I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.
Never Better is the third of Charlotte Stein's Dark Obsession contemporary series. Not quite erotic and not quite New Adult, each story centers on a couple, at least one of whom is in college. Never Better is about Lydia, the best friend and roommate of Letty, the heroine from Never Sweeter.
I'm not sure what to make of this story. I usually love Stein's writing and this one just didn't work for me. It felt overly long at the beginning and the ending (and revelations) were too abrupt.
What I liked: I adore Stein's voice--it's neurotic and self-conscious and wonderful. I also really liked Lydia from book #2. Once in her POV, she's less sarcastic and funny, but we also find out (in the Prologue) that she was nearly assaulted and struggles with PTSD. Letty and Lydia's friendship doesn't get many scenes, but I loved how they support each other. The romance is a slow-build with a protective alpha hero.
What I didn't like: I felt like the pacing was off and the story could have been longer. I also didn't like that Lydia's PTSD was "cured" by self-defense lessons from Isaac, the hero. Yes, really. There are lots of ways people cope, but the dismissal of actual mental health treatment was frustrating. And, fwiw, self-defense training is not an effective treatment of PTSD. Some of the setting didn't work. There were several locations (group therapy room, "training" room, and a diner) that were so rotting they would have been condemned. Lydia made jokes about these places, but it took me out of the story to picture them in such (needlessly) horrible places. Also, Isaac, was too much of a blank slate. I found out after I read it that he was a hit man. I appreciate the value of show don't tell, but there's so little about him, that he didn't feel real. So, yes, he's protective, but I wanted more scenes between him and Lydia after the big reveal so we could see his guilt, etc.
I'm on the fence about the sex scenes. There was plenty of tension leading up to them, which was classic Stein (and great). However, the staging was a little odd. There was so much build-up, I needed to see the other side of it. It felt short-handed, at least a little.