"THE BACKUP PLAN is classic new adult at its finest. With plenty of angst, drama and emotion, I seriously loved this romance!” ~ NYT bestselling author Monica Murphy
I’m beyond help...
I threw a football before I could walk. Everything in my life revolved around football–and I loved every second. I was a star. Until, suddenly...I wasn’t. Now everyone thinks I’m the monster who killed his best friend. I’m an outcast on campus, silent and alone. Then Taylor Selmer walks back into my life. When will she learn–I’m beyond saving.
I need to save him...
Chase and I used to be friends. But after the accident, nothing was the same. We used to have something special–until we didn’t. But he doesn’t smile anymore. Doesn’t talk. Doesn’t play. It hurts me to see him this way, and I will do everything I can to get him back in the game. Whether he likes it or not.
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For the first time in I don't know how many years, I was hunting down Chase Maxwell. When we were kids, we played hide and seek in his mansion, and now I was trying to locate his freaking dorm room. Well, guess what? I had to find Chase, whether he was ready or not.
I'd secretly watched him in Statistics class today, and then again in Business Management. Not in a creepy stalker way or anything. I'd been trying to figure out how best to approach him, that was all.
At least, I thought it'd been Chase I was watching during that time. He looked like him. Held himself in the same way. But he didn't act like him at all. He'd just sat there, tapping his fingers on the table in front of him, not talking to anyone. And even weirder? No one had talked to him. People had always flocked to his side, unable to resist the charm that he so easily exuded. It had been that way since we were kids, but something had obviously changed.
He hadn't taken notes today, or listened to the professor. If I hadn't seen him breathing, I might have thought he was a freaking statue.
I wasn't sure what to make of that ... or of him.
But I had a job to do, so it was time to start figuring it all out.
I smoothed my hair and knocked on the door. I wasn't even sure if he was there, since it was only seven at night, but I had to try anyway. In the past, I would have checked the nearest gym or football field, since he used to always spend his free time there.
But last I heard ... those days were gone.
He'd changed so much. Would he see how much I'd changed, too? Had I changed that much? I'd grown boobs. Grown out my hair. Lost the acne and braces.
Besides that ... I think I was pretty much the same old Taylor.
Boring, bookworm Taylor.
When he'd asked me to come here, Mr. Maxwell, his dad, warned me that Chase wasn't himself, but he'd left out just how much of a mess he was.
Not that knowing the full truth would have changed my mind about coming. When a girl like me got an offer that would let me attend Villanova without paying a penny, well, she didn't say no. I hadn't really cared about anything else except getting to finish off the next three years of my college education at a top school for free. And all I had to do to get it was make sure his spoiled rich-boy son passed his classes?
"Chase? It's me." I paused. He probably didn't recognize my voice. Heck, he probably didn't even know who I was anymore. It had been years since we'd said anything besides pleasantries as we passed in the hallways of his mansion. "It's Taylor Selmer. I don't know if you remember me or not, but my parents work at your house. My mom's the chef, and my dad is, uh, the butler. We used to be friends before ... well, before."
There. That should cover all my bases.
I thought I heard a shuffling noise from inside, but he didn't answer. I stood there awkwardly, shifting my weight on my feet. Should I try the knob? Or maybe I should just walk away. Try again tomorrow with a fresh mind and a good night's sleep. My stomach rumbled, and I pressed a hand to it.
I hadn't eaten yet, and the cafeteria closed in thirty minutes.
If I didn't get there soon, I'd be going to bed hungrier than Harry Potter had been when the Dursleys had locked him in his room for days.
I hesitated. "Hey, are you hungry?" I rested my hand on the wall. Was I talking to an empty room in there? "I'm starving."
My stomach growled again in agreement.
I flushed and checked to see if anyone heard. Luckily, I flew under everyone's radar ... like usual. Turning back, I frowned. There wasn't any light shining from under the door. I should give up and walk away, but some deeply hidden, instinctive awareness told me he was inside, and I was too stubborn to admit defeat. It was one of my biggest faults, according to my mother. "Want to go eat with me? We could catch up. Talk about the good old days back when we were friends, and you didn't leave me waiting in hallways all night long ..."
Nothing. Not even a scornful laugh.
Footsteps came up behind me. I turned around, half expecting to see Chase, or maybe his roommate ... if he had one. It was some dude I'd never seen before.
When he stopped behind me, staring at me like I was some sort of ghost, I pointed to the door. "Hey. Is this your room, too?"
The brown-haired guy snorted. He was cute, if you were into the ridiculous boyish charm that guys like him possessed. I wasn't. I read too many books to fall for that good-boy trap, thank you very much. "Uh, no."
"Okay." I turned back to the door and knocked again. "Open the door," I called out. "I know you're in there."
The dude who I'd already dismissed walked even closer to me. "You realize you're outside of Chase Maxwell's room, right?"
Rolling my eyes, I faced him again, resting my weight on the door. "No, really? I had no idea."
Yep, there was my other fault. My sarcasm and dry humor. Luckily (or unluckily?) for me, he didn't seem to notice my statement wasn't sincere. "He's a freak. Everyone thinks his brain got beat to shit during the accident, so that's why he doesn't talk anymore. You can keep knocking, but he isn't going to answer."
He didn't talk at all? That couldn't be right. I frowned at the asshat who'd insulted Chase behind his back and turned away. Anyone who said crap behind someone else's back was a waste of time in my book. "He's not a freak. Actually, there's no such thing as freaks. We're all different from each other."
"Yeah, if you say so." He laughed, looking me up and down. "But, hey, I'll go to dinner with you, if you'd like. I'll be better company than him."
I rolled my eyes at the lame come-on and turned to face him with every intention of saying "thanks but no thanks." Leaning on the door, I smiled and prepared myself to deliver a scathing rejection with a side of sarcasm ... my favorite kind. "Actually, I'll — ah!"
The door opened ... making me fall backward into Chase's pitch-black room. When I landed against something hard and naked, arms closed around me without hesitation. A palm brushed my right breast, sending a wave of awareness shooting through me. I tried not to think about that, though.
Guys were nothing but trouble.
I had bigger plans than falling for a smooth talker with bright eyes and a fake smile who would do nothing but distract me. Once I managed to regain my balance, I spun on my heel and looked at him. The room behind him was dark, but the hallway illuminated his hotness. And once it did? I wished I hadn't looked at all.
He stood in the doorway, looking completely unfazed by the fact that he'd basically just felt me up, and glowered at the guy in the hallway. He was shirtless, and wearing nothing but a pair of black sweats. His chest was hard and chiseled, and his abs ... yeah. I wasn't gonna touch upon those for the sake of my own sanity.
Waxing poetic over his abs wasn't part of my job description.
"Uh, hey ..." the guy in the hallway said, trailing off after a feeble attempt at pretending he hadn't been talking crap about him moments before.
Chase's green eyes met mine before focusing on the guy in the hall again. His sharp cheekbones were the same as I remembered, and so was his short brown hair. He used to have dimples in his cheeks when he smiled, which had softened the harsh lines of his face and given him a softer appeal, but I had no idea if they still existed since he hadn't smiled at me yet. Or ... at anyone all day. Had he forgotten how?
He said nothing. Just stared the other guy down.
Even I had to admit his stony silence was impressive. Of course, he kind of reminded me of his dad right now, something he probably wouldn't like.
Or would he? I had no clue.
"I didn't mean to ..." The guy backed up, his face pale, and looked back at me. "She a friend of yours?"
Chase didn't answer him. He just motioned me inside, his jaw ticking ever so slightly. When I didn't move fast enough, he shot me a look with those gorgeous eyes of his, and I jumped slightly. "Um. Yes, I am." I swallowed hard and inched past him, making sure I didn't brush against his bare chest in the process.
Chase slammed the door behind me. I blinked across the inky blackness of the room, my heart hammering away in my ears. He'd been sitting here in the dark this early in the night? Had he been napping before hitting the books? I'd learned college kids napped more than one year olds — and much more enthusiastically.
"Do you have something against lights?" I asked, forcing a little laugh at the end.
Dead silence met my joke. In all fairness, it was a pretty lame attempt. For a second I wondered if he was even in the room with me, but I heard him breathe. I turned my head, trying to figure out where he was. To my left, maybe.
"Okay. No lights, then. That's fine. It's cool. I'm not scared of the dark." I paused. "Were you taking a power nap? I could use one. I got an hour of sleep last night."
I sensed him there, right next to me. He wasn't touching me, but I swore he was thinking about it or something. That makes no sense, Taylor. I shivered, anxious and excited, all at the same time. "I don't know if you remember me, but I'm — "
Without warning, Chase moved close enough for me to feel his heat. I backed against the wall until I couldn't back up anymore. It wasn't that he scared me. He didn't. I just ...
I just backed up, okay?
"You're Taylor Selmer. Of course, I remember you. Why are you in my room?"
I blinked at the sound of his raspy voice. He sounded so different than I remembered. So much sexier. "I-I'm here to help you."
"Why? What makes you think I need or want help from you?"
"I know you need help," I argued.
After all, I'd heard all about the car accident that had altered his world. I figured he'd be different, but I hadn't realized how different he'd be. They'd said on the news that he'd been racing his friend Joey home from a frat party.
They'd wrecked. He had walked away. Joey hadn't.
That didn't sound like something Chase would do.
Rude at times? Definitely.
He wasn't stupid. He'd never been stupid. Not when I'd known him. He'd had so many dreams and ambitions. He wouldn't have risked it all for a drag race.
But maybe I just didn't know him anymore.
"Ah, so you heard all about it, huh?" He didn't elaborate on that statement. He didn't need to. We both were aware what he meant. I wished the lights were on so I could see his freaking face. "I'm a killer, you know."
I wasn't sure what to say.
"So, knowing that, why do you care if I need help or not?"
"I have no clue what happened. I've only heard rumors."
He snorted. "Isn't that the same thing?"
"No." I swallowed and pressed against the cool wall even harder. It felt good against my heated skin. "But screwing up doesn't automatically make you a bad person. It makes you human. Don't we all do that sometimes?"
He snorted. "Yeah, but my screw up was bigger than most."
"If you broke the law, you'd be in jail."
A short laugh that wasn't a laugh at all. "How naive of you."
I took a page out of his book again and said nothing.
"Why are you here? Do you feel sorry for me or something?"
I laughed at that. I couldn't help it. Who in their right mind would ever feel bad for a guy like Chase Maxwell, who literally had the world at his fingertips? "As if."
"Or —" He broke off, his entire body giving off a frustrated vibe despite the darkness. "Or maybe you just think that I'm not as bad as they say I am. That I can be saved if you just try to show me I'm not alone. That's it, isn't it? You've got a savior's complex."
I shook my head. "No. Of course not."
"Maybe you think you're the only one who can save me."
I rolled my eyes. "Puh-lease. I don't place that much stock in my hold over you. It's been years since we even talked."
"Then why are you here?"
"I'm new here." I shrugged. "I don't know anyone else here besides you. So. Um. Yeah. Here I am." That was the truth. I didn't have a single friend on campus.
"I feel bad for you if I'm your only hope at a friend."
I shrugged. "Don't bother. Feeling bad for people is a waste of energy."
"If you say so. Where'd that harder side of you come from?"
I snorted. "Life. I grew up a lot since we last spoke. Learned a lot of hard life lessons." Like to never forget that guys like Chase weren't for girls like me.
"Doubtful," he said, his tone cocky. "You might be six years older now, but you hardly grew up. You're still a baby."
There it went again. That eye roll at his ludicrous statements. "And you're so much wiser than me as a twenty-two-year-old?"
"Pretty much. I've seen a hell of a lot more of the world than you ever will. So, what do you want from me, Mousey?"
I closed my eyes at the nickname, a warmth taking over my heart and spreading outward. He'd called me that back when we were young, and I was quiet and shy. I'd loved it. Apparently, I still did. "You remember that?"
"I'm the one who made it up. As a matter of fact, I remember everything about you."
He remembered me. My stomach twisted into a hot coil of desire. "Bullshit."
Stop it. You are not attracted to him.
"You know, you used to smell like vanilla, and you still do. You liked chocolate ice cream with rainbow sprinkles and hot fudge. And you think strawberry ice cream is the stuff of the devil, even though it's my favorite." He paused. "And I remember that one day, you stopped talking to me for no reason."
I forced a small laugh. "Let's not be dramatic, now. We still talked."
"But we weren't friends anymore."
True. We never should have been, anyway. Rich kids and servant's kids didn't mix, no matter what age they were. "From what I saw, you ran off with your rich friends and forgot all about me quickly enough, so it couldn't have been all that tragic for you."
"I ..." He trailed off and shrugged. "Yeah."
I bit down on my tongue. "I know. I was there."
"But you're avoiding my question."
I lifted my chin. "Which was ...?"
"Why you knocked on my door? And while we're at it, do you even go here?"
"Yes. I —"
He made an impatient sound. "Since when? I've never seen you here before. Last I heard, you were doing community college."
"I was. But now I go here." I gritted my teeth. He was barely letting me get a word in. Obviously the rumors about him not talking to anyone were false. "I was in class with you earlier today."
He tensed. "I didn't see you. Which one?"
I sensed instead of saw him shake his head. "But you're a sophomore."
"Yeah. A smart one." I lifted my chin. "I'm in all of your classes. And about that? I —"
He once again cut me off. "You're here, in my room, after years of nothing. Going to the same school as me. In the same classes as me. Why?"
Two could play the question game, if he refused to let me answer them in the first place. "Why didn't you take a pen or a computer to class with you?"
He made an impatient sound. "Why would I?"
"To take notes, and keep up with the class."
He tipped his head. At least, I think he did. I still couldn't see. "Again, why would I?"
"So, you can graduate, maybe?" I asked irritably.
"I don't give a fuck if I graduate."
"Why not?" I sighed. "And can we please turn on a light? This darkness stuff is all clandestine and creepy."
"No. I like the dark, just like I like just sitting there in class, doing nothing, wasting my father's money for fun."
"But you can't keep doing that," I said. "You're going to fail, which you obviously want, but what will you do with your life? If it turns out that you can't play football, and you don't have your degree, you'll be left with nothing."
"I already have nothing. My game is over."
"That's not true ..." I swallowed hard. "Your arm could heal, right? I mean, I know you're out of this season, but what about next year?"
"That's none of your damn business," he said gruffly. "And I don't give a shit about any of it. I'm only here because my dad's making me stay, even though I begged him to let me transfer to a different school."
There it was. My chance to tell him why I was here. I wasn't supposed to, but I also wasn't a liar, so it was time to break a few of Mr. Maxwell's rules. "About that ... Speaking of your dad ..."
"Oh, hell no."
He moved away from me abruptly, and I sagged against the wall, my heart still racing from the close proximity. Without warning, the overhead light blazed on.
Excerpted from "The Backup Plan"
Copyright © 2018 Jen McLaughlin.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved the journey Taylor and Chase took together. I loved how they both had their memories of when they were friends as little kids. Chase was heartbreaking to read about as he dealt with his guilt. He truly was a great guy, caring, compassionate, and genuinely wanted to help others. Taylor was a strong and feisty young woman determined to make something of herself as well as help her old friend find his way again. I am glad they were able to help each other and find their person who made them whole. I was pleasantly surprised at the end with a certain relationship and what was said, and thankful that it turned out better than anticipated. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
Chase had the whole college dream on his hands: football star, funny, hot. But when his best friend dies, he blames himself and starts only half living. Taylor was a childhood friend, and she’s determined to bring the old Chase back. I love me some broken hero and Chase the perfect example. He isolates himself after the accident and Taylor is just what he needs with her determination and witty comebacks is easy to like her. Jen does a great job of balancing the angsty/broody moments with a cute romance and college drama. I really enjoyed the relationship between both characters and how they help each other to overcome their past and insecurities. I liked that Chase helps Taylor in a way too and that is not just about saving him. The Backup plan is a fast read. The romance is is slow and builds up to climax. The sex scenes are well written. My only problem is the ending felt a bit rushed but maybe I just wanted more of this. (Usually that’s the problem) I’m really looking forward to read the rest of this series, and what the college background can give.
It wasn't exactly the lighthearted romance I was hoping for, but it was just as great. I loved the story, although at times it was quite depressing (especially in the beginning). Chase's life was a mess, he was failing his classes, his social life was non-existent, and above all he was hated by many people. College was no fun for him until Taylor arrived. Suddenly both of them started hanging with each other, studying together, and soon realizing that they want more than just being friends, if they were even that... It's an interesting and well-written story. I enjoyed both Chase and Taylor's characters. They both seemed perfect together. I think, it's a perfect mix of angst and romance. I quite enjoyed reading it and would recommend to those who like contemporary fiction.
The Backup Plan is a perfect feel good read. It's sweet, romantic Cinderella story. It's the story that when you finish you have a huge smile plastered on your face. You have the warm fuzzies and a craving for more. He's a broody, unhappy jock. She's the nerdy help. They are an unlikely pair to most but exactly what this fairytale like story needs. Friends who used to be. Strangers in the now. It's absolutely Hallmark without the cheesy overtones. This college romance is exactly the pick me up you want. Book received in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed on behalf of Once Upon An Alpha
The Backup Plan by Jen McLaughlin, is one of those books that has a little bit of everything. Family, college, discovering yourself, friendships, romance, drama, and possible a happily ever after. If you went away for college you can probably relate to the struggles that Taylor and Chase encounter. I just love duel point of view books and this is one of those books that reaffrims that. The back and forth between Chase and Taylor and having their own thoughts and feelings written, drags you in and has you feeling their feels. So well written, easy to read. Chase had it all; family, money and the college football career dreams are made of. Until one night everything is ripped away from him and everyone on campus thinks he is a killer/monster. Taylor has been given an opporunity of a lifetime and is now back in Chases life. But can old wounds heal? Can past friendships be given a second chance? Can family destroy everything? You'll just have to read it to find out!!! There is just so much tension, drama, emotion, heartbreak and some laughter that this is just a wonderful romance novel. Another thing that was so well done was that there is not a huge amount of sex in this book, but the the wording and how the story plays out you don't need it. You still feel the tension, attraction, chemistry and the explosion of wills with the words you read. So well done!!! 4 Stars ***Review by Lisa, Late Night Reviewer for Up All Night with Books***
I've read most of Jen McLaughlin's books and The Backup Plan is a little different for her. Honestly I thought she did an amazing job with the New Adult story. With the college setting you have all the usual angst but this one has an added twist. I enjoyed Chase and Taylor together and I loved how Taylor was able to bring Chase back to life stronger and more determined than he was before "the accident". Taylor was an amazing character and she's never ashamed of where she came nor apologizing for being a bit geeky. She's just comfortable with who she is and rubs off on Chase. This is an excellent story and definitely one I recommend.
Oh my greatness This was a wonderful new to me author and great read. I read this book in shorty period of time because I could not put this book down because Taylor and chases story is so wonderful. Jen McLauglin is now an author that I will have to look for new reads. I highly recommend this read.
The Backup Plan by Jen McLaughlin is the first book in her Back in the Game New Adult series. I loved McLaughlin’s Sons of Steel Row series, and decided to check out her new series. I did enjoy this book, but it was a different type of read for me by McLaughlin. In The Backup Plan, we meet our heroine, Taylor Selmar, who enrolls in the same college as her childhood friend Chase. Taylor’s parents have worked in the Maxwell house as servants, and Taylor grew up there. But she hasn’t seen Chase in a long time, and when she is offered a deal by his father to enroll at the college, get her degree, and to help Chase with his studies and help him get out of his funk; she accepts. Chase Maxwell is suffering from a shoulder injury from a car accident where his best friend was killed. Though Chase was not at fault, he blames himself for his friend’s death, and is in a rut, where he rarely talks to anyone for the past 6 months. His school friends treat Chase like an outcast, as they feel he was at fault and give him a hard time. When Taylor finds Chase, he is surprised to see her, and in the beginning, as she does everything she can to motivate him, he is belligerent to her, as he is to others in the school. What follows is a slow built sweet romance that is intense at times. I did like Taylor and Chase together and watching Taylor slowly bring Chase back was heartwarming to see. Taylor was a great heroine, with the perfect amount of sass to handle Chase, and their banter between them was fun. At the same time, she was very vulnerable to her situation with Chase’s father. As they both began to realize that they were falling in love, the pressure mounts for Taylor, as she loves Chase, but the threats to her family will cause her to step back, causing their relationship to suffer. Will Taylor tell Chase the truth? Will she give up Chase to save her family? Besides Chase’s father, there is an ex-girlfriend who is also determined to win Chase back, creating more havoc for Taylor and Chase. I thought early on Chase was nasty, but he turned around and ended up to be great. The Backup Plan was well written by McLaughlin, and the two main characters were very likable. If you enjoy the new adult genre, with some angst, and a nice romance, I suggest you read this book.
Chase stopped living his life the day his best friend died. He blames himself for the accident and now has lost his way. It doesn't help that others see it that way too but the court cleared him. He has no criminal record. He is still in college but he doesn't talk to anyone. As far as he's concerned his life is over. He's a shell of his former self. The charming, football lover is gone. Taylor and Chase where childhood friends. She wants to save Chase but it will be an uphill struggle. He's given up. She's determined to help turn his life around. Taylor enrols at the same college and is in hot pursuit. When the world turns it's back on you. It takes a special kind of magic to bring you back. Taylor is smart, beautiful, sweet and funny. She's everything Chase never realised he could have. This is a sweet intense romance about getting a second chance. 4 stars out of 5. It's nicely written and has a few twists. *I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.