Rating: 4.75 stars
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Wren Roberts is on holiday in Majorca with his friend, Owen. The trip is stretching Wren’s meager budget, especially because Owen wants to hang out with a group of wealthy friends who look down on Wren for his limited funds. When Owen and the rest of the group take off for some new adventure, Wren is left on his own with barely enough money to get by the week. But he is determined to make the best of it and enjoy the beautiful island before going back to his boring job and tiny apartment in London.
When Mateo Rossi overhears Wren in the hotel lobby refusing to take insults from Owen’s snobbish friends, he can’t help be intrigued. And when he encounters Wren at dinner that night, Mateo takes the opportunity to invite Wren to join him. Wren has no idea that Mateo is the owner of the hotel and heir to the Rossi hotel empire, nor does he have any interest in Mateo’s money. Instead, Wren says what he thinks, is kind and charming to everyone, and is down to earth in a way few people are in Mateo’s life.
The men hit it off right away, so much so that they end up spending the week together, touring the island that Mateo loves. They both know it is nothing long term, as Wren is due to return home and Mateo is definitely not looking for love. But they find a connection neither expected and both men enjoy every moment that they spend together. In fact, when the week is up, neither can bear to have it end. Mateo surprises Wren (and himself) by inviting Wren to return with him to his home in Venice for the month so they can see the city and spend more time together. And Wren, who has found himself falling for Mateo, can’t resist the chance to have more time with him, even as he knows it will end in heartbreak.
As magical as their time was in Majorca, Venice brings a new reality for the men. Mateo’s wealthy family is very clear in their disdain for Wren. They make sure Wren knows he is just another in a long line of men in Mateo’s life — and a far inferior one at that. Wren still delights in seeing the city, and he makes a good friend in Mateo’s grandfather. But Mateo’s work obligations keep him away for long hours. What’s worse is that Wren can see the joy and enthusiasm for life that Mateo had on Majorca is slowly draining away under the mantle of responsibility at home. Despite it all, Mateo and Wren have fallen for one another, but with such different lives, neither man is sure that they can make it work long term.
Lily Morton never disappoints me and I found The Cuckoo’s Call to be warm, sexy, and just delightful. The set up here is nicely done, as we begin with a prologue that has Wren at the airport returning to London. So we know right away that the men are facing trouble, but then join them at the start of the book as they are just meeting. The story divides into two parts, the first being their time in Majorca. We see Wren and Mateo meet and befriend each other. There is such a lovely sense of these men just being so charmed by one another. They are quite different, but they have such a joy when they are together, and we see their long days spent forming a tight bond and enjoying their time exploring the island. Wren is so down to earth, so open and honest, and he has a way of looking at the world that is so different from most of the people Mateo knows. And Mateo finds a joy and enthusiasm for life that had long worn away under the pressures of his job and family.
Both men assume this is just a week before Wren returns home at the of his trip, and so they make the most of their adventure together. But when the time comes, Mateo invites Wren to return with him to Venice for another month. So as we shift into part two of the story, the tone gets a little heavier. We are out of the sunny island and beautiful beaches where the men have such freedom, and move to Venice where Wren must deal with Mateo’s horrid family and Mateo is engulfed by expectations and responsibility. While this portion is more intense, Morton keeps this from being too heavy, as the men still have a wonderful connection when they are together. Wren also has a great narrative voice (most of the chapters are from his POV), and he is amusing and entertaining. I also loved the friendship he makes with Mateo’s grandfather and the way he helps bring the older man out of the isolation he has been in since he lost his wife. As readers, we can see how Mateo and Wren are meant for one another, but it takes some time for them to both figure it out and accept it, as well as for them to see how a future for them might be possible. But all the while, the connection between them is so strong and lovely, I couldn’t help but adore them as a couple.
One area where I think Morton really shines in her writing is in building her settings and this story in particularly really highlights that. Majorca and Venice both just leap off the page. I could picture all the places they go and the sights they see. As Mateo shows Wren his favorite places, and as Wren explores the cities, I felt like I was right there with them. This is travel porn at its best and Morton really enhances the story by bringing the setting to life so well.
Overall, I just adored this book. Wren and Mateo are so endearing as a couple and I loved them together. It is so rewarding seeing them take this relationship that they both see as temporary and make it something real that changes both of their lives. There is also a beautiful sense of place that really highlights the story. I just couldn’t put this one down and found it is one of my new favorites from Lily Morton.
I thought the book was wonderful. Wren was such a lovely character who deserved happiness. Great review.
Thanks Lorraine! Glad you enjoyed it too!
I read the sample first chapter and am already taken with Wren. I had my fingers crossed that the entire book would be as charming and now your review makes me look forward to reading it even more!
Yes! And such a lovely story!
This sounds excellent! Thank you for bringing it to my attention, Jay.