Conor is in NYC to close a business deal. His mother has worked her entire life on this project and since she is too ill to travel, Conor is there in her place. Conor is completely out of his element, however. After a few drinks at the hotel bar, he gets the bartender’s number and in a rare moment later that night, he texts the man a racy photo. Except it doesn’t go to the bartender and a stranger responds. The steamy texts are just what Conor needs, but Conor has no idea the man he’s texting is Wells Grange, the wealthy businessman he is meeting with the next day. Conor’s mind is filled with dominant requests from a stranger, but he’s also attracted to Wells, the man said to have ice running through his veins.
When Wells meets Conor, it only takes him a moment to realize that the tie Conor is wearing is the same one the sexy stranger is wearing in the photo he texted. He knows he should tell Comor who he is, but he doesn’t want to lose what little he actually has of Conor and their daily texts start to mean more to Wells than he wants to let on. Wells does not do relationships after the nightmare of his last one, but all of his instincts kick in where Conor is concerned. As the men spend time together, the attraction is real, but Wells knows his moments are numbered when Conor finds out the truth.
IRL starts off a new series that Lucy Lennox co-writes with her real-life sister, who writes under the name Molly Maddox, and the two authors blend their voices nicely. This book is the classic story of an emotionally closed off billionaire falling for the small town younger man. Wells finds something he needs in Conor and sets out to make himself worthy of Conor.
Conor is a gamer and turned his passion into a business. He is not, however, a corporate businessman and is beyond nervous going up against Wells. The texting relationship he starts with a stranger alerts Conor to his submissive side and he gets caught up in the fantasy of a mystery man. He also has so many preconceived ideas about Wells that it’s difficult to separate from the man he starts to get to know.
The book is highly character driven as the men slowly circle each other and get to know each other. There is still the secret between them as Wells knows who Conor is and Conor feels comfortable telling his texting stranger his secrets. Wells has a story of why he is closed off from relationships. It comes out slowly, but we mostly get the story in an overview style and there were some points that I would have liked to have been made more clear. Also, Conor texting the wrong number was the start to it all and the way it came about takes the entire book to come together. In the beginning chapters, the number that responds to Conor changes and it gave the impression that Conor had texted the wrong number. It takes the entire book to get any more information, but why the number changed is never made clear.
The highlight is the relationship between the men and the want and need they feel for each other. There was great chemistry between them even if they both thought that each encounter could only be temporary. When Wells was texting, he had a dominant persona, but in person this didn’t come through as much and I would have preferred if his two personas aligned more. The series name is After Oscar and while it is explained who Oscar is, I’m not sure yet how the character will carry the entire series.
While I had several issues with details in the book, the story of Wells and Conor finding love was heated and emotional. The next book finds us getting to know Scotty, the carriage driver, better and I am looking forward to reading along.