Karen’s Killer Book Bench: Best Laid Plans by Elaine Raco Chase


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BEST LAID PLANS by Elaine Raco  Chase

Book Description


Reviews from the original print publication of Best Laid Plans:

“I ran out of adjectives – fantastic, terrific, stupendous! Her humor and  sensuality are at their best in this marvelous novel.”  Romantic Times  Magazine

“With her usual deft touch and talent for the romantic, Ms. Chase treats us to another gift of love that satisfies the heart.”  Affaire de Coeur

“Warm, witty, sensuous – Five Stars!” Barbra Critiques



[Editorial Note: Although this excerpt is rated for a PG-13 audience be aware that BEST LAID PLANS is for Mature Audiences Only. Thank you.]


The copper shaded lectern light illuminated the script for that evening’s fashion show. Amanda Wyatt’s eyes were fixed on the paper; her breathing had suddenly been reduced to shallow, jerky spasms. Words had been added and subtracted, transposed and rewritten. Blue-pencil scribbles overpowered the once neatly printed page.

No matter how many times she had rearranged and rewritten her notes, it sounded – “Boring!” Amanda finally spoke the cursed word. Again blue graphite was scrawled across paper. She hoped a few clever adjectives and adverbs would inject much-needed vitality not only into the sentences but into their author as well.

The newly sharpened pencil point snapped. That sharp sound was accompanied by the fracturing of Amanda’s composure. She hurled the pencil toward her nemesis – the red-carpeted fashion runway. Watching the pencil fall to the floor far short of its goal, she snatched up her notes and proceeded to strangle them between cold, clammy fingers.

Arms crossed over full breasts, hands locked onto shoulders, Amanda buried her nose against skin that no longer smelled bath powder fresh but musty and stale. Now, now, she gave herself a sharp mental directive, this is no time for a temper tantrum.

Taupe-tinted eyelids drifted closed. The blackness provided a soothing, albeit momentary respite from the frenzied activities in the ballroom. She wished it were that easy to shut her ears. The sounds of music, roaring vacuum cleaners, clattering dishes, clanking silver and chattering, shouting busboys seemed magnified to nerve-fragmenting proportions.

Her fingers pressed deeper into red-suede-covered shoulders. Amanda had to stop herself from running away. To ignore the icy fingers of dread that gripped her very soul. Chastising herself for feeling so helpless, she tried to look at the situation logically.

This was not her first fashion show. In fact, it was her third of the year – she had managed eight such charity events in the past sixteen months. Each one had been more successful than the last. First-night jitters had no place here. But how many jitters were really due to the show? Prodded an inner devil that had manifested in her mind.

Amanda shook her head to clear it and forced her attention back to the dress rehearsal. She was surprised to find the runway unoccupied. She cued outfit number seventeen. No one appeared. “Seventeen! Lizette! Where the hell is Lizette?” Her normally well-modulated soprano splintered in a frantic appeal. “Seventeen?” Amanda shouted into the podium’s microphone.

The response was the crash of metal chairs against the wooden stage floor. A frustrated groan escaped between clenched teeth. After counting to ten, Amanda spoke in a more subdued tone. “Bianca, please find Lizette.” A hand pushed apart the emerald stage curtains and gave her a complying wave.

Her Aries horoscope in this morning’s Times-Picayune had warned that today would be eventful. Amanda wondered why her ruling planet, Mars, couldn’t make the scheduled events orderly and calm. Why did she have to battle not only her own frustrations but those of everyone else as well?

A wry smile twisted ginger-glossed lips. In truth, wasn’t her real problem the fact that everything was in proverbial apple-pie order? Every waking hour was relegated to a pigeonhole existence. Wasn’t that the real crux of her listlessness and depression?

Her thoughts drifted and darted to the three seasons she had spent as chief designer on Seventh Avenue. She had been scared to death at the unveiling of each collection. Indigestion, insomnia and headaches were all routine companions of her sixteen-hour workdays. Yet that anxiety and fear had nourished her like no other food.

She must be a masochist to wish for the challenge of the old days. Something was always going wrong. But she had loved it. Fashion! Laughter bubbled, then died in her throat. It was glamorous and boring, underrated and overrated, satisfying and painful, exasperating and exciting, unpredictable and yet somehow the same. For all that, Amanda had never been able to break free. She was a willing prisoner, loving the power, prestige and trauma this profession fed to her soul.

The ornate wall clock was a silent but obvious reminder that in four hours this rehearsal would turn into the main event. “Seventeen.” She again barked the order into the microphone. Amanda surveyed the model who finally appeared center stage. Lizette pranced down the runway, a trail of curlers plopping and bouncing in her wake. The strawberry yogurt Amanda had gulped in lieu of lunch began to burn its way up her esophagus.

“Damn it, Lizette, look alive!” Her voice crackled and spluttered. Then the microphone died. “Do it again.” Her fist made a series of circular motions above her head. The blatant physical gesture triumphed over the noise level in the ballroom.

Lizette’s myopic hazel eyes squinted at the blurred movement, before rolling heavenward in mute understanding. Wasn’t this woman ever satisfied? She’s been a bitch all morning. Pursing full mauve lips, the model carelessly slumped back toward the stage then disappeared between the velvet curtains that cloaked the wings.

Amanda turned and repeated the signaled instructions for Isaac Bevans at the special effects console. His head bobbed in understanding. “Once more with feelin’, baby,” he crooned, wiggling slim, denim-clad hips into a more comfortable position on the padded stool. Isaac’s competent fingers moved swiftly among the sliders and audio pots. He deftly recued the sound track while simultaneously reprogramming the sequential footlights.

At Amanda’s direction it all started again. Piano, string bass and drums created a syncopated rhythm that filled the auditorium. The strobe lights that edged the stage and runway visually defined the throbbing jazz melody.

Lizette appeared, haloed in a shimmering pink spotlight. She moved center stage, then dutifully turned and twirled her way down the red carpet runner. The bored expression on her cosmetic sculptured face matched her perfunctory movements.

“Double damn that girl,” Amanda cursed again. “You’d think she was wearing a feedbag instead of a Dior.” Her narrowed gray eyes followed the model’s listless movements.

Lizette was supposed to be a pro. She was certainly paid well to display her gaunt body with elegance and grace. Emitting a throaty groan, Amanda wondered where this woman’s professionalism was hiding.

Curved like elegant talons, Amanda’s fingers clamped on either side of her head. Her red nails vented a frenzy of pent-up frustrations against short copper-brown curls. What was the problem? Had her own weariness been transmitted to everyone involved with this show?

The models had no right to act this way. Damn them! They were humored and coddled. They were draped in originals, pampered by cosmetic artists, coiffured in elegance and enhanced with real jewels. No fakes. No seconds. No copies. Only the best.

In the beginning the best had been enough. Energy levels had been high, and each show was more intoxicating than the last. But January’s resort and cruise wear for the Heart Fund had failed to dissipate the post holiday blues. And, while February’s Mardi Gras gala boosted the United Fund, it generated only a modicum of stimulation that apparently was quite short-lived.

March proved to be a rude lion as snarled out across the South. But inside the Hyatt Ballroom, magnificent crystal chandeliers presided like miniature suns radiating down on lacy gazebos, bubbling fountains and garden walkways populated by scarlet tulips, yellow daffodils, white daisies and lush greenery.

While Mother Nature had made umbrellas, slickers and boots de rigueur for the past ten days, spectacular summer wear in bold, bright colors and styles waited temptingly on dressing-room racks. Yet for all the emotion the models were exhibiting, Amanda felt she could have used the mannequins that graced her shop on Royal Street.

Head bowed, she began to massage the stiffness from her neck. Inhaling and exhaling three times, Amanda told herself to relax, to remain calm. Hadn’t she met and conquered worse challenges than this? But the tension was still there, hidden not only in the constricted highway of tendons on her neck but straining every muscle in her body. Willpower and words – today they proved poor tranquilizers.

Lizette’s final pirouette made Amanda wince. New Orleans’ black-tie audience wasn’t paying two hundred fifty dollars a plate to the Cancer Society to view this blasé performance. An awful thought nagged at her. Perhaps she had unconsciously trampled everyone’s enthusiasm. Guilt smothered her. The real stars of the fashion show were the designs. Homage had to be paid to these creations. These fabric children – conceived with love, cut and sewn with tenderness and sent out into the world with hope and fear.

Resentment at her own loss of faith was all-consuming; adrenaline and anger overcame her inertia. Amanda’s long, dark-stockinged legs dismissed the four steps to the runway in two graceful leaps. She caught Lizette by the shoulders and spun her around. Even, white teeth smiled at the startled young woman, but the smile did not reach her glinting eyes. “This is silk, Lizette, painstakingly sewn by hand in crowded workrooms by at least twenty skilled seamstresses.” Amanda’s expert fingers gently readjusted the shoulders on the red and white dress accented with bold purple stripes.

“This is a masterpiece,” she continued, impersonally smoothing the horizontal bodice over the model’s minuscule breasts, “worked on for weeks and weeks, and…” her flint like gaze narrowed into Lizette’s blinking hazel eyes, “in less than two minutes, on your body, it is either condemned or adored.”

Dropping to her knees, Amanda straightened a rope of amethyst ribbons that circled a waist no bigger than a double hand span. “You are wearing art, Lizette, couturier’s art. Dior was awarded the Legion of Honor for his designs.” She looked up from repinning the hem. “In Paris this dress is considered a national treasure.”

Amanda nodded with satisfaction at her adjustments, then dexterously returned to her feet, towering over the young woman. “This is what dreams are made of, and you are the keeper of this dream. Tonight you are the owner of this luxury.” Her voice grew as passionate as her words. The stern lines that had hardened her attractive features disappeared. She bloomed with the intensity of her emotions. “Silk, Lizette, feel it. It gets better, softer, and more sensuous every time you wear it.”

Wide eyes glowed like polished solitaires. “Let this luxury show on your face. Feel it caress your body.” Her long fingers re-formed the black strands that had escaped Lizette’s curlers. “Make this dress your lover and return the passion.”

Her peripheral gaze caught the other models clustered in the wings. “Come out, ladies!” Amanda motioned them to assemble onstage. “I want to see and feel the opulence, the glamour, the spirit. Look out there.” A slender wrist directed attention toward their magnificent surroundings. “We’ve created a dream and made you the stars. You command the attention. You are the epitome of fashion.”

She took time to inspect each model, making small adjustments to shoulders or wrists, reangling a straw hat or straightening a belt. “I want you to become a part of what you’re wearing. Feel the fabrics, drink in the textures, spin your own fantasies. Listen and move with the music. It’s intoxicating.”

Amanda clapped her hands. “Now let me experience these masterpieces.” Her attitude was light but there was a sharp insistence in her tone. “Excite this room. Dazzle these people. Make them stand and beg for an encore.” Her voice lowered persuasively. “Release the ecstasy hidden in your soul.”

A note from the author:

Best Laid Plans was my first woman’s fiction novel! I was so excited when I  was able to get my rights back and claim it as my own!

Take a  trip back to 1983.  There was no TSA and people smoked on airplanes.  (The airplane scene actually happened to me and the nun!)

This  was New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina – a place I fell in love with  and visited a half-dozen times. Alas, some of the restaurants I knew are no longer in business and menu prices certainly have changed.

Fashion – is still fashion! The styles come and go, but somehow are reborn again and again.

While it was a sensuous romance when it was first published, it was fun to amp things up!

Meet Amanda Wyatt – she had an eight year plan and accomplished so much  more. Attractive, talented, she was a success whether she was designing  high fashion or running her own elegant shop in New Orleans. And she had a friend with benefits relationship with –

Lucas Crosse, her  lawyer and the brother she never had for twelve years. He knew her  intimately – well almost. Now, he’s decided he wants that, too. And he’s ready to fight for Amanda with –

Wade Lloyd. He entered Amanda’s life by accident. Now he wants to be a permanent fixture. But can he  handle her success? Can he handle Amanda? Can he handle her friendship  with Lucas Crosse?

As for Amanda – she has choices to make. A new, exciting love? Or a best friend whose benefits she’s begun to dream about.

    Meet Elaine Raco Chase, Author….   

I love reading.  And that’s how I became a writer.  It started in high school with a serial for the newspaper, then I moved on to writing radio/TV programs and advertising copy.  I was sure short stories would be perfect for me, because I could create the most vivid scenes in under 60 seconds!

But – I found I needed more time to write compelling characters and their stories – be it romances or mystery/thriller and suspense novels. Whatever genre I write, my stories are funny, sarcastic, and loaded with fast-paced, bantering dialogue.  My books feature confident, strong women – who have a wicked sense of humor and aren’t really looking for a man – until the perfect one appears.

I have published eighteen novels and non-fiction as well – all of the novels hitting assorted bestsellers lists – and have over 4 million books in print, in the US and 27 other countries and 17 languages.  It’s been fun!

Now, I’ve entered the world of eBooks and am delighted to be acquiring new readers and renewing connections with previous fans.  Most of my romances have been updated, but as one reader wrote – “wow, they are just as fresh today as when they were first written.” That’s quite a compliment.  A few have remained as classics.

I’ve always believed in love at first sight.  Well…maybe not quite love but instant attraction.  Why?  Because my dad told me he fell in love with my mother while she was chasing her dog down the street!  I told him that was impossible, he hadn’t even talked to her.  He just grinned and said, “sometimes you just know.”  They were married for 57 years…and their lives were full of love and laughter.  My husband claims he was ‘intrigued at first sight…maybe with a bit of lust thrown in.” Well we’ve been laughing and loving for the last 43 years!

I hope you’ll try Best Laid Plans and check out my other titles – some more erotic than others – but always full of love and laughter – perfect bedfellows!


Links to Elaine Raco Chase’s website, blog, books, etc.

Website:  www.elaineracochase.com 

Twitter:    @ElaineRaco

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elaine.r.chase


Amazon link for this title KDPrimeBEST LAID PLANS by Elaine Raco Chase

Permalink: http://amzn.com/B009FEDS1A   







Blue Moon Sizzlers is always free on iTunes/smashwords soon on all other sites!

If you love audio books, try http://www.audible.com/search/ref=pd_rhf_s_1?advsearchKeywords=elaine+raco+chase     You’ll need extra ear buds! Video Vixen, narrated by Sheila Book, fairly purr’s naughty in your ears!  And the award-winning duo of Destiny Landon and Lee James, plus original music and sound effects, turn Special Delivery into an audio movie!  Coming soon:  Designing Woman; Dare the Devil; Rules of the Game & One Way or Another!


**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Elaine has arranged for BEST LAID PLANS to be offered #FREE TODAY, October 3, so her blog readers can download it!!   Remember, this novel is for MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.  Thanks, Elaine, for sharing your story with us!
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4 Responses to Karen’s Killer Book Bench: Best Laid Plans by Elaine Raco Chase

  1. Mari Collier says:

    That’s quite an interview and a very generous offer by Elaine. I just now had time to read it on Thursday. It’s been a very busy week.

  2. Karen Docter says:

    Elaine, thanks so much for sharing your wonderful excerpt AND your generosity in sharing the entire book with everyone. I know I’m not the only one who can’t wait to continue on with her reading. 🙂

    Thanks again. I hope you’ll come see us again soon!


  3. johnalex3030 says:

    Thank you so much for this lovely blog.it is very informative.

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