Better than Good (Better Than #1)

BetterThanGoodTitle: Better than Good> (Better Than #1)
Author: Lane Hayes
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Buy Link 
Genre: Contemporary
Length: 200 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Zac D

Review Summary: A competently written book that is easy to read and tackles the trope of ‘gay for you’ with grace and style. Lacked a little oomph, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

Blurb

Matt Sullivan understands labels: law student, athlete, heterosexual. He has goals: graduate and begin his career in law. One fateful night, Matt tags along with his gay roommate to a dance club and everything changes. Matt finds himself attracted to the most beautiful man he’s ever seen. All labels go flying out the window.

Aaron Mendez doesn’t believe in labels, and he’s leery of straight curious men. He makes it clear that he’ll hide his fabulous light for no one. While Aaron can’t deny the attraction between him and Matt, he is reluctant to start anything with someone who is still dealing with what this new label means—especially when that someone has a girlfriend.

Review

Better than Good is a book that is, for the most part, well written and easy to read. Matt is the main character, and the story is told entirely from his POV, detailing his struggle to accept an aspect of his sexuality he wasn’t altogether sure he had until he met Aaron–a man who turned his head in a way he’d never forget.

What I liked about this part of the book was that though the attraction was instant, the development wasn’t. There was real time for Matt to stew before he saw Aaron again, and even more before anything actually happened.

I have Aaron to thank for that. He was an inspired character and I enjoyed him very much. He had depth and intrigue, and he was thoroughly and unapologetically gay. Loved him.

I wasn’t so enamored with Matt. His narrative voice was slightly grating, and lacked the warmth for me to connect to him. I appreciated his struggles with his sexuality, and the way it was written, but I just didn’t like him very much. He wasn’t very bright, and came across as rather shallow.

I did, however, love Peter, one of Aaron’s friends. The partnership of blond, southern Jay and handsome Peter made me think of some obscure Twilight fanfiction from back in the day, but I didn’t mind. Peter was a solid character, and his blunt observations did more to move the story along that pages and pages of Matt’s wittering internal monologue.

There were some issues with the writing style. In places, the story was held back by tense switches, huge info dumps, and laborious dialogue. There was also a vomit of exclamation points that made my eye twitch. The writing style was good and showed huge promise, but would benefit from an overhaul. I didn’t need to know what each and every person was wearing, and I found it rather unbelievable that Matt would notice.

The end of this book is a sugar fest. It’s done well and suits the book. The HEA is predictable, and the lack of conflict made it slightly dull for an angst hoor like me, but it fit the characters and tied it up nicely.

Better than Good is a solid book. It takes a well-used trope and though not all that original, gives it a spin that doesn’t make the reader feel like it’s something they’ve read before a hundred times over. It takes the very real message that everyone arrives at their sexuality in different ways, and writes it in a way that’s very easy to understand, even for someone who’s never considered those issues before. It’s a very accessible book, and very readable.

It is very sweet and fluffy, and in places I actually cringed, but that didn’t make it bad. If you like that sort of thing, it’s utterly perfect.

A three star read for me, but I’m giving it a four because I think that people who enjoy books without heavy angst and bruising conflict will absolutely love it.

Recommended.

Better Than Series


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Advanced Review Copy

ARC kindly provided by Dreamspinner Press for an honest review.

4 comments

  • Having finished this book earlier today, I have to say that I completely agree with your review. Interestingly enough, I really liked Matt from the get go. Sure, he was a little dim about certain things (he had never heard about canapes?) but he came across a good-natured guy overall. His slow realization and acknowledgement of what he felt for Aaron (and what those feelings meant) seemed very real to me.

    OTOH, it took me a little bit longer to warm up to Aaron. I understood his character but, to me, it felt like he would say one thing and then go around and do the opposite. For example, when he told Matt he wanted to take things slow…only to end up in bed with him not long after that declaration.

    One thing I really liked was seeing both Matt and Aaron interact with their friends both as a couple and as an individuals. I wished we had seen more of Matt at his internship.

    If anything, one thing that did bothered me was how the author would handwave certain parts of the narrative. By which I mean, having Matt tell the reader what he and Aaron talked about. It would’ve been nice to see the actual conversations. Maybe it was a question of word count? I don’t know.

    In the end, the book was sweet without going over the top as well as sexy. Thank you for reviewing this book. I had lots of fun reading about Matt and Aaron. 🙂

    • Yes, Luce.

      There was a lot of off page action ‘told’ rather than ‘shown. For me though, because I was slightly bored by what WAS being shown on page, I couldn’t bring myself to care much!

      The book was too sweet and easy for me, but like I say above, I rather think that’s my problem rather than the books 🙂

  • I probably enjoyed this book more than you did Zac. I admit I’m not into unrelenting angst because I think too many writers in this genre use angst as a weapon and write books with nothing else in terms of content. I agree that Matt more often than not had a poker in his back while Aaron was his complete opposite. I absolutely loved Aaron and wondered what the book would have looked like had it been told from his POV. Personally I like different kinds of conflict and the only conflict here was Matt coming to terms with his sexuality and the book gave that the maximum workout, however I did enjoy their story.

    • I’m a sucker for angst, which is why this book wasn’t quite for me, but I think the author is one to watch. The style was 70-80% there for me, but for a debut novel, that’s pretty awesome. And, I don’t think a book is bad if I don’t like a character. I’m an ornery old queen. I don’t like everyone in RL, doesn’t make them bad…makes me a grumpy old git.

      I see what your saying about angst. I guess peeps either love it…crave it, or rise about it and see the joy in life, LOL.

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