The Backup Plan, by Sherryl Woods

>> Tuesday, July 05, 2011

TITLE: The Backup Plan
AUTHOR: Sherryl Woods

COPYRIGHT: 2005
PAGES: 384
PUBLISHER: Mira

SETTING: Contemporary US (Charleston)
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: Starts a trilogy

It's finally time for Dinah Davis to go home. The world-weary correspondent wants to settle down with the sweet guy she left behind in South Carolina's Low Country. Instead, she's confronted by his black-sheep brother, and—despite her longing for serenity—sparks fly.

How can she possibly trade her perfectly safe backup plan for a risk-taking guy like Cordell Beaufort after all the dangers she's already faced? But to Dinah's dismay—backup plan or not—her heart has its own ideas.
Dinah Davis defied her Southern Belle upbringing to become one of the US's top war correspondents. She was at the top of her game when a horrible attack in Afghanistan killed the man she loved right in front of her, and left her terrified of the work she used to love. Her work suffers (obviously) and faced with the knowledge that the network's pushing for her to take a leave of absence, Dinah decides to quit and go home to Charleston.

Why go back to Charleston? Well, for a reason that made me wonder whether I wanted to keep reading the book. Dinah tells herself that she's going back to her old boyfriend, Bobby. Dinah and Bobby broke up when she went off to university. She wanted adventure and to explore the world, Bobby didn't. However, before Dinah left, they made one of those "only in a rom-com" deals: if they were both unattached by the time they turned 30, they'd get married. Dinah loved Bobby back then, but wasn't in love with him. Still, that sounds good enough to her now, so off she goes. Problem is, she just can't find Bobby, mostly because his big brother, Cordell, won't tell her where he is.

There's no way Cord is going to help Dinah find his brother. Cord has been crazy about Dinah for years. He even tried to break them up when they were teens, and he's still ready to play dirty in order to have Dinah for himself. But it turns out that the main obstacle he faces is not Bobby, but the fact that Dinah is not all right, and it's going to take hard work on all sides for her to get over what happened to her in Afghanistan.

The Backup Plan was a bit of a mixed bag. I liked a lot of it, but I had one pretty big problem, and her name was Dinah. She was just unconvincing. Try as I might, I found it really hard to believe that this woman had actually been a war correspondent. I guess my assumption is that to do a job like that, pretty much by definition, you need to be adventurous and able not to sweat the small stuff. And after a few years of doing it (and right at the top of the field, too), you've probably seen it all.

Dinah didn't seem like that sort of person at all. I guess the non-adventurousness part of it is fair enough, because she does have PTSD. Some of her reactions, however, were old ladyish and missish in the extreme. She would react with purse-lipped disapproval to things as scandalous as her friend Maggie participating in a charity auction and bidding for a date with Cord a few months earlier. Really? That shocks her? She also seems to have had any journalistic instincts surgically removed. After she runs into Cord again, all she does for days and days is make assumptions about who he is and what he does. Of course, just by looking at him, she knows he's still undependable and a good-for-nothing layabout, and why, oh, why, does he not tell her where Bobby is? Yep, the award-winning journalist doesn't think of even googling the man for days and runs around getting herself all flustered when Cord just won't do what she asks. See what I mean about her making an unconvincing journalist?

The whole thing with Bobby didn't help, either, as it was just stupid. Unnecessary, as well. Woods didn't need it at all to set up the conflicts in the book. She's got a perfectly good reason why Dinah would be resistant to Cord (I wouldn't trust a guy who lied about me sleeping with other guys, so that my boyfriend would break up with me, either). She's got Dinah's PTSD for her to get over. Why all the faffing about with Bobby?

Oh, dear, it sounds from the above like I hated this book! I didn't, really. Yes, Dinah often annoyed the bloody hell out of me, but there's quite a lot of things to love here, as well. Cord is one of those things. He's supposed to be this bad boy, and he certainly looks the part, but he's actually one of the most nurturing heroes I've read in a while. I also found it quite thrilling (in a guilty pleasure kind of way) that he was so determined to have Dinah that he was willing to play a bit dirty. Not too dirty, mind you, but why should he tell Bobby Dinah's in town before he has a good try at winning her over?

I also liked that Dinah's psychological issues, which are very real and are having a big effect on her, is not cured by luuurve. She actually needs to seek professional help, and even then, there's no magic cure. It takes time and hard work before she's even a little bit better. That was really good.

There's a bit of a secondary storyline featuring Dinah's parents, whose longtime marriage is getting stale. I loved the way they finally start communicating throughout this story, and the way they work to make their relationship exciting again.

MY GRADE: A B-.

1 comments:

Marg,  6 July 2011 03:07  

I never used to think I was a contemporary romance reader but the last year has changed that for me! I have been thinking about reading this author, but I need to look at how long the series is etc.

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