St. Martin's Press Presents: Money Devils I

Title: Money Devils #1
Author(s) Ashley and JaQuavis
Format: eARN
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 18th 2020
Rating: 4 Stars

From the New York Times bestselling authors of The Cartel series comes a new chapter in a world that only Ashley and JaQuavis know how to bring to life.

The LaCroixs are four beautiful Haitian American women bound by money and blood. On the surface, the LaCroix Group is a venture capitalist company, but underneath, it’s so much more. The four sisters run long cons, targeting wealthy, prominent business figures. They have a system: Find the perfect mark, create the problem, then present the solution. For a cost…

Sutton “Sutty” LaCroix, the eldest sister and an accomplished business maven, sits on the family throne as the CEO of the LaCroix Group and is the face of their operation. No one is as good as Sutton when it comes to finding new prey. 

However, when Sutton meets West, a young, black oil tycoon—a man who represents a life she and her sisters vowed never to live—she breaks all the rules. The LaCroix sisters have a pact: to never settle down and leave roots in one place. But Sutton falls in love with West's good looks, charm, and old money. This means that West is a problem. When he inducts her into a high society of opulence, power, and generational wealth, Sutton finds herself torn between the love of her life and the love of her family.

Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from...

Money Devils 1
Ashley & JaQuavius
St. Martin's Press



Se pou nou jwenn em kounye a,” the man said smoothly in   his native Haitian language—Haitian Creole to be exact. His accent was heavy, and his raspy voice sent chills up the spines of many men in Miami. In translation he simply said, “Let’s get them now.” His voice was calm and steady; however, his heart was filled with anxiety. Fear didn’t trigger his internal butterflies; rather, sheer eagerness and a burning passion for revenge had his blood racing.
Two Haitian men were inside a van parked directly across the street from a popular restaurant. One man sat in the driver’s seat, while the other sat in the back, right next to the van’s sliding door. An AR-15 semiautomatic was in the man’s hands. He was waiting for the perfect time. They had been sitting there for the past hour and a half after receiving a tip about their enemy’s whereabouts, and they’d wasted no

time getting there to handle unfinished business. They’d been looking for him for quite some time.
The man in the back seat cocked back his rifle, prepar- ing for what would be a gory scene. Anonymity didn’t con- cern them, so they’d passed on wearing ski masks or other disguises. They wanted to send a clear message: DO NOT FUCK WITH THE HAITIANS IN DADE COUNTY.
This had been an ongoing drug war between their crew and the other side for a very long time, and the only way to end it was to kill the other side’s leader—none other than the notorious Carter Diamond, boss of the feared drug syn- dicate the Cartel. The Cartel controlled the Port of Miami, which meant it controlled the flow of the country’s imported drugs. Its power and influence were so strong that it was al- most a death sentence to go against them. Yet Matee and Milo did when they’d set up shop and started selling drugs in Carter’s territory, a crucial mistake that ignited the war they were currently losing by a landslide. Just a few months prior, a drive-by shooting claimed many members of their Hai- tian mob while at a birthday party for a member’s child, and their niece had been one of the victims. Not only that, a bul- let had grazed Milo’s daughter during the attack. Milo had thanked God every night his daughter wasn’t murdered, but his thoughts always swung from grateful to being enraged over the possibility of “what if ?” What if his precious daughter had been taken away from him? The hypothetical drove him nuts and vengeance became his burning desire. Getting back at the Cartel, but especially Carter Diamond, was personal to them. The Cartel had crossed the line of morality even for a drug war, and revenge was the only thing on both of their minds. It was a sad day for their family and a tough pill to

swallow. Although it wasn’t intended for her, a young life was lost, and all bets were off at that point.
Milo and Matee understood there was no honor in the streets. They had been trying to find the head of the Car- tel for so long, knowing that ending him would be the only way for them to win the war. No matter how many soldiers they killed, Carter could recruit more and more. He had an endless supply of street mercenaries and his power was over- reaching. His money was longer and stronger so there was no match. So Milo suggested they shift from killing soldiers to solely hunting for Carter Diamond.
And today, it was their time. They had their man. However, they were racing against the clock. Carter Di-
amond was currently on trial for tax evasion and he could serve jail time if convicted. That would take their chances of murdering him from slim to none. They had to get him before his possible conviction, which would be next week.
As they looked through the front window, the man at the wheel cranked the ignition. His dark, smooth skin was the same color as tar and long locs hung past his shoulders. A Haitian flag–themed bandana was wrapped tightly around his head, keeping his locs from falling into his face. The man in the back wore locs, too, and resembled the driver very closely. They were blood brothers only a few years apart. Milo, the driver, was the eldest, the more levelheaded of  the two. He looked down into his lap and released his firm clutch from the steering wheel to grip two chrome pistols, one in each hand. He rarely went into the field or got vio- lent, but this matter was personal. Milo was the brains of the operation and typically acted as the silent partner to their drug organization. The tension in the street was so high and

both sides had lost much. As they watched Carter closely, Milo could hear his brother’s heavy panting. Matee was like an animal that stalked his prey. He looked back and saw Matee’s chest rapidly rise and fall with each breath. He could literally see the adrenaline pumping throughout Matee’s body. Tears began to form in Matee’s eyes and Milo knew his little brother was locked in. He wanted Carter Diamond dead in the worst way. Milo, mindful of how hotheaded his brother was, under- stood he had to calm Matee before they made their move.
“Matee,” he called out, but Matee didn’t snap out of his rageful trance. “Matee!” he called again, louder this time. Matee slowly shifted his eyes and looked at his brother with a demented gaze.
Konsantre!” Milo spat with a stern expression and a pierc- ing stare. This meant “focus” in Haitian Creole. He spoke in their native tongue, knowing that would resonate better with his hell-bent brother. He grabbed Matee around the back of his neck and turned him so they were eye to eye. He whis- pered harshly, peering directly into his brother’s soul through the windows of his dark eyes.
Konsantre,” he said again, giving Matee a firm shake to get him to snap back to reality. In a calmer tone, he repeated once more, “Konsantre.
Matee nodded quickly in agreement as he slightly leaned forward, gently pressing his head against his brother’s. They would do this as adolescents, a soothing technique Milo used with his troubled younger sibling. Matee finally blinked and returned to the present as a lone tear fell from his left eye. Just the sight made Milo’s insides shake and he had an urge to cry along with his brother, but he didn’t. He was the stronger of the two, so he had to remain stout to keep Matee

stable. Nevertheless, Milo felt uneasy seeing the most ruth- less man he had ever known on the edge of insanity. That was a bad combination. It was only a matter of time before a mental explosion happened. He hadn’t seen Matee drop a tear since they were little boys. The death of their precious niece had his mind foggy, but his goal was crystal clear. Matee wanted Carter Diamond to feel the pain he’d caused his family and to experience it in the worst way possible.
Milo also wanted to exact revenge—he could feel his trig- ger finger begin to itch—but he wanted to be strategic about it. He suddenly began to regret bringing Matee along for the potential hit. During the past few months, they had stalked and waited patiently. Even now, his eyes were trained on the restaurant’s entrance, closely studying the tall, dark, handsome man in a well-tailored Italian suit who’d just emerged. It was him, the urban legend, Carter Diamond. A smooth, chocolate man with the grace of a professional ballplayer, he was all that he was cracked up to be and then some. Diamond’s salt-and-pepper beard was perfectly lined and his bright smile shined from a distance. Some could hardly believe the gracious man was as vicious and coldhearted as they came. Not many knew about his dark side, but those who knew, knew.
Milo and Matee intently watched Carter talk to the valet at- tendant and then stand on the curb to wait for his car. Other patrons walked in and out of the restaurant.
“We get ’em now, bruva,” Matee said, not taking his eyes off Carter. Matee’s jaw clenched tightly, the muscles visibly flexing as he ground his back teeth against one another. He was thirsting for retribution, ready to shoot with reckless abandon. The cold steel in his hands had never felt better.

“Make sure you hit him in de head. We can’t afford to miss this mu’fucka. All head shots, you ’er me?” Milo in- structed as he slid the van onto the streets, merging into traf- fic. “Listen close. We going to slide right up on ’em. Let ’em have it as soon as I slide the door back.”
Milo slowly drove past Carter, who was on the opposite side of the street. He smoothly made a U-turn. Now they were on the same side of the street as the restaurant and were creeping up to the restaurant’s front curb where their target stood.
“Here we go . . . here we go,” Milo drawled under his breath.
His eyes locked on Carter, not even blinking, fearing he would lose sight. He then reached up to push the button that automatically slid the van’s door open. They were two cars behind in the valet line and had the perfect angle to assassi- nate the Cartel’s leader.
Pare . . . pare,” Milo mumbled, meaning “get ready.”
Matee licked his lips and focused as he squeezed the rifle’s handle and extended his pointer finger just next to the trigger. His nose began to run and sweat beads formed on his brow. His animalistic nature had clicked on and he was in pure savage mode. His heart raced ferociously as the van inched up, now only one car back from Carter. They watched as Carter looked past them to focus on the Bentley behind them, which was his car.  Carter then looked back  to the restaurant’s entrance and motioned, waving someone over. They couldn’t make out what he was saying, but soon out came his Dominican wife and a young girl. The car in front of them cleared the way for them to pull up right next to Carter. As Milo slowly edged forward, he could see the

young girl’s face and the guilt began to tweak his heart. She seemed to be the same age as his oldest daughter. He began to breathe deeply, knowing this child could catch a bullet that wasn’t meant for her.
“Hold on, Matee. No kids,” Milo whispered as he pulled up to the curb.
Fuck sa a femèl chen ti kras,” Matee said, meaning “Fuck that little bitch.” He was zoned in and didn’t care about his brother’s protest. He only saw red.
Matee finished sliding open the door and there stood Carter, his wife, and his daughter. Without hesitation, Matee raised his gun and yelled, “Sak pase! Remember me?”
He put his finger on the trigger and pointed the gun at Carter, slightly smirking as their eyes met. He then twitched his gun to the right, aiming it directly at the young girl.
“Breeze!” Carter yelled as he realized what was about to happen. Matee’s twisted smirk turned even more sinister as he thought about the pain Carter was about to feel. Matee’s lip began to quiver in demonic pleasure and his eyes got as big as golf balls as his attention focused on the young girl.
The young girl froze in fear. There was nothing she could do.
Carter lunged to protect his daughter, but the crack of gunfire sounded before he could reach her.
Milo quickly pushed the gun away at the same mo- ment Matee pulled the trigger, causing him to sway. Bullets sprayed throughout the air and sparks flew from the rifle’s barrel. Milo’s last-second push made his brother hit the valet worker instead of Carter or his family. Milo then mashed the gas pedal to the floor, making the tires screech and a cloud of smoke appear. The van fishtailed into the middle of the street and it quickly fled the chaotic scene.

The vehicle’s unexpected jerking motion thrust Matee across the van. “Fuck! What de fuck are y’u doing?”
“No children!” Milo yelled, swerving in and out of traf- fic. The thought of Carter Diamond’s daughter almost being shot made him feel unexpected empathy. That was a pain no man should feel, and his moral compass wouldn’t let him lean all the way into the devil’s playground.
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” Milo screamed as he repeatedly hit the steering wheel out of rage and frustration, his mind rac- ing. They’d likely never get a chance like that again to kill their sworn enemy and shift the balance of power.
Matee sat in the back seat, shaking his head in disbelief. He looked at the rearview mirror and caught a glimpse of his brother’s eyes. Their stares matched in intensity and both de- cided to remain quiet. It was unspoken, but they both knew things would never be the same. They were at a point of no return. Carter had seen them and now knew exactly who they were. This street war had reached its boiling point. It was no longer about the lower-level drive-bys and drug ter- ritories. It was personal on both sides. Carter and Matee had locked eyes and there was no room for misinterpretation. It was crystal clear and etched in stone.
They would be enemies for life.
•   •   •

My Thoughts

Money Devils #1 is the kind of book that is very easy to write off as just another Urban Contemporary.  Written in the "flash and fight" style of most "tales from the street.
A la Zane and Jerome Dicky.
And yes...
I, as a reviewer will be the first to admit that I had to fight the urge to DNF this book several times in the offing.  Due to the staggering number of cliche racial descriptors and fashion label name drops within the book's first few chapters.
But having preserved.
I must admit that under all of that cliche; there is a story well worth reading.

The fact that the story starts with two conflicts.
Utterly delicious.
First the blood feud between the Diamonds and LaCroix.
Then the Ashton situation. And its segue into to the LaCroix family and their "not so bright and shining world".
Other factors working in this story's favor.
- The panache of the LaCroix sisters and their "business of blackmail".
- The fact that each of the sisters is allowed her own storyline and time in the spotlight.
Though Sutton and Ashton are front and center for the majority of this story.
- West, August, and Beamer Sinclair:s stories. And the way that they intermingle with those of Sutton, Ashton, and the others.
- The way that everything and everyone that is so far removed from the street and the blood feud relates back to it in the end.

This book is very reminiscent of the nighttime soaps of the 80's and 90's.  With larger than life characters.  Mounts of cash. And plots so twisted that one dared not blink for fear of missing something.  Although one was never really sure what that something might be.  Until the big reveal at the end of things.
Although this book ends in an unforgettable cliffhanger.
This fast paced and surprisingly fun read is one that makes good on its promise to shock, surprise, titillate, and sate, all who dare to enter the world of Money Devils #1.

*WTF Are You Reading would like to thank Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing the review copy on which this honest critique is based.

Author Bio
ASHLEY and JAQUAVIS are New York bestselling co-authors and currently reside in Michigan working on their next project. Learn more about these two at

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"Tempting The Prince" Perfect For Those With A Romantic Sweet Tooth

Title:  Tempting The Prince
Series:  Sexy Misadventures Of Royals #3
Author:  Christi Barth
Format eAR
Length:  400 pages
Publisher:  Entangled Publishing
Rating:  4 Stars

What happens when you mix an average American woman with a decidedly not average future King?

I can tell you from experience—a whole lot of complications.

You see, four months ago, my all-American sister, Kelsey, found out that she’s not actually my sister—she’s a princess of a country we’d never heard of. She begged me to come along when she was whisked off to her new palace, so here I am. An outsider who doesn’t fit in anywhere.

Now that she’s settled, I should go back to my exciting new career in New York. I absolutely should not stay in a country where I got shot (long story), where I suck so badly at the national sport that I accidentally murdered the symbol of the monarchy in front of half the country, and—oh yeah—where I can’t stop ogling Kelsey’s actual brother.

The Crown Prince.
The man who has to marry a very important princess. (not me)
The man who must create the next heir to the throne. (without me)
The man I absolutely can never be with. (remember that long story?)
The man who just gave me the best sex of my life…

Did I mention that it’s complicated?

Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from...
Tempting The Prince
Christi Barth

Mallory Wishner crossed her fingers as she sidestepped a suit of armor and turned the corner. It was the third time today she’d gotten lost in Alcarsa Palace. At least it’d been down three different hallways, so the same footmen weren’t snidely rolling their eyes at her. Not that they would—openly. All the staff were unfailingly polite to her, as the sister of the princess who’d been missing for twenty-four years. They nodded, curtsied, and bowed to her as if she had an actual royal rank. She didn’t. Mallory was 100 percent All-American stock. She’d voted in every election, marched in her tiny Michigan hometown’s Memorial Day parade every year, and rolled her eyes at the rest of the world calling soccer “football.”But once they’d discovered, six months ago, that her sister Kelsey was actually 1) not in any way related to her and 2) the long-lost princess of Moncriano, everything had changed. They’d had to leave their fourth-floor Manhattan walk-up after only living in it for three exciting days. They’d flown to Europe on a private jet and been installed in this 715-room palace. Prince Christian, the heir to the throne, had kindly made Mallory a lady-in-waiting so she could be included in almost everything Kelsey did. And then, at the ceremony on the steps of Parliament officially welcoming Kelsey back as a full member of the House of Villani, an assassination attempt gone wrong had ended with a bullet in Mallory. After months of recuperation under her parents’watchful eyes in Michigan, she’d come back to Moncriano. The shooting had meant she couldn’t start her new Manhattan job. Couldn’t afford a Manhattan apartment without Kelsey to split the rent with her. All her plans went poof the moment that bullet entered her body. Including her plans for an eventual family…But who was she to complain about a job that mostly sounded made up but consisted of hanging out with her sister? And living in an honest-to-goodness palace?

My Thoughts
Tempting The Prince offers readers a very sweet "foregone conclusion" type of " happily... "
Which start out with readers being given all the "tea" on the story 's leading lady right off the bat.
Including but not limited to the fact that she got shot protecting her sister; who isn't really her sister.
But who is really the long lost princess of Moncriano.
From a would be assassin.
A fact that gets mentioned way too many times to count. And becomes the reason that way too many things either should, should not, can, or can not be  possible for our dearest heroine.

For her part.
All our dearest Mallory wants is to know if she will be able to fit in.
Seeing as being 'sort of royal' doesnt count.
And if her injuries have indeed put any hopes that she may have had of having children squarely off the table.
But it seems that date and the king's PTSD have other plans for all involved.
Especially Mallory.
By way of her attachment to a certain very hot and very royal prince.

This book is, for all intents and purposes.  The perfect beach read.
You pretty much know where you're going from about the first chapter.  But the fun is in the getting there.
This isn't really what one would consider a true romantic comedy.  Due to the heavy nature of the underlying themes of the read.  Although there are light moments.  That help to  balance things out quite nicely.
There is also a very grand and all encompassing "grand finale" that is more than worthy of a happy tear or two.

This book is the third in the Sexy Misadventures Of Royals series.  And may be read as a standalone or as part of its intended series.
Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing for providing the review copy on which this honest critique is based.

About Christi
Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage.
A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance.
Christi lives in Maryland with her husband.

Find Her:  Web / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

Buy The Book

Gallery Books Presents: J.R. Ward's The Jackal

Title:  The Jackal
Series:  Black Dagger Brotherhood Prison Camp #1
Author:  J.R. Ward
Format:  eARC
Length:  416 pages
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Date Of Publication:  August 18th, 2020
Rating:  4.5 Stars

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sinner brings another hot adventure of true love and ultimate sacrifice in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.

The location of the glymera’s notorious prison camp was lost after the raids. When a freak accident provides Nyx clues to where her sister may still be doing time, she becomes determined to find the secret subterranean labyrinth. Embarking on a journey under the earth, she learns a terrible truth—and meets a male who changes everything forever.

The Jackal has been in the camp for so long he cannot recall anything of the freedom he once knew. Trapped by circumstances out of his control, he helps Nyx because he cannot help himself. After she discovers what happened to her sister, getting her back out becomes a deadly mission for them both.

United by a passion they can’t deny, they work together on an escape plan for Nyx—even though their destiny is to be forever apart. And as the Black Dagger Brotherhood is called upon for help, and Rhage discovers he has a half-brother who’s falsely imprisoned, a devious warden plots the deaths of them all…even the Brothers.


My Thoughts

JR Ward's latest addition to her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Entitled The Jackal is one that starts as a family fragmented series of beginnings.
The first of which being Rhage's present-day father daughter evening at the Brotherhood mansion with his daughter.
Which then morphs into Nyx and Posie'e run in with what they thought to be a deer. In their car on a dark road. On their way to the farmhouse they shared with their grandfather.

Only the deer was far more than that.
And the secret that he would unknowingly set free into the world. As he lay feverish, and struggling to overcome his injuries. With Posie keeping an ever vigilant watch. Is one that serves to unearth old secrets. Thought long buried. Call to mind old memories; thought long forgotten. And send Nyx on a mission destined to change everything that she, Rhage, her family, and the Black Dagger Brotherhood ever thought they knew about love, life, family, and what loyalty really means.

And now the good part.
The review.
The aforementioned story fragments do come together.
But it does take quite a bit of convenient roaming by Nyx. Inside the prison.
Into which she finds a very convenient entrance.
And is very conveniently discovered by just the right man...uh...vampire.
Did I also mention that all of this convenience also included guns and knives?
That's right!
Our girl is able to find her way into a centuries old supernatural prison. Find the one male that won't kill or rape her on sight. That male being The Jackal, or Jack. And manage to keep all of her weapons.

Say it with me now?
WT absolute F?

And Oh yeah...
She's there to find her sister. Who she believes was falsely accused of murdering her former employer.
All of which is truly well and good.
At least until.we get to the private hot spring and wild animal sex that By a and Jack manage to have while on the run in one incident. And injured in others.
But I digress.

In true J.R. Ward fashion, you can expect mouth watering delicious sex. A male with a tragic past doing the best he can to redeem himself. While saving or redeeming the woman who turns out to be his mate. From her equally tragic present.

But in this case there is prison, family, surprises, sisters, torture, and more. As well as crazy looping plotlines that have to be read to be believed. And let's not forget the secrets, secrets, and more secrets.
This is truly a one sitting wonder that one just had to keep reading from the first word.
Well done J.R.
On what promises to be a wonderful spin off.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for the review copy on which this honest critique is based.

Sign-up for exclusive Black Dagger Brotherhood original content:
About JR Ward
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.
See Her Socially:  
Goodreads / Web / Twitter

Carina Press Presents: Better Than People

Author: Roan Parrish

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)

On-Sale: August 25, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback (ebook & audio also available!)

Price: $14.99 U.S.

ISBN: 9781335542823

Book Description: It’s not long before their pet-centric arrangement sparks a person-centric desire…

Simon Burke has always preferred animals to people. When the countdown to adopting his own dog is unexpectedly put on hold, Simon turns to the PetShare app to find the fluffy TLC he’s been missing. Meeting a grumpy children’s book illustrator who needs a dog walker isn’t easy for the man whose persistent anxiety has colored his whole life, but Jack Matheson’s menagerie is just what Simon needs.

Four dogs, three cats and counting. Jack’s pack of rescue pets is the only company he needs. But when a bad fall leaves him with a broken leg, Jack is forced to admit he needs help. That the help comes in the form of the most beautiful man he’s ever seen is a complicated, glorious surprise.

Being with Jack—talking, walking, making out—is a game changer for Simon. And Simon’s company certainly…eases the pain of recovery for Jack. But making a real relationship work once Jack’s cast comes off will mean compromise, understanding and lots of love.

A few days later, a storm blew in while Simon was out walking the pack. It started as a shower that sent Mayonnaise and Pickles scampering inside, but within twenty minutes was a gusting squall that darkened the sky and drove rain sideways against the windows.
Jack paced. Well. Jack swung himself back and forth in front of the living room window on his crutches until he had to stop because it was too tiring. It hadn’t had the same effect, anyway.
After another ten minutes, he lowered himself to the floor gingerly and built up a fire, wanting the animals to be able to warm up when they got home.
Yeah, the animals. It’s definitely them that you want to warm up.
After another ten, he brought armloads of towels from the bathroom to the couch so he could dry the pack off when they got home.
After another ten, he was able to admit he was worried. Puddles hated the rain. Rat was so small, and…and… He huffed out a breath.
Simon. He was worried about Simon.
Simon felt like part of the pack.
As if conjured by the thought, Simon burst through the door, a sodden, dripping mess. Pirate, seeming unperturbed, made a beeline for the fire and began to clean herself, and Rat followed, shaking off her skinny legs as she went; Dandelion ran right to the kitchen in hopes of a snack.
If Jack had been in fighting form, he would’ve had the towels on Bernard faster, but as it was, just as he turned to grab them, the huge dog shook himself, and Jack watched as if in slow motion as Simon got sprayed with another round of rain.
“Oh Jesus,” Jack said, as Simon slumped resignedly, but he couldn’t help but chuckle at the picture it made. Bernard, satisfied he’d wrung himself out, flopped in front of the fire to toast, which left only Puddles and Simon, leaning against each other, soaked and miserable.
“Aw, buddy,” Jack said. He was talking to Puddles, whom he approached with the towels he hadn’t been quick enough with for Bernard, but he included Simon in his sentiment, if only to himself.
He rubbed Puddles as dry as he could and then the dog slunk off to the bedroom, no doubt to soak a dog-shaped damp spot into his blanket and sheets. Making a mental note to change them later—fine, to ask Charlie to change them—Jack turned to Simon.
“Simon,” he said, and the man’s eyes met his. “Come inside, man, let me get you some dry clothes.”
Simon eyed his soaked boots, jeans, and sweater currently dripping onto the doormat. Jack wanted to tell him he’d already have to clean everything to get rid of the wet dog smell so a little more rain wasn’t a big deal. But for some reason, instead, he picked up the remaining towel from the couch and swung over to stand in front of Simon.
“Here,” he said, and he wrapped the towel around Simon’s shoulders and drew him close enough to rub his arms through it.
He heard Simon’s intake of breath and had the brief wild wonder if Simon’s mouth would taste of rain if he kissed him.
Then Simon let the breath out and leaned ever so slightly into Jack.
“Get your boots off and you can take a hot shower, okay? I’ll get you some clothes.”
Simon blinked up at him.
Simon nodded and gave a ghost of a smile.
Since the first time they’d really talked the week before, they’d lingered over pickups and drop-offs, sometimes talking; sometimes Jack talking and Simon texting. Jack still couldn’t tell what made the difference in the times when Simon could speak and when he couldn’t. He appreciated the gift of Simon’s words when he managed them. But Simon via text was smart and honest and a little bit snarky, and he liked that too.
Now, standing so close, he felt like he should be able to tell whether words were forthcoming or not, as if the fanfare that announced their appearance would stir the very air between them.
But, no. He still couldn’t tell. What he could tell was that Simon was shaking with cold and his wool sweater was so sodden that it might as well have been dumping water down his back.
“C’mere, let me take this,” Jack said, tugging at the sweater. Simon’s eyelashes, spiked with rain, fluttered and he lifted his arms to help take the sweater off. It was plastered to his shirt beneath, so when the sweater came off so did it.
Jack couldn’t help but notice that Simon was lovely beneath his clothes. Angular and smoothly put together, though he was shivering. Jack dropped the sweater to the floor with a thlump and slung the towel back around Simon’s shoulders.
“Come on,” he said softly, and led the way to the bathroom.
He left Simon to his shower and fetched sweats for him to wear from his bedroom, where he did, indeed, find a sheepish Puddles on the bed.
He stroked Puddles’ damp nose and Puddles licked his hand. Worried Puddles might be chilly, Jack slung the blanket over him and gave him a rub.
“You like Simon?” he whispered. Puddles yipped. “Yeah. Yeah, me too.”


My Thoughts

Roan Parrish's Better Than People offers readers the perfect "get to know me to love me" romance.
With an unassuming and painfully shy Simon Burke, coming to the aid of a very sweet gang of furry friends. While their owner, one Jack Matheson, a grumpy children's book illustrator. Who hasn't drawn anything since being double crossed in a publication deal by the man who was his friend and writing partner. Nurses a rather unfortunate green stick fracture to one of his legs.

Neither of the two ever daring to believe that each could be just what the doctor ordered for the other.
With their shared affection for Jack's myriad of pets serving as the perfect bridge to join these two hurt and fragile souls to each other and the world at large.

Bearing witness to the gentleness and patience the both Simon and Jack showed toward Jack's pets. In no way however, prepares you for the emotional rollercoaster that Jack and Simon's relationship becomes; as their story progresses.
Revealing both the life altering severity of Simon's social anxiety. And the career ending effects of his long time friend's betrayal on Jack.

But wait...
There's more.
Because just as these two start to let their respective guards down around each other enough to become comfortable enough as friends.
The undeniable attraction they share becomes a very scintillating avenue that they can't help exploring. Giving readers some of the most beautifully expressed love scenes ever.
And adding layers to an already complex emotional onion.

This is a book, a story, and a relationship that is so well written that readers can't help becoming increasingly immersed in each detail of these men's lives. In much the same way that the two become singularly wrapped up in becoming a couple.

Readers literally fall in love with Simon and Jack's falling in love.
With each managing to be both the tailor made strength and gentleness that the other needs. At the very moment that it is needed most.

Jack and Simon are the quintessential "your imperfections are just the right kind of perfect for me couple.
And their story is one of two souls finding their forever homes. Courtesy of a little time, a lot of love, patience, understanding, a broken leg, and more than a few wet noses and sniffed butts.

*WTF Are You Reading? Would like to thank Netgally and Carina Press for providing the unsolicited review copy upon which my honest critique is based.

About Roan

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.

Roan’s website