Book Review: Plan Overboard by Heather Wardell

The much-anticipated sequel to ALL AT SEA brings back Melissa and the trio of brothers that vied for her heart, and a brand new heroine to root for in Corinne Kostopoulos.

All Corinne has ever wanted was the role of clarinetist for the Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra. The clarinet, and working to master it, is all she has left of her father, who abandoned the family when she was a little girl. But after failing to clinch an open spot in a heated audition, her life-plan soon goes overboard. Not only does she break up with her longtime boyfriend, Clay, she also makes a decision that will alter her destiny in ways she never imagined...

After a medical procedure and a couple of months of changing everything in her life, a pregnant Corinne meets Melissa and her gorgeous flirt of a brother-in-law, Austin, on a cruise. The heat of the Caribbean sun soon combines with a mutual attraction to create a sizzling connection neither Corinne nor Austin can deny. But when the truth comes out about Corinne's condition, will lifelong playboy Austin man up? Or will Corinne's hope for a future beyond a shipboard romance prove yet another PLAN OVERBOARD?
Release Date: May 28, 2014
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli
I'm one of Heather Wardell's biggest fans: I've followed her writing for years, read all of her books and I had the tremendous honor of writing the cover blurb for her last book. I've loved all of Heather's books, with Plan Overboard being one of my favorites to date.  I think this is because I identified so completely with Corinne: we're both planners (big-time planners, in fact), mothers, and instinctively inflexible people.  Like Corinne, motherhood has softened me up and made me slightly more flexible, although it's still a struggle for me.

I love the fact that sequels provide a glimpse of favorite characters from previous novels living out their happily ever afters.  Melissa and Nicholas were such a cute couple in All At Sea, and I was so happy to see their relationship flourish in Plan Overboard.  Even better was the fact that Corinne becomes friends with Melissa, Nicholas, and Nicholas' brother, Austin.  

Corinne and Austin have an instant attraction to each other, and start a friendship that soon blossoms into romance.  Both understand that the relationship is temporary and that when the cruise ends, they'll both go back to their normal lives.  For Austin, this is his modus operandi: his mother takes he and his brothers on a cruise yearly.  Every year, he has at least one relationship while on the trip.  This fact is well-known and even joked about among his family members.  As for Corinne, she has her life planned out to the smallest detail (written in a spiral notebook, no less---so me) and her plan does not include a man.  She doesn't expect or really want to fall in love at this point in her life, and therefore is surprised at the intensity of her feelings for Austin. 

The fleeting nature of Corinne and Austin's relationship belies the fact that it is life-changing for both of them.  The cruise ends, but their story is far from over.  I expected the cruise to take up a major portion of the book, and while it was essential to the story, the majority of Plan Overboard takes place after the cruise.  I liked that Plan Overboard is Corinne's story, more so than Wardell's previous books where the male and female leads share the spotlight.  The focus on Corinne allowed for loads of character growth, which is my favorite thing to read about.  I loved Corinne's journey of following her dreams and how she slowly surrenders to an unexpected happiness.

Wardell writes with her usual steady pace: describing her characters' daily lives, but in an interesting and inventive way.  I liked that Plan Overboard encompasses nearly a year's time, with not every day individually described, of course, but with plenty of details along with some jumps forward in time.  I don't mind it when books move forward in time if the author can adeptly describe what happened in the lapse, and Wardell does this skillfully (as usual!).

My favorite aspect of Plan Overboard was the way Corinne found happiness.  I loved how she slowly changed over the course of the story, opening herself up to surprises and changing her long-held belief systems about her parents, her dreams, her career, and herself as a person.  Austin does plenty of growing as well, but it was Corinne's growth that resonated so strongly with me. 

I finished Plan Overboard feeling happy, pleased with the perfectly befitting ending, and inspired to do some "letting go" of my own.  Wardell's done it again: written a book that draws me in from page one, makes me laugh, cry and leaves me feeling both introspective and inspired to make changes in my own life.   

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