Cover Image: Best Laid Plans

Best Laid Plans

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Member Reviews

**4.5 Stars**

I read this book last week and it took me this long to put my feelings in order because, y’all, I am soft. Roan Parrish hit all my “awww” spots with her latest release, BEST LAID PLANS. This is the second book in the Garnet Run series but I read it as a standalone without issue. It’s a M/M romance featuring all my favorite tropes, sunshine/grump, home renovations, and forced proximity it basically hit all of my happy buttons.

Charlie is the older, sunshine-yet-sad hero with a savior complex, and Rye is a true-to-himself chaos creator hero who Charlie can’t resist. They end up (reluctantly on Rye’s part) working together to fix the falling-down house Rye inherited.

This book was relatively low on angst and high in emotion and quippy banter (another love point for me). The parts that stuck out to me, and that I appreciated the most, were the open and honest conversations about sex and intimacy between the two men. They had discussions about preferences, penetrative sex not being the ONLY kind of sex, and figuring each other’s turn-ons without shame or judgment. It was touching and sexy and these scenes might have made me cry once or twice give me that good communication and emotional intimacy all day!

I did have to take a half a star off because the adult in me was cringing when Charlie co-signed Rye’s loan. Such a terrible idea! It was not romantic and completely took me out of the book. Luckily, the world sucked me back in quickly. But dang. Do not co-sign a loan with a stranger!

Overall, I loved reading about two lovely and lonely humans find their person in each other. If you want to close a book with the warm fuzzies and a desperate desire to adopt 10 cats, read this book!
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Rye and Charlie were wonderful characters and I enjoyed seeing Charlie in the forefront with his own story, after life threw a wrench into his plans and left him raising his brother he gets his own happy ending. Sweetly endearing, seeing these two come together made for an enjoyable read.

*I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by NetGalley*
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My love for Roan Parrish continues with Best Laid Plans.

I had no idea I wanted Charlie's book until I got Charlie's book. He was just the somewhat interesting big brother that took care of Jack. I think I brushed him off as that side character that was useful, sort of interesting, and just there. Oh Charlie, how I was wrong. Charlie has a depth to him that needed to open up, come out, and be set free. He's this amazing brother that gave up so much to be the best brother, and guardian, to Jack that he could be. On one hand I knew that he had to have given up a lot, but I really had no idea how much. I never even really gave it any thought.

Then there is Rye... This guy! Crap life, all of a sudden given a chance at something new and fresh. What Rye did not know was that chance that was presenting itself in the worst way possible, was going to turn out to be the best thing ever.

Best Laid Plans is a sweet story about two men who have multiple issues, difficulty talking about them, both with a love for cats (like me), and both ready to take on the project of not only a house but also themselves.

I enjoyed Best Laid Plans so much. The story is sweet and beautiful. To be with Charlie and Rye as they go on their journey to happiness was a gift.

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I wanted to love Best Laid Plans by Roan Parrish, but, in the end, I found it just ok.

I loved the characters.

Their history.



It had all the ingredients for a great story, but it was so damn sloooow. I hate to say it, but it was boring.

2.75 stars rounded up to 3 Stars because I did love the characters- just not the execution. I think book one was better.
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You guys--this series! It takes me apart in the absolute best ways!

Rye and Charlie are absolutely amazing together. I loved Charlie in his brother Jack's book ( Better Than People ) but being able to see inside his head here? Heartbreakingly beautiful. From the first scenes where he wonders about the newcomer who is making questionable purchases from his hardware store (do we ever find out why he bought two flashlights?) to the one where he admits to Rye that...well, I'm not going to tell you, but trust me, it'll get you right there his story absolutely delivered on all I'd hoped for for him and more.

And Rye? Ohmygoodness, he's so much more than what he seems at first glance, and I absolutely loved how he is always so fierce about making sure that Charlie gets taken care of too, instead of always being the one who is meeting the needs of everyone else.

And the cats...well. They're pure gold. It really shows that Ms Parrish wrote this one while in quarantine with her cat, because she has got the personalities of each feline down to a t. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if her character sheets for her animal characters were almost as long as the ones for her human ones.

Murder cat the second. Hee hee hee.

Best Laid Plans is the second in Roan Parrish's Garnet Run series, but it could be read as a standalone--though honestly, I can't imagine not wanting to binge them both. If you love *love* and enjoy reading about animals with questionable (but explained to the reader--I'm telling you, lengthy character sheets!) names, then this series is for you. I am not ready to leave Garnet Run behind anytime soon, so fingers crossed that Ms Parrish will be bringing us more books in this delightful series!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
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4.5/5 Stars

You all know how much I love Roan Parrish's books and she's done it again! I finished this book several weeks ago and I've been trying to think of the right words to review it ever since. I'm having trouble conveying why I loved it so much. 

I was intrigued by Jack's big brother from the first time he appeared on the page in Better Than People. I knew Charlie's story was going to be fascinating but I wasn't prepared for how heartbreaking it was going to be. I knew that he must have given a lot of stuff up in order to raise Jack but I didn't realize how much that would be. Maybe that's why I was so invested in the romance between him and Rye.

And Rye! He was a delightfully grumpy disaster pansexual and I fell in love with him and his weird cat almost immediately. His prickly outer layer hides a gooey, cinnamon roll center and I loved watching him open up to accept Charlie in his life.

I love Roan Parrish's books but this one was even better than normal. Her stories always run my emotions through the ringer but this one hit a bit closer to home for me. And it was so delightfully diverse in its queer and gender rep (there is a character I would place on the Ace spectrum)! Plus, we got to see Jack and Simon again. I didn't think I was going to love Charlie's story more than theirs but I did. 

Why should you pick this up? This story was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once and has an amazing queer romance to root for. I am a sucker for a good grump and sunshine romance and this book delivered on that and so much more! I would also highly recommend this series if you are looking for adorable contemporary romances with non-typical leads. 

I hope we get more books in this series. Maybe following the teens Rye befriends? Or Jack's best friend? I just want to see more of the people in this little Wyoming town!
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I dearly love Roan Parrish's books, but I think this series is just slightly too twee for my tastes. Both books so far have felt slightly underdeveloped as well. That being said, I loved that the leads have a really good, unique connection, and overall there's still enough spark to keep me coming back!
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A sweet lust at first sight novel. I really enjoyed this, I think one of the things I really appreciated was the book didn't just end when they got together, there wasn't a short epilogue to round off the future, but there was a complete story, their getting together and what they did after they were together, I wasn't left hanging winding what happened down the track, having to buy a book 2 to find out. 

Rye was a complicated character who had been through a lot as a teenager and was completely down on his luck when he turned up in the small town of Garnet Run. I liked how despite the odds against him, he kept persevering and was eventually willing to accept help. 

Charlie was used to putting others first, especially his brother, and meeting Rye has him needing to deal with issues of his own he had pushed aside. I really felt for Charlie and loved how Rye was there for him and vice versa.

The addition of cats was cute, even if I'm a dog person myself, I can completely understand how these animals make such a difference in a persons life and are very helpful for people with mental health issues giving them something to focus on and love and get affection from. 

A really enjoyable read with plenty of emotions to deal with.
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*3.5 stars*

I was prepared to have mixed emotions about Best Laid Plans because my friends have wildly varying ratings for it, but I ended up enjoyed it. I didn't like it quite as much as Better Than People, but it was still a quiet, sweet read.

I think the pacing and the constant self-reflection may have been a stumbling block for many readers, and it did keep me from reading this book all at one clip. It feels a little bit like a prolonged therapy session, in a way, and you have to sort of get through that to enjoy the story. However, I enjoyed how the relationship slowly developed between Rye and Charlie, and I liked the interplay between the two of them. This isn't a light or airy story, and you have to wade through a lot of heavy feelings to get through the romance. It also isn't super angsty, just... dense, I would say.

Charlie's sexuality was interesting to me. I couldn't quite decide, in my head, if he fell somewhere in the gray-asexuality range or if his trauma just kept him from facing his feelings about sex, but it was interesting to have a main character where sex isn't front and center or easy. I enjoyed the dynamic of Rye and Charlie figuring out Charlie's preferences together, and exploring what they meant for both of them. Plus, spanking and hair pulling are always wins, in my book.

Personally, I'm really enjoying the Garnet Run series (plus, pets!), and I'm excited to see what else Roan Parrish has in store for us.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*
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Charlie was introduced in the first Garnet Run book, Better than People. His inability to keep from helping and hovering over his brother after his accident gave readers a glimpse into his protective personality. Getting into his head in Best Laid Plans helped to understand where that protective instinct came from.

Then there was Rye… beautifully broken Rye… *sigh* I knew exactly how Charlie felt about wanting to help him, even though he put up a huge wall of independence and defiance. Charlie was a force to be reckoned with and before long, Rye didn’t want to resist.

Things weren’t perfect though and at times Charlie’s protective streak was a bit much. I loved where the story went though and how both Rye and Charlie brought out the best in each other and helped mend a lifetime of pain. Charlie wasn’t quite as “unbroken” as he pretended to be and those are my favorite kind of characters.
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I think it's a sweet and entertaining story, it kept me hooked and I rooted for the characters.
I like the story and the characters.
Hope to read another book by this author soon, recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Sarah – ☆☆☆☆
This is the slow, sweet story of a young man who finally finds a place to belong. Rye has spent years moving between temporary homes, so he has nothing to lose when his grandfather leaves him a house in a small town. Charlie is Rye’s opposite. He has always had a home, but he’s given up hoping for someone to share his life with.

Fans of the author will remember Charlie as Jack’s brother in Better Than People. This book has much of the same feel to it as the first book. This is gentle realism. Charlie’s life is slow. He runs his family business in an isolated community. He feels much older than his years. Caring for his brother after their parents’ deaths has left him with an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Rye is a breath of Seattle hipster in Charlie’s life. The culture clash is instant, but so is the spark between them. Rye is desperate for a sense of belonging and Charlie needs someone to love.

The pet obsession continues in this book. Charlie and Rye don’t quite have Simon and Jack’s menagerie, but they are both devoted to their cats. Charlie and Rye are more sociable than Jack and Simon, but both are quiet men. This is a gentle romance that focuses on personal growth as Charlie and Rye restore Rye’s grandfather’s house together.

Roan Parrish always writes beautiful characters and relationships. This book is missing some of the exquisite prose I loved in the author’s first books, but it is still a compelling, satisfying read.

Angie – ☆☆☆
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, you can read this as a standalone though. Charlie and Rye are so sweet, there is a lot of miscommunication though. I kept waiting for this book to pick up the pace, but it was just slow and a tad bit boring. When the cats are the best part of the book for me, that's a little crazy. But Marmont was awesome – made me want a cat!
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Roan Parrish is one of my favorite authors, so I was excited to read Best Laid Plans – the second in the Garnet Run series. They’re companion novels, so you can skip the first if you really wish to. I read and liked Better Than People, but I loved Best Laid Plans even more. It follows Charlie Matheson and Rye Janssen. If you’ve read Better Than People, then you know Charlie as the brother of Jack. Most of Charlie’s adult life has been spent working hard and taking care of his brother since their parents passed. He never really allowed himself to explore his sexuality or fall in love. Not until Rye blows into town, having been left a dilapidated house from a grandfather he never knew.

I really loved the relationship between Rye and Charlie. Rye is used to hopping from couch to couch, never really settling down or feeling at home. He’s a bit prickly at first, but it doesn’t take him too long to realize that Charlie might be a bit bossy, but he means well and he genuinely wants to help. It was lovely seeing Charlie finally find someone for himself, after always talking care of others. I also really loved that they both have cats that became best friends! This is a good one for animal lovers – as is Better Than People! I’d read more about Rye and Charlie if it was an option.
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Charlie Matheson runs a hardware store in Garnet Run, Wyoming where he’s lived all of his life. He took it over when his parents died, right before he turned eighteen and became responsible for raising his younger brother. He put his dreams aside while he focused on Jack’s well being and education. Now that Jack is in a committed relationship and has a successful career, Charlie doesn’t see much beyond the one he has, which he shares with Jane, his Main coon cat. Then Rye Janssen walks into his store, all attitude, messy long hair and sexy gray eyes. Rye’s inherited a house from a grandfather he’s never met and is hoping his move from Seattle is the last chance he needs to start over. But the house is barely inhabitable and he’s clueless about home repair. When Charlie tries to help, his first reaction is to resist but eventually he gives in because YouTube videos just aren’t cutting it.

Charlie and Rye couldn’t be more different but they are similarly broken. Rye’s family rejected him and he’s broke and alone. Charlie has spent his life being the parent his brother needed and now doesn’t have the skills to pursue or manage a meaningful relationship for himself and it’s too late to do anything different. But somehow, these two found each other and muddle through not only developing a friendship but one that reaches deeper levels. Both see each others’ truths and learn to appreciate those qualities others rarely see. Charlie is the more even tempered and passive of the two while Rye’s straightforward nature just seems to work.

This was a beautiful love story between two people who wanted to be loved but never imagined it could ever happen. I liked how their differences actually worked to deepen and strengthened their relationship. They found family in each other and their cats, creating a partnership that transformed both of them. By the way, those cats were scene stealers! I listened to the story and loved how the narrator portrayed both characters. He seemed to get them and that came through resoundingly as I had vivid images of both. I very much enjoyed Charlie and Rye’s journey to happiness. It wasn’t perfect and that made it even better.
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When I want to recommend a book with great mental health representation I immediately go to Roan Parrish because she has yet to fail me in this area. Her books almost always have characters who have depression, anxiety, or panic attacks – or a combination of all three. And Best Laid Plans is no different – Charlie has a lot of anxiety, particularly around other people’s health. And every time he expressed that anxiety I felt it so hard because Parrish writes it so well.

Charlie intrigued me when he showed up in the first Garnet Run book as the older brother who had to step up to be the caretaker when his parents died. I was so glad to get his story and get to know more about him. He had to grow up incredibly quickly and understandably that’s impacted him his entire life. When Rye comes to town and wants to renovate a house he inherits Charlie steps in and goes a bit overboard with those intense caretaking tendencies he has.

There’s so much I love about this book that just outshines what I didn’t like. Charlie is a virgin hero, which normally I’m like…virginity is a social construct so who even cares and we put too much emphasis on this. But in this instance, it made so much sense for this character who put himself and his needs to the side so completely to have no idea what he even likes. There’s a really sweet exploration of his sexuality that Charlie gets to do in this book because he feels safe with Rye. He may be an adult, but he never got to find out who he really was and the author wasn’t heavy-handed with this at all.

Rye is pansexual and I felt like Parrish did a wonderful job of having Rye help Charlie through everything. There is this wonderful scene where Rye basically sits Charlie down and has him list out romantic and sexual acts and what he is and is not okay with. It was not awkward at all – okay Charlie felt awkward in the moment! – but it fit the book so well.

Both Rye and Charlie have emotional damage and feel an intense loneliness about their lives. Rye has a not so great family in his past and I really liked his storyline and how it incorporated teens in the area who also have a bad home life. I love how that storyline was wrapped up and that the theme of animals from book one was incorporated in this one too! And in the audiobook, the narrator totally did animal sounds and it was perfection lol. My one quibble with this book was that Charlie co-signed for a loan *incredibly* early and I was like WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!? I’m still thinking about it tbh.

But I love this book and this author. Now I need to go re-read her whole backlist again.

CW: past parental death, intrusive thoughts, parental neglect
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For Charlie Matheson, life has been essentially one long sacrifice. When he was 18, his parents were killed and he was left with the raising of his brother, Jack, and the running of the family hardware business. Even now, Charlie tends to spend his time caring for others rather than focusing on his own needs. He’s content and it’s enough that Jack has found a happily ever after with his boyfriend, Simon. And when Charlie meets Rye Janssen, his natural inclination to help rears its head.

For Rye Janssen, Garnet Run, Wyoming is the end of the line. He used his last bit of money to leave Seattle for a house left to him by a grandfather he never knew. But the house is on the verge of collapsing and Rye doesn’t have a clue what to do. When he meets Charlie at the local hardware store, he finds the man has plenty of ideas about how they might save the crumbling old house. At first, Rye sees Charlie as bossy and bulldozing his way into Rye’s life, but behind the bluff and bluster, Rye realizes Charlie desperately needs someone to take care of him. Convincing Charlie it’s okay to let his guard down may be even more work than rebuilding a house.

Best Laid Plans is the direct follow up to Better Than People in the Garnet Run series. I suppose these books could be read as standalones, but they work better when read together. When I initially reviewed Better Than People, Charlie struck me as such a sweet character and I was hoping the author would give Charlie his own story, so I was thrilled when this book came along.

Charlie has spent his entire adult life either caring for his brother or trying to keep the family business solvent. He hasn’t pursued any kind of relationship or even allowed himself to think such a thing is possible. Initially, it seemed as though Rye was going to be another person Charlie was destined to take care of. But Rye realizes that Charlie is desperate for affection, for something other than the rigid world he has created for himself. Their romance was sweet and warm and tentative, just as you’d expect when one of the characters is a virgin and so blind to his own needs he has no idea how to express himself. Rye’s character isn’t quite as dimensional as Charlie, but he still feels believable. Rye and Charlie just work and, while their moment of conflict read as far-fetched, I still appreciated their journey.

 also appreciated that Jack was called out a bit for failing to see all that Charlie had done for him. He came off as being somewhat insensitive towards Charlie’s help in Better Than People. Here at least Rye calls him out and while Jack has been appreciative for all of Charlie’s sacrifices, it’s clear he didn’t know or care to know the true depth of them. The pacing issues that tripped up Better Than People are not present here for the most part and while there were a few laggy moments, I felt the book flowed well overall.

Best Laid Plans was an excellent follow up to Better Than People and in many ways surpassed it. Charlie and Rye are a great couple and they work together wonderfully. I enjoyed getting more of Charlie’s story and if you enjoyed Better Than People, then you’ll love the follow up.
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I really loved Charlie and Rye even though they are very different from each other they just worked together. Both are a bit broken but in different ways. Rye was rejected by his family and left home when he was young. Charlie's parent's died and he spent his life being a parent for his brother, responsible and had given up his dreams to take care of others. Rye is prickly and Charlie has a savior complex but they manage to become friends and the beginning of a beautiful relationship is formed. There are also a couple of adorable cats in the book (and I'm not a cat person). Both Charlie and Rye have faults but the other not only sees them for who they are but appreciates qualities that other people either don't see or don't really understand. Both Charlie and Rye want to be loved they just don't believe it will happen and in Charlie's case, he has no idea how to go about it. I loved when Rye stood up for Charlie and opened his brother's eyes on a few things. The epilogue was a bit drawn out for me but over all I really enjoyed this one and of course I loved seeing the MC's from book one.
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4.5 Stars

Charlie Matheson has never had a life of his own. He may be deep into his 30s but he went from 18 year old on the verge of leaving his hometown for college football glory to raising his sullen little brother, Jack, in an instant when their parents were killed in a wreck. Charlie gave up his dreams that day, though he's not sad about it. Now that Jack is grown, college-educated and living his best life with a loving, if shy, partner, Charlie wonders if he's just going to die alone, in the rut his life has become. See, Charlie is a fixer. He knows how to pick up the pieces of a shattered home or life and keep on enduring until things work out. That's why his legacy hardware store is the best one in several counties. And that's how he notices the new man in town, and all the messes he's making buying repair materials for a job he's not nearly qualified to attempt.

Rye Janssen never knew his grandfather--barely knows his own parents truth be told--and has been on his own since his late teens. Life in Seattle is expensive and he's about to lose his current sub-let shelter when he gets an unexpected call: his grandfather in rural Garnet Run, Wyoming, has left him a house. It seems too good to be true, and it is. The house is a shambles, not fit for habitation, but like the stray cat Rye adopts, it's all he currently has. And, once he establishes that the overly helpful hardware store guy, Charlie, isn't out to humiliate him he's not too proud to accept the freely given and incredibly necessary help--and living quarters AND job--that Charlie is able to provide.  
It's amazing what some well-meant advice can do for both men, and as they share Charlie's neat and homey abode, it's clear that Rye has experience he's more than willing to share--once they are able to confront Charlie's huge shame, that he's a virgin, unsure of his own desires, or attractiveness. Oh wow! I was so blown away with the tender and loving situation that develops between these two. Charlie's struggle to articulate his desire is endearing to Rye. For the first time his life someone finds him worthwhile, and it's heady, being the focus of Charlie's earnest attention. Their romance has some hitches as both men struggle to discover what it means to be a boyfriend, or to be intimate. Their cats are more at ease then they are with one another, which is fun to see. I also loved the deeper connections that Charlie makes with his brother Jack, who has by  default treated him like a parent, more than a brother. Both grown, they are able to make healthier choices in their relationship, once Rye shines a light on some of their unacknowledged dysfunction.

I honestly loved his book from beginning to end, connecting with both Rye and Charlie and experiencing their struggles like I was along for the ride. Each time Charlie coaxed Rye into making a good choice, or Rye's care took a burden from Charlie's shoulders was a moment to cherish. Rye is so fun in his young curmudgeon-y attitude that life is always going to be terrible, especially as he sees it's no match for Charlie's can-do, make-do, patient spirit and gumption. There are moments of sexytimes, but they are fraught with the tension that Charlie exists in, not wanting to ever mess things up, because he's used to dire stakes and its hard for him to let that anxiety go. Rye does great work getting Charlie out of his head, and helping him see that mistakes are okay, too, because we learn from them and grow. The house that he and Rye rebuild is a perfect metaphor for their own relationship, that it's harder than they ever dreamed, and probably going to cost them everything, but in the end it's a beacon of hope and light and love that even the townsfolk can all support. I'd move to Garnet Run just to see these guys find the happiness they so deserve.
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[Thanks Netgalley for the ebook. This review is my honest opinion but just another opinion, you should read this book and judge it by yourself]


3'5 estrellitas
Como le haré reseña en el blog, no me voy a extender. Tenía muchas ganas de leer el libro de Charlie y, si bien a él lo he adorado, todo me ha parecido un poco flojo. Está bien escrito porque Roan Parrish escribe estupendamente, pero a veces ni lo mejor escrito funciona si lo que está pasando no te atrapa. La historia entre Charlie y Rye es dulce y bonita pero le falta tensión y emoción. De todos modos, es una lectura dulce y cuqui que se lee bien.
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I enjoyed the previous book in this series, and was pleased when I learned that big-hearted, slightly awkward Charlie Matheson would be getting a story.  Better Than People was warm and lovely, with a well-developed romance and well-rounded characters, and I’d hoped for more of the same here – but while there are glimpses of that warmth and loveliness, there’s not enough to hide the fact that the characterisation is sketchy and the plot is practically non-existent.  There are lots of sweet moments between the two leads and I liked certain aspects of their relationship, but the whole thing is patchy and not on a par with the other books I’ve read/listened to by this author.

Best Laid Plans opens as Rye Janssen, unemployed and recently homeless, is driving from Seattle to Wyoming. He’d been couch-surfing with friends since he was evicted from his apartment, and when he got a phone call, completely out of the blue, from a lawyer telling him he’d inherited a house from a grandfather he’d never met, Rye thought must be a prank.  But he soon realises it isn’t, and although it means leaving the only place he’s ever really called home, he packs up his few belongings (the most precious of which is his cat, Marmot) gets in his hunk-o-junk car, and off he goes.  When he finally arrives, tired after a long drive, the misgivings he’d been harbouring about leaving Seattle  come back in full force; the house is in such a terrible state of disrepair, it’s a wonder it’s still standing.

But turning around and going back to Seattle just isn’t an option, so Rye decides to fix up the house – somehow – and the following day (and after looking up some ‘how-to’ videos on You Tube) drives to the hardware store in Garnet Run to buy what he needs.

Charlie Matheson (brother of Jack from Better Than People) is one of life’s natural caretakers and truly does love to help people.  When Rye first turns up in the store, Charlie is immediately struck by just how gorgeous he is; although as he soon discovers, the man’s prickly, standoffish manner doesn’t match his swoonworthy looks.  He’s itching to help because that’s kind of what Charlie does, but he’s also really concerned for Rye’s safety.  After a few days of watching Rye come and go with a new mountain of purchases each time, Charlie finally manages to get him to agree to let him take a look around the place. It’s an uphill struggle; Rye doesn’t trust easily and has become so used to doing everything for himself that he finds it hard to let go and accept help.  But eventually he comes to see that Charlie really does want to help for no other reason than that he… wants to help, and from there, their friendship starts to take off.

The book gets off to a good start, but things start to derail not long afterwards. Before long, I was scratching my head asking myself how an adult with any pretension to common sense could think it would be possible to fix up a house in the state described a) on his own and b) at minimal cost.  We’re told Rye is broke, so how does he buy all the stuff from Charlie’s store?   But basically, after Rye has got over his scowly-leave-me-alone phase as far as Charlie and accepting help are concerned, it’s pretty much plain sailing. Rye gets a bank loan with spectacular ease. The renovations go well.  Rye (who has temporarily moved into Charlie’s place) and Charlie become a couple with ease, too, falling into a relationship without there being any real consideration given to the massive power imbalance of Charlie supporting Rye financially.

Charlie is a big teddy-bear with anxiety issues who genuinely likes helping people, but his life has been far from easy.  Probably the best thing about the book is the way the author explores the effect being burdened with huge responsibilities at a young age can have on a person.  My heart really hurt for Charlie when the full extent of what his life had been and what he’d given up and missed out on became apparent; that he’d had to become an adult and a parent when he was still grieving and was little more than a child himself, and how he wasn’t able to experience young adulthood – college, dating, finding out about yourself – in the way that most of his contemporaries did.  I liked Charlie’s relationship with Jack and how it changed  – even though it took Rye saying some rather harsh home-truths to get there.

As I said at the beginning, the romance is underdeveloped.  I couldn’t quite see what Rye and Charlie saw in each other beyond their obvious physical attraction to one another, and they didn’t seem particularly sexually compatible either. Apart from some teenaged fumbling years ago, Charlie has never had sex or been in a relationship and has no idea how to go about it;  so it’s up to Rye to take the lead there, which he does, while paying careful attention to Charlie’s wants and needs, which is all well and good. But the sex scenes, while steamy enough, sort of appear out of nowhere, and I was surprised at the direction they took considering Charlie’s inexperience. (YMMV of course).  And the other big problem overall is that there is practically zero conflict in the book.  Rye and Charlie have a small fight in the latter part of the novel that is sorted out a few pages later – which might be how it sometimes goes in life, but it makes for a rather dull romance novel.

And then there’s what Rye decides to do with his house, as he’s going to live with Charlie for good. This veers into spoiler territory, so if you don’t want to know, then look away now.

He decides to turn it into a cat shelter. Now, I LUURVE cats – I am absolutely a cat person –  but even the presence of a gorgeous Maine Coon (*sigh*) and cute, shoulder-perching moggy didn’t mean that I wanted to read several chapters (the last quarter of the book, give or take) about building and opening a cat shelter.

I had started to feel, earlier on, that there wasn’t enough substance to the story in this one to fill a full-length book, and that just confirmed it.

I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did, and the parts I did like just couldn’t make up for the lacklustre plot and thin characterisation. Sadly, Best Laid Plans is a miss, which saddens me, because I’m a fan of Roan Parrish’s work.  I’ll just have to hope for better next time.

C / 3 stars
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