Mort wants his de facto family back. . . .Todd's rating:
He knows he doesn’t deserve them. Not yet, anyway. Not without making up for leaving them in their time of need.
But it’s not easy to make amends. Mort must show how much he wants the Rochester family back in his life. When his best friend’s younger brother, Felix, has his license suspended, Mort jumps at the chance to play chauffeur and to win back the family he desperately wants to call his own.
Repairing his broken relationships—with all five Rochester siblings—becomes Mort’s personal mission. Especially with Felix. Felix, who used to follow him everywhere. Felix, who idolized him. Felix, whom Mort has not stopped thinking about . . .
Felix is just trying to keep it together. . . .
With a perma-smile as his armor, he’s determined to make his family happy. Determined to be a positive role model to his three younger sisters, while their mum struggles with depression after her kidney transplant.
Unfortunately, no amount of smiling can save his license when he gets pulled over for the umpteenth time, and he still needs to get his sisters to school, soccer, and dance classes.
The solution to his problem emerges in the return of their prodigal neighbor, Mort. Mort, who left their lives without a word. Mort, who was in love with Felix’s older brother.
Mort, who is the last guy Felix wants charging back into their lives. . . .
Mort and Felix. Two guys bound by a rocky past—
—a past they must come to terms with to find true happiness in the here and now.
This latest story was classic Anyta Sunday, with the slow burn turned up to about 15.
There were a few different reasons for the drama in this book.
First, Mort returned to town after a year, leaving at nearly the very moment that the Rochester family could've used his support the most; however, while trying to gain forgiveness for his absence, the one person who knew that Mort held zero blame for his sudden departure remained quiet. Très frustrating, folks.
Second, Felix had been in love with Mort since they were kids, while Mort had been head over heels for Mort's older brother, Roch. But Roch was getting married to "a lovely young woman", so when Mort and Felix's flirtatious interactions were bumped up a notch, of course Felix fought with feelings of being the "consolation prize" brother. The second choice.
On our way home, he doesn’t ask why I disappeared or why I’m acting skittish.But over time, as they began opening up more to one another, Felix became cautiously optimistic, and others began to notice.
I don’t tell him it’s unbearable being in love with him.
“Now I understand why you are the way you are around Mort.”This book wasn't completely Romance Central on quite the same level as Anyta's beloved "Rock", but I did find myself really enjoying the times when Mort and Felix let their true feelings see the light of day.
“The way I am around Mort?”
“Like he cut out your heart and holds it ransom, and you want it back.”
“No, Tiff, that’s not right.”
“I don’t want mine back. I want his.”
“How can you tell they like you if they aren’t crazy stalkers?”The story also wasn't jam packed with snark and banter (or tons of steam), but Mort and Felix definitely kept me constantly engaged and laughing with their often-ridiculous antics.
Mort chuckles and side-eyes me. “Extended eye contact. It’s a look. You learn to recognize it.”
“I can’t tell. You look at me like that all the time.”
“This is true.” He returns his focus on the road.
“So once you’ve navigated through these dozen sheep, we’ll -- ”One aspect of the story that I particularly liked was how, even though there was plenty of internal monologue, it was balanced extremely well with *actual* dialogue, which is by far my preference. Stories with MC's that live primarily in their own heads, rarely speaking their mind, well, those books make me pretty bonkers, and real damn fast.
“Dozen? There are fifty, at least. And when we retell this story, there’ll be a hundred.”
“Excuse me. Once we navigate through forty million sheep, we’ll -- ”
“Better. We’ll head to the best place on Earth.” Felix sucks on his lips. I smirk at him. “Not my bed, Felix.”
“Holy crap. Stop reading my depraved mind.”
Although this wasn't the most angst-ridden or steamiest book, it felt a bit nostalgic for me, especially during the Pax Polo cameo scenes (from Anyta's "Shrewd Angel" story). Pax was such a fun character, so getting to visit with him again was great.
The story kept me anxiously awaiting what would happen next from start to finish, smiling for most of the ride, so I'd rate this one at around 4 stars and recommend it.
My ARC copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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