About That Man

After Tex

Along Came Trouble

Amazing Gracie

The Cowgirl and the Unexpected Wedding

Destiny Unleashed

Flamingo Diner

A Love beyond Words

Michaelís Discovery


The Unclaimed Baby

The Backup Plan by Sherryl Woods
(Mira, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-7783-2149-5
The introductory letter indicates that The Backup Plan is Sherryl Woodsís 100th book; itís the first one Iíve read. Itís also the first book in a new trilogy set in South Carolina. While I enjoyed some things about the book, itís not a particularly memorable romance.

After one too many dangerous assignments, TV journalist Dinah Davis suffers from post-tramatic stress syndrome and her work suffers because of it. After a few months, her boss encourages her to take time off. Dinah quits her job and returns home to South Carolina.

Once she arrives, she wants to find Bobby Beaufort, her backup plan. He was Dinahís high-school sweetheart, but she broke up with him 10 years earlier when she left to pursue her career in journalism. Before Dinah left, Bobby told her to come back anytime, and if they werenít married, they could pick up where they left off.

The backup plan doesnít turn out the way Dinah expects. Although she looks for Bobby several times, she keeps finding his brother, Cordell (Cord), instead. Thatís just the way Cord likes it. Heís always wanted Dinah, even when she was dating Bobby. For her part, Dinah has always been more comfortable with Bobby but finds herself increasingly attracted to Cord.

The Backup Plan has an interesting premise that ends up being bogged down by indirect maneuvering. Dinah is depressed about the incident that led to her resignation and about what she will do with her life. She is uncommunicative; although her parents, Cord, and her friend Maggie ask whatís wrong, she canít bring herself to talk about it. This results in a number of conversations where the characters talk to everyone except Dinah. Her mother talks to Cord and asks him to make sure she gets out now and then. Cord talks to Maggie to find out what she knows about the situation. Their concern is understandable since Dinah refuses to talk about what is troubling her. But all the circuitous discussion slows the story down.

When people talk to Dinah, they either wonít tell her what she needs to know or end up pressing her about whatís wrong. For example, Maggie and Cord both know that thereís a potential glitch with the backup plan but neither will tell Dinah what it is. As for the latter scenario, Cord takes Dinah to dinner where he keeps asking questions. This, along with other similar scenes, was frustrating.

About halfway through the book, however, Cord stops interrogating Dinah and provides steady support instead. In a few wonderfully sweet scenes, he drops everything to be with her when she needs him. The most compelling part of the book comes when Dinah comes to terms with the traumatic incident that led her to quit her job.

The Backup Plan has its share of interesting and sweet moments, but the sheer number of conflicts in the novel makes it difficult to develop the romance. The result is a read thatís both interesting and frustrating.

--Alyssa Hurzeler

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