Book Title: Better
Author: Carey Heywood
Genre: Contemporary Romance Release Date: February 17, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Aubrey is embarking on a bucket-list trip around the world, the last wish of her Aunt Ally. It was supposed to be the trip Ally would have taken when she got better. Now, it’s just a chance for Aubrey to say good-bye.
Adam escapes in his solo trips overseas, working just enough to fund the next one. When the opportunity to circle the globe falls in his lap, he can’t refuse. The only catch is that he won’t be traveling alone this time.
Unable to hide from each other, Adam’s overprotective nature thwarts Aubrey’s desire to find her own way. Can they move past initial assumptions to find something better?
“What are you doing in here?" I stammer.
He’s on his knees by the bed, reaching under. "This bed is a trundle. There's no way I'm sleeping on that sofa."
"But I'm sleeping in here," I argue.
I watch as he pulls the trundle out. It's smaller, maybe twin sized.
"Yes, and I'm sleeping here." He makes a wide sweep with his hands over the smaller bed.
I remember how awkward it felt, sleeping so near him the night before. At least the trundle is low to the ground. My mouth drops as he depresses a lever and raises it to the same height as my bed, and the way it's made, we'll be face to face with maybe an inch separating his bed from mine.
I gulp. He turns to look at me. "Um, I was going to get changed."
"Oh, don’t mind me."
"Out," I order him.
His eyes travel lazily down me, and I shiver. His mouth twitches before he turns to leave, closing the door behind him. I hurry over to it and lock it, sagging against it. I had been looking forward to a night away from him. I quickly change, unlock the “door, and climb into bed. I hear the door open and shuffle further under the covers.
When I wake the next morning, I'm facing him. Wiping sleep from my eyes, I watch him. He's shirtless, his sheet draping low across his hips. I lick my lips, mesmerized by the rise and fall of his chest. I quietly slip out of bed and out of the room, taking my clothes for the day with me. I need distance. I can't stay in that room any longer. It smells like him, a mixture of Irish Spring, his cologne, and something just him.
I shower and get dressed. I'm in the kitchen, rummaging through the cabinets for something to snack on when he walks out. He's still shirtless. Why can't he put on a shirt?
"Hungry?" he asks, scratching the back of his head.
"A bit," I admit.
"Give me a minute. I saw a bakery close by."
He walks back into the room and shuts the door. A couple minutes later, he walks back out, now in jeans and a vintage looking M*A*S*H t-shirt.
He laughs. "It was my dad's."
"You're wearing hand me downs," I joke.
"Just trying to live the green life."
I don’t give him the satisfaction of a chuckle even though that was funny as I follow him out of the flat.
"What about Abe?"
"He can get his own breakfast," he says, grabbing a set of keys that are hanging on a hook by the door. I give him a look.
"Don't worry. I'll bring him something back." He holds the door open for me.
I tuck my hair behind my ear and hurry down the stairs. I wait for him at the bottom, not sure which direction to go. He comes up beside me, tilting his head to the right. We turn together and walk.
"I saw you."
"Excuse me?" I stop.” “He's now a step ahead of me. He looks back at me.
"I saw you watching me this morning."
"I wasn’t," I stammer, looking away.
"If you say so," he says as he continues to walk.
I follow him but stay a step behind on purpose. I can't believe he saw me.”
Carey Heywood is a self-published New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with six books out and many more to come.
She was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia. Ever the mild-mannered citizen, Carey spends her days working in the world of finance, and at night, she retreats into the lives of her fictional characters.
Supporting her all the way are her husband, three sometimes-adorable children, and their nine-pound attack Yorkie.
I’m a little torn about how to rate this book. I really loved the story and the reason behind the trip, but some things didn’t work for me so I didn’t fully enjoy it like I hoped I would.
The first few chapters were truly emotional and I had a lump in my throat while I was reading them. Even though some parts were a little dragged out with too many detailed descriptions (I wake up, got out of bed, wash my teeth, go downstairs, take out a box of cereals…) which could have been summarized to go straight to the point, I think this helped in a way to feel the emptiness Aubrey felt inside. People who lost a loved one will agree with me in saying those moments are the toughest – when you try to realize what happened and how your life is never going to be the same. During the trip, the relationship between Aubrey and Adam slightly shadows the real reason for the trip, but until the very last stop it’s still an important part of the book.
I liked the way Aubrey decided to honor her aunt’s memory even though it scared her; I liked her selflessness when she decided to give up her future to be near her aunt and family, but I also understood her need for independence and how she wanted to find out who she really was.
The whole idea of the trip excited me, and made me wish I could do something like that too; it made me think about how easy it is to take things for granted and then grieve when it’s too late.
I liked the way Aubrey and Adam warmed to each other during the trip; the way she thought he was a jerk and he thought she was a spoilt girl when they first met and how they learned to get over their prejudices and differences.
I enjoyed reading about all the nice places they went to, the things they saw – it made me want to pack up and go on a trip myself. I particularly liked the parts when Aubrey picked the right spots to scatter her aunt’s ashes. Those were very emotional scenes.
I also liked that the chemistry between Aubrey and Adam was created without the need of graphic scenes, because given the serious theme of the story, I think they would’ve been out of place.
The things that didn’t work for me were a couple - the use of present tense, for one thing. I know this isn’t a reason that should influence the rating but it did somehow spoil the reading for me. I don’t know why but I have a problem truly enjoying books written in present tense–I tend to prefer books in past tense. I didn’t feel totally involved in the story.
I understand the use of first person POV was meant to take the reader inside Aubrey’s head, since this is mainly her story, but I would’ve liked to get a little of Adam’s POV too, since I didn’t seem to be able to figure him out. He was hot and lovable, but there were some dark spots I didn’t understand and that I don’t feel were ever truly explored in the story, not even when he told Aubrey the reason why he was so protective. I couldn’t totally get inside his head and truly fall for him, even though by the end of the book I really liked him and thought he would make a lovely book boyfriend. I don’t know, I felt there was something missing.
I liked that there was an epilogue one year later, but I felt it was a little too short.
After trying to decide how many shamrocks I should give the book, in the end I’ve decided to add an extra star to the rating I would’ve given because, even though some things didn’t work for me, I truly loved the main theme of the story (the reason behind the trip), and I enjoyed the idea of the trip. Besides, this is a very emotional read and I love reading books where emotions play an important part in the story, overshadowing every other theme.