Friends With Benefits by Cheyenne Meadows

Friends With Benefits by Cheyenne Meadows
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (125 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lilac

Playboy wolf shifter Wiley can’t duck out of his pack’s biggest annual event, despite knowing his grandmother has possible suitors lined up and waiting. Wiley has no intention of settling down, and the situation dangles just above disaster. Thankfully, Wiley’s best friend, lion shifter Ram, agrees to pose as Wiley’s boyfriend for the weekend.

They find out fate has other plans when they kiss on a dare, and the passion erupts, so hot and intense they fear the couch may spontaneously combust beneath them. Neither man is able to push the small act of affection from his mind, but both struggle with uncertainty and the ramifications of following where their libidos lead.

If they can’t outrun their feelings, they’ll have to muster the courage to face their fears before they lose everything, including their friendship.

A wolf shifter and a lion shifter are best friends. But can their friendship survive the sudden sexual attraction sparks between them?

This is a friends-to-lovers story with a paranormal twist. I don’t mean just the two men, Ram the lion and Wiley the wolf, being shifters, but the shifter world around them. Both men play baseball professionally in an all-shifter league. And the wolf community especially plays a big part in the story, as Wiley asks Ram to pretend to be his boyfriend to avoid familial match-making. What Wiley neglects to tell Ram is that the weekend is an all-out buffet of casual sexual encounters and downright orgies. Not easy for their strict relationship as friends-only when the air is thick with arousal and everyone’s pairing up.

Meadows has a talent for writing sensuous scenes. She also manages to create funny, smart, and relatable characters even when the story is mostly filled with sex. Impressive. Ram is reserved and kind of lazy too, as befitting the king of the jungle. Wiley is more active, one of those morning people that just burst with energy. Their interaction is at the heart of the story, and the first half of the book is focused on dialogue and learning about the shifter world. The sensual stuff comes in the latter half, and from that point forward there’s so much sex that at some point you just want the story to move forward.

The plot is simple. Two friends pretend to be lovers, only to become lovers as the pretense wears thin. The first half of the book, when the two men spend a weekend among the wolves, was great. Plenty of humor and fun, engaging dialogue and wonderful characters. Loved it. Sure, there was some needless repetition with Wiley’s Grandma’s sexual escapades, occasional nudity, and other people remarking how awesome that is (kids seeing too much is usually a big fat NO!) and more power to her. Once or twice, fun. Six or seven times, been there, done that, move on, please. The second part of the book, as stated before, is non-stop sex, with a single argument in the middle. So, not particularly intricate, but catchy nonetheless.

Meadows has a way of bringing even the most outlandish characters to life, as fleshed out men and women, and that is the strength of her writing. For me personally the first part of the book was the best. The randy wolf community, Pip the little mix-breed mutt who keeps asking awkward questions, and the slow growth of Ram and Wiley’s relationship. Toward the end, it felt like there was endless sex scenes for sex’s sake alone, but I leave it to you to decide whether that’s a good or a bad thing. For an erotic paranormal shifter romance, this one is pretty good, and it’s no hardship to recommend this.

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