With Eric and Nick, Cat Grant plays the card of the contrast: Nick is a jock, and in the common imaginary, jock and college mean a dumb guy with only sex in mind. And instead Nick plays football only to have the full scholarship his family couldn't afford and regarding sex, Nick has the good example of his parents' love in mind and he is waiting for true love, like a true old fashioned man. On the other hand, Eric has all another example from his parents, and for him sex, and also all personal relationships, are something to not trust: Eric presents the same cold facade to both possible lover or friend. When Nick and Eric are forced to share a room in the dorm, it not takes Eric much time to involve Nick in a sexual relationship, and even to ask him for commitment, a commitment Nick is not ready to give. Nick is used to ponder every decision, to weight the pros and cons, and he is not ready to catch Eric's sudden offer; he probably doesn't understand that it's the last time that Eric behaves on the wave of his heart and not following a cold plan (but this is another story, the one you find in The Arrangement).
As in the Arrangement, it would be easy to say that Eric is the "cold" character, and Nick the one that is mistreated, but sincerely, this time I felt like the misunderstood one was Eric. This time we have a clear look on his family life and in all the events that lead him to be so detached and aloof; Eric is the classical character that needs love and again love in his life, and maybe someone that is able to move on to some of his up and down in mood. At first Nick seems to be able to be that one, he offers a friendly shoulder and the proof that a real relationship, between friends or lovers, can be good and a safe haven for a lost boy like Eric. But maybe Nick is too young, maybe he is not ready, or maybe also him still has doubts on what he wants for their future, and he doesn't understand that, to anchor a man like Eric, you have to be always near him; instead Nick thinks they can face this budding relationship like two simple boys who met in College... but Eric is not a simple boy. In The Arrangement, most of the guilt for the troubles in their relationship falls on Eric, here instead, I have the feeling that all of it started way before, probably in the time in which By Chance is setting, and the episode between Nick and Ally is one proof more: Nick probably is not the strong man that Eric needs to straighten his idea on love and commitment.
Knowing all this, the reader has a different perspective on the events of the following book in time: Eric is not the cold man who takes advantage of Nick's love, and Ally is not exactly a victim that enters an arranged marriage without knowing what is expecting her.
Amazon Kindle: By Chance
1) The Arrangement: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/309466.html
2) Strictly Business
3) By Chance