Henry Ashworth’s friends are partnering up, and Henry is starting to feel it’s time for him to settle down himself. Unfortunately, his heart has belonged to Ivo Robinson ever since Ivo walked into his life as a teen boy, his mother marrying Henry’s father. Over the years, the two men have become the best of friends and there is no one Henry is as close to or feels as comfortable with as Ivo. However, Ivo doesn’t seem to share Henry’s feelings, and Henry is not sure anyone else will ever measure up.
Ivo does, in fact, feel the same way as Henry. During his long months abroad as a photojournalist, Henry is home to Ivo in a way no one else has ever been. When Ivo returns home from his latest assignment, emotionally raw from the things he experienced, Henry is the first person he turns to.
With both men back in London and sharing a home, the attraction they feel for one another is harder to deny. Both men are longing for what could be, but neither thinks the other shares his feelings and they are both too afraid to take the chance for fear of losing what they have. Now Henry and Ivo must face the risk that comes from sharing their feelings and trust in the love and commitment they have already built between them.
Risk Taker is the third book in Lily Morton’s incredible Mixed Messages series. I adored both books and Deal Maker is one of my absolute favorite enemies to lovers tales. Henry is a featured side character in both of those books (he is Gabe’s best friend), so I was very much looking forward to getting his story. While all four men from the earlier books make an appearance here, this one would easily stand alone. That said, I can’t convey enough how wonderful both of those books are, so read them if you haven’t yet!
So this story differs from the first two, which have definite enemies to lovers themes, in that Risk Taker is quite solidly the story of two best friends who desperately want more. In fact, I would say that this book has one of the best friends to lovers vibes I have read. We can feel the intensity of the connection between these two men from the first moment they are on page together. Henry and Ivo so clearly care for one another, need each other, and are so interconnected that you can barely imagine them apart. They also are both so obviously in love with one another, but yet afraid to make that move for fear of losing what they have.
I would say this book divides into two parts, starting with the pining. OMG, you guys. The pining! Never have you seen such pining. These poor men, it is almost pitiful watching them long for one another so desperately. It is totally obvious to everyone except Henry and Ivo how much they each want one another (and you just have to kind of go with the fact that they are each absurdly oblivious to the other’s feelings. I mean Ivo is about to cut a bitch when Henry goes on a date, yet Henry doesn’t pick up at all why that might be). Morton does such a wonderful job here really establishing both their strength of their friendship, as well as the intensity of their feelings for one another. Then they finally figure out they are both hot for each other and pretty much jump each other at every opportunity. They are super sexy and sweet together, and I love how these guys can be all heat, but also so tender to one another. They share their feelings about just about every other aspect of their relationship expect the big one, which is where is this is all going. With Ivo set to return to travel for work, things are very uncertain between them. They are a bit frustratingly unwilling to actually talk, but I don’t feel it all dragged out too much for me.
The story has a lot of the wit and fun that is featured in the first two books of the series, particularly the banter between the men, as well as with their friends. There are also some humorous moments, like when Henry goes on a series of disastrous dates. But this story doesn’t have the same humorous tone as the first two. Not that it is a heavy book, but just not comedy in the same way. I’ll admit I missed it a bit, just because I know how well Morton can do humor. But I think that the tone worked well for this story.
I’ll also note that while these guys are stepbrothers (their parents were married for three years when they were 15-18), the story definitely doesn’t take that to a salacious place. Rather, the connection they had as one time step-siblings has clearly deepened the bonds they have as best friends. They have a sense of shared history, as well as understanding about some of the issues each faces with their own parents. I’ll also throw in that these guys have/had four awful, self absorbed parents, and it might have been nice to mix up this dynamic a bit.
Overall, I was thrilled to get Henry’s story and just loved him and Ivo together. The strength of their connection is so intense and palpable, I found myself drawn into their story immediately. Morton just infuses their connection with such warmth and love, you can’t help but root for them. Add to that my enjoyment of reuniting with this whole gang, and Risk Taker was a winner for me.