Arlo is headed to Amsterdam for a winter holiday with his brother, Tom, and Tom’s friends. Tom is planning to propose to his boyfriend, Bee, and so they are all going to share the occasion. That includes Tom’s best friend, Jack, on whom Arlo has been seriously crushing since he was a kid. Jack practically grew up in Arlo’s warm, but chaotic household, and Arlo has been lusting after him for forever. But Arlo is clumsy, chaotic, and a bit of a mess, while Jack is gorgeous, organized, and perfect. Arlo knows there is no way that Jack will ever see him as more than Tom’s younger brother. Not to mention that while Jack has ended things with his latest boyfriend, Arlo knows he in no way measures up to the polished guys Jack usually dates.
However, Jack is secretly crushing on Arlo as well. He feels bad that he is hot for Tom’s brother and is doubtful Arlo shares the attraction. When they arrive in Amsterdam, a mixup leaves Arlo and Jack sharing a room. The sexual tension between the men is high as they both try to hide their feelings. But as they spend more time together, it becomes impossible to deny the attraction they feel, and finally, both Arlo and Jack work up the nerve to admit how they are feeling. However, it is not all smooth sailing, as both men are unsure how Tom will react to their relationship. Not to mention that both Jack and Arlo are lacking confidence in the other’s feelings. And on top of that, Jack finds his past rearing its head at the worst possible time. But the connection between Arlo and Jack is strong, and now that they have finally found their way together, neither man is ready to give that up.
Merry Measure is a sweet and sexy best friend’s brother story with a nice opposites attract vibe. What I loved most about this story is how both Arlo and Jack bring out the best in one another. When we first meet both men, Arlo is running late, falling all over everything, and a disorganized mess, while Jack seems calm, cool, and in perfect control. Arlo comes from a warm, loving family who laugh often and clearly care about one another. He is a bit of a mess, but he is also well loved and loves in return. Jack was raised with cold parents who expected perfection, and it is clear that at least part of his rigid control comes from a desire to meet their exacting standards. What is so lovely here is the way both men slowly settle when they are with each other. Yes, Arlo is still a mess a lot of the time, but he gains a quiet confidence that comes from taking care of Jack. That focus on someone else seems to settle him. And Jack gets such a new life with Arlo — he laughs, he relaxes, he can be spontaneous. Jack notes that with Arlo it is safe to be the real him, and it is so rewarding to see him just bloom in the face of Arlo’s love. I really just adored these guys together and found them a great couple.
The story is set in Amsterdam and Morton does a great job bringing the city to life. I really enjoyed following along as the group went sightseeing and explored the city and it really added so much to the overall story. Even having never been there, I could really imagine the places they go and the things they see. There is a nice cast of side characters taking part in the trip, and there is a good balance between group exploration and seeing Jack and Arlo get time to themselves. I really loved Tom and his boyfriend, Bee. I seriously would read a book about them if Morton ever gave us a prequel! Another long-time friend and his girlfriend round out the group and I enjoyed the banter and the way they all interact.
I did struggle a little in two areas here. First, there is a lot of miscommunication, or lack of communication, in the early stages of Jack and Arlo’s relationship that got frustrating after a while. None of the individual incidents lasted too long, fortunately, but it happened multiple times. There is also the matter of an uninvited guest who shows up and I just wanted to scream at how everyone seemed to dance around his behavior, or make muttered comments, but no one actually confronts this person for way too long. Morton does do a nice job of showing how Jack’s inherent polite nature made him uncomfortable potentially hurting anyone’s feelings, but at the same time, I struggled with why everyone else put up with this situation for so long. I know it was ultimately to build conflict, but as a reader, I found myself angry that this person was hanging around and behaving badly and no one stepped up to stop it.
Despite some small issues, I still absolutely loved this story. There is so much sweetness here, in the midst of the humor and heat, and I found this one so lovely. This isn’t a hard core holiday story, as we just drift a bit into Christmas at the end, but there is that sense of warmth and love that goes so well with the holiday theme. I just really enjoyed Jack and Arlo together and how each found more of themselves when they were together. And there is a fun, light-hearted vibe to the group in general, as well as some wonderful travel porn. Overall, I found this one really delightful.