Take all the best elements of your favorite British romantic comedy movie, put them all together, insert two very attractive, very charming young men, and tada! You’ll have Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material.
Set in London, the story follows Luc O’Donnell–son of famous 80s rock artists, abandoned by his father when he was three, under dire circumstances finally meeting his father at age twenty-eight, severely burned by the betrayal and harshness of being someone in the limelight–and Oliver Blackwood–an environmentally conscious vegetarian and too-good-to-be-true, intelligent, and dedicated barrister.
Like one of my most recent reads, this novel sports a fake relationship turned into a frighteningly real but sweet romance. It is what sets the story in motion. When Luc’s public image needed upheaval or he stands to lose his job, he not only needed Oliver to help him appear upstanding and put-together, but also slowly changed his perception on life and love as they continued to know more about each other.
There are other important elements in the storyline I would not include here, so as not to spoil the entire thing, but let me just write about the parts which stood out, the ones I enjoyed most.
First would definitely be the setting. Ohh, I love me a British romance! I admit the British lingo slowed me at some parts, but it’s also good to learn unfamiliar words. Moreover, I cannot completely visualize some of the imagery created by the author. Obviously, I have not watched enough movies set in the United Kingdom for my imagination to easily access the sceneries cited, but it certainly did not diminish my enjoyment of such details.
Second would be the circle of friends of both Luc and Oliver. Well, Luc’s friends are amazing! It’s a colorful bunch, and I love them all. They are a support system. A family outside of one’s own. I have to admit, I envy Luc each time his friends show him every bit of encouragement and support they can muster. It’s definitely endearing to witness. As for Oliver’s friends, they might all be straight–not at all close to Luc’s–but that’s the only difference if you ask me, as they are also well-meaning and incredibly caring of Oliver. I would happily read stories about these other characters if the author ever decides to create segments about them.
Third would be the real portrayal of falling in love. That despite all the reassuring words and the grand gestures, love can be scary. It makes you vulnerable. It makes you feel overwhelming emotions. You give a part of yourself to another, something you can no longer take back. You fully entrust your heart to that one person who can either take it or break it. You learn to go with the ebb and flow of love. You stand firm with your profound feelings and fight for what makes you happy. All these I was able to see as I read through Luc and Oliver’s story. If that alone does not convince you to go give this book a chance, then I don’t know what else to say.
If there’s one thing I would comment on though, I think there’s just too many cliched grand gestures in the storyline, especially the last parts. I know it’s meant to be good fun and light cheer, but I kind of prefer maintaining an emotional momentum whenever I’m reading the intense, climactic parts. But I get it. It’s not the way Luc and Oliver, as a couple, are designed. They have always managed to insert humor in every interaction.
I give this book 3.5 stars. I finished it in no time, despite having slowed in parts where I was introduced to British lingo. I like the realness of the story even though the plot started with an intricate and deliberate pretend relationship. If there is a follow-up story to this lovely couple, count me in.
- Title: Boyfriend Material
- Author: Alexis Hall
- Year published: 2020
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
- Total number of pages: 427
- ISBN-13: 978-1-728-20614-1