Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Book Review: Friends Without Benefits

Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance (Knitting in the City, #2)
Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid
October 1, 2013
423 pages
Genre: Adult Romance
(contains sexual situations)
Source: eARC from author for Honest review
Book Blurb:
Friends Without Benefits can be read as a standalone, is a full length 120k word novel, and is book#2 in the Knitting in the City Series.

There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Finney: 1) She suffers from severe sarcastic syndrome, especially when she's unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her like Nico Manganiello, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Elizabeth Finney is almost always right about everything: the musical merits of boy bands are undervalued by society, “benefits” with human Ken dolls are better without friendship, and the sun has set on her once-in-a-lifetime chance for true love. But when Elizabeth’s plans for benefits without friendship are disarmed by the irritatingly charismatic and chauvinistic Nico Manganiello- her former nemesis- she finds herself struggling to maintain the electric fence around her heart while avoiding electrocution or, worse, falling in love.
My Review:

I loved Neanderthal Seeks Human (see my review), so I was extremely excited that it was the first in a series of books following this adorable knitting club. But this is not your grandmother's knitting club. These ladies are smart, quirky, and fiercely loyal to each other. Now, if you haven't read Neanderthal Seeks Human yet, fear not. You can still read Friends Without Benefits as a standalone, then read NSH afterward (because you'll want to).

In this episode, we find ourselves in the life of Dr. Elizabeth Finney. She is smart, sarcastic, hard-working, generous, stubborn, and guards her heart like a ninja. And she's afraid, because her heart was broken in the past by terrible losses, and she doesn't want that again. Did I mention she's stubborn? She has an incredible story, and I admire her dedication to the medical field and her reasoning for entering it. Despite her love of boy bands and Star Trek, her stealthy secret Santa acts, and her knitting group, the way she lives her life is terribly depressing and lonely.

Enter Nico Manganiello, the witty, sexy, charming, teasing, persistent, kind yet famous comedian, and her former nemesis growing up. After an extended time period living in different cities, circumstances bring them back into each other's lives. As Nico reenters Elizabeth's life, they both must face the past together, as well as the electricity that charges between them every time they are together. But there is so much for this couple to face, and face it they must, break down those walls they must, be painfully honest they must, in order for either of them to truly move on, whether together or not.

I loved Nico and Elizabeth together. I didn't know if anyone else could match my love for Janie and Quinn, but they are right up there with them, in an awesome couple battle-thon. They have such a naturalness around each other, but there is so much tension with all that they are holding back. I loved the banter and how they converse with each other. I'm a dialogue junkie, and I love that we get lots here. Then throw in the perfect mix-tape CD (yes, it was even better than the one my husband made for me) and the fact that Nico can speak in Italian (thank you to my kindle for having a translation feature), and I wanted these two to be together all the time. Oh, and be prepared for a sexual tension smorgasbord!

In order to avoid being spoilery, I will not give away any more details of the plot. I went into it blind, and I was so glad that I did. It allowed me to be surprised when I needed to be, humbled by the twist in circumstances when appropriate, and act as the relationship cheerleader on the sidelines when my crew needed a pick-me-up or a swift kick in the butt. I was even properly annoyed and defensive when my peeps were not doing what I wanted them to do. I felt a large range of emotions and by the end I wanted to read it all over again (and did reread the end a few times).

But I must give Penny bonus props on her "choose your own adventure" twist. Brilliant! How many authors give you options when you're reading? Not many. But Penny, in all her wisdom, gives her readers one more reason to love her writing. Of course I read both options, and the reader will be satisfied either way.

As for Penny's writing and the amazing story she weaves, as you can see, I loved it. It's different from NSH, but change is good. And Penny was able to demonstrate the different ways she uses humor and human interactions, as well as a compassionate and touching story. NSH was not a one-hit-wonder (like some of Elizabeth's boy bands), and Friends Without Benefits is a hit all on its own. I cannot wait for the rest of the books in this series.

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Side Note: 10% of profits from Friends Without Benefits will be going to a different pediatric rare disease research foundation every month.

Knitting in the City Series:
Neanderthal Seeks Human: A Smart Romance (Knitting in the City, #1)   Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance (Knitting in the City, #2)
About the Author:
Penny Reid has difficulty writing about herself in the third person. She finds it strange and unsettling. Therefore, Penny will now switch to the first person.

I'm originally from California but now live in the Southeast US with my family after going to college in the area. I work full time at a large University in the field of biomedical research (e.g. clinical research studies conducted under the auspices of the FDA). I work a lot. I also love to knit and crochet; sew bags, blankets, and clothes; carve lino blocks for fabric printing; make homemade soap, jam, marmalade; and- most recently- I'm learning to garden.

I don't like to sit still unless I'm writing, reading, or knitting and I usually only knit in my knitting group... or at red lights while stuck in traffic. I only read on planes (where I'm trapped). Luckily, I travel a lot for work.

The voices in my head (characters) became so loud over the summer of 2012- specifically, Janie Morris- that I was forced to write Neanderthal Seeks Human, my first attempt at a full length novel. It took me 7 months while working full time, crafting, and raising my people-children (boy-5, girl-3).

If I could have any job in the world it would be my job because I feel like what I do makes a tangible difference in the lives of every living person. If I could have any life in the world it would be my life. Happiness is the seed of good fortune and success. Do what it takes to be happy and be a source of happiness for others.

Penny's website: http://reidromance.blogspot.com/

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