How can you lose one dream and still find another?
Paul Fallon is a fashion advertising guru. He’s a genius at dealing with difficult editors, art directors, and designers alike. He thrives on the chaotic atmosphere and constant challenges. But in his personal life, he’s hoping for peace and stability. Settling down with a nice doctor or lawyer sounds perfect. Anyone but an artist. He’s been there, done that, and he doesn’t want to relive the heartache.
Seth Landau is a model, occasional guitarist, and aspiring painter. He’s quirky, flighty, and wise beyond his years. Life has taught him some tough lessons, then given him opportunities he never dreamed of. He’s learned to appreciate the fragility of life and to express it in his work. Seth’s flare for the absurd combined with a supple mind and a beautiful body are too alluring for Paul to ignore. Against his best intentions, Paul is drawn to the younger man whose particular brand of crazy challenges Paul to accept that things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes taking a chance is better than being safe.
Better Than Safe is my favorite book in this series since Better Than Good, and takes place four years after the first book and two years after the third.
Paul, the first-person narrator of this story, was Curt's potential love interest in book 3 before Curt met Jack. Paul is now friends with Aaron and Curt, so we get to briefly revisit with all the couples. This was fun, and I enjoyed reading about Aaron and Matt's new adventure.
Paul is 35, British, and uptight. He's a successful fashion ad executive who drives an Audi and wears Armani. Nothing is out of place in Paul's world, and he wants a man to complement the cultured, structured life he's made for himself.
If Paul is sometimes lonely, so what? He has enough on his plate to worry about a complicated relationship.
Paul's first date with the younger, impetuous, gorgeous Seth is a disaster. Seth is late and rude, jumping between snarky and brooding. A model, artist, and part-time guitarist, Seth exudes confidence.
I'll be honest: I didn't warm up to Seth for a long time. I felt like he played Paul like a fiddle. But maybe Paul needed to be played.
The ups and downs, the sheer chaos of their relationship, made for a fast, sexy read.
"I see who you are. The real you. I see past your slick suits and your fancy car. I see the lonely guy who doesn't like his food to touch, hates being late, and has this weirdass compulsion to watch from the sidelines. I know sad movies make you cry, Chinese food makes you smile, and jazz makes you horny as fuck."
The MCs have strong chemistry, and their banter, once it loses its mean edge, is charming and sweet.
Seth seems like a mess: volatile, evasive, scattered. But Paul is not the most reliable of narrators, and it slowly dawned on me that it's not Seth who's falling apart.
The scenes of jealousy and Paul's troubled past as a muse give this story an edge.
Paul is scared of letting go, of losing himself in another person. He doesn't associate love with being safe. Seth, who is wise beyond his 24 years, gets it though.
"[I]t's too late, Paul. You're already on the roller coaster. You have to ride it all the way in with your hands in the air and your heart in your throat."
Hayes' writing is always engaging, and this book had just enough steam and romance to make me happy. The epilogue didn't hurt either.