Reaping the Benefits by E. J. Noyes is a quirky supernatural romance that’s a little hard to categorize. SO MANY of the site tags apply to this one, and once you read it, you might chuckle at the ones we were able to pick as much as we did.
Morgan Ashworth is one of Death’s minions (yes, THAT Death). Her job mainly consists of delivering afterlife packages to people, so they’ll go to the right place when it’s their time to die. Because it’s the 21st century, all of these packages are backed up to the cloud. That conveniently gives her a front as the CEO of a data center company.
The book opens with Morgan frustrated because one of the other, newer minions is a serious contender for Minion of the Year, a title that Morgan has been proud to win every year since the award was created. Even worse? Morgan has to deliver an afterlife package to Jane Smith, one of her best employees, who Morgan also has a massive crush on.
Jane is rocked to her core when Morgan asks her to fill out her package form. She had no idea that Morgan is a minion and that the data Jane had been protecting was entirely made up of afterlife packages. Jane decides that if she’s going to fill out her form she’ll do it her way. That means she’ll only do it if Morgan will help her with her bucket list. No problem, except it’s a long list and it includes things like “fall in love” and “sleep with my boss.”
Morgan agrees to help her with a pared down list and they’re off around the world for things like roller coaster rides and snorkeling. Along the way, neither are particularly interested in fighting their mutual attraction. But Morgan’s been hurt before, losing a mortal woman. Can she open her heart to love again?
Tara: I’m a big fan of Morgan and Jane. Morgan comes across as having everything together, but she most definitely does not. Morgan still carries a tremendous amount of pain from losing the woman she thought was the love of her life, so her arc is about figuring out whether she can be brave enough to pursue a relationship with Jane.
Jane is a good counterpoint for Morgan, because her life is very small. She works all day, then takes care of her mother in the evenings. Dating isn’t exactly a priority for her. But spending time with Morgan, crossing items off her list, helps Jane get stronger too. I love the way they are together.
My other favourite character is Death herself, Cici La Morte. She comes across as brilliant, sensual, and kind. There’s also a certain unknowableness about her that feels just right because she’s ageless. I like that she doesn’t let Morgan wallow or self-sabotage, making her an excellent boss and best friend.
Anna: I’m with you on all three of these women. Your description of Morgan and Jane are spot on, so I will fawn over Death a little bit more. Even though she’s not the stereotypical depiction of Death — Cici herself says it’s so annoying that her symbol is a scythe and black cloak — I was very happy to see that she also wasn’t vain or egotistical. I mean, when you’ve been around since the dawn of time, it would be easy to get a big head about it and flaunt that power. If anything, Cici is very democratic in how she runs things. Her longevity has shown her to treasure all that comes your way in this world because it is, for the most part, fleeting. Even better is her understanding of love and keeping your heart open to it in all its forms.
Another character I like, and I wish that she got a little more time, was Jane’s mother, Pamela. Even though she has suffered a debilitating accident and can’t get around on her own, she has such a positive outlook on life. If anything, I think her condition has made her value life even more, and she passes that value onto Jane. She is strong, confident, and full of love. I believe it is her bravery that gives Jane the courage to approach Morgan about her bucket list and do all she’s ever wanted.
The Writing Style
Tara: Because this book depends heavily on a concept, it spends a lot of the first third ensuring that readers understand how the world works. Although a lot of that information was delivered through conversations between Morgan and Jane, it still came across as kind of info-dumpy to me. I actually almost bailed on this book, but I’m glad that I didn’t. Once we get past that and Jane and Morgan hit the road, the pace picks up and it turns into a really sweet, fun read.
Anna: I’ll agree the beginning dealt with a lot of information dumping between Morgan and Jane. Even though in this world it’s just accepted that people receive afterlife packages (it’s actually taught in the school systems) there’s a lot about minions Jane is curious about. And now that she has one sitting in front of her, she’s not going to pass up the chance to ask all her questions. I will applaud Noyes for not having Morgan be secretive about her position, how she came to be a minion and what it all entails. The only thing Morgan is secretive about is her life with Hannah, her first love, and I totally understand that as her feelings for Jane deepen.
Tara: The best part of this for me was Morgan’s journey. Seeing her unravel as she fears being hurt again and how she grapples with that.
Anna: Wow, Tara, you went all deep on me there. I’ll give you Morgan’s journey was great, but I really enjoyed Jane’s journey just as much. She first appears as this shy IT specialist who has a silly crush on her boss. But get that girl on a roller coaster or a rare bottle of Dom Perignon, and you get to see who she really is. And it comes out more and more outside of her bucket list items, which just makes her all the more desirable to Morgan. And, in Morgan’s mind, a lot more dangerous to fall in love with.
Tara: Like I mentioned above, the info dumping didn’t work well for me. It’s helpful to know how the world works, but I wonder if there would have been better ways to show that, rather than have Morgan tell all of it to Jane.
Anna: I’ll admit the information overload at the beginning, while necessary, was a lot to take in all at once. So, if anything, when you start reading this book, I suggest taking a small break before you begin the bucket list chapters. Sit back, grab a glass of wine (or drink of your choice) and just take a moment to absorb all you’ve learned about minions, Death, and Morgan.
Tara: If you’re looking for a lesbian romance, but with a twist of something different, I recommend Reaping the Benefits. It’s sweet, sexy, and fun.
Anna: I loved reading this story. It had humor, drama, romance, and a wonderful, natural progression of Morgan and Jane’s relationship. If you love all these things, with a little supernatural thrown in, you’re going to really enjoy this book.
Excerpt from Reaping the Benefits by E. J. Noyes
Jane knocked on her boss’s open door, startling Ms. Ashworth who was eating a huge cookie, the last bite of which she hastily stuffed into her mouth before brushing crumbs off her desk into the waste can. “Jane, come in and take a seat.” Smiling, she straightened the purple silk scarf knotted like a floppy bow tie around her neck.
Ms. Ashworth drew in a long audible breath, looking strangely discomforted. “I need to discuss something important with you, and uh, I’m afraid I’ve been put in a somewhat unusual and unexpected position. Frankly, it’s thrown me for a bit of a loop.”
“Are you firing me?” It came out both incredulous and terrified, and very loud. Jane fought to dial herself down a notch. “Because I’ve only been late a handful of times, and it’s because of my mom and I’ve always worked through my lunch hours to make up for it.”
Ms. Ashworth’s eyebrows shot up, and her hands shot out as if trying to stop Jane’s rambling speech in its tracks. “Oh, goodness no! Nothing like that. I apologize for startling you.” She collected a black tablet from the edge of her desk and came around to sit next to Jane who tried very hard not to notice the way her boss’s skirt slid up to expose an expanse of smooth, toned thigh. “I thought you knew that I’m incredibly happy with your work. You’re an asset to the company and I greatly value your assistance.” She smiled, her eyes creasing at the edges which made her seem even younger than what Jane guessed to be not-even-thirty. Leaning in, Ms. Ashworth confessed, “Between you and me, you’re indispensable to Theda.”
The panic eased to mild concern. “Oh…well thank you. I really enjoy working here.” And staring at you in your office while indulging fantasies, she finished off in her head.
Ms. Ashworth sighed, seeming almost reluctant to continue. “Jane, there’s no point in dancing around the subject, and I regret having to do this here in a work environment, but for the sake of efficiency, I’m left with no alternative.”
For a brief, hopeful moment, Jane thought her boss might be about to follow up with an I’m attracted to you speech, but instead Ms. Ashworth passed her a tablet which displayed an open document. “It’s time for you to fill in your afterlife questionnaire package.”
Jane’s face felt like it had melted downward. “I’m sorry. What?”
“Your afterlife package. Surely you know what that is?” It came out with not a small amount of incredulity.
“Yes, no, I mean, I know about it, but why are you giving it to me?”
Ms. Ashworth held out her hand. “Morgan Ashworth, Head of Transition Operations for Death.” With the hand still outstretched, she waggled her fingers.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 978-1642471397
- Publisher: Bella Books
- E. J. Noyes Online
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