FRIENDS WITH PARTIAL BENEFITS
RECEIVED A FREE COPY IN EXCHANGE FOR A REVIEW
****THERE ARE NO SPOILERS****
The Gist: Friends with Partial Benefits is a laugh-out-loud contemporary romance with a smidgen of sexy spice. The big difference here, a man wrote it! What woman doesn’t want to know how a man views romance, sex for that matter, even if the source is a book geared toward women? Now, as much as I liked giggling with the characters and cringing at some very awkward moments between the two main characters and their proclivity toward masturbation voyeurism, there were parts I found a little dry (pardon the pun).
SYNOPSIS: “Jillian Grayson is a disillusioned divorcée and best-selling romance novelist who suddenly can’t write a chapter without her hunky male heartthrob suffering ED, an STD, or even worse. Brian Nash is a tennis-obsessed college senior who’s unlucky in love and the roommate and best friend of Jillian’s son, Rob. When Rob brings Brian home for Spring Break, and Brian meets the surprisingly young and tennis passionate Jillian, their shared interest quickly develops into an intense mutual attraction. After nearly giving in to their feelings, they hatch a plan, while under the influence (of something more than just the perfect Miami night), to be Friends With Partial Benefits, complete with rules to define the boundaries. Will the lonely pair continue with this distinctive relationship, actually explore their desires, or discover all of it is a really bad idea?.”
THE LOWDOWN: First, I want to say that not only is this a well-written book but it is also freakin’ hilarious! I don’t often laugh out loud, especially when the overwhelming majority of reviews claim I will, but I did with this one. Similar to Seduction and Snacks, this edgy contemporary romance employs the use of risqué dialogue and descriptors. But trust me, it’s not smut and it definitely isn’t bad enough to drive your mom to drink because she raised a sick deviant. Most of the scenes are semi-explicit, while managing not delve to far into the land of obscenity (something I am not sure I liked…but more on that later). I found the characters to be engaging and likeable and the situation reminiscent of those great 80’s T&A movies where naughty stuff happens to college kids just trying to have some summer fun. Yeah, yeah – I aged myself, so what?
The book starts off strong. I loved, loved, loved Jillian and Victoria’s relationship. They are friends that speak candidly about sex (much like my girlfriends and I do). While Jillian (the lead) is often a bit more decorous in sexual situations, Victoria is a complete nympho…in a free-spirit-I-don’t-care-what-you-think-because-it’s-my-body-so-there, kind of way. I loved her sexually secure nature and her uncanny ability to make everyone in the room completely uncomfortable. Kinda sounds like me (The last part only people, don’t get crazy).
The relationship between Jillian and Brian was sweet and he was a perfect mix of insecure college boy and testosterone driven horn-dog. Their story unfolded organically and every situation was painted believably. Yes, it is a male fantasy (or cougar pipe dream) that probably doesn’t happen that often, but it felt real. However, this is also where the book fell short. There was so much build up with no happy-ending (wink-wink). Actually, I am referring to the sex (if you didn’t catch my innuendo). It was all buck with no bang…literally. Three fourths of the book is a tease for the game and when the players finally suit up and take the field, it felt like some woman with a giant hair-sprayed helmet was standing in front of me so I couldn’t see anything. The writer, Young, describes the undressing in great detail, the way he touches her, how it feels to have him run his mouth up and down her throat, how he lowers her to the bed, then instead of continuing on the intimate journey, Young sums the good stuff up in three sentences. We did it, it was great and then we slept. (It was a little more detailed, but not by much)
Don’t get me wrong, I found this book utterly entertaining…but after the first three-quarters I started to get a little twitchy with restlessness. Much like Seductions and Snacks, the book’s dénouement comes well before the end, leaving me feeling slightly disappointing at the finish line. You get all this drama and then it resolves and you get nothing….just them. The ending simply did nothing for me other than leave me completely deflated and let down. I get it, this is the first of a series and Young wanted to leave it open-ended to lead readers to the second book, but I felt it should have been concluded with a little more pizzazz. Instead it just fizzled. There was no cliffhanger leaving me so overwhelmed that I sat up all night reading book two because I would literally die if I didn’t find out what happened. It felt neutral, like the end of a blind date that you thought went well, until his attitude went dead as you were leaving. It felt incomplete. Things were definitely left too open and as minimal as this might seem, it was a big decision maker for me as far as rating the book.
In the end, none of my gripes merit ignoring this comical story. It is worth your time and the benefits definitely outweigh its shortcomings!