A MelanieM Review: Billionaire with Benefits (Romancelandia #2) by Anne Tenino

Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

 It’s just a friend thing.

BillionaireWithBenefits_400x600For fourteen years  Tierney Terrebonne’, of the Ambulance  Service owning Terrebonne family, has been in love with his best friend, Ian Kelly. Someone he thought was straight and therefore off limits.  But the truth was that his best friend was gay and in love with someone else.  That was a reality that Tierney couldn’t and didn’t handle very well.  Weighed down from years of emotional repression from his authoritative grandfather, Tierney has stayed firmly in the closet where his parents and brother prefers him to remain.  But the cost to Tierney results in a man losing his battles with alcohol abuse and a pattern of self destructive behavior that is costing him the few friends he has left.  Including the one he thinks he is still in love with.

Dalton Lehnart’s life has been one of rejection and rebounding, over and over again.  From parents that threw him away when he was outed in high school, to a series of wealthy, damaged, closeted, lying, cheating, no-good, cowardly men, who kept him…for a while, temporary has been Dalton’s middle name. But now Dalton has a job he likes, and good friends so things are looking up.  Then Tierney Terrebonne weaves into his boss’s office, reaking of booze and demands. Of course Dalton finds he’s immediately attracted to Tierney Terrebonne. Damaged men are his thing, right?

Somehow as Tierney tilts towards a complete meltdown, Dalton is there trying to save the man he sees underneath the posturing and self destructive alcohol-induced behavior.  When Tierney outs himself in the worst possible manner on the worst possible moment, the aftermath finds Tierney checking into rehab and Dalton is there with support.

Dalton soon finds out that timing is everything when the post rehab Tierney can’t  handle anything other than friendship, just when Dalton thinks they might have something more.  That should make it easy for Dalton to leave it at friendship, shouldn’t it?  But what if the safest thing for them both isn’t the best thing for both?  What happens when “just a friend thing” isn’t enough?

I love Anne Tenino.  Her characters have such heart and life to them that’s its almost impossible to leave them behind when the story is done.  I definitely felt that way about Sam and Ian Kelly from the first Romancelandia story, Too Stupid To Live (Romancelandia #1).  Sam was so endearing and hug worthy that he almost levitated off the pages.  Adding Ian Kelly to Sam brought about a romance that was funny, heartwarming, and real.  Luckily, for this story, both have large roles to play out here.  Why is that such an important aspect to Billionaire with Benefits?  Because without them and the character of Dalton Lehnart, this book would sink under the weight of Tierney Terrebonne, a character so problematic that living inside his head is painful and sad at best, irritating and prolonged at the worst.

The story switches pov from Tierney to Dalton and back, but for the most part, its Tierney’s head we live inside.  We are present for all his repressed thoughts and feelings, his sense of entitlement, his endless bouts with the bottle and feelings of insecurity.  We are there through all the countless drunks and sobering mornings, the meanness and the apologies (a pattern anyone familiar with substance abuse will recognize).  He, himself, understands that he is acting like a “douchebag”, a term I’m not fond of.  He’s an extraordinarily well written believable mess of a man, a character so well defined by his issues and past that he is both identifiable and authentic.  And he is the voice for the majority of this story.

How the reader handles that intimacy with such a exasperating character will figure into how well they enjoy or commit to this story.  For me, it felt like spending time with someone with a large substance abuse problem, a person I was not particularly fond of.  I didn’t start to appreciate Tierney until I was able to see him through the eyes of Dalton, a man with a weakness for damaged men with his own angst filled past to boot.  And even then,Dalton was far more the interesting and relatable personality.  Dalton I totally enjoyed, from his perspective on life to his attempts to be supportive while raising enough barriers to keep himself emotionally safe.  Of course, Dalton too is well written, so we can see  how that is going to work out for him.  I think had the time spent within this story been reversed, so that’s its Dalton’s voice we hear most of the time, my feelings about Billionaire with Benefits would be more positive and the rating higher.

The last element  that bothered me was the miracle of “rehab”.  Two weeks and an almost lifetime of alcohol abuse is dealt with successfully.  While a far more realistic approach to Tierney’s recovery and life as a recovering alcoholic would have required almost as many pages as it took him to get there, even a shortened version of the real thing would have made this aspect of the story more believable as Tierney becomes sober.

So again, what saved this story?  Apart from Dalton that is? The inclusion of Sam, lovely, light-hearted, romance story loving Sam.  And Ian of course.  Sam and Ian’s interaction with Dalton amused and informed (along with the romance novels Sam loves so well).  They added just the right type and tone of perspective on Tierney and Dalton that the reader required, and the balance of their relationship versus what was happening with Tierney and Dalton was a welcome relief.

Billionaire with Benefits seems to be along the same time line as Too Stupid Too Live, with some of the same events occuring in both.  This works so both stories can be read as stand alones or together to round out the time frame and relationships between all the reoccurring characters.  Next up is Miller’s story, one I have been waiting on.  I can’t wait to see Miller have his own HEA.  As for Billionaire with Benefits, some will love it, others not. I will leave it up to you as to whether it appears on your TBR list or not.

Cover artist: L.C. Chase.  Love that cover.  It’s adorable and lighthearted, far more so than this book. I only wished I liked the story inside half as well.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing   All Romance eBooks  amazon   Billionaire with Benefits

Book Details:

ebook, 415 pages
Published October 18th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
original titleBillionaire with Benefits (Romancelandia #2)
edition languageEnglish
seriesRomancelandia #2
charactersTierney Terrebonne

Romancelandia Series, all can be read as standalones or together:

Too Stupid to Live (Romancelandia, #1)
Billionaire with Benefits (Romancelandia #2)

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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