Five years ago, Milo was in an abusive relationship and he lost his sense of self and his career in the process. His brother’s best friend, Niall, came to Milo’s rescue and brought him to live at Chi an Mor, the estate in Cornwall where he lives and works. There Milo slowly recovered and began to find himself again. He has made a home at the estate, finding a sense of family with Niall, as well as with Oz and Silas and their baby daughter, Cora. Milo is taking small steps toward regaining his career working on art restoration. And he is gaining confidence again, something he lost during his time with Thomas. However, despite his improvements, Milo has never quite regained the sense of vitality and inner confidence he once had.
Through it all, Niall has been by his side. Niall has been a part of Milo’s life since he was young, as he is close friends with Milo’s brother, Gideon. Milo has had a crush on Niall forever, but he knows nothing can come of it. Not only does Niall enjoy lots of sexual partners with no interest in a relationship, but he is also Gideon’s occasional friends-with-benefits. Plus, Niall seems to still see Milo as a child, as someone to be rescued and protected. But Milo needs to feel like he can take care of himself and regain that inner strength he lost with Thomas. So as much as he wants Niall, a relationship between them doesn’t seem possible.
When Niall and Milo need to take care of baby Cora while her parents are away, the men suddenly find themselves spending a lot more time together in close proximity. While Milo has always know he’s wanted Niall, for the first time Niall starts seeing Milo in a whole new light. The attraction between them sizzles and the men decide to act on their interest, even though both believe it could never be serious. Niall is sure that Milo will only want him long enough to regain the confidence to explore new relationships with other men. And Milo doesn’t think Niall would ever really want a relationship at all. Not to mention that as much as Milo admires Niall’s strength and confidence, he worries he can’t stand on his own with Niall around. But the more time the men spend together, the more serious things become. Now Niall and Milo must figure out if they can take what started as a casual relationship and turn it into something more.
Milo is the second book in Lily Morton’s fabulous Finding Home series. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of Morton’s work, so I was thrilled to see this latest installment. We met both Milo and Niall in the first book, Oz, and we got a hint of the connection between the men, so I was really eager to see their story and Morton has really delivered. While Milo is not quite as feisty as some of her other heroes due to his difficult past, this book still has her trademark humor, wonderful banter, and real warmth between the characters.
This is a very character-driven story, focusing on both Milo’s own growth, as well as his connection with Niall. It is a complicated relationship in many ways, starting with Milo still recovering from the abuse at Thomas’ hands. We can see how his whole sense of self suffered, that his confidence took a heavy blow and Milo is still not fully back to his old self. He needs to regain his belief in himself, as well as to show others that he can be independent and care for himself. So things are complicated with Niall, who has always been a caretaker to Milo. Now that they are setting out on a relationship together, Niall needs to learn to see Milo in a new way. I loved watching these men together. We can see growth from both of them as they navigate their relationship. Milo needs to learn his own strength and abilities, and Niall needs to learn to let him. It is all handled so deftly and beautifully, you can’t help but root for these men as they figure it all out. And watching the unconditional support Niall provides and how it helps buoy Milo is really rewarding.
I was really intrigued by the added dynamic that Milo’s brother, Gideon, is Niall’s friend and regular sex partner. This could have gone to the tawdry side or become a big source of drama and misunderstanding, but Morton instead handles it with delicacy and nuance. We see these men all struggle to work through this dynamic and figure out how to handle the new reality of Milo and Niall’s feelings for one another. It was a really interesting side element that adds a lot to the story (and I’m crossing fingers that Gideon’s major role here means we will see a story for him too).
For all that Morton excels at humor and banter and snark in her stories, what strikes me is the beauty in her writing. She has a way of evoking such emotion and bringing out really touching, moving moments in her stories without going too flowery and over the top. I loved this passage, as we see the depth of Niall’s feelings:
Emotion fills me all of a sudden, like I’ve inhaled happiness helium. It flows through my veins and from the time it takes to draw one breath to the next, I know that I’m in love with him. I become aware that I’m holding my breath and I exhale unobtrusively. I wait for the panic to fill me, but it doesn’t come.
It’s strange that I’ve lived a life full of excess, never risking my heart, and now I’m gambling everything on the whim of a beautiful man who pretty soon may unfurl his wings and fly away, and I still feel nothing but gratitude. I’m grateful that he’s in my life at this moment. That I can hold him in my arms at night. That he trusts me with his inner feelings, when he doesn’t do that with many people.
It’s just such beautiful, evocative writing that I always end up feeling warm and happy when I read Morton’s stories.
Milo is another wonderful book that feels warm and rich, with wonderful characters and so much heart. I loved revisiting with Silas and Oz and Chi an Mor. And I really loved getting to know Milo and Niall and seeing how they are able to build something together neither man expected. It is a lovely story and I am eager for more.