I received an e-ARC of Better Than People by Roan Parrish from Netgalley and the publisher.
Roan Parrish is an auto-buy author for me, so I was really excited to read this book. And it did not disappoint. This is the story of Jack and Simon. Jack’s an animal lover with a broken leg, and Simon is a guy with severe anxiety, especially social anxiety, who also loves animals. They are connected through the PetShare app, which connects people who have pets with people who do not have pets but want to be around them. (This sounds like an amazing app and I need it to exist because I need puppy snuggles but there are too many loose legos in my house these days to get a dog.)
Simon lives with his grandmother, who’s allergic to animals, and he agrees to walk Jack’s “pack” (several dogs and a cat named Pirate) twice a day. Simon can’t talk to Jack at first, but eventually he can text and he starts talking more throughout the book. There’s a relationship and no drama and a satisfying as hell HEA. It’s just what I say I want in a book: Nice people falling in love and having sexy times in regular life.
This book is all about the characters. Jack is wonderful, somewhat bitter at first, patient, smitten, and passionate. I want to be his friend. Simon is…well, Simon is my favorite. I want to wrap him up in a blanket and give him butterscotch candies, and blow his nose on a used kleenex that I keep in my purse. Basically, I want to be his grandmother, which is totally unnecessary as he has an excellent grandmother, but he inspires grandmotherly feelings in me. He’s so brave, and he knows it, but he still struggles so much.
There’s excellent mental health rep in this book. Simon has accepted his anxiety as part of him and anyone who is going to be in his life needs to accept it to and not try to change him. That’s what I loved the most. I think most people wouldn’t choose to have a mental illness, but once it’s there, you have to accept it and learn to live with it. Having someone constantly trying to fix you or even fix situations for you is exhausting. And Simon gets that. Jack gets it too, eventually.
There are two side characters worth noting, Simon’s grandmother who is wholly lovely, and Jack’s brother, Charlie, who I would love to see get his own book. And Jack’s pack is like a set of secondary characters as well. They all have distinct personalities and I want to cuddle Bernard (the Saint Bernard) so bad.
I give this book five heart-eye-emoji stars, and recommend that you buy it as soon as you’re able. The Ripped Bodice is supposed to have signed copies so get on that. I know I will.