I am pleased to welcome Roan Parrish on Queer Books Unbound to celebrate the release of Better Than People. Please join me in giving her a warm welcome!
It’s not long before their pet-centric arrangement sparks a person-centric desire…
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.
The next week was perhaps the strangest in Simon’s life.
He wasn’t used to waking up excited about where he was going or who he was seeing. He wasn’t used to getting out of his car and not feeling a sick sense of dread creep through him. He wasn’t used to falling asleep with memories from the day that he wanted to ruminate on. And he absolutely, certainly, one hundred percent was not used to being gath¬ered to a man’s chest, his lips and cheeks and brows kissed; to the taste of someone else’s lips tingling on his own as he walked the dogs, made coffee, did his work.
It was visionary, transcendent, addictive.
It gave him the unfamiliar sense of having a place in the world. Of being tethered, rather than floating, ghostlike, through a land that belonged to others.
He didn’t suppose that a week of kissing was supposed to be able to change the world, but his world was sweetly, irrevocably altered.
Of course his grandmother had noticed. Simon wor¬ried she might tease him, but that was a worry from an¬other time.
“What’s Jack’s favorite cookie?” she’d asked, taking out the flour.
Simon didn’t know.
“Well, ask him, silly!”
Simon had stared at his phone. It had never occurred to him that he could contact Jack when they weren’t together.
Hi. It’s Simon. What’s your favorite cookie?
Hmm, Simon who? came the reply. But it was followed immediately with a winky face and Simon realized that although it was the first time he’d texted Jack from afar, of course he’d texted him a hundred times while they were in the same room.
He tried to stop smiling, embarrassed that Grandma Jean could read his absurd happiness on his face.
He sent back: Wow, you just gave me a panic attack. But he also sent a wink of his own.
Jack wrote, I know you’re a tough cookie. Mmm speak¬ing of cookies, I like oatmeal.
For a moment, Simon didn’t even notice the second part of the text. No one had ever called him tough before. Told him to toughen up? Yes. To tough it out? Definitely. The thing was that he knew he was tough. He’d never told any¬one, but sometimes at the end of the day, when he closed the door on the world and pulled a blanket over his head, he thought: You are so fucking tough. You just did hard shit all day. You are so brave for doing that.
He felt a flush of pride and gratitude that Jack had seen that in him.
Then: OATMEAL??? That’s your FAVORITE cookie??? Whose favorite sweet confection is made of GRUEL?!!!
Daaaaamn, Simon, I love oatmeal in all forms!
WOW. Well, okay, I’ll tell my grandma, but she might not let me hang out with you anymore…
You tell your grandma that I’ll fight her for you.
You’d fight an old lady? Cold-blooded, Matheson.
I’m gonna tell your grandma you called her an old lady, Burke. Now make me some damn cookies.
And then, as if it were as simple as pressing a button, Jack sent a heart. A red, clear-as-day heart that sat there staring at Simon and making him wonder what would happen if he sent one back.
With a trembling finger, he sent the emoji back.
Voop as it sent, and Simon blinked.
Because he hadn’t sent a heart. He’d sent the green-faced vomiting emoji that was next to it.
He dropped his phone.
“Dick pic, dear?” Grandma Jean said sympathetically. “The bits not quite what you’d hoped for?”
“Grandma, no! God.”
He grabbed his phone and scrambled to type: OMG I meant to send the heart! My finger hit the wrong emoji and OMG.
Jack sent back a flurry of crying laughing emojis and then a kissy face. With relief shaking through him and great care in the emoji-choosing arena, Simon sent back one perfect heart.
“Phew,” he said, collapsing on a kitchen stool.
“Just a bad angle, then?” his grandmother drawled imp¬ishly.
“You’re a true menace,” he told her. “Oh, and oatmeal cookies.”
She pursed her lips pensively and cocked her head.
“Hmmm,” she said. “Interesting.”
Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.
A new Carina Adores title is available each month in trade paperback, ebook and audiobook formats.
- The Hideaway Inn by Philip William Stover (available now!)
- The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron (available now!)
- Just Like That by Cole McCade (available now!)
- Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters (available now!)
- The Love Study by Kris Ripper (September 29)
- The Secret Ingredient by KD Fisher (October 27)
- Just Like This by Cole McCade (November 24)
- Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love by Kim Fielding (December 29)
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.
Genre: Contemporary Genre: Romance Orientation: Bisexual Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Carina Press Tag: Age-Gap Tag: Guest Post Tag: Illness / Injury Better Than People Carina Adores Roan Parrish