Katerina's Reviews > Friends Without Benefits

Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid
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it was ok

Elizabeth is Janie's best friend, and a valued member of the Knitting Ladies Circle.

I was hesitant with this book because it was a second chance love story. I rarely ever can stand second chance love stories; they make me angry and the angst is always high. For the first sixty percent, I felt really good, like a definite four star rating was on the way — I was whooping at PR for her ability to change my mind. The last forty percent, I back stepped 'cause I didn't it enjoy so much.

Both Nico and Elizabeth have known each other their entire lives after growing up in the same neighbourhood. He relentlessly teased her growing up, and in result of his mean, and spiteful behaviour, —essentially used to disguise a crush and gain her attention — they had a rocky relationship whereby they cared deeply for each other but couldn't stand the other. Elizabeth was never in love with Nico, because she never saw beyond the immediate rude front. She thought he hated her by persisting in making her life a misery. Rather, at 15, she fell for Garrett, who later became Nico's best friend. Garrett died a year later from a rare disease. Nico always felt that Garrett had been Elizabeth's choice, and as a popular student, was with other girls - which Elizabeth never took notice of. It wasn't that Garrett was her choice, simply that Nico was never even an option in her mind. However following Garrett's death, Nico consoled her for four months after, until she lost her virginity to him one night. Elizabeth fled in shame, confusion, hurt and discomfort that she wasn't able to fall in love, that she had feelings. She ignored any contact attempt made by Nico, and when she returned at 18 for senior year, he had already left high school —picked up by a modelling agency. She never realised the extent of his feelings for her believing he tolerated her.

Years later they come face to face at the hospital where Elizabeth works as a resident as Elizabeth will be treating his niece who has cystic fibrosis. Elizabeth's never had long term relationships, preferring casual affairs. Nico is now a famous comedian, and quickly proposes to Elizabeth that they should be friends. Guilt follows her for the way she abandoned him. Soon after, he admits he's always been in love with her, pursuing her and trying his damnedest to convey that to her. I could feel his longing. And his confounded belief that it was unrequited, the hurt he carried.

“And when I saw you in Chicago, even though I thought I was over it, over you—I knew I still . . .” He swallowed. “I’m still in love with you.” I felt the angry hesitation, frustrated indecision in him just before he released my arms. He took a step backward. “I just wanted you to know.” 

It was about her journey back to him. Her hesitancy. Their gravitation. What I found annoying was how Elizabeth thought she was a 'user of men' when she had only slept with four men throughout her entire life including Nico. What kind of message is that?

What bothered me wasn't that Nico dated in the ten years apart, which was more than fine as they both did, but rather Nico fell in love with another. I found it took away from the validity of his love for her, because he claimed been in love with her his "whole life" to the point it ended up feeling like this martyred statement piece. This guilt tripping act of devotion, like he hadn't been sleeping with other girls out of anger and hurt whilst he was in love with her when they were tweens or like he hadn't moved on. Rightfully he had, but he talked as if he hadn't. Her love didn't pre-exist - she wasn't in love with him, he on the other hand was in love with her, yet in the years apart he did fall in love with someone else. I felt like it was wrong because he knew Elizabeth held his heart (even if she didn't know) but he could give it away and love another woman? Share it? Transfer it? Exchange his heart of one woman for another? Pause his unrequited love? Falling in love after you have fallen in love with the one? To me, that wasn't fair. I'm not saying you can't fall in love again, but for me a hero falling in love after falling in love with the heroine gives me reader hives. It tainted a lot of their relationship that I was more than enjoying up until that point. He gave a brief overview of his relationship with girl 2.0. It didn't just make Elizabeth jealous, it made her insecure. I realise my depiction sounds idealistic and a bit naive but that's one of the biggest requirements from romances: one epic love and never falling after you have fallen for the hero/heroine.

Maybe I would read a piece of fiction about falling in love before the protagonist has met the hero/heroine but one hundred percent I wouldn't tolerate in my reading choice material after. It's my extremely picky personal preference. I know he loves her, but the whole yearning thing/ pity party he had going on... Once I got the full back story, it did have me rolling my eyes because I wasn't all that swayed by it anymore. The only reason I wasn't so mad was because... well, she loved Garrett in her tween years and that must have been really hard for Nico. However, the fact he didn't immediately come back after she was hurt physically and emotionally by one of his stalkers —at that point when she needed support regardless of their relationship status was horrible and cowardly and so wrong. He wasn't a funny comedian either.

They patch things up, get their HEA, but I was still grumbling. I thought he could have done better at the end.

Least favourite book of the series so far in my opinion.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 31, 2017 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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 Leo (Queen of the Rants) Amazing, Amazing review Katerina. ❤️

message 2: by Alex ♈ (new)

Alex ♈ Great review, Katerina!
I try to avoid 2nd chance. Got burned a couple of times.
I hope your next one will be a winner!

message 3: by Ann Lou (new)

Ann Lou Great honest review Katerina! So, I will definitely not be reading this one. Hope your next one's a winner. :)

message 4: by Cyndi (new) - added it

Cyndi Fabulous review! This is not my kind of hero!

Katerina Thanks lovelies. ❤️❤️❤️

message 6: by Rejane (new) - added it

Rejane Great review. Being in love with heroine and falling in love with another one?? No way my kind of romance. Not reading this.

Katerina Thanks rejane. It was going so well until I came across that tid bit of knowledge.

Jennifer Your review is spot on. I was way too lazy to write as much as you did, but I agreed with everything you said. In addition, Nico's justifying having half naked women on his show was lame. Seriously. I'm not an ultra feminist but his reasoning offended even me.

✴ Cindy ✴  I agree. I don't think I'd enjoy this book. Thanks.

Tova Yaffa "What I found annoying was how Elizabeth thought she was a 'user of men' when she had only slept with four men throughout her entire life including Nico. What kind of message is that?"

Yes to this. Love Penny Reid but this kind of shaming is in literally every one of her books in relation to every one of her characters. If there was a common theme amongst them it would be to count a character's number of sexual partners to determine their worth and romantic Q-factor. Not going to stop me from reading but it gets tiring.

Becky I just read this book, and I had the exact same complaints. I felt like Nico wanted to rewrite his past and claim that he’d always loved Elizabeth and she’d always been “the one”...when that clearly wasn’t the case.

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