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REVIEW: Better Than People by Roan Parrish

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Garnet Run: Better Than People – Roan Parrish

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, waking, 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.


Peopling is something Jack Matheson has no patience for. Social gatherings and small talks were things he particularly avoided. Betrayed by a friend and recently injured by a bad fall, he spent his days moping while his brother, Charlie tried to coax him out of it.

One day, Jack got on Petshare, an app that matches a pet owner to a person interested in helping out with pets. It matched him with one very intriguing person named Simon Burke.

Peopling comes hard to Simon Burke. Having crippling anxiety where words stuck in his throat whenever he tries to talk to new people pretty much guarantees a solitary life with his grandmother as his only friend in the world. It took all his courage to knock on Jack’s door so that he could walk the dogs. Little did he know, their grumpy human would change his life.

As somebody who’s as socially awkward as they come, Jack and Simon are my people so I was immediately drawn to them. Having preference for furry, four-legged creatures over walking, talking two-legged ones is another point in their favor.

Simon’s condition was difficult. The author really did a good job making you feel his struggle to say something as simple as thank you. While I was reading it, I wondered, how does one even handle that level of anxiety? The amount of courage to push through the fear is extraordinary. Simon Burke is one of the strongest book person I know. I also loved that this shy man who struggles with words has a delightful streak of snark.

Jack might have anger and trust issues but he is kind. He noticed right away that Simon has words roiling inside that he couldn’t get out. He found ways for them to communicate. He was patient and gentle. He knew how to listen to the unspoken.

The story has the right amount of slow burn to allow the attraction to blossom into a sweet romance amidst challenging circumstances. They were both fiercely independent individuals who’s trying to make it through life alone. I loved the way they gradually became part of each other’s lives.

Drawing is a key element in the story. Jack is a children’s book illustrator and Simon is a graphic artist. His friend’s betrayal affected Jack so much he has not drawn for 8 months. It was Simon who helped him get his mojo back.

One of the heroes of this book is Charlie. He and Jack were orphaned when he was 17. He sacrificed so much to provide for his younger brother. Even as adults, he still selflessly cares for Jack despite Jack’s surly attitude. He was patient with Simon. He understood what it’s like to wake up fearing the day ahead. He is a sweetheart and he deserves his own happy ending.

I am thrilled that my soft, magical boy, Corbin Wale gets a much deserved homage. Jack is a huge fan of him. The way Jack described his drawings takes me back to his amazing book.

Better Than People is set in the same world as The Remaking of Corbin Wale. It charms you with the same whimsical writing though less dreamlike. While The Remaking of Corbin Wale has a surreal, magical realism vibe, this book is more realistic and angsty. It is also did not have quite the same intensity. I love this book but I wasn’t as swept away as I was with its predecessor.

Nonetheless, I highly recommend reading this after reading Corbin Wale’s story. The two can be read as standalones but Roan Parrish creates wonderful stories of soft boys made of sighs, spice, and steel, it’s always a pleasure to meet them all.

P.S.

Read my love for Corbin here.

Rating:
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

Soundtrack: Impossible
Artist: Nothing But Thieves
Album: Moral Panic


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