how funny he was and how he made light of everything. He knew what he wanted and was working up the courage to go for it. Together these two were so much fun and seriously hot! This book was a lot hotter than some of LB's more recent books and even though it's not filled with sex, it's the chemistry and the dirty talk that really gave this book steam!

As always, this book was a breath of fresh air! Lauren is amazing at giving us great love stories without all the unnecessary drama you usually find in romance and that is why I will never miss one of them! She is always a must listen for me since my first LB in 2014!

The narration, as always with Lauren Blakely audiobooks was AMAZING!! Erin Mallon is a narrator goddess!! She is my favorite narrator because I can always get lost in a book when she is voicing the characters and bringing them to life. Joe Arden is also a great narrator who I've found can make me laugh so much when he adds a silly or sarcastic side to a character. In this one I laughed more than once because of him alone. Erin and Joe really rocked the duet style narration. It flowed so perfectly. Oh and even though it's duet, we still get to hear Erin's hot as all get out male voice too ;)

This audiobook has more than one epilogue and also has a really funny interview with the narrators at the end. I laughed so much listening to them joke and laugh together.
Profile Image for Bree Lauren.
668 reviews2,098 followers
March 2, 2019
This book was everything I needed for so many reasons.

I’ve been reading a lot of dark, heavy books lately and I desperately needed a break. I needed something light, something that made my heart soar, something that made me swoon and laugh and fall in love.

So… I turned to Lauren Blakely.

We all have our go-to authors for certain things. If I want a slow burn, it’s Mariana Zapata, if I want to laugh out loud and swoon, it’s Lauren Rowe, if I want beautifully crafted mega steam, it’s Sierra Simone, if I want twisted darkness in the most beautiful way, it’s Trisha Wolfe.

If I want to fall in love? It’s Lauren Blakely.

I absolutely adore authors who understand the power of a good audiobook, and Lauren truly appreciates us audiobook readers … and it shows. She’s active in the audiobook community (I posted in Aural Fixation after reading my first of her books asking which books I should read next by her and SHE commented on my post!)

It’s obvious that she puts a lot of thought into the production of her audiobooks. She wrote the first full-cast romance audiobook I ever listened to: Birthday Suit – which was an absolute delight to read – and now this book, which was narrated duet-style, is growing in popularity and I’m absolutely living for it.

Most of my all-time favorite narrators have narrated Lauren’s books, and Best Laid Plans featured two of my very favorites: Erin Mallon and Joe Arden.

These two narrators did so much justice to such loveable characters.

I recently wrote a post listing all the authors I wished were my best friends, and it was Lauren Blakely who inspired the post. Just from reading her books, I felt her warmth and charisma come through the characters.

I never wanted to hug an author so much after reading a book. Particularly this one.

I’ve been having kind of an awful few weeks and while reading dark books let me brood a bit, I needed something light to take me out of the gloom – and this was absolutely perfect.

This book made me genuinely happy and I was so in love with Arden and Gabe (also – how perfect are those names, tho?!?!)

I also love when authors take a common trope and put their own spin on it. I’ve ALWAYS loved the whole friends-to-lovers/teach-me-how trope, but they can be a bit repetitive. I loved this take on the trope, how Arden treated her “lessons” as a “dress-rehearsal” rather than the actual performance.

Also – that meetcute of sorts was so freaking epic.

And can we talk about how badly I want Arden’s bookstore to exist? And how much I want to join that bookclub?!?!

And Gabe’s relationship with his family… SWOON!

Also… he’s a firefighter. It’s like she plucked all of my favorite things out of my brain and crafted this novel.

And I couldn’t be more grateful.

(If nothing else, you need to listen to this audio because at the end there is an EPIC interview between Joe Arden and Erin Mallon in which, among other things, they read a grocery list as a couple having sex for the first time… and it’s hilarious and on point.)

Read the full review on my blog: In Love & Words

Profile Image for Cyndi.
2,340 reviews100 followers
March 21, 2019
This was a lovely romance but my favorite part was the narrators. They were in the room together so she read all the heroine’s parts and he read all the hero’s. It truly added to the experience. They also do an interview in the end.

Back to the book. Our hero is a firefighter who is instantly attracted to our heroine in the beginning. But since she is suffering from a broken heart he becomes lodged into the friend zone.
A year later our heroine wants to discover her wild side. Who would she ask for help if not her best friend?
Profile Image for Monique.
1,054 reviews48 followers
February 21, 2019
Loved it! 💕 Loved it! 💕 Loved it! 💕

This is exactly what I needed to fall into after a hectic holiday to help with the blues. It made me smile, laugh and swoon and I want to know more and more. I couldn’t put it down, and read it in one sitting.

I loved each character immensely. Arden was someone I could connect with because of her quirkiness and planning. I thought she was sweet and entrancing with a wicked side. I wish I had her job! Gabe melted my heart. He is that guy that is your protector as well as your biggest supporter and best friend. He realizes before Arden does that they could have so much more if they took their friendship to the next level. It just takes Arden some planning and role playing to see where her heart belongs.

There are a few shelves you could rest this book. It’s a contemporary romance with humor, so a rom-com too. It could even be considered a slow burn story but once they do finally click, it is a quick conclusion. Don’t fret, as there are two epilogues that will give you a complete HEA and with the next book in the series being released soon, I think we will hear more about Arden and Gabe, as well as the new couple.
Profile Image for Angela (Reading Frenzy Book Blog).
957 reviews452 followers
July 1, 2019
Audiobook Review

Purely in terms of story execution, Best Laid Plans is pretty average. It’s not particularly original and, honestly, it’s predictable. Arden and Gabe are sweet characters and I really liked their bond. However, their denial/blindness, lack of communication, and Arden’s incessant worrying over potentially losing her friend are exhausting. The romantic build-up is nice and slow, and I appreciated the delayed gratification. While the book is fine for a light read, it’s the narration that makes the story most enjoyable.

About the Audiobook:
This was my first experience with duet narration, and I’m already a fan. An audiobook can be ruined for me if the male narrator’s “female” voice is cartoonish or grating. Ditto with female narrators impersonating men. In this audiobook, regardless of the point of view, Erin Mallon speaks whenever her character Arden talks and Joe Arden talks whenever Gabe speaks. I enjoyed hearing the two narrators interact. I happen to love Erin Mallon’s male impersonations, but duet narration seems like a safe and fun way to avoid potential problems. After the book ends, Erin Mallon and Joe Arden have a discussion about the ins and outs of audiobook narrating. It’s very entertaining and enlightening so be sure to listen all the way to the end.

Recommended for fans of:
Friends to lovers tropes
Book stores
Words with Friends

Reading Frenzy Book Blog
Profile Image for Christy Bailey.
634 reviews21 followers
March 4, 2019
Great read!

This was such a fun read. Who doesn't love a HOT fireman! Gabe was a sweetheart with a side of sexy! Arden was such a fun character to read as well. She had some shy moments but that girl owned it!
Profile Image for Shannon.
2,402 reviews177 followers
January 4, 2021

You know those memes that make the rounds on FB, with the different colored pills that can either transport you into your favorite book or bring your favorite bbf to life, among other things? Well, I’d take the pill that would transport me into the world of Best Laid Plans, because I want to be Arden. Like, seriously want to be her. And not just because of Gabe. Okay fine, Gabe may be a Giganotosaurus reason why I want to be her. But let's be real- Arden owns a freaking bookstore! And isn't that the dream of every bookworm the world over? Plus, she has her own yellow cottage with a wraparound porch and has some really wonderful girlfriends. Why wouldn’t I want to be her?!? Yes, sure, Gabe is all kinds of swoony deliciousness, but honestly, Arden is pretty awesome herself!

Best Laid Plans is an entertaining take on the friends with benefits arrangement. Arden and Gabe have been friends for about a year, (Time-out, let's talk about the start of that friendship for a minute, shall we? The way Gabe handled Arden's meltdown- I knew right then he was going to be something special!), and in that time have grown incredibly close and comfortable with each other, leading Arden to approach Gabe with a proposition. Little does she know, though, that he’s been harboring much stronger feelings for her than friendship, and her plan might be just the push he needs to let her know.

This story was all kinds of cute romcom fun. Arden is a terrific heroine. She’s sweet, caring, kind, and completely relatable-she’s someone I’d want to be friends with, if I didn’t want to be her so badly. Gabe is all kinds of swoony, as I may have mentioned before. He’s also very kind, as well as generous and soft-hearted. As much as he wants to take the next step with Arden, he lets her set the pace, and that made him all the more loveable.
I found Best Laid Plans to be such a delightful read. It was light and easy, with terrific characters and such a sweet love story.
Profile Image for Shayna.
1,813 reviews596 followers
February 25, 2019
"𝗜’𝗺 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘀𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗹𝘆 𝘁𝗿𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗮𝗻𝘁𝘀. 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝗸𝗶𝗻, 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝘀𝗵𝗲’𝘀 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗲. 𝗕𝘂𝘁 𝗽𝗮𝗻𝘁𝘀...𝗽𝗮𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁. 𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝘁’𝘀 𝗴𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗲."

𝐁𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐋𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐬 by Lauren Blakely is a banter-filled, witty, and romantic friends-to-lovers SWOONFEST that you won't be able to put down...not even for a second! Gabe is delicious! Arden is a delight! These two together…well, it’s just downright sexy and magical! Even though this is a slow-burn love story, every page sizzles…every chapter will make your heart skip a beat. I couldn’t get enough of these two!

Amazon US → https://amzn.to/2NuRVSw
Amazon UK → https://amzn.to/2Sh6F8b
Amazon AU → https://amzn.to/2EkJSV6
Amazon CA → https://amzn.to/2DV9CWE

Profile Image for Sasha Says.
688 reviews2 followers
February 22, 2019
There's no trope I love more than friends to lovers and Lauren Blakely is absolutely the master at it. Her characters are so damn likable- I always want to be in their friend group! Arden and Gabe were fabulous characters, had lots of fun witty banter, and off the charts chemistry. This was a slow burn romance well worth the wait. Side characters and settings were delightful. Best of all, Arden is a BOOKSTORE OWNER and Blakely threw in so many literary references and popular titles-- so fun to read! I enjoyed the epilogues and am so glad we will get Perri and Derek's story next in The Feel Good Factor.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Clinton.
752 reviews28 followers
February 16, 2019
With every book Lauren writes I say this is my favorite couple, but when you meet Arden East & Gabe Harrison you might just agree.
Arden knows who Gabe is but when they meet each other in the most unlikely of places and under the most unlikely circumstances you know that something is going to come out of that meeting.
Arden & Gabe are the Best of Friends but when Arden wants to explore she needs his help, but can the friendship survive the list of things that Arden wants. You can’t help love watching this couple become even closer, their chemistry is amazing, their friendship is off the charts but what happens when you throw caution to the wind do you wind up with it all, that is the one thing you hope happens to this amazing couple.
Profile Image for Laura.
2,354 reviews110 followers
February 22, 2019
***ARC Provided by the Author***

This book has all the important "C" words. You know the ones I mean...cats, cheese, cracker, couch, charades....

Wait. Weren't those the ones you were thinking of? Sorry, my bad. But, I promise, those are the important words. (Oh, and get your mind out of the gutter, that's later is this slow burn, steamy romance.)

In all seriousness, I loved this book. Gabe and Arden are adorable and, well, they meet during the commission of a crime against cheese. Yes, this is a crime...trust me. But it also sets the tone for this story which is one of a fun, flirty, best friends to lovers that will have you smiling the entire time.

It wasn't in the plan, as far as either of them knew, to fall for one another. And, as often is the case, they are the last ones to admit to themselves what everyone around them can clearly see. They are meant to be.

And, the path to the realization for them is perfection. There wasn't a single misstep along the way, and the construction of the plot and the characters is done with precision. Perfect, like I said above.

I also really enjoyed the introductions of the other characters who are destined to get their own books. If I have a criticism of first in the series titles, it's often that so much time is spent with character intro that you lose the story. Not even the slightest problem here.

Bottom line? I adored, enjoyed and recommend this book. Wait for it...I was charmed. (Did you really think I'd let that "C" word slip by??)
Profile Image for J. Grayland.
Author 6 books128 followers
May 18, 2019
I really liked this book it was a lovely sweet story line with lovable characters, hot sex and a wonderful romance.
Profile Image for Anas Attic  Book Blog.
1,342 reviews668 followers
March 11, 2019
Best Laid Plans by Lauren Blakely
Narrated by Erin Mallon and Joe Arden (Duet style)
Standalone Romantic Comedy
Shirtless, sweaty and covered with cheese, Lauren Blakely made me fall in love with another one of her heroes. This time it’s Gabe the firefighter. Lauren Blakely releases so many books, and she uses the friends-to-lovers trope a lot. She has also used the “teach me about sex” trope. Yet every single book feels fresh and new, and I have loved every one of them.

Arden is a planner. She plans a beautiful picnic for her boyfriend, and he dumps her because she is too much of a good girl. And the asshole still eats! Arden doesn’t necessarily want to be a good girl, but she doesn’t know any other way. When she meets Gabe, he is interested but knows she is on the rebound, so they become best friends.

Arden wants to change. She wants to explore her inner bad girl, so she comes up with a solid plan, and recruits her best friend Gabe to help her out to see what she likes.
“This is going to be the toughest game of charades I’ve ever played.”

As their game of charades continues, dirty talk ensues.
"Because if we were together, my number one goal would be to make sure you were…satisfied."

Gabe doesn’t know how to get out of the friend zone, and Arden doesn’t think he would ever want her that way. But he does.
“I want to know the landscape of her body. Want to slide my hands up and down her legs, nibble on her ass, and make her whimper.”

Yes, please! I loved the way he got her to loosen up and talk about sex. She was totally down with “pretending” to try anything.
I point a thumb at my chest. “Big fan of spanking.”
“You are?” Her tone drenched with curiosity.
“Hell, yeah. if it’s done right….”

But will she ever stop thinking of him as a friend?

Once again, Lauren’s amazing dialog and banter made me laugh out loud, and it was made even more special by the duet style narration. I want to be friends with every one of her characters…AND their pets (Lauren does great animals too!) She introduced great side characters and has some fun cameos from other books.

•Arden is a bookstore owner, and I loved her book club meetings there!
•Amazing banter and dialog.
•Slow burn with lots of build-up.
•Dirty talking.
•A hot and sexy firefighter.
•I smiled the entire time I listened.
•The cast of characters and friends.
•Gabe is sweet and sexy and a little less business than many of Lauren’s heroes. It was a nice change.
•I loved their friendship and how they trusted each other.


•Lauren Blakely is ruining me for other audiobooks!

The Narration:
Lauren Blakely does THE BEST audiobooks HANDS DOWN. She clearly writes for audio and has said herself that she can hear the narrator’s voice in her head as she writes, and you can tell. This is her first full-length duet style book (not including the 12 narrator Birthday Suit) and I loved it. Something about it was different than most duets and I can’t put my finger on the difference—almost like it maybe wasn’t full duet, only conversations? Because unless I’m crazy (I was driving 6 hours when I listened), I could swear Erin Mallon did her sexy male voice. The narrators were perfect. They had great timing together and I really enjoyed the duet. Sometimes they seem weird and jarring to listen to, but that was not the case at all with Best Laid Plans.

The Down & Dirty:
Once again, Lauren Blakely delivered a fantastic romantic comedy with humor, heart, and heat. The amazing banter was enhanced by the fabulous duet narration, and Lauren just nails the friends-to-lovers trope every time. I’m not sure how she can possibly keep every book fresh and unique despite similar settings and tropes, but she does, and I have never felt one second of repetitive storytelling. I loved every second of Best Laid Plans and recommend it highly!

Rating: 4.5 Stars, 4 Heat, 5+ Narration

Best Laid Plans by Lauren Blakely

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Profile Image for maggieandteddy.
1,076 reviews127 followers
March 27, 2019
3.75-4 STARS.
I listen to the audio through the Audible Romance Package (Like Kindle Unlimited for audio books).
This was a duet narration. Erin Mallon read ALL of the heroine's parts (Arden)
& Joe Arden read ALL of the hero's parts (Gabe)
This had a strong beginning. Arden gets dumped & she's upset when Gabe happens along...
Joe Arden's voice is kinda gravely. Most of the male narrators sound a lot alike. I really got used to him. This is a quick read/listen. Under 7 hours. The ebook says 300 pages, but I don't think that it's that long.
This is a friend's to lovers. Arden's ex told her she's too nice, too vanilla. She's more offended by that than being dumped.
Gabe, of course is a hunky fire fighter. Gifted with the ladies. Oh yeah, Arden wants lessons. Huh.
Well I liked the friends with benefits-really steamy parts.
Arden is a book story owner & very smart, but she friend zoned hunky Gabe?? what the what?
There's a book after this that just came out. One of the supporting characters. I'm guessing that they both can be standalones.

Profile Image for AJ.
2,933 reviews958 followers
April 21, 2019
4 ‘sexlethics’ stars!

Lauren Blakely is a go-to author for light, fun, sexy romance, and she’s delivered just that with this fantastic friends-to-lovers romance.

Arden has just been dumped when she runs into firefighter, Gabe. Living in the same small town, they already know each other, but they haven’t had a lot to do with each other. When Arden opens up, Gabe is there with a shoulder to lean on and it sparks a beautiful, strictly platonic, friendship. They become so close that when Arden is feeling the need to explore her raunchy side, she turns to her trustworthy friend, Gabe, for help.

This is such a funny set up. Arden doesn’t want to have sex with Gabe as part of their arrangement, she just knows that there’s more to sex than the plain vanilla missionary sex she has experienced and she wants to let her freak flag fly for a little bit, and knowing that Gabe is well experienced in that sort of thing, he is the perfect man to show her the ropes, to see what she’s been missing and figure out what she likes in the bedroom.

There’s more to me, and I want to know what’s written on all my pages.

The timing is a little awkward given that Gabe has just realised that he has feelings for his best friend, but he puts that aside during the period of their ‘lessons’ so that he can help her out (he’s so generous), and the result is hot and hilarious as he tries to rein in his growing feelings while at the same time getting to explore things with Arden he’s only dreamed about.

“I'm not simply trying to get in her pants. I want to get under skin, like she's under mine. But pants...pants are a good start. And it's getting tight in mine.”

“This is going to be the toughest game of charades I’ve ever played.”

It’s a little bit of a weird situation, but Arden and Gabe handle it well and watching things finally begin to shift for them as they explore Arden’s wildest fantasies is a really fun ride. With trips to sex shops, a little bit of spanking and a striptease or two there’s so much sex talk and innuendo that I was laughing out loud at their antics. And the emotion between them is really beautifully written. It’s always been there, but seeing them come to realise it is one of the best elements of the friends-to-lovers love story, and these two were so freaking cute!

I don’t want to be in the friend zone anymore. I want to be in the everything zone.

These characters are fantastic. Arden is a smart and relatable bookstore owner with two wonderful girlfriends who will feature in the next two books of the series, and Gabe… *dreamy sigh*. He’s such a sweetheart! Sure, he’s a filthy sex God who – up until our heroine comes along – was a bit of a manwhore, but he’s funny and sweet, he has no issues or baggage, he loves his family and has a great relationship with them, he cares deeply for the people in his life and he’s just a really great guy. Its impossible not to fall for him, and not to be cheering for these two to get it on!

I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Erin Mallon and Joe Arden, and they do such a great job! It’s a duet style narration – where Erin reads Arden’s POV and dialogue, and Joe reads Gabe’s POV and dialogue. I was worried it would be a bit choppy during the reading, but it enabled them to really play off of each other, and it brings a lot of life to the story, I thought it was really well done!

I loved this book. So much fun, and really sweet. I’m looking forward to reading Perri and Vanessa’s stories next.

4 stars.

Profile Image for Red Cheeks Reads.
2,184 reviews365 followers
February 22, 2019

I’m an unrepentant, loud-and-proud Lauren Blakely fan. Immersed in any of her books is a happy place for me. She’s a slam dunk for me because she consistently gives me what I’m hoping for when I reach for a romantic comedy or a contemporary romance. Just when I think she can’t top her last book, she comes out with the next one, and it steals my heart in a whole different way. Lauren Blakely always gives me what I want to read, and she does it with a writing style that is an addictive and creative blend of warmth, wit and romance. The kinds of stories that make me smile and swoon and that leave me happy when I’m done.

The friends-to-lovers trope is a top favorite of mine, near and dear to my heart, and Blakely put a fun spin on it here with a good-girl who wants to be naughty and her fireman best friend who she enlists to help her learn how. Arden and Gabe had a solid foundation of friendship to build on, and it was the comfort of this relationship that gave Arden the guts to approach Gabe with her plan. She had no idea that Gabe was harboring more than just friendly feelings for her, and in approaching him with her request, she gave him the opening he’d been hoping for. These two knew each other well, and their comfortable and easy-going relationship made for some witty, finish-each-other’s-sentences, back-and-forth bantering. Gabe’s Greek God good looks and charming personality didn’t escape Arden’s notice, but she had him pegged all wrong with some of the assumptions she’d made about him, and I enjoyed the heck out of him dispelling them.

Blakely has a fantastic sense of humor that she uses liberally in her storytelling, and it was plentiful in this book. I pretty much perma-grinned my way through most of this story largely because of Arden’s utterly pragmatic approach to her proposal. The things she want to try and learn, and the specific ways she proposed that they tackle them, really showed the reader exactly why she needed these lusty lessons in first place. Sweet and oh-so-sexually-naïve Arden just never factored romance—or even attraction—into this scenario because she was totally oblivious to the possibility that sexy, ladies-man Gabe could be interested in her.

One of the things I love most about Blakely’s novels is how richly she develops her heroes and the special insight into her male leads she gives her readers. Gabe’s inner dialogue was five-alarm-fire hot during his titillating torture sessions with Arden, and it was there that readers got a glimpse at his vulnerable side, too, when his thoughts moved to the what he really wanted with her. He also had an endearing side, something he showed repeatedly not only with Arden, but also in his relationships with his family and in his natural calling to help others. While Blakely doesn’t hesitate to put obstacles in her characters’ paths to happily-ever-after, she doesn’t draw it out with painful or angst-fueled plot devices to do it. Her stories have the right amount of conflict—just enough to keep things interesting—before she brings her characters to the other side of it together. Honestly, one of the reasons I read is to escape real-life, real-world drama, so I find Lauren’s approach in that aspect of her plots a much needed and very refreshing change of pace.

Flirty, fiery and a whole lot of fun, Best Laid Plans was a feel-good story about what happens when friendship is set on fire. Arden and Gabe’s love story was full of heart, humor and heat, and I simply didn’t want to put it down. Five smooches from me for Lauren Blakely’s Best Laid Plans!
~Danielle Palumbo
Profile Image for Rebecca.
2,833 reviews143 followers
February 22, 2019
You know the saying “Nice guys finish last”? Well, in Lauren Blakely’s new release, Best Laid Plans, Blakely’s heroine learns the hard way that nice girls seem to get dumped because they’re not naughty enough in bed…at least that’s Arden East’s ex’s reason for breaking up with her. So what’s a good girl to do when she’s basically been told she’s too vanilla in bed…too sweet to want to explore the naughtier side of sex…how about asking Lucky Falls’ resident Panty-Melter, Gabe Harrison, to help her experience all that sex is supposed to be and prove to herself that she’s not too good of a girl to experience the filthy side of fucking!

A short-term guy and a long-term girl hooking up has disaster written all over it, but Arden’s determined to explore her dirtier and naughtier side and who better to help her than a man who seems to know his way around a woman’s body and has probably experienced all the non-vanilla sex Arden wants to try out. I truly wish I could have been in the room for the scene where Arden asks Gabe for his ‘sex assistance.’ I mean…here’s a guy who is more than attracted to his female friend and now she’s offering him a chance to get in her pants and show her what it means to do something other than make love; in a guy’s mind, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but for Gabe, it comes with its own set of problems and that fact is shown the more he helps Arden explore a side of her that she never knew she had.

I love a title that uses a pun - allowing readers to notice the word play right from the start. Arden is a planner - one who makes list and plots out how she wants everything to go, but when it comes to another person’s actions and what that means for her, there’s no way to know all of those details, and her plans turn into best laid ones, making things end poorly and quite different than she expected despite all of her painstaking preparations.

Best LAID plans also implies exactly what Arden wants to experience with Gabe, helping her explore what she truly wants/likes in bed, checking off different positions and situations that allow her to come out of her ‘good-girl shell’ and be the naughty sex kitten that only Gabe seems to bring out.

Best Laid Plans is such a cute and swoon worthy story…Arden and Gabe are extremely likable characters and I love the fact that these two created a solid friendship before Arden directed them down a path towards less of a platonic relationship, but therein lies the problem as well, because the fear of losing a connection that means everything to her is not something Arden knows how to deal with, which means there are bound to be mistakes on both sides.

The kind-hearted bookstore owner and the sexy fireman will melt readers’ hearts as well as get them all hot and bothered from Gabe and Arden’s sexual exploration, which is exactly what romance readers want!

4.5 Poison Apples (The Fairest of All Book Reviews)
Profile Image for Rachel.
1,452 reviews26 followers
February 22, 2019
4.5/5 stars

Arden is a good girl, but that label is getting old, especially when her boyfriend uses it as his excuse when he breaks up with her. She lives a quiet life, focusing on her friends and her bookstore, but she can’t seem to find a relationship that burns like she knows it should. And everytime she thinks she has found the one, something happens to make them fizzle.

Gabe is known around town not only for his good looks, but for his rule to keep his relationships casual. When they meet, Gabe’s determination to keep things light is challenged, but the timing is all wrong. Despite the bad timing, he is intrigued by Arden and they strike up a friendship that both come to rely on for support.

They both value the friendship that builds between them and don’t want to mess it up, but when Arden asks Gabe for help learning about her naughty side, it is too tempting for Gabe to pass up, especially since she says she just wants to mime. Too bad the request fires up feelings they were both trying hard to ignore.

This is a bit of a slow burn, and I loved the pacing as a result. With Arden coming out of a relationship, the pace made for great banter and a build up of tension between Arden and Gabe. It also allowed for a sweet friendship to develop - a friendship that everyone around them can see right through.

Arden’s limited experience left her feeling like she was missing something, especially when it seemed that was the reason she couldn’t keep a relationship. But Gabe’s patience, strength, and willingness to be and do whatever Arden needed made me fall for him hard and fast.

This was a fun, sweet friends to lovers story. This small town has a lot going for it -- great friends, small town connections, and hot firefighters. Gabe and Arden’s friends have a lot to add to their story and I look forward to more from them.

I received a copy for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Meredith Wilson.
383 reviews36 followers
February 21, 2019
I absolutely adored Best Laid Plans! The story started with a bang and didn't let up from there. A sweet and sexy rom-com that left me begging and pleading for more.

Arden East is beautiful, bright and funny. She is the sweet, girl next door type who doesn't know a thing about being naughty. She's a bit too vanilla, hence why she finds herself single, time and time again. Would she even like being a dirty girl? Feeling bold, brave and curious, she is determined to find out. And who better to help her than her sexy new best friend?

Gabe Harrison is hot AF, witty and absolutely charming. A calendar worthy fireman that girls would drop their panties for. While out for a run, he meets the lovely Arden who's crying and upset. He soon has her smiling and the two become fast friends. Gabe is really quite smitten and desires something more, but Arden has him friend-zoned. Can he convince her to take a chance and give him a shot?

When Arden presents him with an offer, he'd be a fool to let this pass him by. Lessons on how to be naughty? HELL TO THE YES! It's a win-win for all until he learns it's not hands-on. Sure he hates this, but he plans to show her just how much fun it can be. Maybe he can even win her heart after all is said and done.

All in all, Best Laid Plans is a terrific and swoon-worthy read. It's incredibly well written and entertaining from beginning to end. The characters are so much fun and hooked me from page one. I loved the ease of their relationship and how well they meshed together. Their pull was instant and I loved the banter that they shared. And of course, you can't forget the sparks. Ugh, I just couldn't get enough! If you're looking for a sweet, sexy and funny read, then do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

Profile Image for Melinda.
777 reviews10 followers
February 17, 2019
Best Laid Plans by Lauren Blakely

Ahh this book had me smiling from ear to ear from Gabe and Arden’s very first meeting through to the very sweet end. They meet in the park where Arden is left broken-hearted by her boyfriend who dumps her, claiming that she’s just too nice for him. Gorgeous Gabe spends the next bit of time with her, reassuring Arden that there’s not a damn thing wrong with being nice and the two strike up a close friendship. While Arden is happy with the friendship, Gabe develops romantic feelings and decides that he’s going to lay it all on the line. Unfortunately, before he’s able to share his feelings with Arden, she approaches him with a detailed list of sexual items she’d like his help with in order for her to embrace her naughty side. The only catch is Arden’s stipulation of these ‘lessons’ being very much hands-off in order to preserve the very important friendship - or as Gabe puts it, they get to play sex charades.

Sigh. Best Laid Plans has all the swoon and banter to keep me fully invested in this couple. The slow-burn was delicious and did not feel at all dragged out. Gabe and Arden were wonderful characters and so easy to relate to. Arden was just LOVELY! She cracked me up so much and I think that was partly due to her genuine cluelessness. Gabe is a reformed player with the hugest heart and his relationships with his own family members absolutely warmed mine.
I can’t wait to get glimpses of Arden and Gabe in the next few books and omg I will be on tenterhooks until The Feel Good Factor is released!

*I voluntarily read an early copy of this book.

**Reviewed by Melinda for Joandisalovebooks Blog
Profile Image for Neha.
73 reviews85 followers
March 1, 2019
This one was such a sweet read, like those sugary treats which have too much sugar in them.
It would be unjust to rate this book cause I couldn't finish it. I tried... i tried my level best to finish, I reached almost 60% mark, but! It was that bad... or just that bad for me? Up to 60% mark I read word "naughty" so many times, I went into rage mode.
Its just me or the female lead felt like a 3 year old into a grown up body who cant seem to think about anything but sex. Why she felt like a 3 year old or below 5? Because she wanted to be "naughty"!
"Honestly, I didn’t even think twice about good girls versus naughty ones. Who in the world above 12 thinks like this?

She is almost 30 and this is what a date attire is for her:
"A peach tank top, a black lacy skirt, and cute sandals. Looks like date attire."
Not that I think 30 is old, free world, freedom of choice and all that.

Oh! and there was a male lead as well in this one! Gabe, who I didnt care much about because just like every other male leads he was "ladies man", town hottie fireman, only good thing? He was not an asshole! Oh sorry, he was not a bad guy! he was a good guy! And.. he liked naughty!!!How naughty is that? I am being naughty right now, aren't I? I feel like clutching my non existent pearl necklace in horror!
Profile Image for Nerdy Dirty & Flirty.
3,985 reviews327 followers
February 23, 2019
4.5 stars ~ Jess

Every girl wants a sweet, fun, and sexy firefighter. And Arden is lucky enough to have one as her good friend. He was there for her even after she launched cheese at him. He plays words with friends, takes her bowling, is smart, a bit nerdy and the perfect guy to give her a lesson in not being so nice in the bedroom.

Arden is nice though. Like insanely sweet and genuine. She can pair your book with a drink, she takes in strays, bakes to say thank you. Everyone needs and Arden in their life too. Gabe knows what he has with her is different from anything he has experienced for. He knows that he wants her as more than just a friend and when she breaks out her exploration list he can't help but want to help her.

This book was flirty and fun. No drama, a ton of giggles, a sexy slow burn type of book that was perfect for an afternoon without the kids. There is just something refreshing about reading a book that keeps a smile on my face from beginning to end and this was that type of book. It also made me curious to see what is going to happen with the cop and the bad boy.
Profile Image for Pam Nelson.
3,300 reviews102 followers
April 7, 2019
What a fun and witty book. I enjoyed Arden’s approach to learning who and what she likes.
Her job! I want her job like please can I own a book shop and know the people who come in that would be awesome.
Gabe the firefighter is so sweet and so amazing he just gets Arden. Probably why friends to lovers, is my favorite sub-genre in books is because of couples like this.
They both secretly love each other but for the sake of friendship neither wants to take the chance. But Arden can’t stop thinking about spicing up her love life and who better to ask than her good friend.
The way this is done, make the book fun and quirky but no something that has been done before or at least not in this way. I really enjoyed how open and honest they were with themselves.

It also makes me miss playing Words with Friends!!
I loved this narration, Joe and Erin doing a duet! It was awesome and fun to listen to. Before I knew it the book was over and I wanted more!
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