When Alice receives a call about an unexpected windfall, she’s stunned to learn the gift is a falling-apart-at-the-seams old Wild West B&B she once considered home—and she’s inherited it along with two strangers. Except they weren’t always strangers. Once upon a time, they were friends. One is her ex-BFF Lauren. The other is Knox, the only guy to ever break her heart, all while never even knowing she existed.
It turns out their lives are unknowingly entangled because they once separately helped the same woman without expecting anything in return. Years later, Alice, Lauren, and Knox are broken in their own way, with their own history—and secrets— causing them to start out on the wrong foot with each other. But according to the will, they must renovate and be partners in the inn for one year or else lose their inheritance.
Stuck together, they make a list of rules to keep the peace—rules that end up doing the opposite, but by some miracle they find what they didn’t even know they were looking for—acceptance, true friendship, and in a case (or two!), true love.
I was a tiny bit apprehensive going into this book because the last time Shalvis wrote a friends coming back together after a rift type storyline, it didn’t work at all with me, so I kept putting off and putting it off, until I didn’t. THIS IS A REALLY GREAT STORY KIDS!
This story has three main arcs, at least that’s my interpretation, with a sprinkle of other goodness. We have the friendship growth and re-development of our trio, and we have the romance journey (okay, the main one lol) of two of our trio and we also have the individual growth of our trio. Off the cuff, that might sound like a lot to tackle in any book let alone a book that isn’t 600 pages. But this is what Jill Shalvis was put on this earth to do and she did it spectacularly with The Backup Plan!! Shalvis expertly intertwined all the things without taking focus off of any one thing, and it just made for one of those happy reads that puts you in a zone for hours and before you know it it’s done!
I’ve wanted to live in Sunrise Cove and be a part of its community since the series began and with every story my love grows for the people exponentially! I want to be their friend and neighbor and just be a part of the happiness! *happy sigh* But alas, it’s a fictional town so I settle for getting lost in it for a few hours with every story Shalvis adds to it!
“Wow.” Lauren leaned back against her car. “You actually showed up. I’m shocked.”And obviously not the good kind of shocked.
Lauren drew a deep breath, like just looking at Alice pained her. “The last time I saw you,” she said, “you made it quite clear that you were never ever coming back.”
Yep, Alice had definitely said that, and a whole lot more. She’d said and done some horrible and unforgivable things, and the pain in her chest told her she wasn’t going to escape her own demons anytime soon. “I can’t do this, not right now.”
“Or ever, right?” Lauren asked.
Truth was truth. “Look, we’ve got a lot to figure out here, and we can’t do that if we’re fighting. Let’s just do what we’re here to do. For Eleanor.”
“You know how I feel about Eleanor.”
Yes, and Alice knew why too. “And yet you came.”
“I had to.” A little bit of Lauren’s carefully neutral facade crumbled as she searched Alice’s gaze. “I have questions.”
Questions Alice hoped to avoid.
Lauren pulled off her sunglasses. “So you still like to avoid talking about any real problem, especially between us.”
Alice laughed roughly. “The real problem between us is that Will is dead.” Something she still blamed herself for. “But you’re right, it’s not something I want to talk about, especially with you, and—”
And shit. Lauren’s eyes went suspiciously shiny, causing guilt and grief to slam into Alice. “See, this is why we can’t do this.” Rocked by the emotions battering at her, she spun on a heel toward the front door, noticing for the first me the nice, brand-sparkling-new dark gray Chevy truck parked off to the side. Perfect, because she could guess who it belonged to—the third inheritor. Even as she thought it, the front door of the inn opened, and there Knox Rawlings stood in the doorway, casual as you please.
Alice, head still spinning from seeing Lauren, stopped dead in her tracks, her brain skidding to a complete halt. Apparently her feet too, because Lauren plowed into her back.
Giving her a dirty look, Lauren moved around her and kept going.
Not Alice. Her feet had turned into cement blocks. She’d expected Knox to be here. She’d warned herself, promised her awkward inner tomboy teenager that certainly he’d have lost his easy, effortless, charismatic charm by now, that maybe he’d also grown out of those good, rugged looks as well, hopefully having gained a beer belly and lost some hair, and maybe also a few teeth.
But nope, none of the above.
Knox was six-feet-plus of lean muscles and testosterone, and damn, of course he’d gotten better with me. Alice, on the other hand, felt like a train wreck. She could only hope he didn’t remember her as the creeper teen, four years his junior, who’d once spent every free second she had spying on him as he worked for Eleanor too.
Lauren hit the front steps first, swiping at her tears. Alice followed, fighting her own. Stupid sympathy crying gene.
“I’m so sorry,” Lauren murmured to Knox. “It’s awful to meet you under these circumstances. I’m Lauren Scott.”
“Knox Rawlings,” he said and turned to Alice with absolutely zero recognition in his eyes.
Just what she’d wanted, so why did that irritate her? Ordering her feet to move, she promised herself ice cream, cookies, pies, whatever, as long as she moved with grace and confidence. Lots of confidence.
Instead, she tripped over a loose rock and had to catch herself. Stupid feet. “Alice Moore,” she managed, as if she were completely calm. But the truth was, she’d not been calm a single day in her life. “Maybe we could get out of the crazy storm and get this over with?” With that, she brushed past them both and into the inn.
She got a few feet into the wide-open living room, but before she could process her emotions, she was greeted by a huge, scruffy brown mut, who ran straight at her with exuberance.
“Pickle,” Knox said calmly behind her, and the dog scrambled to a stop, sing politely in front of Alice, tail swishing back and forth on the floor, a wide smile on his face.
She melted. It was her heart, it beat for animals. Her heart was as stupid as her feet.
“Meet Pickle,” Knox said. “When I rescued him, he went by Tiny, but for obvious reasons the name didn’t stick.”
Alice looked the dog over, a good hundred pounds past “tiny,” and let out a choked laugh.
Pickle lifted his head back and “woo wooed” at the ceiling.
“He’s sensitive about his size.” Knox ruffled the top of his head fondly. “When I first got him, he was skinny and sick and, well, tiny. Good thing he loves food. Oh, and if you’re ever eating a pickle, be prepared to share. He lives for them.”
Alice absolutely refused to be moved that he’d rescued a dog.
“Oh my God.” Lauren stopped in the doorway behind Alice and gasped dramatically. “Tell me that’s not a dog. Tell me it’s a bear or something.”
“Okay, he’s a bear,” Knox said. “Or something.”
Lauren sneezed and backed up, right into the wall while pointing at Pickle.
“That’s a dog!”
They all looked at the oversize scruffy fur ball.
“I mean, it’s kinda hard to tell the difference, isn’t it?” Alice asked.
Pickle gently headbutted Knox’s hand, asking for love. Knox obligingly bent down to hug him, and Pickle licked his face in thanks.
Lauren, looking like she was afraid she’d be next, tried to back up some more, but she was already against the wall.
“He’s harmless,” Knox assured her. “I rescued him from Puerto Rico last year on a job site. He’d have ended up on death row.”
“Okay, that’s very sweet,” Lauren said. “But maybe he could wait in the car, since I’m deathly allergic.”
“It’s a phobia,” Alice said. “A well-founded one, but it’s definitely not an allergy.”
Lauren gave her a keep-talking-and-die look. “I’m allergic.” And then, as if to prove it, she sneezed three times in a row.
“I hear if you do that seven times, it’s as good as an orgasm,” Alice said.
Lauren narrowed her eyes, but before she could respond, Knox spoke. “I had him tested for breed. He’s a Samoyed, and Samoyeds are hypoallergenic.”
“Wuff!” Pickle said, clearly proud of himself.
Lauren tried to back up some more, but a wall was . . . well, a wall. “If he’s hypoallergenic, why am I still sneezing?”
“Because you got bit by your dad’s evil girlfriend’s dog when you were ten,” Alice said. “I’d be afraid too.”
“I’m not afraid!”
Knox stepped between Lauren and Pickle. “I promise, you’re safe with Pickle. He’s never bien anyone. He can be shy, but that’s because he’s a rescue. He’s actually drawn to shy people.”
“I’m not shy. Nor am I scared of dogs.”
Alice raised a brow and nudged her chin in the direction of Lauren’s hands. Which were now gripping Alice’s arm tight.
“Whatever,” Lauren said, jerking her hands off Alice. “I’m a grown woman. And I’m not scared of dogs!”
Uh-huh. And the tooth fairy was real. Alice dropped to her knees and opened her arms. Pickle walked right into them, nuzzled his face at her neck, and she promptly died and went to heaven. “Oh, look at you,” she murmured. “So handsome. So sweet.”
“Okay, all of that, but he’s not going to stay, right?” Lauren asked, her voice registering at least three octaves higher than normal.
Alice wouldn’t mind if Pickle stayed, but hoped Knox would go, for no reason other than just looking at him reminded her of a me she didn’t want to think about.
Knox patted his leg, and Pickle immediately deserted Alice for his numero uno. Both man and dog turned to the door. “You going to leave?” Alice asked hopefully. “What a shame. A terrible, horrible, no-good shame.”
Knox gave her a long, unreadable look. “I’m putting Pickle in my truck and coming right back. But nice to know where you stand.”