Saturday, 6 July 2013

Better Than Good, Lane Hayes

Better Than Good

"And you can tell everybody this is your song.
It may be quite simple, but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind 
that I put down in words... how wonderful life is while you're in the world."

- Your Song, Elton John

- Review by Cindi

4 out of 5 stars

Matt Sullivan is on the fast track to finishing law school with only a few months left before he takes the bar exam and is hopefully working for the law firm that he currently interns for. He has a beautiful girlfriend and great friends. After a night of clubbing with his best friends, he ends up tagging a long with his gay friend Curt when he goes to a gay dance club.  Curt has been clubbing with the straight guys for hours so going with him to a gay club is the least he and his friends can do.  What Matt doesn't expect is to be blindsided by one of the other men at the club, Aaron Mendez.  

Matt can't take his eyes off of Aaron and ends up buying him a drink before his friends eventually pull him out of the club to head home.  Aaron sweetly kisses him on the cheek and then he is gone.  That one innocent kiss is all it takes for Matt to start rethinking his life. No matter how hard he tries, he can not get Aaron out of his head.  

Matt has been dating Kristin for a year.  Kristin is everything Matt should want and is the perfect girlfriend.  Perhaps too perfect.  She is also busy with her own school work but yet she agrees with everything Matt wants, never disagreeing or making her own decisions when the two are together. There is zero friction at all.  Matt is not happy but he stays the course because otherwise the relationship is perfect. Kristin never complains about the amount of work he puts into his studies or the internship.  She never complains about the time he spends with his friends.  The sex, while not overly exciting, allows Matt to scratch an itch and it allows Kristin to do the same.  The arrangement works well and Matt has never felt the need to change it.  That is, until that fateful night at the gay club when he met the most beautiful person he's ever met in his life, Aaron Mendez.  Aaron works at a magazine as a photography assistant and is eager to someday make his way in the world with his own photography.  He and Matt are as different as night and day.

Matt ends up bumping into Aaron again a few weeks after their first meeting.  A reluctant (for Aaron) friendship is born and they see each other or communicate other ways on and off for the next several months.  Aaron is convinced that Matt is bi-curious and is just wanting to experiment. Aaron wants true love.  He wants what his best friend Jay and his partner Peter have.  He's not willing to get close to a straight man who will end up hurting him when he suddenly decides that he wants a woman after all.  Aaron keeps Matt at a distance even after a few kisses and giving Matt a quick blowjob.  He refuses to get as close as Matt seems to want to get.  Also, there is the matter of Kristin.  Aaron refuses to be someone's secret lover and even when Kristin is no longer in the picture, Aaron will not be somebody's dirty little secret.  Aaron has never seen the inside of a closet and he has no intention of doing so, not even for Matt.  

Matt and Aaron's love story has a slow build up.  While I found it to be refreshing as compared to some of the stories I've read recently, I also found it to be a little tiring. Aaron understandably is hesitant so will only agree to seeing Matt as a friend.  The more time they spend together, however, the closer they get even slowly moving into the bedroom.  I felt that all of this dragged on a little too long and that more time was spent on friendship and the going back and forth than the actual relationship between the two men. 

I adored Aaron immediately.  He is out and he is proud and he refuses to be shoved in the closet for anyone, including Matt who is not that eager to walk out of his.  He guards his heart, even after the intimacy begins, because he is convinced that Matt's head is not where it needs to be.  This is understandable to the reader as Matt does not exactly handle the situation with Kristin well. Between stringing her along and stringing Aaron along (though it's obvious who he really wants to be with), he does not come across as a likable person.  Eventually he redeems himself but I have to say that I was not a fan of how he handled Kristin or Aaron.

Once it finally happens, the sex between Matt and Aaron is written well.  Matt has only had one prior (drunken) sexual experience with a man so he is basically a virgin when it comes to gay sex.

As mentioned above, there is a lot of going back and forth and eventually Aaron has enough.  He finally takes a complete step back when Matt handles a public situation poorly.  I was rooting for Aaron at this point and could completely understand where he was coming from.  This also made Matt take stock of himself and what .. and who .. he really wanted.  I am not ashamed to say that I was happy to see Matt do a bit of groveling.  He deserved it.  The way he finally shows Aaron his love is very sweet and is done with the help of one of my all-time favorite songs.

This ends with a happy-for-now ending.  While I do not feel that another full-length book is warranted with these guys, I would like to see where they are a little down the road.  It ends well with Matt and Aaron together as a couple but I believe more could have been added for me to feel that happily-ever-after that I was hoping for.  There is also the matter of how specific people will react once Matt publicly outs himself.  He does to some but not to all who matter.

There is a nice cast of secondary characters who all played a part in the story with Curt being my favorite. He's openly gay and gives Matt much needed advice when it comes to being in a relationship with another man.  Kristin, I was not sure about.  She came across as a needy doormat when it came to Matt.  She played that part well as I am sure was the point.

I did have a couple of issues but not with the actual story.  The author is a little heavy with exclamation points.  Also, I find it distracting when characters are referred to as the artist, his lover, his companion, etc. frequently.  Also, for awhile I was a little concerned with the gay-for-you situation but that changed when certain things came out in regards to Matt.  I later did not see Matt as being gay for Aaron but coming out for him even if he eventually labels himself as a bisexual.

Overall, a nice read.  As much as I had problems with Matt, I was still rooting for him and Aaron to finally get together.  My only real complaint is that I wish they would have had more actual couple time as compared to just friends time.  Otherwise, a very enjoyable book.  

I will definitely read more by this author.

This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.


  1. Great review, Cindi. I love it when a character refuses to be anyone's secret. So I like that straight away. It sounds like a really good book, exuberant exclamation marks aside :)

    1. Thanks! It was a very good book and I would love to see where the characters are a little farther down the road. I fell in love with Aaron for that reason... he refused to be anyone's secret. He was a great character.

    2. Maybe a bit more lovin' would have been good :D

    3. Good point but the sex (when it happens) is pretty hot. :)

    4. Hot is good :) I'm going to put this on my TBR. I really like the sound of it.