Review: Never Better by Charlotte Stein

Reviewed by Caitlin

Never Better is the third in the Dark Obsessions trilogy, a new adult romance series by Charlotte Stein. I didn’t like it quite as much as Never Sweeter, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself reading it. It was darker and heavier with (*slight spoiler*) an ending that’s a little bit more ambiguous than most romance novels, but I still ate it up in about a day and a half.

Lydia, Letty from Never Sweeter‘s best friend, is dealing with the fallout of almost being raped when two men invaded the house where she was babysitting. One of the home invaders assaulted her and held her down when the other one shot him in the head and made sure she was okay before disappearing.

Lydia is still pretty shook up about the incident (obviously) to the point that she has trouble and so she starts going to group therapy meetings. While there, she sees a man who is big, almost physically imposing – and still manages to put the people around him at ease by doing certain things that are barely noticeable. Somehow not invading another’s space, casually avoiding physical touch, etc. Intrigued, Lydia finally works up the nerve to talk to him. He agrees to teach her how to avoid contact without being obvious, but when she asks for self-defense lessons, he has to be persuaded to help. He is wary around her, worried he’s going to accidentally overstep. Lydia, however, convinces him she feels totally safe around him, and he soon is teaching her how to defend herself.

From there, a sweet romance develops. Lydia doesn’t even realize she likes him until she’s deep into her feelings. It’s clear he’s into her as well, but there’s something holding him back – a whole heap of “I’m not good enough for her” man feelings that clearly stems from some deep, dark secret with a big dose of “I don’t want to take advantage of a vulnerable woman.” He’s a closed off person, not even telling her his name (Isaac Morales) until several meetings in.

Lydia is a pop culture junkie and a social person trying to get back to herself after the assault. Isaac is an introvert who has a secret obsession with romance novels. She finally convinces him that she wants him, that she’s not too vulnerable to approach this as an equal, and Isaac can only resist what they both for so long before he finally – happily – realizes he can have the happy ending with the girl he fell for the first time he saw her.

Stein is a master of writing wonderful dialogue between characters trying to feel each other out while clearly also being attracted to each other. And because Isaac was so resistant for so long, the payoff – when they finally get physical – is a beautiful thing. I loved Lydia, but I especially enjoyed getting to know Isaac. He’s a gentle giant capable of some serious violence when necessary. He even might be a virgin (eeee!) but it’s never clearly stated (just that he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience), so that’s just an assumption I made.

I’m a big Charlotte Stein fan, and she did a beautiful job with two characters that had a whole lot of baggage but only wanted to be good to each other.

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon

Never Better
by Charlotte Stein
Release Date: February 14, 2017

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