Review: Bennie’s Wish by Xara X. Xanakas

Title: Bennie’s Wish
Author: Xara X. Xanakas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novella

Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

Rating: 3.75

Aloysius Theodisius (Ally) is an incredibly wealthy young man whose life is filled with so called friends who are really just using him for his money. When he even thinks about cutting them off they get grouchy and mean and he gives in, continuing to fund their lavish lifestyles.

When the story begins, Ally is accompanying his friends Derek and Robbie to a No Pants Day brunch held down at a local club.  Bennie is headed to the same brunch with his friend Harley, an old high school friend of Derek and Robbie. Like Ally, Bennie finds himself often surrounded by those who want to use him. In Bennie’s case, he is a popular model and people always want him around for his pretty face, connections, and fame. He has recently discovered his boyfriend was one of the many people just using him and he has cut him and the others like him out of his life.

When Bennie arrives at the brunch, he is immediately struck by the quiet Ally with the lovely eyes and adorable dimples. But Ally can’t believe that the gorgeous Bennie would actually be atracted to someone like him – short, balding, a bit pudgy. After Bennie’s flirting comes on too strong, Ally assumes the worst — that Bennie was bought and paid for by his friends (using his money, of course), something they have done before. Now Bennie must convince Ally that he truly likes him and he hopes they can have something real together.

I picked up this book because I love nontraditional heroes and I was excited by Ally’s less conventional appearance. I really liked the contrast between the characters, one who makes his living on his looks and the other who is not traditionally as attractive. I also liked the connection between the two, with each one struggling to find people who like them for themselves, rather than what they can do for them. Both men are lonely and looking for someone with whom they can make a real connection, and having trouble separating the real friends from the users.

While Benny seems to have already reached that place in his life, Ally is still struggling. Despite clear signs that his friends just take advantage of him, Ally continues to fund their lavish lifestyle, allowing them access to his credit cards and pretty much whatever else they want. To be honest, I found myself quite frustrated with Ally throughout the book. I just couldn’t understand why he allows this behavior to continue so long, well after he is keenly aware of it. Even when he gets furious with Robbie and Derek, he still stops to pay their lunch bill and cover their cab as he storms out of the restaurant. And even when he decides to take action, he is still so afraid to stand up to them that he is willing to leave his home rather than face them. Why can’t he just say no? I just wish I understood more why he is unable to stand up to them and I didn’t find this well explained in the story. I ended up being almost as annoyed with Ally as I was with Robbie and Derek because I just couldn’t understand his behavior.

This is a fairly short novella but I do wish we got a bit more time to see Bennie and Ally together. For me the story was more about Ally’s journey than the two men as a couple. We get some interesting backstory on Bennie, but the only sense I had of them together is Bennie’s initial attraction to Ally and Bennie’s frustration with Ally’s user friends. They don’t actually have much on page time together aside from a sexual fantasy scene Ally imagines. So I wish we had a little more time with them to really show their connection. I enjoyed the story but I think it needed some things developed further in order to make it all really come together for me.

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