Henry’s the odd man out. All his friends are settling down, and his reputation as the Hook-Up King of London seems more like a curse than a blessing these days. Especially when it keeps photojournalist Ivo, his best friend and the brilliant man he’s loved since they were fifteen, at arm’s length. But that’s where Ivo wants him, right? Putting aside his feelings, Henry decides to give up casual sex and look for the real deal. After all, he has no chance with Ivo – or does he?
Henry is everything to Ivo. Best friend, soul mate, the one person who has never let him down. The one person he is loyal to above everything and everyone. But Henry’s in a box marked best friend and that’s where Ivo’s kept him for nearly twenty years, despite steadily falling in love with the gentle man. And besides, why would Henry want to date Ivo? Burned out and injured, he’s the walking embodiment of damaged.
Distance has helped Henry and Ivo keep a lid on their attraction, but when they find themselves in the same city for a change—Ivo hurt and needing assistance, and Henry more than willing to provide it—the two best friends grow closer than ever, forcing a realization, and a decision. Risk their friendship for their hearts? Or can they have both?
When I discovered (and adored) the Mixed Messages series last year I knew Lily Morton was going to make my top ten author list. This third book in the series could easily be a standalone, but I’d hate for you to miss out on the greatness of the first two; so I’d stick with my usual rec of reading them in order. Morton’s books are full of life. Her writing style is unique, her characters are always endearing, and she delivers the full monty of feels. I can close my eyes and I’m instantly in her world. I hear the busy bustle of the city or the peace of the sea. I feel the salt on my lips and smell the signature scent of her guys. I’m there. It’s a beautiful talent and I appreciate it every time I read one of her stories.
So, it’s Henry’s turn and my face breaks into a smile just thinking about him finding his “simple happy”. It’s not an easy feat. His story is…different. But his love isn’t any less intense or deserving. Henry’s heart’s deepest desires lies with his best friend and ex stepbrother. Ivo has been not only a pillar in Henry’s life for nearly two decades but he’s been the nucleus. They have always gravitated towards and revolved around one another. I enjoyed their history but loved their ‘here and now’. *sigh* And I’m ecstatic for their future. They are the perfect example of, “home is not a where but a whom”.
The first part of this series was overflowing with snark and wit. Henry and Ivo are just as humorous and I adored their childhood messages but there’s heavy undertones of hurt. Not only from their awful parents but from the horrors Ivo’s witnessed over the years. Ivo is a photojournalist and travels the world capturing powerful moments. But it’s not only the camera that holds the dreadful memories. Ivo is very proud of his work, especially since he’s following in his father’s footsteps, but his blood-stained past is consuming him. Although he carries a camera in place of a gun, he’s still a warrior. This story begins when he returns home after a particularity grueling trip. His battered body and bruised soul frighten Henry more than ever before. His PTSD is consuming him and he’s put on temporary leave. Henry had finally decided to move on and look for someone to share his life with when Ivo returns. But how can he look for a partner when the one and only man he’s ever wanted is back? His friends decide to set Henry up on a few dates that turn our disastrously hilarious. I was so happy to see Gabe & Dylan and Asa & Jude return to the pages. It was awesome having them all together again. I’m hoping Silas has a story to tell us next!
Best friend’s to boyfriends is one of my favorite tropes. There isn’t any getting to know each other because they already know everything. They are comfortable and their souls are well acquainted. Bad habits are accepted, weaknesses are noted, and secrets are (typically) nonexistent. Henry and Ivo are familiar with every aspect of one another and can read each other like an open book…if they choose to. But fear prevents them from acknowledging their sexual desires and giving into that final missing piece of ‘them’. They dance a frustrating dance. Their desires hum heavily in the background and pushed my heartbeat into high gear. I couldn’t wait for them to surrender and accept they were meant to be together in every way. When they finally do, yowza, they make up for lost time. They procrastinate ‘the talk’ but I was okay with that because I expected it. It was almost as if Henry was daydreaming his perfect fantasy and he was certain words would awaken him. However, sometimes dreams do come true.
Abusive parents, PTSD from the gruesome reality of war, and maddening besties that you might want to cuff a time or two. As well as scorching hot lovin’. Bathtime snuggles are one of my all time favorite things!
Mixed Messages Series fan will certainly want to add this to your wish list if you haven’t yet. If Morton is a brand-new name for you, I think you’re going to want to get to know her guys…they are a smashing good time.
TITLE: Risk Taker (Mixed Messages #3)
AUTHOR: Lily Morton
LENGTH: 288 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2018
BUY LINKS: Amazon