Monday, October 7, 2013

REVIEW: "Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance" by Penny Reid

Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance (Knitting in the City, #2)
Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance by Penny Reid
(Knitting in the City #2)

Goodreads -- Amazon
Author Website

For Ages 18+
Contemporary Romance
Self-Published -- September 29, 2013
Ebook, 423 pages
Received from author

Unrequited Love, Second Chance At Love, Comedy

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.

"I recognized him instantly even though the last time I saw him in person he was seventeen, naked, and asleep."


I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I read Penny Reid's debut contemporary romance, Neanderthal Seeks Human, earlier this year and really liked it.  So I was ecstatic when I was contacted by Ms. Reid a few weeks ago and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the next book in the Knitting in the City series.  And I am happy to say that I found Friends Without Benefits to be as entertaining and romantic as its prequel!

This book focuses on Dr. Elizabeth Finney (Janie's roommate from NSH) who is reunited with her childhood nemesis, Nico, a famous comedian and performer.  Their reunion is a bit strained due to their pasts, but things really pick up when Elizabeth discovers that Nico has been in love with her for years and is determined to build a friendship or relationship with her.  The rest of book deals with Elizabeth's reaction to this announcement and all the situations she gets herself in.

What I Liked

  • I loved the way that Penny Reid portrayed Elizabeth.  She was a very admirable heroine with intelligence, a wicked sense of humor, and lots of kindness that is shown in her job as a medical resident.  She also has quite a few quirks that make her relatable to readers.  I think one of my favorite of her character traits is her obsessive love of boy bands and the way she uses them to explain her moods to her friends and Nico.
  • One of my favorite story lines in romance novels is unrequited love so I really enjoyed that part of this book.  The fact that it was Nico with the long-time crush just made it seem fresh and original.  His devotion to Elizabeth was very sweet and never seemed over-the-top or stalker-ish.  I also appreciated the fact that he understood where Elizabeth was coming from and was patient with her.
  • I also enjoyed the return of the Knitting Club which is helping tie the series together.  I love books with strong female friendships and I think these ladies are great examples of that theme.  Each woman is strong, but in her own unique fashion that I think all readers will enjoy. 
  • Another set of side characters that I liked in this book was Nico's family especially his mother and niece.  His niece's health issues are the reason for the initial reunion and I thought she was a great child character: cute, sassy, but never annoying spunky.  And Mrs. Manganiello just cracked me up with her blatant attempts to get Nico and Elizabeth to hook up.
  • I thought that Friends Without Benefits had a good balance between romance, comedy, and drama.  This was one area where I thought NSH was weak so it was great to see that development in Reid's writing style.  There is a secondary subplot that involves one of Nico's "fans" stalking him and Elizabeth.  I thought it was handled appropriately and never seemed to overshadow the main plot line which was the romance.
  • The ending of this book was absolutely adorable!  It had great pacing and was funny as hell.  Elizabeth especially had to grow as a character which I thought she showed in this final scene. 

What I Didn't Like

  • While I really liked Elizabeth's character, I did find myself getting annoyed with her inability to completely trust Nico.  I got that she was a bit gun shy after her first love (Nico's best friend) died while they were in high school, but, by a certain point, I just wanted to smack her for not seeing what was right in front of her.  This also got on my nerves because, as a reader, I could see how much it was hurting Nico which always is hard for me to deal with.
  • I did think the plot lost its way toward the middle of the book.  Things felt a bit long-winded and it kinda dragged for me.  But, as soon as I got bored, the story picked back up and I continued to read late into the night.
All in all, I really liked this book and thought it was a great installment in a fabulous series.  Penny Reid has shown some obvious development in her writing and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!


"He was. . . disconcerting.  His willingness to be vulnerable with me was unsettling; the openness of his emotions, simmering just beneath the surface.  I couldn't recall him ever being like that in the past.  Or, maybe, as a kid and as a teenager, I just saw what I expected.  Maybe I never really looked at him.  Maybe it was there, he was there all along, and I was just blind to it, to him.  He, and our shared history, was suddenly something new."

1. Neanderthal Seeks Human
2. Friends Without Benefits
2.5. Neanderthal Marries Human (Coming 2014)
3. Love Hacked (Coming 2014)


  1. I'm a sucker for unrequited love stories, too, although I prefer when it's the girl who's secretly in love with the guy. Only because I can relate to that more. This book does sound super cute. I would probably get frustrated with Elizabeth, too, though.

    1. It is just adorable! Thanks for visiting!

  2. Great review, Jennifer! I absolutely agree with you about the ending - it was much better than NSH. It is a good thing that we will get Janie and Quinn's wedding in a separate book.

    1. I was so excited when I saw that about the wedding! Can't wait until 2014! Thanks for visiting.


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