Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M romance from Roan Parrish. BETTER THAN PEOPLE features a temporary invalid with a pack of rescue animals and the deeply introverted man whose assistance with cat feeding and dog walking melts his icy heart. Previous books I’ve enjoyed from this author include RIVEN and REND and RAZE, all rock romances, so they were very different to this sweet and tender story.
Simon Burke has always preferred animals to people. When the countdown to adopting his own dog is unexpectedly put on hold, Simon turns to the PetShare app to find the fluffy TLC he’s been missing. Meeting a grumpy children’s book illustrator who needs a dog walker isn’t easy for the man whose persistent anxiety has colored his whole life, but Jack Matheson’s menagerie is just what Simon needs.
Four dogs, three cats and counting. Jack’s pack of rescue pets is the only company he needs. But when a bad fall leaves him with a broken leg, Jack is forced to admit he needs help. That the help comes in the form of the most beautiful man he’s ever seen is a complicated, glorious surprise.
Being with Jack—talking, walking, making out—is a game changer for Simon. And Simon’s company certainly eases the pain of recovery for Jack. But making a real relationship work once Jack’s cast comes off will mean compromise, understanding, and lots of love.
Jack Matheson is an introverted illustrator of children’s books. He lives alone with his pack of rescued animals–dogs and cats alike, near his older brother Charlie in rural Wyoming. Jack met a man in college, a Davis, who became a friend. Knowing Jack was a good artist, Davis asked him to illustrate a school project, then a story to celebrate his sister’s baby. And, that developed into a partnership after college. Unfortunately, Davis took Jack’s idea for a story and shopped it as his own, and Jack’s been in a depression- and rage-fueled block that has robbed him of his lifelong passion of art for almost the past year.
One night Jack’s out walking his dog pack when skittish shenanigans leave Jack in the bottom of a ditch with a badly broken leg. He can’t manage his animals’ care while in a cast on crutches, so Jack seeks help via an app called PetShare, and that’s when Jack’s life starts to turn around.
Simon Burke is beautiful. Like an angel almost in Jack’s opinion. But Simon has troubles with his intense shyness. A single man, he lives as a companion to his recently widowed grandma, and owns his own graphic design business. When he agrees to assist Jack in the care of his cats and dogs, Simon is almost unable to even knock at Jack’s door he’s so scared. But the animals love Simon. And Simon finds that he is able to talk to them as surrogates for people. Simon finds Jack to be utterly sexy, not that he’s able to say so. Yet, the needs of the animals put Jack and Simon into close proximity twice daily, and with exposure comes bravery, on Simon’s part—and Jack seems to find him a muse worth sketching. Their conversation is a battle, almost, to see if they can find common ground enough to confess their attraction, and Jack makes a key choice to have Simon text him when he’s too overwhelmed to speak, even if they are sitting side by side on Jack’s couch.
The close they become, the more intense Simon’s shyness—because Jack’s healing and he soon won’t need Simon around. And why would such a sexy man want a shy, recluse of a partner anyway?
This really is a special story with two men who’ve been emotionally wounded by some of the people who should have most cared for them. Jack’s relationship with Charlie is so key, He really loves his elder brother who became his guardian when their parents died. And as close as they are, it takes this big setback for Jack to challenge himself to get to know Charlie, who has become a rather solitary man. Was that because of his duties to his brother? And how can Jack show Simon how much he loves him, if Simon wants to shut him out to protect his fragile heart.
They are some very yummy sexy times, as Jack teaches Simon all he can about pleasing a partner. I really loved both Jack and Simon, and all their crazy fur-babies. They had such cute personalities, especially Pirate the cat who thinks she’s the leader of the dogs. I think she may have inspired sweet Simon to stretch himself into social situations he was barely able to manage. I loved how both Simon and Jack grew in this story. Jack learned to trust both himself and others again, and he also stretched himself both personally and professionally in very new ways. And, Simon gets way more than his first kiss from Jack, who truly loves him properly. It’s delightful and endearing. Highly recommend!
About the Author:
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique. She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!