Thursday, February 23, 2012

Better by Jaime Samms

Title:  Better
Author: Jaime Samms
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: -
Main Characters: Jesse & Aadon
Release Date: January 2012
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press  

Links to Purchase:

Sexual Intensity: hot

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Story Overview:
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.

My Review:
A- hot
I will admit that when I sat down to read this book, it wasn't what I expected, but it was such a powerfully good book. Both of these men are so damaged, but they are trying to heal and make things work. It's makes for an incredibly emotional book. 

Jesse hasn't been in a relationship since his last boyfriend systematically abused and eventually almost killed him. He's trying to get his life back on track though and a guy, Aaden, has caught his eye at the university library where he works at. Unfortunately, just leaving that abuse behind him isn't enough and every time Jesse thinks that things are getting better, something happens which brings back the nightmares and the pain of that abuse. Jesse thinks that he can just power through his emotional upheaval and everything will be okay, but he just ends up hurting both him and Aaden in the process.

Aaden knows what happens when you aren't able to deal with abuse. He has an older brother, Ricky, who was abused as a child and wasn't able to deal with it. He's in an institution and is basically only a shell living inside his own head where he knows that it's safe. Unfortunately, he sees too much of Ricky when Jesse is suffering. He knows where Jesse is headed if he doesn't deal with things, but it's not something that Aaden can do for him. It's a painful lesson for both of them.

There is no doubt that these two guys love each other, but there is so much damage for both of them, it's not a sure thing that either of them are going to be able to get past their very harsh issues. The story is riveting and as the reader, your heart simply aches for both of them.

There are many poignant moments in this book, but some of my favorite come between Aaden and his group of friends. I love what their relationship added to the book. On the other hand, Jesse has a very different support system through his friend Sarah. If there is a single thing that I can complain about with this book, it is her character. She was harsh in so many ways. I can understand why she was written the way that she was, but towards the end of the book, I just couldn't see how her story line was helping the story at all.

To see that I enjoyed this book seems wrong just because it is dealing with such harsh issues, but I enjoyed watching the relationship between Aaden and Jesse develop and how they both learned more about themselves and each other. There was never a moment in the book where I thought that the subject matter became too much. I don't do depressing reading and that is something that the author handled beautifully. She never let the harsh details overwhelm the beauty of the story and the developing relationship between these two. It remains an uplifting book throughout.

But a warning for you: This book does deal with some of the realities of sexual abuse and rape and may be too much for some readers. I never had any issues with that, but if you are particularly sensitive, you just might.

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