We have Jaime with us today talking about her book A Better Man.
A book all about second chances and making things right.
Word From The Author
Hi, everyone! I want to start by thanking Mark for inviting me to post something for Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews to accompany the giveaway. J
I guess the best place to start would be at the beginning and the reason behind the series.
We're human. With that, comes the innate ability to make mistakes.
Sometimes life presents you with a rare gem of an opportunity—a chance to make things right, to fall in love, to help others, or just to do things a little differently the second time around. To me, the defining moment is what one chooses to do when presented with that second chance.
The Men of Halfway House is a series about men who have been dealt a crappy hand in life for one reason or another, whether by their own doing or as a result of circumstance. Their experience while in the halfway house provides them with that second chance they crave.
I hope to capture the journey they take to protect and cherish the rare chance they've been given to change the path in their life. In each story, the characters are partnered with men who offer love strong enough to mend a broken man and help them in their quest for a happily ever after.
A Better Man
A Better Man tells the story of Matt and Julian and their slow building romance as they work together to renovate the halfway house over a year. They are two completely different men from very different backgrounds, yet they are alike in so many ways. They learn that, together, they are strong enough to overcome whatever obstacles are thrown their way.
The characters and their individual journeys
Matt is the unexpected ex-con who serves five years in prison for a white collar crime as a result of circumstance. During that time, he finally comes to the realization that he's been living a lie for far too long. The death of his aunt and her generous bequest cements his decision to change the path in his life and start a halfway house to offer second chances to others. In essence, a way to pay it forward. Unfortunately, this new direction in his life forces him to confront other necessary changes he's avoided for far too long.
Julian is the contractor Matt hires to renovate the building that will ultimately become the halfway house. Julian's harsh exterior is a well-groomed disguise he's cultivated over the years to protect himself after a childhood full of pain. He's a master at his façade. So much so that he's been unsuccessful with prior relationships because he's locked himself away so well he can't seem to open up to others. His story is a discovery of emotions he's never experienced when finally given a chance to love, and be loved, by someone who is both patient and understanding.
For me, Julian was the driving force of the development of the story. I have a soft spot for men who are misunderstood or misjudged based on first impressions. I've met many people in my life who were not at all what they seem to be and were ignored or mistreated because of their appearance. One thing I found to be consistent: they were all incredible people who just needed someone to take the time to get to know and accept them.
I wanted the opportunity to give Julian his second chance in life while allowing Matt to finally find his chosen path in life. Matt's compassion and patience is exactly what Julian needs to get his happy ending – and Matt receives the same in return. They discover they are strong enough to get through life's stumbling blocks as a couple, and each hurdle they overcome brings them closer together.
A Hunted Man – anticipated release date: April 29, 2014
The next book in series is A Hunted Man, and it is the story of Cameron Pierce, Matt and Julian’s first guest in the halfway house. Cam has spent ten years in prison and wants nothing more than a chance to live life again…but it won't be easy.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post and I hope you join the men in their journey as they fight like hell to take advantage of the second chance life has offered them.
Title: A Better Man
Author: Jaime Reese
Published: 16th January 2014
Genre: M/M (contemporary)
Rating: 4 Stars
Matthew Doner is starting over. After a five-year prison term that alters every aspect of his life, he receives a bequest from his aunt with the stipulation that he use the money to make things right. Breaking free of the long-standing role he’s played and inspired by the few who support him, he decides to create a safe place where people like him can find purpose and start a new life.
Julian Capeletti likes challenges. He is confident, brash, stubborn, and just what Matt needs. Desperate for work after a downturn of luck, he accepts the job to renovate Matt’s crumbling building.
Over the course of a year, romance simmers between them as they restore the house. But there’s a bigger renovation that must take place in their hearts. To become better men, they need to learn to trust each other even with secrets and painful memories they fear may rip them apart.
A derelict house, DIY, damaged souls and a happy end. What more could any man want? A delightful read that kept me fascinated and wondering how it now all goes from here.
Matt has just been released from prison and now needs to make his way in normal society. Not an easy thing and the sad thing is many don't make it. However, he has been left money from his deceased aunt and is determined to something good. After an image and friend, Liam, dies on the streets as he just couldn't back on his feet after leaving prison, Matt is determined to give these men support and a helping hand by building a halfway house. Upon release they can go to this house and get the support they need to integrate them back into a productive role in society. Not what everyone might think of a good idea, after all if they have committed some awful crime why should they be helped? Well, this book also answered a few of these questions. Many people land in prison who are not by nature necessarily evil, but who may have made one stupid mistake and regretted it later. Should we help these people? Well I think depending on what they have done, then yes. If we are really truthful, prison doesn't always set out to do what is supposed to do and when they are released they have become institutionalised and need some help to set them off on the right path. Matt buys a derelict house and intends to turn it into a halfway house to help such people. However, he needs someone to do the renovation work not being technical himself.
Enter Julian, he has just lost his job and can't pay his rent. He takes the job offered by Matt after looking in the local paper, knowing that it was a badly paid job, but beggars can't be choosers. When Julian goes for the interview and meets Matt the rapport is immediately there, if not a little more. When the work starts Matt realises that he has found a good man in Julian and they soon develop a good working relationship. Now here we have the crux of the matter. As Matt and Julian wish to keep things purely business and maintain a professional working relationship, the merry dance begins. Oh boy, what a dance it was too! Both attracted to each other in a way that was electric, but neither of them daring to cross the line. The project to get the house finished is on the first priority list.
I love stories that present you two damaged souls who are determined to make it and not give up, love can be the most wonderful booster here. However, there are always the obstacles to overcome first. Matt was in prison due to embezzlement, but we find out that he took the fall in order to protect someone else and keep this secret. At first he wants to keep this fact about prison, etc. completely to himself, but as the barriers break down and the emotions / hormones start to have their way, the relationship takes on a whole new form and if you are going to fall in love and make a go of the relationship, then the truth must or will out! We also find out that Julian has had a horrific childhood and has the scars to prove it. Physical and emotional. So both characters emotionally crippled and therefore very guarded. This leads to them dancing around each other in circles at the beginning and in the end an understanding even the more solid due to it.
Matt has another problem though, he comes from a wealthy family but has the proverbial society crawler bitch for a mother. She is only interested in herself, her reputation and money. Oooooh! I mean if women like this really exist then they should seriously leave having children out of the picture and pay more attention to their society careers and coffee mornings. Sweeping statement I know, but I have never felt more contempt for this woman than any character I have read so far. Her constant jabs and snide remarks when she talks to Matt is no way for a mother to behave. All Matt wants is the love of a mother, even if he is an adult, but her only concern is "rescuing" the family reputation and sending Matt on one guilt trip after the other. He eventually finds the strength with Julian at his side to tell her he's gay and oh goodness what a bombshell that was!
Obviously, Matt's father doesn't say a thing at first, a man that has worked hard all his life to give his family the life style they have required, but ignored one important thing on the way. He never spent any time with Matt and his brother when they were children. A first I thought he was one of those sad males that just go to work, bring home the money and the wife rules the roost where he is left with nothing to say at home. Man this woman has basically castrated her own husband. Thankfully the table turn and when enough is enough Matt's dad stands his ground, puts his mother well and truly in her place and has one of the most heartfelt talks with Matt ever. I loved this part so much! Father and son come clean and are determined to repair what has been broken while putting the Wicked Witch of the West well and truly behind them.
After all the differences are sorted, cleared and out the way. After the all the demons of their pasts have been confronted and laid to rest. The foundation has been built for a solid relationship and the house is ready for inspection from the authorities before the doors are opened to take in its first residents.
What I found upon reflection that I really liked was as the house was taking shape, being renovated, rebuilt and repaired this was symbolic of the gradual transition of Matt and Julian's relationship. Also the healing that took place for them to overcome their pasts. When the house is completed so are Matt and Julian. I don't know if this was a deliberate plot device from the author or not but it worked very well. The writing flows nicely and you are drawn in to Matt and Julian's emotions and left willing them on to get their pasts behind them and start building a new future.
If there was one small criticism on my part, I found that the timeline was rather long. Now I’m all for the slow burn, but considering the burning desire in these men they only kissed each other twice in a little under twelve months. Maybe I'm mistaken, but it felt a little to early to use the "L" word when they hadn't even got down to the sex bit if memory serves me correctly. However, this is only my personal perception and it was still enthralling to read how these two guys tip-toed around each other until the damn finally broke. After this it was no holds barred - WOOHOO!!!
I'm now really looking forward to how this story will continue, we know that Matt and Julian already have their first resident lined up for the halfway house and it will definitely be interesting to read where they go from here.
About the Author
Jaime Reese is the alter ego of an artist who loves the creative process of writing, just not about herself. Fiction is far more interesting. She has a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes and feels everyone deserves a chance at love and life. An avid fan of a happy ending, she believes those endings acquired with a little difficulty are more cherished.
Contact The Author
Jaime will be giving away one ebook copy of A Better Man.
Enter the draw below and good luck!!!