Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall (London Calling #1)

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 someone who has never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words, he’s 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 settles. 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.

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Joe Jameson (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks, Inc.
YEAR: 2020
LENGTH: 425 pages (13 hours 11 minutes)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Secondary Character(s), Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Bi/Pan Secondary Character(s).

BOYFRIEND MATERIAL is a fake-dating-turned-real-feelings story between two gay men who both need the appearance of a relationship long enough to get through some big upcoming events. A mutual friend pairs them up for their fake relationship, and somehow this fake boyfriend thing is one of the most stable relationships Luc has ever had. 

This is the first book in a series, which slightly hints at the direction of the ending. The ending fits their relationship very well, and I like their overall dynamic. The ongoing status of their relationship is established for future books, and several major plot points are resolved. There are secondary plots related to each of their relationships with their parents. Luc's father walked out of his life twenty-five years ago, and has walked back into it with no warning and a declaration that he has cancer and would like to get to know Luc better. Luc's mother, who was also abandoned by Luc's father (her husband and musical collaborator), is supportive of any decision Luc might make, all the way from reconciliation to telling his father to go fuck himself. I adore Luc's mother, she's written very well and I love the audiobook performance for her. Oliver's parents only appear briefly, during the event for which he needed Luc as a fake boyfriend, but they cast a long shadow which has implications for later books. 

The dung beetle charity and Luc's co-workers there are an endless source of exasperation and delight for me. Between his co-workers, his friends, and Oliver's friends, there are so many vibrant and specific people that it wasn't difficult for me to keep track of anyone. Normally I have trouble keeping track of characters (let alone their names) when the cast gets past five or so, but I had no issues here. 

Things I love, in no particular order: Luc telling jokes to Alex, everything dung-beetle-related, Oliver being pedantic about law, Luc's friends, Bridget's publishing fiascos.

If you like this you may like:

  • WAITING FOR THE FLOOD by Alexis Hall (gay romance in stressful situations)

Moderate CW for cursing, homophobia, abandonment, emotional abuse, toxic relationship, alcohol.

Minor CW for racism, xenophobia, body shaming, fatphobia, pregnancy, eating disorder, drug use, drug abuse, cancer, child death, parental death, death.

Contains multiple Harry Potter references, including an extended digression.

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