A Better Man is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it the first time it was released and I fell in love with both the characters and the story. I didn't know how I would feel reading it with things changed, I worried about the changes slightly but I didn't really panic. I was more excited than anything. And when I started reading this again, I soon realized that I would have no issues loving these characters again. Jaime Reese did a wonderful job adding and rewriting scenes. She didn't change the core of this story and that, I believe, is the reason this is still on my favorites list.
I really loved the characters. Matt, who did something amazing for his younger brother and almost ruined his own life in the process, was really easy to like. He had family issues that really made him as a person and I think that was part of the reason I loved him. But J really stole my heart in this book. He was everything I love in a character and more. I loved how much he loved Matt. His past, like Matt's, wasn't easy and he had his demons, but he was always there when Matt needed him. I couldn't have picked a better pair and my love for both of them just grew as I read the book. Their relationship was fun and snarky, but sometimes serious, and I rooted for them from the beginning.
This book wasn't really angsty, but saying that, there was some drama in this. Between Matt's family (his mother, really) and the secrets he kept from J, plus J's past, it all had the potential to be really hard to read. And while I was reading I was waiting for something to go really wrong and I was overcome with dread during one of the scenes, but these guys were solid and nothing tore them apart. If anything, the troubles in their lives brought them closer together. So nothing was ever OTT or too much in this and that was something I was appreciative of.
The dialogue between the two guys made me feel all happy and mushy inside. I read romance because I love romantic scenes. But I also like having fun while I read and the banter between these guys was awesome! It was like watching two best friends fall in love. And that was another great thing. These guys became friends and then they became more. Sure, there were a couple of kisses before they became a couple. But they also fell in love before becoming an official couple and that was a huge bonus. And no matter how lovey-dovey they were, the banter never disappeared which can happen sometimes.
One of my favorite scenes is the one where they meet for the first time. It had me laughing so hard that I had tears in my eyes and I couldn't stop. Honestly, I was so glad that scene was in this book because it really made this book what it was for me. Among many other scenes, but this was the first scene that really made me think "This book is amazing!""Hello? Mr. Boner?" He smiled. Gosh, this was never going to get old.
"It's Doner." He heard an aggravated man's voice from one of the rooms on the right.
"Oh, sorry, the ad read Boner." He just couldn't resist throwing that in there one more time.
The irritated man walked out into the hallway, stopped, and crossed his arms. "It's Doner. D-O-N-E-R. Doner."
He could spell it any way he wanted, a-s-s-h-o-l-e was the only thing that ran through Julian's mind at that moment.
And there was this."I love you, Matt," he said then softly pressed his lips to Matt's in a tender kiss.
When they separated, Matt was smiling, his eyes bright with emotion. "I love you more," he responded and reached up to touch Julian. His fingers ghosted over Julian's temples and down the side of his face to his chin.
I have always adored the "I love you" "I love you more" scene. It's another scene that really made this book what it was for me. But it was also one of those romantic scenes that made me feel so many things. It was just so very, very good, and I think it's one of those scenes you can really tell how much Matt and J love each other.
This is a must read in my opinion. And I cannot wait for the sequel!