Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Adulting in romancelandia can be tough. I’ve read numerous romances where the hero and heroine deserved a severe can of whoopa$$ for their, oftentimes, bald-faced lies. Pettiness becomes the source of tension, and while entertaining, at some point, it frustrates the reader.
And then, there is Staci Hart’s newest book, Friends with Benedicts. There are choices that Hart could have made for the sake of the drama of this story. Given that it’s touted as a romantic comedy, I understand her choices. But what I love about her intention for this book is her seeming insistence on allowing her hero, Sebastian, and her heroine, Presley, to act as adults…at least for most of the story. There is no romantic comedy without angst, and FWB has its share. In the midst of the tension, you really do want to backhand Sebastian and Presley over their stubbornness. But it comes down to vulnerability, and that is a struggle for humankind, really. We, people, also struggle to speak our feelings, and Hart brilliantly captures that through Sebastian and Presley’s struggles.
This book, like Hart’s other books, has so much deliciousness in it. Let me make a list of all the ways you’ll love this story.
- Sebastian and Presley, quite frankly, are sweet. Except for one main issue, there is no real trouble between them. It’s easy. They support each other; they are each other’s favorite people. This makes for a romance that is both steamy and adorable. Except for a stubborn inability to share their full truths (there are reasons for it that make sense even though it might frustrate the reader) these two are completely and utterly fated for each other, and you can’t help but want to cheer them on.
- There is a serious female brigade of support in this book. I am excited for more of the Blum Sisters’ stories because they intrigue me. From their mama to Presley’s mama to each of the cousins, there is a group of women who help Presley raise her daughter to be an independent young girl. What’s not to love about that?
- There is diversity in this story, not just racial but $exual. I love that we have a Latinx hero in Sebastian, and his culture is splayed on the page. I love that Wayne, who from the outside is the furthest from the perceived notion of a gay man, finding a place in this story in his longing for Manny and their eventual coupling. Staci Hart is so careful to include characters that look like underrepresented people. It’s thoughtful and necessary.
- Priscilla is precocious and the glue of this story. I could say the message about living in the present, taking each moment at a time would be the tie that binds this book together, but honestly, it’s Priscilla, and she will make you laugh as you want to cry over her parents.
Over and over again, Staci Hart crafts these treasures of stories. Friends with Benedicts, in any other hands, would lack its magic. From its cover to its craftsmanship, this book will easily steal your time while it also steals a little piece of your heart. Don’t miss out on this story!
In love and romance,