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Monday, July 27, 2020

My Dream Book: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

BOYFRIEND MATERIAL

by Alexis Hall
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Adult
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: July 7th 2020
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★★
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷✷✷
Amazon - The Book Depository - IndieBound

This book! THIS BOOK! I didn't know just how much I needed Boyfriend Material in my life until I read it. Now, I foresee myself reading this every year. It's the sort of witty love story that leaves you with a stupid grin on your face throughout the entire thing and leaves you bathing in a pool of all the swoony and cozy feelings. I freaking loved every moment of it!

Luc and Oliver are the two leads of Boyfriend Material and oh my goodness, did Alexis Hall write these characters just for me? I instantly grew attached to the two of them and throughout the book, my fondness for them only amplified. The author really did a great job of crafting two characters who are unique and delightful in their own ways - I dare you to not love them! Growing up as the abandoned son of a rockstar, Luc has always been in the spotlight. Though he has no relationship with his father, he was constantly hounded by the paparazzi which has obviously had an impact on him. When the latest media storm leaves Luc's job as a fundraiser for a dung beetle charity (LOL, yes, you read that right) in a precarious position, he is encouraged to enter a fake relationship with Oliver, a man that his friend Brigid is convinced is right for Luc. The two had a sour interaction some time back but Luc agrees for the sake of keeping his job.

Luc was a very relatable character. He had this self-deprecating humor that he used to shield himself from his self-esteem issues. He really didn't view himself for the great guy he was and it was sad when I was reading the book because I just wanted to gently nudge him to remind him of how wonderful he was. He definitely had abandonment issues and those were only worsened as a result of being the son of a famous person. He really was kind of a hot mess, but I was glad that he had a great support system around him. I adored his mother who, I kid you not, had me howling so loud I fell off the bed - ouch, but so worth the pain! Their relationship was really wonderful and reminded me of the bond I have with my own mother. And Luc had some excellent friends who were his ride-or-die and would drop everything to come to give him a lending hand. I loved them so much! Luc was definitely the kind of main character I would protect at all costs!

Oliver was the perfect complement to Luc. While Luc was more all over the place, Oliver was buttoned-up, calm, and collected. As a barrister, he had this very staunch and stoic energy to him that made him seem unapproachable and frankly, boring at first to others. These two could not have been more different from each other, but as the story progressed you realize just how much their differences make them the perfect couple. Oliver wasn't just the rigid guy he appeared to be. There were so many layers to his character that he only slowly revealed to Luc. He was actually as funny as Luc was and had a definite softness to him. Ugh. He was perfect and I'd die for him.

The romance in Boyfriend Material was first-rate. I knew I was going to enjoy their relationship since fake relationship romances are my catnip, but man did Alexis Hall completely blow me away! I could not look away from Luc and Oliver's on-page dynamic. Their ridiculous banter together, the "dick pics", and just their openness towards each other made their romance one that filled my heart with all the joy. One of my favorite parts of fake-relationships is reading those moments when they begin to realize that they've caught feelings for each other and Boyfriend Material is full of those moments - you bet I relished them all! The progression of their swoony romance felt very real to me and gave me all the warm and fuzzy feelings.

I'm so thrilled that we were blessed by the book gods with Boyfriend Material this year because as of right now, it is at the top of my all-time favorites. This is my first time reading an Alexis Hall book but after what a dreamy experience it was, it won't be my last - I already have some recommendations from other readers and I can't wait to dive in!

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Hi, friends!

I'm thrilled to have Alexis Hall stop by the blog. I got to ask Alexis some fun questions and his responses are as delightful as the book! I hope you enjoy reading them too! :)

Could you describe BOYFRIEND MATERIAL using only emojis?

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Who is Luc's least favorite "Dick"? Kidding! That's not a real question!
For readers who haven't met our lovebirds yet, what's one thing about Luc that irritates Oliver and one thing about Oliver that irritates Luc? What is one thing they find charming about each other?

I mean, at the start of the book Oliver and Luc are pretty comprehensively irritated by everything about each other. Oliver is especially not keen on Luc’s defensive habit of treating everything like it doesn’t matter. And, now I come to think of it, Luc’s not wild about Oliver’s habit of treating everything like it absolutely does.

As for what they find charming, often it’s the same things they find irritating. Oliver is drawn to what he sees as Luc’s carefree spirit. And Luc really needs someone to treat him like he’s worth caring about.

(PS – Luc’s least favourite Dick is definitely Dick Cheney.)

In BOYFRIEND MATERIAL, Luc has a job fundraising for a dung beetle charity. What gave you the idea of a dung beetle charity? If Luc could pick one other cause to fundraise for, what would he choose and why?

Although the charity in the book isn’t based on a specific real-world charity, dung beetles are actually a massive biodiversity issue. I know it’s partly played for laughs in the book—because there is something fundamentally a bit absurd in trying to raise money for insects that eat poo—but they are genuinely vital to soil and do genuinely need to be looked after. At the risk of sounding too much like Oliver, I do think quite a lot about charity and ethical giving in particular. A well-documented issue is that it’s way easier to get support for glamorous causes than unsexy ones—and when it comes down to it, very often the most effective way to be useful in the world is stuff like subsiding the provision of mosquito netting.

By the end of the book, Luc is actually pretty committed to working where he is. He went into charitable work specifically because he got kicked out of corporate PR so he’s really a “causes” person. He’s sort of abstractly supportive of LGBTQ+ rights but, honestly, I think he’s better off where he is.

I loved all the family dynamics you explored in BOYFRIEND MATERIAL. Luc's mother in particular was a character I had a soft spot for (and lord did that woman have me on the floor). We also get to see a different family dynamic with Oliver and his folks. Why was it important to give Luc and Oliver such contrasting parents?

Oh, thank you. I guess exploring family dynamics is something I’m generally interested in. For Luc, because his dad is such a disaster, it felt important for his mum to be kind of the opposite. I think the thing about Luc is that he seems like a total mess, and has gone through some stuff, but he’s actually got really good support mechanisms. Oliver, by contrast, seems really sorted but … well … actually he’s a total mess. And something I try to avoid when I’m writing is presenting non-traditional families as inherently damaging. So I wanted to use Oliver's family to explore the way in which a very conventional, happily married couple could be as harmful to their children as, say, an absentee rock god.

From stalking your blog (sorry!), it sounds like you're into all sorts of computer and board games. If Luc and Oliver spent a night in gaming, what would their date night look like?

Hahaha. That’s very okay! The fact I’m a total nerd probably isn’t much of a secret. ;)

I don’t think either Luc or Oliver are videogame sorts, although Luc might occasionally get hooked on something on his phone.

Oliver is probably a board game person—especially because a couple of his friends are quite explicitly nerdy. If he tried to play them with Luc it’d start terribly because they’d probably try something competitive, which Oliver would take way too seriously, and Luc would get upset about losing. I think they’d eventually work out that co-operative gaming was a better fit for them, which I think would lead to Oliver, once again, taking it slightly too seriously and Luc good-naturedly letting him make most of the decisions.

Can you tell us a fun fact about any upcoming projects you're working on?

Well, I’m currently working on a slightly different flavour of romcom, set on a TV baking show. For the sake of—Oliver will approve of this—verisimilitude I’m attempting to make everything the protagonist makes. And this is going horribly wrong! Partly because there’s a pandemic and I can’t get any flour, partly because anything that would be a plausible entry on a TV show is quite a complex recipe, and partly because I’m just … not good enough at baking.

Thank you very much to Alexis for answering my questions! I've got to say this baking show romcom sounds like a dream, don't you think so?

What has been the best romance novel you've read this year?
Let me know in the comments below!