Release Date: June 8th, 2021
Presley Hale and Sebastian Vargas are no strangers to goodbye. Their high school summers were spent wrapped up in each other until she would inevitably go home to California. One season after college, Sebastian finally escaped the little Texas town to travel the world, and they said goodbye for what they thought might be the last time.
Sebastian went one way. Presley went the other.
For the first time in five years, they’re both in town, but the timing is no better than ever. So the only thing to do is what they do best. Keep it casual.
Friends with benefits.
They’ve done it before—doing it again will be easy.
But their hearts don’t get the memo.
When the lines of their arrangement blur, Presley and Sebastian are faced with decisions they’ve avoided for years. And that’s not even their biggest problem.
A small town in danger of failing.
A secret that could tear them apart.
And two hearts that can’t hide anymore.
They’ve shared so many summers, but none compare to what they’ll face.
Timing is everything.
And their time is almost up.
“In moments like this, everything was simple. Every choice was easy. I was meant for him, and he was meant for me. Simple as that.”
Till this day, I haven’t met a Staci Hart book that I did not like. And Friends with Benedicts joins that long list of favourites. This book was packed with so many of my favourite things – single parent, summer flings, second chance romance, great supporting characters and of course, a small town. There was also a deeper message in Friends with Benedicts, that really made the book altogether a wonderful read!
Presley and Sebastian have known each other for years, but only every summer when they indulge in a little old fashioned fling. From when they’re teenagers till four years and nine months ago. Their summers in the small town of Lindenbach, Texas were memorable, sexy and an altogether good time. They’ve never admitted to feeling more for each other, even though it’s obvious that their relationship runs deeper in every which way. But now, Presley’s left her California small town (where you’ll remember Olivia and Jake in Bet the Farm reside) to move back to Lindenbach with her mother and four year old daughter. The only person she wants to see is Sebastian, but he’s also the one person she’s afraid to see because of secrets that could ruin everything they’ve been enjoying. And the obvious way they feel about each other.
“I think I knew the second our eyes met that I was going to fall in love with her.”
These two, though. Gah! My heart. I love that their summer flings haven’t made them bitter about each other, instead it’s only made them fall in love more. Those few months they had together growing up was enough and it was everything. They’ve been friends with benefits forever, but when Presley and Sebastian reunite as adults, things start to change. And I loved that so much. Because they both want each other, but they’re not sure if it’s going to work. See, Sebastian has spent his whole life wanting to leave and Presley’s never stayed longer than a summer. So if they make their relationship official, will it work when they’re not together?
Sebastian is a swoony hero. He’s all kinds of sexy and charming and macho, but he’s also soft around the edges and he loves Presley in a way that makes him so much more special. His family means everything to him and even his ex isn’t his enemy, he handles all of their issues and mistakes with such grace and care. I loved his scenes with his mother and abuela, because it shows you what kind of man he is and then of course, all of his scenes with Priscilla were the kind that will make your ovaries explode, and make your panties melt and your heart just give out. In short, Sebastian is the perfect hero.
“As if the very core of who we were knew the other, and when we kissed, the pieces snapped together precisely.”
Presley is an amazing heroine – she’s kind, gracious, an incredible mother, a good friend and she’s also so much fun. I love her sass and her sense of humour and how much of that got passed onto Priscilla, her daughter. Presley is the girl next door and she’s relatable and lovable right off the bat. One of my favourite things about the character was how she is with other people, including supporting characters. Even when faced with Sebastian’s ex, she’s not horrible, she’s courteous and she gives them the benefit of the doubt every step of the way.
I love the way Staci writes her steamy scenes. It’s never just about the sex, it’s about the emotions and the feelings and how deep all of that runs. Yes, they are steamy and you will be fanning yourself as you read, but it’s also because of how intricately she’s woven the emotions of these characters into the sex they’re having. It’s not just about a thrust or a push, it’s woven into the most minute body language. To truly understand what I mean, you’ll need to pick a Staci Hart book or 10.
There was definitely more to this story than just Presley and Sebastian’s romance and I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘save the town’ storyline. Most small town romances, we don’t really get to see how the town struggles, which is fine. We’re enjoying the quirky characters and the things that make each town special, but in Friends with Benedicts, there’s so much more and Staci sucks you in as the characters do whatever it takes to save and protect their small town. Speaking of small town characters, we’ve been introduced to a whole heap of new ones in the form of the Blum sisters and I, for one, am pretty excited to see what happens with them. I even really liked Sebastian’s ex, which is saying something, because in romance the ex is always the villain in the story, right?
I didn’t think I would grow so attached to another set of Staci Hart’s characters like I did with the Bad Habits and Austens crew, but I am so excited to meet everyone else that connects back to Friends with Benedicts and Bet the Farm!
Thanks to Staci Hart for generously providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.