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Best Laid Plans    by Constance O'Day-Flannery order for
Best Laid Plans
by Constance O'Day-Flannery
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2006 (2006)
*   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Christine Dobbins couldn't be happier with her life. She has a job she enjoys and has been partnered with Charlie for seven great years. She's certain their happiness has been achieved by approaching their relationship as a business arrangement - one they meticulously review each year. They agreed at the outset that if either of them ever felt discontent with their situation, all they need do is opt out and walk away. But when Christine arrives home one day and finds Charlie doing just that, she's devastated.

Enter her group of supportive friends who immediately rally round Christine in her time of need. While she falls into acute despondency over Charlie's betrayal - and yes a lot of self-doubt about her ability to keep Charlie happy - they convince her to take a self-indulgent vacation to an exclusive resort and hook up with a male escort who will see to her every need. Unfortunately, when Christine throws out her back just when things get interesting, she's mortified and certain she's a complete loser.

She eventually puts the incident behind her and throws herself into her work as a realtor. When various big-ticket sales go off without a hitch and earnings start rolling in for Christine and her assistant, she's ecstatic. Now that she has a bit of extra cash, she's finally able to do some renovating around her condo. When sexy contractor Daniel Burns completes the work for her, Christine's life does another one eighty-degree turn. Not only does he refuse payment, Christine finds herself incredibly attracted to the serene and well-spoken man. In short order she's shocked to discover that he's not even human, but rather a being from another dimension that she herself has unknowingly summoned in her dreams to help her sort out her life - and eventually discover her true destiny within this particular human dimension.

The theme seems to be an amalgam of in-your-face-feminism, generic New Age theories, belief in self, God and angels - and in achieving a higher realm of existence by doing good deeds. Readers who enjoy these themes will appreciate Christine's story as she tries to attain a new sense of being and enlightenment under Daniel's tutelage. Unfortunately I couldn't buy into this mish-mash of ideas and found the situations in which Christine found herself forced and unbelievable.

The author does do a nice job with her characterizations of Christine and her successful support system of friends, but even the various scenes where her friends rally to Christine's support when her life crashes and/or her best laid plans fall short lose their punch as they too deteriorate into a series of life-affirming lectures. Best Laid Plans is the first in the author's new Guardian series.

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