Cover Image: Boyfriend Material

Boyfriend Material

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Member Reviews

I suppose that I need to review this book with more than a few squee-ing gifs and emojis, but in some ways I think that should be sufficient. How do you review a book that's so good it's practically beyond words? But here's my attempt:

I've known for a while that Alexis Hall is an unbelievable storyteller. His gift for narration is unparalleled, and the way he brings Luc to life in Boyfriend Material is no exception. But the single POV does nothing to diminish Oliver's vividness, who might be filtered through Luc's eyes but has dimensions and identity all his own. The quirk, the wit, the banter, the emotional turmoil--it all adds up to a perfectly synced romance that will melt hearts all over the place. Luc and Oliver are both struggling with significant self-esteem issues but those issues manifest in opposite ways. Watching them learn each other is freaking delightful. (Have I dredged up enough words that are glowing enough yet? Ugh, I'll scrounge up a few more.) I also loved all the secondary characters. It's a huge cast but they're essential, especially to the theme of found family that centers this book. I laughed, I cried, I winced, I smiled. That's what the best books make me do, and this is one of the best books.

I also believe hidden inside Boyfriend Material is a love letter to the romance genre and its readers. It's obvious from the back copy that this is a fake relationship trope, but there are other gems hidden for a devoted romance reader. There are other beloved tropes woven in (only one bed! can't sleep without him!) that made me squeal. Plus we discover that Oliver is quite dominating in the bedroom ("'I will fuck you, Lucien'--he'd gone all stern and, for once, it didn't bother me at all--'in the manner of my choosing.'") and the way my heart and adrenal glands reacted--yowza.

tl;dr Everyone should read this book because it's the best.

CW: parental abandonment, emotionally abusive parents, homophobia, MC's ex sold information to tabloids, parent with cancer
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If I had not started it at midnight, I would have finished it in one go. It has groan-worthy puns and excellent dialogue that made me laugh often enough that my partner called me out on it.  In short, it was exactly the mental vacation I needed in these ~unprecedented times~ and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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can't even begin to describe how much I liked this book. It was by far my favourite book of the year from the ones I've read until now, I'm a sucker for British rom-coms.

The plot of this book is that Luc, the son of two rock star parents, and a father he'd never met, is in need of a boyfriend to save his reputation at work and in the tabloids. Enter Oliver Blackwood, a guy that seems the most normal Luc can find: he's a barrister, a vegetarian and in need of a date for a family event. The stars seems to align, and the two begin a fake relationship.

I had my eyes set on this book for the longest time, I love rom-com books, and this one seemed right up my alley. I certainly was not wrong.

The characters and their relationship are what make this book awesome. I fell in love with all of the characters, and even though sometimes I felt like some scenes were dragging a little too long (I wanted to see more of the romance), I completely understood that they were necessary in shaping the characters.

I also loved the British humor. There's just something about a rom-com set in Great Britain that always melts my heart.

Oliver and Luc were the cutest ever. They're not by far the perfect couple, but that's what make them so special for each other. I loved to see them overcoming their problems and their difficulties together. Sometimes I just wished they communicated a bit better, though, I think that would have solved a lot.

The second part of this book was magnificent. I think the story really stars to become more and more interesting and the last four chapters were pure perfection and what convinced me to give this book a complete five out of stars. I won't go into spoilers but some scenes really melted my heart and I was crying happy tears at midnight.

I probably could ramble forever about this book, but I'll stop right here. If you take one advice from me, please take this and read this book because it is the sweetest and cleverest rom-com you'll read this year!
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I absolutely fell in love with this, after a dubious beginning, which seems very fitting for the fake boyfriend trope :) 

Also, for those always on the lookout for a good romance with all the feels but without the R-rated bedroom shenanigans, this one's for you. And we still get the passion and the sweetness and the fade to black is handled in such a natural way that you truly will not miss it. It's impressive.

My favorite thing for the majority of the book was how realistic the fake boyfriend plot felt. They don't do the whole "since we're pretending to be dating we might as well get the sexy benefits" thing, and then basically spend the whole book in a full-on relationship while constantly internal dialogue-ing about NOT being in a relationship. 

Luc is genuinely just looking for someone to do him a massive, way-too-big-to-reasonably-ask-a-stranger-for favor, and it is exactly as awkward as it would be in RL to pretend date someone you can barely get through a conversation with without being both horribly offensive and offended at the same time. 

Their initial dinner, which Oliver thinks is a real date, goes so, so badly that there is no contrived feeling to the "fakeness" of the relationship. Their individual brands of self-consciousness just multiply and magnify and warp the other's into even worse places than it started, and there is no way in hell these two would have made a successful go of a real relationship in the beginning. 

The writing is also very clever, emotionally insightful, and made me laugh out loud repeatedly. The author is a genuinely intelligent human being, which always comes across in his writing and is one of the reasons I enjoy his books so much. The dubious beginning actually stems from it being almost *too* clever and too quirky for its own good. 

It was self-deprecating joke after self-deprecating joke in a way that would have worked excellently for me in a movie -- and made me think repeatedly while reading it how awesome this would be as a smart romcom -- but it was almost too much to read. That evens out once the initial setup is over and we start getting lots of dialog and interactions between the MCs, though. 

If you find yourself on the fence about it for this reason, hang in there. It's so worth it. (And seriously, that is so fitting for the arc of this relationship I'd almost think it's on purpose, but, well...probably not :)
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Absolutely amazing. THIS is what I have been missing in RomComs lately. It's funny, sharp, and very well written. I love, love, love the dialogue and the look at British culture. It has everything you've come to love in an Alexis Hall book (no relation ;-). Go! Read this now! You can thank me later.
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Boyfriend Material was everything I didn't know I needed. Battling depression and anxiety, a fake relationship that turns real, and characters I absolutely fell for had me hooked from beginning to end. Cheers to second chances!
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Luc is the son of minor celebrities, which makes his every move bait for the tabloids. Oliver is a do-good lawyer who is tired of being lonely. When Luc needs a respectable boyfriend to make his work-life easier after some bad press, Oliver agrees to fill the role in return for Luc attending his parent's party. Thus, their fake relationship begins. What ensues is a wild ride that is both hilarious and emotional, in which both Luc and Oliver have to learn to put up with the eccentricities of the other. I deeply enjoyed their journey, mostly because of the humor the author brought to the characters. I found myself laughing out loud so many times! In this, it was a very enjoyable read. I am not usually a fan of romance writing, but this one may have changed my mind!
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It's a quick and funny read that you can't help but get sucked into. There's plenty of banter right from the first page and that completely sold me. Even though protagonist Luc is supposed to the "bad boy" type, he's actually so endearing and authentic that you want to root for him. As a romance reader, you've gotta love a good fake dating trope where they don't like each other, because it makes the eventual feelings feel more earned, justified, and authentic. It's cute, endearing, and very enjoyable! Within just fifty pages, I just wanted to keep reading because even through text they have cheeky banter down pat, and I love it! Oliver is literally the perfect boyfriend, and just wow, it's so adorable to read about. All in all, the book is absolutely adorable and so freaking cute. It's big and sweeping into the beyond adorable love story. The two love interests make each other better and you just want to root for them. The language is witty and you become so captivated by the story.
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This book was just... <i>chef's kiss</i>. For one thing, the best way I can think of to describe it would be "rowdy gang of gay english pub crawlers", because this is somehow the most British thing I have ever read, as well as one of the voiciest pieces of writing I've ever read. I don't tend to laugh out loud a whole lot when I'm reading, but god, this book must've gotten me ten to twenty times, easily. It's that perfect brand of hilarious cynicism that I adore, so if you enjoy that kind of snark in your writing, this book will be perfect for you.

I also appreciated how well the topic of Luc's mental health is addressed. It's never dismissed, and it's very clear that the only person that treats it like a joke among Luc's friend circles is Luc himself, and seeing his friends lovingly bust his balls in one moment and come to his rescue in the next was so freaking cute. The moment at the end where <spoiler>they all load into Priya's truck to eavesdrop on the cliche love reveal</spoiler> was so funny, and such a good representation of the types of friends they are - they push Luc to be his best, but they're always there for him to fall back on if he stumbles on his way. It was a really comforting thing to read.

Speaking of the end of the book - I LOVED the trope subversions in this book. I felt like BOYFRIEND MATERIAL was a running conversation between two people that were snarking on other people's romances while accidentally falling into one themselves. It fit the theme of the book so well, and - again - made me love the fact that this was written in the UK. There were points where that subversion was amazing, like when <spoiler>Oliver refused to respond to Luc's come-ons the entire book, until Luc managed to scheist one of his friends, at which point Oliver pushed him into a wall and took him home</spoiler>, but it was also surprisingly poignant and kinda sad, like when <spoiler>Luc realizes that his father wanting to reconnect with him was all a stunt and that he never really cared</spoiler>, or when <spoiler>Luc confesses to Oliver at the end of the book and Oliver still turns him down</spoiler>. There were so many ways this book tried its hardest to make the romance feel less like one you'd find in a romance novel, and surprisingly, it didn't come across as over-the-top, fourth-wall-breaky like I'd have expected. It was just.... honest. This book was incredibly honest.

The only reason I'm not rating this five stars was because I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about the way some of the side characters were written. The comic relief in Alex, Luc's idiot, oblivious, incredibly posh coworker, was confusing, because he didn't seem realistic at <i>all</i>, and all it did was cheapen the effect of the rest of the book. The scene at <spoiler>about the 30% mark, where Luc and Oliver meet Alex and his fiancee at a fancy club, was bizarre. I couldn't tell if it was supposed to feel that disjointed compared to the rest of the book, but it did, and all I could think during that scene was how much I wanted it to be over so we could go back to the normal, familiar writing style. Seriously. I think there's a block of back-and-forth, nonsensically-written dialogue that lasts five whole pages in that scene. It was borderline torturous. Was that intentional?? Who's to say.</spoiler>

But honestly? That's the only criticism I have. This book presented mental illness and recovery from depression impossibly well - not just by showing that it's <i>possible</i> to claw your way out of a mental hole like that, but that it always helps to have friends at your side. This book also did a fantastic job of presenting the different <i>ways</i> depression manifests itself, and the way at the end <spoiler>that we finally realize that Oliver is just as messed up as Luc is was incredibly well done</spoiler>.

I could read another ten books in this world. But for now, I think I can settle for rereading it ten times in a row instead. 


(Special thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the NetGalley arc!!)
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The problem I had with this book was that it felt like two wildly different genres that didn't fit together at all. On the one side, there was what was essentially a sitcom. Luc's queer friend group that could have come out of a quirky Netflix show. The gay couple where both are called James Royce and who now got married and now they're both called James Royce-Royce I wish I was making that up, the tiny angry lesbian that never says something that isn't an amusing insult, the token straight friend who always has amusing catastrophes happen at her work...I'm not saying I wouldn't watch this quirky Netflix show but I can't deny how hilariously over the top everything about it is.

Also over-the-top but not hilariously is Luc's workplace. I recognise that the incompetence of everyone there is supposed to be amusing but I just didn't find it funny at all. One colleague seemed like he was supposed to be Arthur Shappey but written by someone who had no idea what made Arthur Shappey charming and funny in the first place and the be honest I have already forgotten the rest.

Well, and the other side is not a comedy at all. Because Luc has serious issues (and so does Oliver). Perfectly understandable issues considering everything that happened to him but issues nonetheless. And because of these issues, he has some unhealthy coping mechanisms and doesn't do relationships very well. Again perfectly understandable. Only, I had to keep reminding myself of that because if Luc just had a conversation with James Royce-Royce and James Royce-Royce and then learned that due to an amusing misunderstanding a newly translated book will be titled I'm out of the office at the moment and will reply to this e-mail next week I expect that the next relationship-drama to be similarly over the top and not...this guy has trust-issues because his father and his last boyfriend were assholes and now he pushes people away instead of letting them come close.

I even think the way Luc - and later Oliver's - issues were handled and dealt with was done quite well but mixed together with the over-the-topness of the side-characters it just didn't fit together.
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This wasn't a standout but it was a sorta kinda cute British romance. One of the key components about this novel I really liked was the opposites attract theme. Luc and Olivier worked out beautifully and it was great to watched them grow together. Besides that, there's not much to rave about. I liked the characters but the rest of the content… was a snoozefest. I just didn't care much about the storyline. It was dull and bland which is disappointing considering I had high hopes for this. Oh well, I guess you can't win them all.
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What a superb story!

Fans of Alexis Hall know to expect something marvelous, but Boyfriend Material goes above and beyond. The dry, silly, often heartfelt humor keeps this one moving at a fast pace, and I found it was over much too soon.

Hall writes incredibly interesting characters. From Luc's zany group of friends, to his complex relationship with his folks - and the same to be said about Oliver's people. Bonus: the whole thing comes from Luc's point of view, which just keep the light-hearted insights rolling along.

An absolutely charming romance, plus a lovely hurt-comfort aspect, and a fabulous fake relationship trope make Boyfriend Material one of the most enjoyable novels of the year.
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Copy received via Netgalley for an honest review

I go on Netgalley, and sometimes wish for a book. For the first time ever, a wish was granted, and it was for Boyfriend Material - the one I really, really wanted.

And I have to say that this is my favourite Alexis Hall book since Ardy Baby's series

First of all, I love the cover. I am really liking the cartoon style covers more than photographs these days.

Luc and Oliver's tale is an adorable story of opposites attracting. They shouldn't work, but they totally do. I came in expecting a lovely rom-com, however I was not expecting the emotions that I felt. So many feels on Luc's part.

There were plenty of laughs and adorably quirky moments. Luc is the awkwardish, weirdish but completely lovely to Oliver's buttoned up, stiff upper lip. They complement each other so, so well.

And there are some secondary character that I insist get a spin off book. Alex and Miffy are so marvelously clueless, that I smiled every single time they were on the page. They made me laugh our loud with the level of dumb - but it is not a stupid level of dumb. Think of Hugo and Alice from The Vicar of Dibley and you have Alex and Miffy.

Boyfriend Material also gave me Bridget Jones' Diary vibes - and I love that movie hard.

I finished and wanted more.
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"That reminds me. How did your date go?"
"It was awful. We have nothing in common. I think I might have sexually assaulted him. But we're going to pretend to give it a go anyway because we're both desperate."

Boyfriend Material is about Luc O'Donnell, son of a washed-up rockstar who just wants to live his life away from paparazzi and those determined to compare his mistakes to those of the father he's never even met. But after a bit of bad publicity threatens his job and his sanity he comes up with a plan: pretend to date someone respectable enough to pull his reputation out of the gutter. And his best friend has the perfect candidate, Oliver Blackwood.

In an effort to be transparent I have to admit what first drew me to this book was the similarity in covers to Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue. It is so beautiful and I just love illustrated book covers. Typically I am not a fan of comedy, but the description sounded solid - and, of course, the gorgeous cover - so I made an exception. And I'm so glad I did. Boyfriend Material is the first rom-com that had me actually laughing out loud! I was constantly cheering my ship while simultaneously cursing them for their dumb behavior. Sometimes it felt like there was only one brain cell to share amongst the cast and the only ones with access to it were Luc and Oliver.

Speaking of Luc and Oliver, I loved how dynamic they were! This was more than an opposites-attract romance. Their relationship was one of mutual understanding, support, and ultimately love. Hall didn't just focus on one person's fear, for example. These characters were real and complicated. Through them, the book addressed some challenging themes regarding trauma, self-destruction, and finding happiness, and I believe the author handled it wonderfully. Never once did I think that they couldn't be real people.

My brain took longer than I would have liked adjusting to the Britishisms and cultural references (curse my limited and Americanized worldview), but once the shift happened the story moved relatively smooth, only requiring the occasional visit to I think the writing was perhaps a bit too casual in some chapters, mostly in regards to sentence structure or word choice. This occasionally led to what felt like awkward moments in dialogue or paragraphs that needed rereading to be wholly understood.

Boyfriend Material was a joy to read and I can't wait to see what Hall write's next.
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I LOVED this book. An old-school romantic comedy with bite, this book swept me away into an imaginary London and the story of Luc, a celebrity not-by-choice, and the man he takes on as a fake boyfriend after getting himself into a small PR problem that threatens his job. Their story unfolds while at the same time Luc must deal with an absentee rockstar father who is suddenly back, a boss who threatens to fire him of his PR issue causes donors to back out, and friends and coworkers that are equal parts insane and fun. 

There is a lot of story here, but every page is worth. The characters are fun and fully imagined, and the dialogue is sharp, witty, and very funny. I cannot recommend this escapist fun book more! It’s exactly the kind of sweet and happy and cute that we could all use during this time of uncertainty.
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I received an e-ARC on NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

I was not expecting this book to be as hard-hitting and harrowing. It looked like a sweet little thing, but it turned out to be a frighteningly real take on messed-up individuals and relationships. As someone who stays away from romances, I was not expecting to see so much of myself and people I know in the main characters of this book. The personalities and relationship of Lucien and Oliver were scary to look into, but the bitter truth of today's world. At first, I thought the book to be too big, with too much description and too many unnecessary scenes, but it becomes obvious soon enough that all of that is important for the reader to have a full grasp on the storyline.

I sometimes felt like that Lucien and Oliver's relationship paralleled a rom-com heterosexual relationship too much, with Oliver always being the stand-up amazing guy and Lucien being the troubled and messed up damsel in distress. Also, Lucien's friends and peers felt too gimmicky to me. But other than that, this was a really good read that I immensely enjoyed.
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A funny, heartfelt, very English fake relationship tale that's a cocktail of Bridget Jones, PG Wodehouse, and a Richard Curtis film. Luc is the son of sort-of famous musicians who split when he was young. He hasn't seen his father in many years, but the man's bad reputation--and the paparazzi--follow him and exploit his every clubbing night. In order to clean up his image (and not lose the only job willing to hire him), he needs to pretend to date someone nice and respectable. Enter Oliver, a clean-cut barrister, who agrees to Luc's strange proposal in exchange for a date to a family event. Of course, as most fake relationship stories go, this one starts to feel all too real for both of them.

This was a charming book. The sprawling cast of friends around both of them felt very Notting Hill, and the casually absurd upper class twits were straight out of Jeeves and Wooster (two of Luc's friends have the same first and last name, and are married to each other, and each hyphenated their last names--which no one but me seems to find at all strange). Luc narrates the book in first person, and he's honest and hilarious and lovable. 

My only complaint is that the plot is a bit too long. Hall could have done away with at least one of the "I screwed up, please take me back" moments, and not taken anything away from the story. Otherwise, I greatly enjoyed it.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the ARC to review.
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I just truly loved thos book, it was fun and adorable

I enjoyed that the problems that arose to complicate and rattle the relationship wasn't your typical drama, like cheating and distrust or career related and family problems or whatever other cliche drama inducing aspect you often see in romance books.

I really liked that this wasn't just about their relationship, it wasn't just will they won't they.
It was about each of them growing as individuals and learning to deal with their personal issues in a better way then just pushing others away.
But it was also about learning to see ypurself threw other peoples eyes and realise that the issues you think make you unlikable are part of you, and you can/should work on them and get better for yourself, but the people who care? They'll be there still even when you retreat back to pushing people away.

I think above all that tho, it was about them learning to love and accept themselves as they are before they can love someone else.

I just loved this. I did think the pacing was a bit off, we spent so much time with the first character and his problem, that the problem of the second character felt all squished in at the end.
Which made it feel like it wrapped up to quickly.

But overall? This is a great book.
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This was cute and funny. It was pretty solid and captivating for most of the time, but it kind of lost me in the last 100 pages or so.
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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Initial comment:

The cover looks very similar to Red White and Royal Blue. They are both Nice romances with nice male MCs. The writing in both humorous and witty, with strong social comedy. Both have a UK element, one rather more than the other. THAT’S IT. THESE ARE VERY DIFFERENT BOOKS.  I’m finding the way some reviews are saying the books are so so similar, because the covers are, disconcerting.

I freakin’ hate the freakin’ fake boyfriend trope. I was only interested in reading this book due to the author. I have had a mixed experience of Hall’s work. Some books of his I have not gotten past the first chapter. Others of his, are beloved rereads. 

I should also note that I apply a higher standard to Hall than most other writers, because he is just that good.

First point: both guys are nice.

There is a similar pattern to the billionaire books - the flibbertigibbet and the staid “successful” guy - and the flow-on from that. That is all I am saying - no spoilers here. This is the faintly paler beginners version.

Second point:  Alex and co. Honestly, it is worth reading the book for all the side characters. Alex (and Miffy) had me repeatedly howling and crying with laughter. I’ll probably be rereading the book just for them - also the MC’s mum. I was interested to learn other French people refer to gay people as “a gay” too.

Third point; Hall is a very skilled fluid writer. He’s the real thing, with a long term commitment to romance. His writing, in whatever genre, is always superior, and usually hilarious. He’s big on social comedy. I adore good social comedy.

Points that pulled me a bit out of the story (normally, having enjoyed the book so much I would be gushing incoherently):

First point: I am passionate about dung beetles, so the ha ha ha stuff about dung beetles was a bit annoying. In the Australian countryside we had an intense problem with flies, until the government introduced the dung beetle programme, and now we don’t. (When outside, you had to constantly wave your hand in front of your face due to all the flies (which grow in manure) and it was called “the Australian salute”. It’s also why Australian country hats used to have corks hanging around the rim. 

Second point: I used to work in appellate jurisdictions so the stuff about criminal barristers jarred me a bit. They aren’t highly regarded because they tend to be on-the-fly workers (they have to be - it’s the nature of the way the criminal justice system works) who have to rely on clever quick often dodgy quick-stepping. Also the pay isn’t great unless you are defending organised crime. The other reason it’s not highly regarded is because it is often where people start out at the bar. If they are still doing low level crim work, it tends to mean they aren’t very good. Or employed by legal aid and need to stay in the job for financial security. All this stuff fed into the book for me. This is, of course, all coming from me, the reader. You might, even say, in a sense, that I have an eggshell skull. 

Third point: the Greek chorus of annoying friends including the pushy best friend. Wtf is it with m/m romance where the MC has to have a pushy female best friend, who pushes the MC against his will into doing “what’s best for him”? Writers, please find another way to push the plot forward. I am so over this one.

Fourth point: why don’t the characters use airplanes? Or trains? The book was written before the global pandemic. There’s all this stuff about having to drive 4 hours here, and five hours there, (and back). What’s with that? Is that a UK thing? It’s stupid.

Fifth point: the story is very strongly located in London. Place plays a big role in Hall’s stories. Because I was a bit pulled out of this story, I noticed more all the local references which I didn’t understand. Living in australia, I am used to reading books set in places I have never been to. I’m not really complaining, just noting. If you are English, I’m sure this book will have a whole layer of enjoyment absent to the rest of us. It’s probably analagous to a marvel movie - great fun if you know nothing about the MCU, but if you do, there are infinite layers of More enjoyment available.

All in all, this is good quality Alexis Hall fare. It is good quality romance written by someone happily soaked in the genre. If you or a friend are new to m/m romance, this is a good place to start, or to continue with. There is a strong likelihood that this book will end up on your keeper shelf. There is also a heightened likelihood of glomming everything else Hall has ever written, if you have not already.
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