Roan Parrish writes some of the best mental health rep there is in all of romance and Better Than People is no exception. The meet cute in this book is super cute as Jack has an accident in the beginning of this and needs to find someone to exercise is sizable dog pack – and one cat – for him. He finds Simon on an app where people are seeking pets to walk or cuddle because they can’t have them for one reason or another. I liked this take on the app hookup idea.
One of my only quibbles with this book is also something I loved about it – which is the animals. I had no idea how many Jack had. There were just so many! I’m such an animal lover but I truly was like wait, another…where did this one come from!? I couldn’t get past the logical and real-life parts that come with pets. But I also loved that the pets were not there as just adornments and served no purpose. They made sense for the book – they all help Jack deal with his anxiety so much. They were the reason the MCs met. They each had personalities (my favorite was the fear-ridden Puddles!) just like real life pets. I just wish there were a few less of them so I could truly focus on the ones I loved.
What I loved so much about this book is the nuance Parrish brings to the mental health spectrum. Jack has real anxiety around work and illustration that he is having issues with because of some personal issues and hasn’t been able to work through for the last almost full year. And has been in a major depression to the point that the people in his life have noticed. And the juxtaposition of that with Simon whose anxiety and self-isolation is severe is incredible to see that comparison. And on top of that Jack’s brother has his own mental health struggles and having three completely different representations in one book was so powerful to see!
The romance between Jack and Simon is sweet and I loved how neither of them actually want to change the other one, but only make their lives better. When it comes to books with mental health that’s a real fear – but there was no magic peen here, just an HEA and loving who they were already. And that’s what I love about romance!