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Eugene Kelly
A Third Option
Amy Leonard, a senior associate at a financial engineering frim is up for partner. Suddenly she stares into an abyss, having to choose between two irreversible, life-altering options. Reggie Boykin, her protégé .at work, offers Amy a "noble but stupid" third option. She realizes Reggie has a dark secret that keeps him unsmiling and emotionally insulated from her and the world. It isn't until the past intrudes and threatens to destroy both of their lives that they understand what is important. Amy must face her greatest fear - twice.
Aly’s A Third Option spins a marriage-of-convenience love story around Amy, a New York City professional in awkward circumstances when she finds herself pregnant and her boyfriend is uninterested in being a father. Knowing that she will never be promoted to partner as a single mother, she’s left choosing between her career and her future child until Reggie, a new associate, offers a third option— marry him until the child is born, and then the pair can go their own separate ways. Amy takes him up on his offer, but this convenient marriage is quickly beset with inconveniences, as Amy’s ex Tom publicly claims the child as his, and Reggie’s ex Isabella isn’t ready to let him go.

Despite that classic romance setup, A Third Option is poised between the romance and general fiction genres, as it focuses heavily on being a woman in a high-powered and traditional world. Much of the story is centered around the slightly anxious comedy of the pair getting to know each other and dealing with their exes. This is handled with an empathetic sense of comedy, even when questions of paternity get heated, as when Tom levels a sexist slur at Amy in Bryant Park.

Soon Amy’s learning to make it work with Reggie despite their differences—she reads the Times, he reads the Post—and even feels a pang of jealousy toward Isabella. Reggie has his own reasons for proposing the marriage plan to Amy, and both characters’ perspectives drive the tale, which develops into a legal battle over parental rights to Amy’s fetus, a case that this often sprightly novel presents with welcome seriousness. True to its title, A Third Option is about making bold new choices from apparently limited alternatives, and the story, as it builds to a satisfying ending, continually finds ways to do just that. Lovers of grown-up love stories about characters who break the mold will find much to enjoy.

Takeaway: A grown-up marriage-of-convenience story that surprises.

Great for fans of: Lauren Asher’s Terms and Conditions, Suzanne Wright’s The Favor.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B

Donovan Literary Services/Midwest Book Review

A Third Option

E. Aly

Marshwinds Press

978-1-7341170-6-6                         $20.95


Does ambition preclude romance? In Amy Leonard's case, it may prove an unlikely and unwelcome obstacle to achieving senior partner in her company—a goal she has strived and fought hard for.


As the story opens, Amy already has a lover and roommate in Tom. In many ways, her life is predictable and its course has been set. Relatively quickly into the story, it becomes evident that Amy's life course is not on the same page as Tom's. In fact, it's set to change in a way that challenges her greatest ambition.


As readers move through Amy's increasing dilemmas about what she envisions as being valuable for her future, they face, alongside her, choices which are both different and irrevocable. Each option holds the possibility of totally transforming her life, but no option seems completely satisfying.


Her protégé in the company, Reggie Boykin, offers her another choice that adds new possibilities, but his idea also places him at risk in new ways as he takes his own big step into the unknown and struggles to keep a secret from Amy that he has hidden all his life.


E. Aly builds a romance from unlikely roots, adds the conflict created by job and two co-workers who face their own life-changing moments, and follows each through the mire of ethical and emotional choices. The focus on emotional evolution, changing priorities, and the juxtaposition of work world and family life creates a satisfying backdrop for an evolving relationship that rests on rocky foundations.


As Reggie, Tom, and Amy find themselves mired in an increasing love triangle-style dilemma, each must make choices that seem to go against everything they've believed and fought for.


A Third Option is a study not in traditional romance and relationship-building, but what happens when life introduces surprising twists to carefully planned life paths. Each of the characters feels compelled to step up to the challenge in different ways, holding different feelings, and these lend a fine layer of complexity to the story.


While the result can be billed a 'romance', A Third Option actually is far more detailed than the usual story of love. As Amy, Tom and Reggie re-examine their lives and options, new paths emerge which recreate ideals of love as well as testing their characters and life objectives.


Libraries looking for love stories that emerge from turbulent roots and surprising connections will find A Third Option attractive and recommendable, especially to book clubs seeking more than the standard romance's progression.