Being in love with your best friend is hard.
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?
From the bestselling author of Rule Breaker and Deal Maker comes a tender love story about two best friends who are perfect for each other, and always have been – if only they knew it.
*This is the third book in the Mixed Messages series, but it can be read as a standalone.
Mixed Messages Series, Book 3
Release Date: 07.22.18
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
The bell in the shop rings as the door opens, and I smile as I feel his presence behind me.
“Is there a particular reason, Henry, why I am standing in an art supply shop rather than sitting in a perfectly good restaurant eating lunch?”
I shift the basket over my arm and turn to face one of my best friends. “Gabe, you really should be a bit more highbrow. Otherwise, you’ll never keep that pretty totty you’ve got.”
His perfect-looking face scrunches up in disgust. “Totty. What an utterly disgusting word.”
“I know,” I say cheerfully, turning back to the shelf I was perusing and chucking in another tube of Rose Gold oil paint.
“Makes you sound like your father,” he says snippily, and I nudge him.
“Now that’s petty. Anyway, I’m nothing like him. I have all my own teeth, and my complexion is milky-white perfection, if I do say so myself.”
He snorts. “Apart from those freckles.”
I shake my head and touch a finger to my face and my bête noire, the multitude of freckles that span my nose. “I wish that cream I got off the internet at uni had worked,” I say forlornly, and he laughs loudly, making it echo around the shop.
“I did so enjoy the way your face turned that shade of green. Made you look like Grotbags from The Rod Hull and Emu Show.” He reaches over and grabs a tube of paint. “It was this shade precisely. Hmm, Pistachio Green.” He chucks it into my basket, and I patiently remove it and put it back on the shelf.
I toss a couple of tubes of Prussian Blue into the basket while he leans casually against the shelf looking like the perfect picture of a lawyer in his dark grey, hand-tailored suit.
“Why are we here, Henry? Because if you’re thinking of giving up the law and becoming an artist, I really will have to stage an intervention.”
I laugh. “I think I’d make a very good artist.”
“Piss artist, more likely,” he says, poking my arm with one long finger. “So, if we’re not shopping for what would be the shortest career in art history, who are we shopping for?” His gaze sharpens, and I mentally groan because aside from Ivo there is no one who knows me better. “Hmm. Would we be shopping for a six foot four blond photographer who a certain red-headed lawyer has had the hots for, for years?”
“That’s such a non-Gabe expression,” I sneer. “Has Dylan been influencing you?”
He looks startled and shakes his head. “Those fucking phrases of his and Jude’s. They’re messing up my vocabulary. Yesterday one of the senior partners asked me if I was okay and I said I was cool. He went out and asked his assistant to tell maintenance that the building heating needed to be turned up.”
I laugh helplessly, and he gives me a rueful grin. “Don’t distract me, Henry. Is Ivo back?” I nod slowly and his expression darkens. “Is he okay?”
I shrug, picking up a brush and studying it intently so I don’t have to look at him. “Not really. He’s got a hole from a fucking bullet in his side, and broken ribs and bruises all over him from being near a car bomb when it went off.”
“What?” he says instantly. “Is he okay?” Gabe has always had a complicated relationship with Ivo. He loves being with him, and they can talk for hours, but he hates the effect that he unknowingly has on my life.
“He’s fine. Silas checked him over.”
He checks with his hand out to grab the brush from me. “Henry, isn’t Silas a vet?”
I shrug. “He was very good at biology at school.”
“I was good at it too. You don’t see me turning up at St Bart’s Hospital and performing a few appendectomies during my lunch hour though, do you?”
“The only biology you were any good at was the male anatomy kind,” I say tartly, and chuck the brush in the basket.
He smiles. “That I was. I’m a very learned man in that area.”
I snort. “You’re practically PhD material.”
I was so excited to know that Henry was getting his own book in Risk Taker; but was a little disappointed that it was a friends to lovers type of read. They all seem the same to me; the constant back and forth of, I love him but he doesn’t see me that way, we’re only friends; and then the other side saying, wow, I love him but he only see’s me as a friend and despite everyone telling them their feelings are reciprocated towards one another… it’s just a constant back and forth of pity parties and keeping quiet, when literally one word would stop all the frustration! Sadly, this one was no different.
Ivo had come to live with Henry and his brother as a teenager, when his mother married Henry’s father. All parents were terrible in this story, you will not find a good one and I believe it’s the reason Ivo has this jet set lifestyle as a photojournalist that doesn’t keep him still for very long. He’s constantly off to foreign places, finding himself in dangerous situations and getting himself hurt. As careless as he seems to be with his life, he always manages to get back home to Henry… though it never lasts long enough to get comfortable. Henry hates it, he worries about him so much and even after all this time, Ivo is the most important person in his life. He loves him though, unconditionally and knows that he can’t make him stay… as much as he loves him, he lets him be free to be himself, even if it means missing him so much and missing out what he really wants… which is a life with him. My heart hurt for him so much because of that.
There are a lot of memory recaps that fill us in on the life they’ve had together up until this point. As horrible as their parents were, they only had each other, and Henry’s brother Silas…I loved having these little pieces of back story that show how the two got to become so close. Their banter is adorable and before anything else, they truly were best friends in every sense of the word. You feel that between them, it’s undeniable. I love when that happens, when the words are so expertly executed that you actually feel the connection between two fictional people. Sigh….I loved that.
Now, while Ivo is back home, healing from another injury sustained while away, Henry had just made up his mind to stop pining for the best friend he could never have, and decides to give actual dating a try. Here is where we see the other guys, Jude, Asa, Gabe and Dylan…. They plan these disastrous blind dates so that maybe Ivo will get his head out…. It works, hilariously and he finally does what he should’ve done the first half of the book!
As much as I’m jaded by this trope, and as aggravated I was with just wanting to shake these two, I eventually fell hard for both of them and found myself crying for Henry and beaming with the pride at each of them for standing up for each other against Ivo’s mom and Henry’s mom and everyone who talked badly about the other. It truly was a rollercoaster of emotions and I’m going to have to take a angsty break for a day or two and maybe bask in the ending that was so worth the wait.
I kind of felt like Ivo had to prove himself, as he was the one who needed to catch up to Henry’s feelings. And he did… he soooo did. Then ending was perfect and so well deserved for both of them, it fit perfectly with the flow of this series. Such a great addition to an awesome series. I would definitely recommend. Maybe we’ll get something good from Silas next? Fingers crossed!
4 pieces of eye candy from me!
Lily writes contemporary romance novels, and specialises in hot love stories with a good dose of humour.
Lily lives in sunny England with her husband and two children, all of whom claim that they haven’t had a proper conversation with her since she bought her first Kindle.
She has spent her life with her head full of daydreams and decided one day to just sit down and start writing about them. In the process she discovered that she actually loved writing, because how else could she get to spend her time with hot, funny men!
She loves chocolate and Baileys and the best of all creations – chocolate Baileys! Her lifetime’s ambition is to have a bath in peace without being shouted by one of her family.