I pretty much started begging for a Ben story the minute I finished Cruel & Beautiful by A.M Hargrove and Terri E. Laine. I fell in love with his character in that book and I needed more of him! While A Mess of a Man can be read as a standalone, I highly suggest reading C&B first since there is so much about that book that will be spoiled here if you don't. It isn't necessary, but I think to fully appreciate Ben and this book that it is best read in order. So if you haven't read C&B yet, I would suggest you probably stop reading this review and beware of spoilers from that story here.
After losing his best friend and the closest thing he had to a brother, Ben is determined to not let anyone get too close to him. He built a wall and refuses to let anyone tear it down. He is a player and when things start getting to serious, he knows that it is time to move on. So when he meets Sam Calhoun and is instantly drawn to her, he knows he should stay far away. But Ben can't get Sam off his mind. Sam was hurt and betrayed by the man she thought was her future. But meeting Ben in the produce section of the grocery store was a meet cute she couldn't forget. Just as Ben couldn't stop thinking of her, Sam finds her feelings for Ben growing as well. But their lives get in the way of their growing relationship, and soon both of them are wondering if they can find a way to get through all the obstacles that threaten to stand in their way.
I absolutely loved Ben in C&B. He was one of those guys that you are just drawn to and can't help but love. Ben had a lot of issues here, and I felt so much reading this book. He had been through a lot and was clearly struggling. While a lot of people questioned why he would feel so strongly about his friend, I understood completely. Having seen him and Drew in C&B it was so obvious that while they weren't soul mates in a romantic sense, they were in every other. They were like brothers and their bond was one that even death couldn't break. So that loss absolutely devastated Ben and that is something that wasn't easy to overcome. I loved that Sam was able to get him to really start to live in a way he hadn't since losing Drew. While he hadn't died along with Drew, he was just going through the emotions. Sam was the spark that brought him back to life and made it so that he could move on with his life like Drew would have wanted. Sam was smart and strong, and I really liked her. She was going through her own issues as well and was so determined to guard her heart. Ben got under her skin though, and I really loved seeing them together. Ben is just so charming that it is impossible not to love him. Sam and Ben had such strong chemistry, and you could feel the attraction between them right from the start. But I thought that their connection went so much deeper than that, and what they had was really special.
Overall, I really loved this book! I loved C&B, and I didn't think that it was possible to top the emotions that I felt while reading that story. I have to say that while this book was a different type of journey than C&B was, it was every bit as emotional of a read for me. Ben was going through so much and I felt so emotionally invested in him that my heart ached so much for him. I just wanted to reach into the pages and hug him. A.M Hargrove and Terri E. Laine make a fantastic writing team, and they continue to prove just how deep and powerful their words are to readers. A Mess of a Man was everything I had hoped it would be and more! I honestly cannot recommend these books enough, and I hope that they never stop writing together! I am already anxious for more from them, and I need Jenna's story next!
**ARC Provided by Social Butterfly PR**