by Leta Nolan Childers, contemporary (1999)
DiskUs Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 0-9667995-4-2
DiskUs Publishing still claims that the late Leta Nolan Childers' The Best Laid Plans was the biggest bestseller in 1999 and 2000 while I've come across some credible-looking online sources that actually claim this is the biggest selling ebook ever, clocking in about 6,000 copies sold back in year 2000. I wonder whether this book is still the biggest selling ebook ever since I've heard that some publishers like Ellora's Cave are raking in the money so it could be likely that some ebooks have outsold The Best Laid Plans in the recent years.
This book is in a way quite a legend because it was used back in those days by people as evidence that ebooks will be so popular that all those publishers in New York will pay and pay and pay some more for their years of making aspiring authors unhappy. The ebook industry has changed since then. It seems to be Porn or POD (print on demand) nowadays when it comes to independent publishing. While there are many ebook publishers nowadays churning out furry/vampire romantic eroticas like nobody's business, self-publishing is becoming more widespread, although distribution, price, and quality control can be problematic when it comes to self-publishing. We rarely get ebooks like Leta Nolan Childers' The Best Laid Plans anymore since I don't think many publishers will want to publish this kind of stuff unless the hero is rewritten into a werewolf and some scenes are cut out in favor for more sex scenes.
On the other hand, perhaps it's for the best that books with the quality of The Best Laid Plans are not as common as they could have been once upon a time because this book will make one go, "Oh, if this is the kind of crock they are selling back in those days, no wonder the ebook industry didn't take off like it was expected to!" This book is a textbook example of what a romantic comedy should not be: the main characters revel in behaving like idiots for the sake of cheap laughs and therefore this story is an unrelenting experience in being bombarded in the head with non-stop idiocy.
Jane Sorensen is a burnt-out author. Uh oh, that is a red light given how romance authors tend to be the first to depict their profession in the worst light possible and I should have heeded the red light, stop the car, so to speak, get out of it, and run in terror in the opposite direction. She needs to recharge the muse, blah blah blah, so this Ms City Gal Who Can't Camp Outdoors decides that it will be great to head over to a cabin in the Adirondacks to recharge her muse. At least on Survivor, those bimbos who can't do anything on their own in the wilderness are hoping to win a million dollars. I don't know what Jane's excuse is. Her publisher Reginald Graham's plan is to get Jane to his cabin so that she can meet his son Hunter and those two will then have sex and give Reginald plenty of babies.
Now, I don't know about you, but if I want to matchmake my son with someone else, I will ask him to be on his best behavior, dress his best, and charm that woman. I will not ask him to pretend to be Tarzan wearing only a loincloth to charge into the cabin like he's at least two centuries behind in following his fellow apes in the evolutionary trail from simian to Homo sapiens, like Reginald does with Hunter. But never mind, this is what the story is all about: the characters are unapologetically stupid and they never falter. Jane is irrational in her man-hating trip while Hunter is so ridiculous that he's a walking Johnny Bravo. These two shout, yell, shriek, and misunderstand each other so often that it's a wonder they can even agree that they should try to get back at Reginald for trying to meddle with their lives. That is, when they are not running around acting like they are blessed with the intelligence of a slime ooze. Reginald is so invested in the lives of other people that he comes off as too creepy too often.
A part of me that is not dry heaving in disbelief has to admire the way the author is so good-natured and so confident in her belief that her characters and her story are on the right track. I'm sure some people will share her beliefs, especially, I suspect, fans of romance stories by Eugenia Riley and other authors who operate on the principle that if a character behaving stupid can make people laugh, then it is better to have ten characters behaving ten kinds of stupid from start to end.
The Best Laid Plans will always have a place in the history of ebook publishing since it was, after all, one of the most successful ebooks in its time. It will also be a Ripley's Believe It Or Not matter for me because I have no idea how a book this horrible can sell so many copies. When it comes to The Best Laid Plans, my reaction after finishing it is: oh, I'd best go lie down now.
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