Why did I read it: The last sentence of the summary was very relevant to my interests.
How I would rate it: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
After filing charges that put his abusive ex-Dom behind bars, Jesse Turbul relocates halfway across the country, hoping to escape his past—but, of course, it’s never that easy. When Jesse meets third-year law student Aadon at the library where he works, their mutual attraction is instant and obvious.
Despite the sparks, they just can’t seem to make it work. Aadon is mired in guilt over his inability to help his older brother, damaged by events far too similar to Jesse’s past. Jesse is stuck in his own desperate wish to forget the painful shadow that continues to threaten him and any hope of a happy future.
The only way to move forward is for Jesse to acknowledge he’s broken and for Aadon to accept he can’t make him better.
Review: Oh, Jesse and Aadon! Where can I even begin? Both of these characters were so, so terrific in so many flawed, wonderful ways. Jesse is just a heartbreaker, struggling to recover from a lot of scars, both internal and external. Aadon is struggling to pretend he doesn’t have as many issues as he does as he fights an uphill battle for his ailing older brother, Ricky.
Samms did a great job avoiding easy solutions or turning either of her leading men into stereotypes. In fact she did a great job of sort of setting up a cliché dynamic only to make it clear that such a relationship wouldn’t work for either Jesse or Aaddon. I especially love that their being people in need of love and happiness was far more central to Better‘s plot than their sexual orientation.
Along the way to finding a fresh start with each other, both men mess up badly together and apart in such natural and painful ways. There was so much give and take, so many emotions, so many moving scenes, and just so much believability to their relationship from start to finish. Neither one is fixed, neither one is completely broken, and neither one is stronger than the other. They will probably never have all the answers or a cure-all for all they’ve been through, but they have each other and that was a lovely message.
So the plot was really engaging and the writing was lovely. There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen as far as minor characters were concerned, but they all served a purpose. I particularly liked Aadon’s friends and family as well as his therapist. I got a bit tired of Jesse’s support network since there seemed to be a lot of guilt-tripping from all sides and plenty of anxiety-inducing phone calls involved that never seemed particularly helpful. The light shed on Jesse’s close friend Sarah’s behavior towards the end of the book made me roll my eyes and groan because I really hoped the author wouldn’t go there, but none of the minor characters actively interfered or ruined the book for me.
In conclusion, Better is a beautifully executed Romance that I could not recommend highly enough and one that I will certainly re-read in the near future. After I read more of Mrs. Samms’ books, of course. And do not even get me started on how much I want to have the babies of Chapters 20 and 21.