Title: Better Than Safe (Better Than #4)
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 25, 2015
Page Count: 244
Reviewed by: Renee
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.6 stars out of 5
Paul Fallon is a fashion advertising guru. He’s a genius at dealing with difficult editors, art directors, and designers alike. He thrives on the chaotic atmosphere and constant challenges. But in his personal life, he’s hoping for peace and stability. Settling down with a nice doctor or lawyer sounds perfect. Anyone but an artist. He’s been there, done that, and he doesn’t want to relive the heartache.
Seth Landau is a model, occasional guitarist, and aspiring painter. He’s quirky, flighty, and wise beyond his years. Life has taught him some tough lessons, then given him opportunities he never dreamed of. He’s learned to appreciate the fragility of life and to express it in his work. Seth’s flare for the absurd combined with a supple mind and a beautiful body are too alluring for Paul to ignore. Against his best intentions, Paul is drawn to the younger man whose particular brand of crazy challenges Paul to accept that things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes taking a chance is better than being safe.
This was my favorite Hayes story to date!
Paul is the ad exec for the fashion industry who’s been traveling for years (the book is told entirely from his POV). He’s ready to slow down. Seth is the model who paints so he can breathe.
These two are set up on a date by Aaron from Book 1. This coffee date is an absolute flop. Seth is late. Paul gets cheetoh residue on his fancy shirt from the rambunctious toddler in front of him. And Seth keeps talking about wanting to have Aaron set them up because of Paul’s sexy British accent. Add on top of that Seth is clearly many years his junior, and Paul is D-O-N-E. He abruptly leaves with a stilted goodbye, nice to meet you, with associated undertones of let’s never do this again.
But they do wind up bumping into each other again. And Paul gets to see how he came across that fateful coffee date too. cough Snobby, uptight, British bastard. cough Seth could not be further from Paul’s initial first impression. He’s intellectual, insightful, a delightful mixture of caring and thoughtless.
“[He] spoke like an immature college student one minute, then a sage old soul the next.”
These two have a lot of push/pull banter in the first half. And I won’t lie. Seth gives Paul the run around a bit. It wasn’t cool at all. But Paul needed to be shaken up a little. Because this is Paul’s POV, you get the impression of this British yuppy ad exec who’s uptight, set in his ways, and has everything completely together. But he doesn’t. Seth is just what Paul needs.
They tried the date – it was a disaster. So they try friends. Snort – the sexual tension that surrounds these two while they’re “being friends” is so scorching hot. It’s palpable through my Kindle. And this is where Hayes nailed everything for me. Phenomenal writing during this buildup of characterization. They learn so much about each other, but they just know this is the foundation of something. Seth knows it and is biding his time. Paul knows it but is in complete denial about it.
“I screwed my eyes shut and reveled in the intense sensations, willing myself not to be guilty of romanticizing the moment. But when I opened them to find him staring up at me, I knew with an odd certainty that I was correct. He felt this too. I wasn’t alone.”
It doesn’t just go from friends to love and HEA. There is a very distinct journey to HEA for Paul and Seth. Pasts that collide, best friends that are a little too familiar, and online dating with a pretentious vascular surgeon. But any more detail will get too spoilery. There was never dull moment. I was pulled in from page one! This book was incredibly well-written and is a high recommend!