While I connected to What If You & Me from the start (it was one of my favorite books of 2021), there was something missing for me with For You & No One Else, and the back half just made me feel completely disconnected from the characters. I liked both characters individually; they had great friend-chemistry, and there are some cute moments along the way. But I’ve never been a fan of friends with benefits relationships, and this one was particularly rough for me. That friend-chemistry didn’t translate into the swoons, especially since they managed to (mostly) keep feelings out of the equation until VERY late into the book. There are some really interesting and unique concepts explored in the (potentially triggering) story, and I think this had the potential to be excellent. It simply didn’t come together in a fulfilling way – and that was exceedingly disappointing.
The story follows Eliza, a therapist who hasn’t had any luck in her dating life. She’s 32 now and ready for something real, but finding the right guy – who is ready for commitment – is a struggle. Her office neighbor is a sweet yet sexy twenty-something, and the two soon discover that they’re great as friends. While Beckham (25) is incredibly attracted to Eliza, he’s not in the market for a relationship, and crossing the line with her would make him like all of the other commitment-phobic guys she’s been dating recently. They’re better as friends (or possibly friends with benefits), but that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to remember all of the very real reasons they should keep it that way.
This series has excelled at exploring real, heavy situations in a way that’s authentic but also uplifting. Be sure to check the content warnings on this one, as there were a LOT of things that popped up unexpectedly. I liked that both Eliza and Beckham have good reasons for seeking out specific types of relationships, and that adds plenty of friction as they both try to stand by those positions. That part of the story worked for me in a big way. I do wish that we’d gotten to know Beckham’s backstory better early on, because it was like a punch to the gut when the revelations came to light – too much, too over-the-top, too late in the story. I can see why he wanted to stick to a friends with benefits situation, but there were certain aspects that really rubbed me the wrong way. (MINOR SPOILER) Personally, I think that setting your friend up with a girl and then being friends with benefits with her in secret while she starts dating him is… not okay. And that doesn’t happen until late into the story either. There were other situations that made me uncomfortable too, and certain things become bigger issues when the character is a therapist – she should know better. Yes, I liked that it showed that therapists are flawed humans too, but I do think certain things should’ve been handled differently. Ultimately, I liked the foundation of the story a whole lot, but every time I was settling into the romance, something else would bug me.
The audio was simple – a single narrator reading a third person/dual perspective story without a lot of inflection in her voice. I had trouble distinguishing between the characters; Ketchum isn’t “performing” much, she’s simply reading the text. That made it easy to switch back and forth between the text and audio, but I wouldn’t say that the audiobook added anything to the experience. While I like Ketchum’s voice, I vastly prefer audiobooks that enhance the reading experience through great performances. The story works well in audio though – the tone is upbeat, with a slower-burn romance and not a ton of heat. You could listen to a lot of this at the office, though there is some steam in the back half. The runtime also works well for a workday listen, especially if you increase the speed a little. It’s around 10 hours long, so probably more than one sitting, but manageable in a single day. If you’re someone who prefers audio, then it’s well done and easygoing, but this isn’t a remarkable performance that will encourage you to switch to the format.
Eliza Catalano has the perfect life. So what if it actually looks nothing like the story she tells online? As a therapist, it’s part of her job to look like she has all the answers, right? But when Eliza ends up as a viral “Worst Date Ever” meme, everything in her Instagram-filtered world begins to crumble.
Enter the most obnoxiously attractive man she’s ever met, and a bet she can’t resist: if she swears off social media for six months, Beck Carter’ll teach her the wonders of surviving the “real world.” No technology, no dating apps, no pretty filters, no BS.
It seems like the perfect deal—she can lay low until her sudden infamy passes, meet some interesting new people, and maybe even curate this experience into a how I quit the online dating racket book along the way. But something about Beck’s raw honesty speaks to Eliza in ways she never expected. She knows he’s supposed to be completely hands-off…but as complex feelings grow and walls come tumbling down, rough-around-the-edges Beck may be exactly what Eliza needs to finally, truly face herself—and decide who she really wants to be.
Start the series today!
Everyone knows Miz Poppy, the vibrant reviewer whose commentary brightens the New Orleans nightlife. But no one knows Hollyn Tate, the real face behind the media star…or the anxiety that keeps her isolated. All her life, Hollyn’s tried to hide her true self behind an online façade, but when her boss tells her she needs to reveal the truth to the world or lose her job, she’s forced to rely on an unexpected source to help face her fears.
Enter Jasper Deares: actor, improve star, and way, way out of her league.
Hollyn thinks Jasper must be joking when he offers private lessons to help overcome her fears. Getting up on a stage? Hello, worst nightmare. But Jasper’s infectious charm has her saying yes despite herself. They’re only supposed to be playing a few improv games, but as the lessons run longer and the lines grow blurrier, Hollyn can’t help but wonder if she’s acting at all…or if a relationship with Jasper might help give her the confidence she needs to say yes to every imperfect part of herself.
Read my 4-star review here
What If You & Me was one of my favorite books of 2021! Check out my review here. You can definitely read these as standalones.
About the Author:
Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.
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