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?
Since I’ve read Rule Breaker and Deal Maker, I’ve been so so excited to read this one that I was refreshing it’s Amazon page in the middle of the night waiting for it to become available. And then I went ahead and finished it in a single sitting. It has the signature Brit humor that we’ve come to expect from this series but it’s also way more emotional and angsty. It also has my favorite trope ever – childhood best friends to lovers – and I couldn’t help but fall in love.
We’ve seen Henry as Gabe’s awesome best friend in the previous installments and its nice to get to know him better. He is feeling slightly lonely at 34, with all his friends settling down and thinks may be it’s time for him too. But his resolution goes for a toss when Ivo shows up injured and exhausted on their doorstep. While Henry is a family lawyer who has settled into a life in London with his dog, casual hookups and catching up with his friends, Ivo is a renowned international photojournalist and artist, always traveling to dangerous places and never wanting to stay long anywhere. Both of them are clever, witty, honest and amazing and its pretty clear from the beginning that they’ve been in love with each other for the better part of two decades.
Henry never wants to admit his feelings because he can’t bear to see Ivo leave again or worse, get injured again or killed. He also never wants to stand in the way of Ivo’s dreams. Ivo is very insecure about himself, especially regarding Henry because he feels he is not educated enough or sophisticated enough to be with him. He is also suffering from PTSD and Henry supports him every step of the way, just being there and convincing him to continue therapy. They both consider the other their better half, have tattoos on their wrists representing each other which when joined makes a whole. The friendship, the love, the honest joy they feel while being together is evident in every word and thought. But the major source of angst is that they don’t communicate their true feelings and the threat of Ivo leaving is always hanging over their heads.
We see the usual gang here and their interactions are always fun – Ivo explaining to Asa all the bad things about our favorite childhood books, Dylan and Gabe setting up Henry with the most horrific (or hilarious) dates possible just so that Ivo might get jealous, Dylan and Henry getting stoned and singing the same songs on repeat – these situations and the banter is so funny and entertaining that I was sitting in a bookstore, clutching my belly trying very hard to control my laughter. Henry’s brother Silas is a wonderful person who has always been his support and just wants the best for him. Even Ivo’s therapist Patricia is an entertaining and warm personality who helps him a lot in sorting out his thoughts. We also see glimpses of Henry’s abusive homophobic father and Ivo’s selfish mother and it’s pretty clear why they both became each other’s world.
This story is very very emotional. The thought of two men so much in love with each other but willing to let the other go because that’s what they think is best for their friendship; it’s both selfish and selfless at the same time and utterly heartbreaking. I was a sobbing mess for most part of this book, just crying my heart out. And by now, you all know that any book that can make me cry so much is a quick favorite. The whole book is highly quotable – all the lovey dovey bits as well as the fun stuff – don’t forget to checkout my highlights on my Goodreads profile. And the road to their HEA is a long and rocky one but I think all my tears were worth it.
If you are a fan of the series but are exclusively looking for Lily’s humor, this book might be a hit or miss. But if you love angsty romances or just enjoy reading best friends to lovers, then don’t miss this one.