Title: A Better Man
Author: R.J. Scott & Jamie Reese
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Buy Link: A Better Man
Genre: Contemporary M/M romance
Length: 290 pages
Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Andrea
Review Summary: An emotionally driven romance complete with over-the-top angst between two men that think and act more like teenage girls.
Blurb: Matthew Doner, ex-con, needs a second chance and his aunt’s inheritance will finance his dream. Julian Capeletti is a contractor in need of a job. Will renovating a house together let them become better men in the process?
Matthew Doner has been given a second chance. After a five-year prison term, he receives a bequest from an aunt on the condition that he uses the money to make things right. His challenge–create a safe place for people like him to find purpose and start a new life.
Julian Capeletti likes challenges. He is confident, brash, and just what Matthew needs. Working as the contractor to renovate the crumbling house is the right job at the absolutely perfect time.
What neither man realizes is just how dangerous it is to keep secrets, nor how hard it can be to open your heart. Is one year enough time to renovate the house and become better men in the process?
I love the idea of two guys from very different backgrounds working together to restore a house. I also thought the idea of it being a halfway house for men recently released from prison with nowhere else to turn was great. Unfortunately, the two things I was most looking forward to about the book weren’t explored in detail. Very little of the restoration process is described other than mentioning that it’s happening. Early on, Matt decides that Julian might not approve of the halfway house for parolees so he keeps it a secret for most of the book. Because of that, the details of how the restoration plans will impact the halfway house and how it functions are never discussed. I wanted to understand and be a part of the process so I was disappointed by the lack of details.
Matt and Julian are living in the house while restoring it, so they are with each other 24/7. They both want to act on their attraction to the other but don’t want to hurt their professional relationship. The restoration of the house is scheduled to take twelve months and each chapter basically covers one month of that time. In the beginning, the focus is almost solely on the angst and emotions Julian and Matthew feel as they try not to give in to their desires. I can deal with talk of emotions and feelings in short bursts but the constant attention was irritating. Julian and Matthew felt more like teenage girls than 30 year old men. I haven’t experienced this much emotional drama since middle school! They annoyed me and I didn’t like them. Julian and Matt are supposed to a couple of tough, street-hardened guys but their mind sets consistently struck me as female rather than male. I read M/M romance because I want to read about men, this was a big problem for me.
I don’t like quintessential romantic books either, that much perfection is more than I can deal with. A Better Man is a good example of that. I never felt the raw passion and sexual tension I thrive on. They spent so much time working through their inner strife and emotions that I was done with it before they even got to the point of moving onto a physical relationship. Every sexual encounter was filled with too much drama before, during, and after because it had to be meaningful and life altering. I couldn’t even enjoy the sex scenes :(
It was too sentimental, sappy and emotionally driven for me. I couldn’t bring myself to like or care about the characters. It wasn’t my thing and I didn’t enjoy it.