Review by Jude: Better Than People by Roan Parrish

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, waking, 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.

Goodreads | Carina Press | Amazon | B&N
Release Date: August 25th 2020

3.5 Stars

I really loved the conceit of this book. It’s no secret that Parrish is a go-to, must read author for me, and so it’s unsurprising that I found so much to love about this book. I have such a soft spot for Jack, who we meet as a very independent, grumpy, solitary guy. I love that Parrish paints this picture of someone who is solitary and standoffish but offsets it with this tiny circus of animals; it’s impossible not to have a soft heart and this many pets. This dichotomy went a long way to endearing me to Jack, who otherwise would have been a little unlikeable. I’m also married to a very grumpy human so maybe I also just have a weakness for grumps.

I think one of my favorite aspects of this book was the way in which Parrish handled Simon’s difficulties with speaking and the ways in which Jack is accepting and open to trying different ways to communicate that are comfortable with and for Simon. Their chemistry was wonderful and I really enjoyed watching them fall for each other. I will never complain about a book with two characters who click so well as Jack and Simon do. Also, there’s something about a relationship arc with a character whose never been in a relationship and is experiencing many first that I really enjoy. Parrish did a wonderful job with this aspect of their story.

I think there were a couple of downsides to the book. The very beginning of the story did not really grip me or pull me in. It felt a little rushed and overwrought. I’m not really sure why; it wasn’t enough to deter me from continuing to read though. There were some moments when I wanted to shake Jack, especially in regards to his relationship with his brother and the ways in which they did—or didn’t—communicate. Additionally, although Jack was great with learning how to communicate with Simon initially, there was one moment in particular in which I felt like Jack behaved in an obtuse way that was a bit too insensitive for me. It’s handled well ultimately, but it wasn’t my favorite part of the book.

A wonderful bonus was an art cameo from a character in an all time favorite book—Corbin Wale. I love a good crossover moment, I won’t lie. I also really loved the menagerie of pets. I’m weak for some kitties and puppers, especially when their personalities are so clearly sketched out.

All in all, I would recommend this book. Despite the angst there is a lovely love story and it has a great ending.

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.

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Genre: Contemporary Genre: Romance Orientation: Bisexual Pairing: M/M Publisher: Carina Press Review Tag: Disability Tag: Found Family Tag: Hurt/Comfort Tag: Illness / Injury Tag: Part of a series Trigger Warning: Loss of family member

Jude Sierra View All →

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for Queer Books Unbound. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary queer romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her most recent novel A Tiny Piece of Something Greater was released in May of 2018. Shadows you Left, a co-written novel with Taylor Brooke will arrive spring of 2019 from Entangled Press.

Twitter: @JudeSierra
Instagram: /judemsierra/

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