Friends with Benefits
Margot Radcliffe’s Friends with Benefits is a fine erotic romance that’s warm, friendly, and a little light on the plot – as is typical for most of the books in Harlequin’s Dare line.
Las Vegas Party girl and mogul Alexa Lawson leads a pretty charmed life. She runs all three of her uncle’s casinos but the Halcyon is her favorite – her baby, because she designed it.
Carter Hayes is used to Alexa’s teasing nature and wild ways; they’ve been best friends for ages, and neither of them has ever been willing to ruin that connection with sex in spite of their crackling sexual chemistry. He brings her truffles from Paris, looks out for her when her employees try to cheat her, and has generally stayed the same wonderful, nerdy guy he’s been since they were kids. Which is why Alexa is upset when Carter announces he needs to move to California for a year to open his company’s San Francisco office.
Just as Alexa hoped, her uncle announces his retirement and that the Halcyon will be hers if he can sell his other investments – which is something he can’t seem to do thanks to her reputation. Yeah – It’s one of those “don’t ask questions, it’s a Dare book” kinda plots. That’s when Alexa tells Carter she has a perfect solution to their woes; Carter should pose as her fiancé. That will both keep him in town and make her look respectable and settled down, thus impressing her uncle with her grown up behavior and convincing him to hand over the Halcyon. Good thing they’re so invested in their friendship there’s no chance love will intervene!
Any student of romancelandia knows the answer to that one – and how real Alexa and Carter’s romance will become before the novel’s conclusion. Friends with Benefits has fun getting there though, dipping its pages in the glitter of Vegas and sending its characters through the whirl of emotions and sexual connection.
Alexa is a fun heroine – the right kind of wild – and Carter is a good guy, still as lovestruck by her as ever.
As always, the extreme streamlining required to fit a decent plot into the required Dare page count results in super speedy developments that don’t linger over the nuances of those changes for very long. Radcliffe’s characters make fun of themselves for being rich, and they want to apply themselves and be good to the people they employ (and sometimes struggle when their employees are forced to stray from similar moral codes due to the fact that they lack the Alexa and Carter’s own financial resources). There’s not much time to linger over emotional development – but Radcliffe does try to make her characters feel three dimensional between the alley sex. And the blindfolded sex. And the sexy sex sex.
Friends with Benefits is a nice, quick read with spice and a tender friendship that becomes more. Easy to snap up and consume, but not really the most memorable Dare in the line’s catalog.