A fine gay romance.
A lot of people likened this to Red, White and Royal Blue which I really enjoyed, so I was willing to give this a shot despite absolutely despising the only other Alexis Hall book I read. That one was an awful romance chock full of stereotypes and eye-rolling drama, and thankfully this book is a lot better, though still not a favorite. I live for the fake dating trope, it’s my favorite thing ever, and this one did fake dating well but fell a bit short on a lot of other aspects that would have led me to love it.
This is a pretty solid set up for a fake dating romance novel. Luc is the son of two old rock stars and as his father makes a return to popularity, Luc’s life becomes more and more public. In order to fix his image he makes a deal with Oliver Blackwood, a relatively boring barrister who needs a date for a big event. The two start off with their relationship as a conventionally as you can for this trope, but then of course, fall into real feelings along the way.
This book had a lot of good things going for it. It was really funny and I snorted several times when reading. This is a lot funnier than the other Alexis Hall books I’ve read, so I was super into that. It reminded me a bit of Richard Curtis RomComs, so that was enjoyable. The romance was nice, the characters were overall pretty likeable, and the dialogue was sharp and quirky.
As far as negatives though, this book suffered from the same issue many contemporary romances suffer from: length. This book is pushing 450 pages. No one needs their contemporary romance that long. Halfway through I knew I was in for another 100 pages of Luc and Oliver breaking up and getting back together and misunderstandings, and I was already over it. Don’t get me wrong, those are fine tropes for romances, and often even needed! However no one needs it to happen over and over again. This book should have been about 350 pages and that would have worked fine and gotten all the same points and storyline arcs across. Instead it felt weighed down by the length.
The characters were also a small issue for me. I get that their friends were supposed to be funny and eccentric but the side characters in this often felt quirky for the sake of being quirky rather than it having any effect on the story or our protagonists. I found them a bit grating/tired after a while, so that wasn’t my favorite aspect. I also wish Hall would have written this in a back and forth perspective way so we could have gotten more from the mind of Oliver. Luc was a fun character but wow hearing everything from his perspective made me get worn out by his presence pretty quickly. Considering how important Oliver is to the story, getting some of his thought process would have been a lot more interesting to me. Overall a pretty fun romance though!
Title: Boyfriend Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Three Descriptors: Witty, Character-Driven,
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