Erica Chilson's Reviews > The Best Laid Plans

The Best Laid Plans by Lauren Gallagher
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really liked it
bookshelves: menage, mmf, wickedreads, nurse, teacher, 4-star

I received a copy of this title to read and review for Wicked Reads

4 Stars.

The Best Laid Plans wasn't a wise choice to decide to read at bedtime, thinking to read a few chapters. I finished the novel about 2 hours before my alarm was set to go off, so I ended up laying there mulling over what I had just read.

Gabe & Shahid have been trying to adopt a child for nearly 10 years, always being waylaid either because they are a gay couple or mixed-religion (Catholic & Muslim) It doesn't matter that they've been in a stable relationship, own their own home, with Gabe a high school science teacher and Shahid a ER nurse, something always stalls the adoption process.

Kendra is their best friend and Gabe's coworker. The guys have seen her through some tough times, when her husband cheated on her and they divorced. Wanting to do something selfless for her friends, Kendra decides to become a surrogate for Gabe and Shahid, the old-fashioned way.

In the quest to have a child, old relationship wounds are opened up. Mostly dealing with Shahid's insecurity over his husband being bisexual and the divide due to their religious beliefs. Even married, Gabe spends all the Christian holidays alone.

On the pages of the novel is some major angst, heartbreak, twisted emotions, a deeper look at religion, and realistic love and romance.

Instead of a wedge in their relationship, I felt that Kendra was written as empathetic and compassionate, not as if she was trying to hone in on her friends' relationship. Gabe was easy-going and wore his heart on his sleeve. Gabe had chemistry with both Shahid and Kendra, and believe it or not, it felt rushed and forced more so with his husband than with his coworker friend.

The main reason I couldn't give 5 stars was due to Shahid. His characterization and his inner monologue and behavior conflicted. The selfless nurse, selfless husband, yet his inner monologue was judgey and all about his needs and wants. Yes, this added the angsty edge to the story.

As an ER nurse, it was a generous gesture to work during Christian holidays so his co-workers could take those days off, but it also felt as a way for Shahid to hide away from Gabe's family. But, when it came time for Kendra to have a true medical emergency, Shahid made it all about him, all about his relationship with Gabe. That seemed contradictory. Shahid was only able to see it from his POV, in a very uncompassionate manner where 'what may have never been' faded. However, Kendra suffered a 'real' loss, not one of what may have been. In the following pages, where Kendra was left with no friends or shoulders to cry on, she was subjected to both Gabe and Shahid wanting to talk about their relationship instead of her MAJOR heartbreak. That should have been the straw that broke the camel's back, where a self-respecting Kendra told them to get lost and stop using her, playing on her emotions. I was frustrated and furious at how clueless the guys were during this portion. They didn't support Kendra- they abandoned her while fighting and making it about themselves.

I just couldn't connect with how cold and unaffected Shahid truly was- a user and manipulator. When it came to Gabe's family and the Christian holidays, Shahid wouldn't join Gabe, but then would complain how Gabe's family didn't want to know him, didn't understand him. The holidays aren't necessarily about religion- they are a way to connect as a family. Gabe's family didn't know Shahid because Gabe only saw them for major events, events in which Shahid ran off and made sure he was unavailable, leaving Gabe alone when he should have had his husband beside him. (I'm not excusing how Gabe's family spoke of Shahid, but they also didn't know him. If you have a hard time dealing with those who are ignorant, educate them through familiarity, especially if they are actual family). Shahid only gave half of himself to Gabe, which is the only reason menage worked, because Gabe and Kendra gave all of themselves to each other and Shahid. You get married to have a partner, not where you pick and choose what aspects in life you want to be included/excluded from being involved with. In reverse, Gabe would have gone to Shahid's family for holidays.

Overall, I loved the book, but I was frustrated by Shahid, wanting to shake him and tell him to stop being so selfish by feigning selflessness. The ending was rushed after a slower paced novel that had scenes on repeat, but when true relationship development occurred, it flashed forward to an epilogue.
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Reading Progress

November 25, 2016 – Started Reading
November 25, 2016 – Shelved
November 25, 2016 – Shelved as: menage
November 25, 2016 – Shelved as: mmf
November 25, 2016 – Shelved as: wickedreads
November 25, 2016 – Shelved as: nurse
November 25, 2016 – Shelved as: teacher
November 25, 2016 – Shelved as: 4-star
November 25, 2016 – Finished Reading

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