Title: Billionaire with Benefits
Author: Anne Tenino
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 443 Pages
At a Glance: Fell just a bit short of the quality work I am used to reading by this author
Blurb: It’s just a friend thing.
Before confessing his gayness to his best friend, Tierney Terrebonne’s sex life is strictly restroom. After confessing his gayness to his best friend . . . it doesn’t improve much. Why bother trying when the man he’s loved for fourteen years (see: “best friend”) is totally unattainable? Good thing Tierney is an old hand at accepting defeat; all it takes is a bottle of bourbon. Or fifty. Repeat as needed.
Dalton Lehnart has a history of dating wealthy, damaged, closeted, lying, cheating, no-good, cowardly men, so of course he’s immediately attracted to Tierney Terrebonne. Fortunately, Tierney is so dissolute that even Dalton’s feelings for the man would be better described as pity. Which becomes sympathy as they get to know each other. Followed by compassion, concern, caring, and hopefulness as Tierney struggles to change his life. When the man comes out very publicly and enters rehab, Dalton finds himself downright attached to Tierney. And as everyone knows, after attachment comes . . .
But post-rehab Tierney can’t handle more than friendship, so Dalton should be safe from repeating his own past mistakes, right? Right?
Review: Tierney is a walking disaster. Deeply closeted and fearful that if he steps outside the boundaries set by an aging Grandfather he will be the disappointment of the family, Tierney hides and drinks and grows more angry with every passing year. When he discovers that his best friend Ian, whom he has had a secret crush on for years, is actually gay and in a relationship, his entire world implodes, leaving Tierney a drunken, wounded mess. It will take the help of one former rent boy, Dalton, and the most poorly planned announcement that he is gay to make Tierney realize he can no longer live pushing the anger and hurt down with nightly bottles of bourbon. The only question that remains is can he really be the one person to commit to loving such a wonderful man as Dalton? And should he even try?
The second installment of the Romancelandia series, Billionaire With Benefits, is a sweeping saga that follows the slow and steady implosion of Tierney Terrebonne, the youngest member of a family that has more money than god, and strict rules of conduct every good member of the clan must follow. Complete with massive doses of inner dialogue from both Tierney and his friend-with-benefits, Dalton, the novel is a study in character like no other I have read. This is not a quick read. Rather, it is a real dismantling and introspective study of how one man represses himself to the point of nearly drowning in the booze that he uses to keep all his anger and needs at bay. Fortunately, Tierney has a few friends who amazingly stay by his side despite how hard he tries to kick them away. Ian, for example, his old college buddy and long time crush, gives Tierney chance after chance despite the fact that most of their encounters early on end with punches being thrown or loud, explosive and nasty interchanges. When Dalton finally meets Tierney it is a sure bet that there is an attraction, but will it be the destructive kind where Dalton once more sublimates what he needs to cater to the whims of a rich playboy? That is a path Dalton refuses to take again but perhaps there can be something more with Tierney—the real Tierney, the one Dalton sees underneath all the sarcasm and anger and hiding.
Anne Tenino is an author I genuinely enjoy. Her biting wit and ability to draw realistic and wounded characters is the stuff that great novels are made of, time and again. Billionaire With Benefits is not the typical romantic comedy we are so used to seeing from this author, but it was still a remarkable study in how one deeply confused and angry man can turn his life around, given the right support system and someone to love—someone to make all that work worthwhile. Never rushing, the story unfolds slowly, allowing us to really understand the depth of Tierney’s fears and paranoia. With each moment that was spent watching this poor man drop further and further into the abyss, you grew to love him more and more. However, this story was not without some serious missteps that made me confused and wondering why the author chose to go down the path she took.
I believe the place where this novel broke down for me was twofold. The first was actually Dalton’s family. I really grew to dislike his sister Andrea and, quite frankly, did not understand why she was written as a strident and bitchy meddling older sister. I felt that if she and the brothers were really the ones who took Dalton in after his parents threw him out that she would somehow be more supportive and caring. Her constant harping felt like she was attacking her brother rather than caring for him, and I could not understand Dalton’s desire to even remain in contact with her.
The second place was the short time that Tierney attended rehab. Two weeks just does not seem like enough time for a man to get on stable footing after he had hit rock bottom, drinking daily a bottle or more of bourbon, and so confused and terrified about coming out that he blurted it out in a drunken moment at his Grandfather’s wake. Then we are to believe that the rehab center releases him with admonitions that he should contact a therapist and maybe look in to AA? He was an absolute mess, a well-written, highly believable mess, and the swift way in which he was “cured” enough to somehow cope by setting up a network of friends to contact when he felt on the edge seemed just too farfetched for me. For all the time and effort that went in to writing this fascinating character just to have him be shoved through recovery felt wrong.
Anne Tenino is a top-notch author who consistently gives us impeccable novels with interesting and entertaining storylines. For me, Billionaire With Benefits fell just a bit short of the quality work I am used to reading by this author.
You can buy Billionaire with Benefits here: