Book review: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Boyfriend Material – Alexis Hall

Book review: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Release date: 7 July 2020
Goodreads link
Book Depository link
Rating
4 stars

Boyfriend Material blurb:

Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating
is that it can feel a lot like real-dating.
And that’s when you get used to someone.
Start falling for them.
Don’t ever want to let them go.

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the good

This is the adorable romance that we all need. Due to 2020 being the absolute shit show of the century, I have been turning to more and more contemporary / romance fiction, because I need some happy in my life. This book provides that. While I also love stories that deal with heavy topics, sometimes you just need a fluffy story that has a character with anxiety, and isn’t treated to abysmally by people, and then gets a fake boyfriend for a work fundraiser.

As adorable as the romance is in this, there aren’t any sex scenes. I really loved this approach on two counts.

  • Firstly, there is no fetishisation of m/m relationships (apart from “naww, aren’t they cute”, which honestly I’d say about anyone). I talked about this in the Jack of Hearts review, but I get a bit weirded out when female authors write m/m sex scenes, as I’m sure a lot of us are weirded out when men write f/f sex scenes. Yes, this is written by an ownvoices gay man, but I still like that he felt like he didn’t have to go there.
  • Secondly, it makes the book more accessible to people who don’t want to read about sex. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the Signs of Love series, but I was 100% there for the soft boys crying about their emotions, and skimming the hot and heavy pages… I feel like this is a good balance of adorable, some kissing, and lots of story.

The friendships in this are amazing. I love the huge part that both party’s friendship groups play in this, and how important the friendships are. I love how they intermingle, how they argue, and then how they come together and support each other. They always push the person to do what’s for the best, like real friends do. And it’s lovely to see that played out.

Personally, I also really loved the fundraising aspect. As someone who has organised events and fundraisers in the past, it was really fun to see that aspect in a story.

the not-so-good

There’s nothing bad here, just a couple of things that annoyed me, but may not annoy you!! Regardless, I still highly recommend this book!!

The formatting for the texting / group chat really annoyed me. A text message would appear in the middle of a sentence, but in a different font. And all of Luc’s texts or messages were in a third font, and bolded. But still in the MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE. Often without a colon or comma or new line, like it was part of the sentence itself. I am going to italicise an example for you so you can see what it looked like (FYI this was not italicised in the book):
… when he followed it up with Sorry to keep you waiting. I’ve thought about it and…
In the group chat, sometimes this meant that you had no idea who was saying what. It’s a stylistic choice, and I didn’t like it. But you might.

There is a LOT of homophobia in this. Not in like a “this book is all about dealing with homophobia”, because it’s not. But in a “gosh he’s such a homophobe”, “is it because I’m gay?”, “that was really homophobic”, “that’s how the gays do it” speaking way. (FYI this was not a conversation, just random sentences from the story.) I didn’t find this triggering, I sort of just started to feel bad for the characters because it really portrayed London as a super mean place to be. Especially among the royalist / titled group. Every so often I would think to myself “there have been no mindset changes here since the 1990’s”, and that’s sad.

The main character deals with family estrangement and abandonment in this. As someone who hasn’t experienced this, I can’t say if it was done well, but it might be triggering.

If we’re going for wishlist items, I really would have liked an epilogue. I think they are borderline necessary for romance novels because I need to see their future happiness. It’s part of that Disney-ified happily ever after trope that I grew up with.

my thoughts

Look, this isn’t the transformative literary piece that will change opinions on sexuality. But it does do a solid job of making you smile, while also being considerate, kind and funny. There are themes of how the media portray children of celebrities (which I think is entirely valid), and anxiety and how this can spiral over time. I would also love for this to spark thoughts in people about how they say things that are offensive, even if they don’t mean them to be. But ultimately, the people who probably need changing aren’t the ones who will read this book anyway.

Boyfriend Material is a fun, queer, cute story, and I would recommend it if that’s your cup of tea.

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until next time, happy reading! Meeghan xo

7 Comments

    • meeghan

      Thanks Sophie!! Sometimes we need light, fluffy books. But that’s also how I rate books. Did I enjoy it? How much? I understand that there are “very well written books” in existence. But if they don’t bring me joy, then why am I even reading them??

  • Veronika @ Wordy and Whimsical

    I really loved this one, so I’m glad you enjoyed it. I listened to the audiobook – which was really nice, btw – so I didn’t struggle with the formatting, but man, that sounds really frustrating. I did miss the epilogue – I agree with you, they are a necessary addition to romance novels, it’s nice to see the characters happy in the future, especially if they got together fast or encountered a lot of obstacles. Great review!

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