Cover Image: Something Fabulous

Something Fabulous

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QOTD: What is the last book that had you laughing?! 
SOMETHING FABULOUS is one of those books that I picked up and finished in one day. It was hilarious and well written. Alexis Hall writes a character driven novel that has you caring about every single person. Hall allows readers to journey into the countryside and witness fights and meadow side love stories. This novel drops TUESDAY and is one I will recommend for many. 

Duke Valentine has come to marry Arabella, as both families wished years ago. The issue? Arabella has refused and run away with her best friend. 
Her brother, Bonny, has refused to let her be captured by pirates or run away to America! The option? Persuade Valentine to travel and find Arabella, setting her mind straight. 
So becomes the journey between Duke and Bonny, racing across countryside. Valentine NEEDS to find her for his reputation. But what he realizes is that maybe he isn't truly meant to be with her.... maybe he's meant to he with someone... more fabulous. 
Thank you Montlake publishing and @netgalley for this arc in exchange for my opinion! All thoughts are my own.
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This was a very fun  regency romp - Hall's voice and humor came through so well in this style of book.
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It’s Bridgerton but gay and on drugs.

Something Fabulous, or as I like to call it “Valentine discovers the LGBTQ+ community”, is about a rich duke (Valentine) who wants to make his father proud by marrying Miss Tarleton. However after his proposal, she suddenly disappears and Valentine is forced to team up with her twin brother (Bonny) to search for his fleeing fiancée. 

Valentine could have easily been the world’s most irritating character on earth, yet somehow Alexis Hall made him into this three-dimensional character with layers. Sure, he could be incredibly annoying and entitled (as a rich Duke would be), but he grows to care for people and overall, always tries to do the right thing. 

In a lot of “enemies” to lovers books, I always hate how the two characters are suddenly all lovey-dovey as if they hadn’t just been fighting for the last 150 pages. But in Something Fabulous, the teasing dynamic between Valentine and Bonny never disappeared even after their love confession, which I really appreciated. The constant bickering resulted in the most hilarious banter that at times had me laughing out loud.

It took me a longer time to get into this book than with Alexis Hall’s other books but I think that’s probably due to the language barrier. I am not a native English speaker and this is written in a kind of old English. Don’t worry! It’s perfectly understandable but it just took me a bit longer to read. 

This book was hilarious, at times even absurd and maybe a bit weird. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at a flower the same way again. 

Tropes: childhood best friends to strangers to lovers, one bed trope

TW: (internalised) homophobia, violence, sexual content
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Readers looking for romance, mad cap adventure and boundless misunderstandings set in Regency England will enjoy Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall.  Valentine is the stuffy, reserved Duke of Malvern who sets out to "do his duty" by proposing to Miss Arabella Tarleton who has been living in Surrey with her beloved twin brother Bonaventure aka Bonny.  It was the dying wish of his father that they marry so he can merge the two families. This will also provide Arabella and her brother financial security as they have been orphans since they were children.  However, it has been years since he has seen either sibling and things do not go well. When Arabella runs away in the night, Bonny and Valentine set out to bring her home. Adventures ensue, mostly at the expense of the Duke.  I really enjoyed the development of Valentine's character throughout the book as he learns what it means to be more than a Duke but a human. While I can sympathize with the frustrations of Arabella's character, her antics became increasingly annoying and I don't really feel like she ever redeemed herself. I loved Bonny and his strong belief in himself, his honesty about his sexuality and his determination to find love and unwillingness to bend on what he wanted.  This was a delightful romp! Thanks to NetGalley for the book.
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This was, in fact, a chaotic and fabulous book, full of nothing but vibes.

I absolutely loved all of the representation, and while it was a little slow to start for me (the writing style/voice took a few chapters for me to settle into) it was an easy story to get sucked into, even if the pacing was all over the place. If you're looking for something completely over-the-top and dramatic, but in a humorous way, this is for you! There were many times when it felt like too much for me, but every now and then there would be the most sincere and soul-deep phrases that pulled it back. I think I would have really enjoyed this story more if it hadn't been for Arabella. I'm sorry, I have to say it, I could not stand her. I'm not saying her feelings aren't justified, but no. She took things too far and it pulled me away from the story and from Bonny and Valentine!

I think in the end I would have preferred this to be a fun romp of a novella, rather than a full-length novel because I was really ready for it to be over at the end, which is never a feeling you want to have while reading! However, I know I'm probably thinking too hard about it, and I know so many people will be delighted by it! It was definitely an experience, I can say that!
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I unfortunately ended up having to DNF Something Fabulous.

I don’t know if it was the writing style or if it was because it felt a bit like nonsense.

I found myself skimming and not really enjoying the story so I’ve decided to shelve this for now.

I may try it again in the future when I’m more in the mood for something silly.
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Alexis Hall is a fantastic writer and I've enjoyed this fun historical romp! I really love the grumpy/sunshine trope and both Bonny and Valentine fit it so well. I definitely enjoyed the goose chase around Surrey this book took us on and can't wait to read what Alexis Hall writes next!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review!
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The banter is incredible and so so funny. The relationship builds up so nicely and the fact that the duke begs, omg I can't. Sometimes the sister annoyed me and the roadtrip problems were insane. Loved Bonny so much, he's perfect.
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If you’re looking for an historical romance with a complex plot, serious characters and a bucket-load of angst, then move right along, because Alexis Hall’s Something Fabulous isn’t it.  If, however, you’re up for a frivolous romp through Regency England bubbling with wit and brilliant comic timing that, for all its ridiculous trope-y-ness, contains an achingly tender story of self-discovery, then dive right in.

The book opens with a delightfully – although somewhat more barbed - Heyer-esque proposal-gone-wrong in which Valentine Layton, Duke of Malvern, has decided it’s time to honour his late father’s wishes and become formally betrothed to Miss Arabella Tarleton, who has been intended for him since birth.  Miss Tarleton, however, has no intention of accepting Valentine’s proposal and makes that clear in no uncertain terms:

“There is no fashion, Your Grace, in which you could propose that would render it anything other than profoundly repugnant to me.”

Valentine is both astonished and affronted.  A refusal is something he had never remotely considered – after all, what impoverished young woman wouldn’t want to secure her future and that of her family by marrying a wealthy, young and handsome duke?

Later that night – or rather, in the early hours of the morning – Valentine (having made liberal use of the brandy bottle) is awoken by Arabella’s twin brother, Bonaventure – Bonny for short – who informs him that Arabella has run away and that they should go after her so Valentine can save her from ruin and propose again.  And that he’d better make a good job of it this time.  Valentine is not keen; it’s not that he doesn’t want to retrieve his wayward intended, he just doesn’t want to go without due thought or preparation. Or his valet.  Bonny, however, is something of a force of nature, and won’t take no for an answer, so before long, Valentine is being hurried along and into a curricle wearing a coat borrowed from the assistant gardener and a hastily tied – courtesy of Bonny – cravat.

That’s the set up for the fluffiest, silliest and most outrageously charming road-trip / grumpy-sunshine romance I’ve read in quite some time. (Or ever.) It doesn’t take itself seriously – even though it does have some serious points to make – and focuses entirely on the relationship between Valentine and Bonny, and on Valentine’s journey towards reaching a deeper self-awareness, understanding  how attraction works for him and that being seen and loved for who he is as a person is not impossible.

The writing is deft and insightful with plenty of clever nods to the genre, the dialogue sparkles and the two leads are superbly characterised.  Valentine, the repressed, dutiful duke has no idea of his own privilege but is somehow endearing in his cluelessness;  he’s deeply lonely but doesn’t realise it, and he has very little experience of sexual attraction until Bonny, and the sudden wealth of feelings that assail him when Bonny is around completely blindside him. Watching Valentine slowly learn that he is allowed to have feelings, that he can feel attraction and affection - and the way Bonny accepts him exactly as he is and without question - is simply lovely.  As for Bonny, well, he’s just adorable; free-spirited,  vibrant, charming and kind, he’s not ashamed of who he is and what he wants, and isn’t willing to settle for anything less than to be loved in the way he loves – with his whole heart and soul.

There’s a small, but well-drawn secondary cast. I particularly liked Peggy, Arabella’s best friend and some-time lover who is a welcome voice of reason in contrast to Arabella’s frequent and overblown histrionics, and Sir Horley, the rakish older gentleman with an eye on Bonny and a heart of gold.  As one would expect from an Alexis Hall book, the queer rep is varied and excellent;  Peggy is genderfluid, Sir Horley is gay,  I got the impression Arabella is aromantic, and there are two delightful ladies who are married in all but name.

Sadly, the book’s biggest flaw is Arabella.  I understood her frustration and where she was coming from – no legal rights, no right to an opinion, no rights over her own body, even – but rather than making the attempt to explain herself or just talk to Valentine, she screams and throws tantrums and melodramatic fits, she makes ridiculous and unfounded accusations and generally behaves like a spoilt brat.  If she’d been the heroine of a book, it would have hit the wall before the end of the first chapter!  It’s rare for me to have such a visceral reaction to a character in a book, but I honestly couldn’t stand her and felt sorry for Bonny having to put up with her all his life.  And this leads to my other issue with the story, which is that the catch-up-with-her/she’s-run-away-again is a bit repetitive – although I fully accept this may be because I so disliked Arabella that I just wanted her to run away and stay gone!

Other than that, however, Something Fabulous certainly lives up to its name.  It’s funny, sexy, daft and just a bit over the top, but it’s all done with obvious love and affection and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

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This is such a fun and frothy regency romp! It's absolutely ridiculous in the best of ways. There is a diverse abundance of queer rep which always makes me happy, including a demisexual main character and a non-binary side character. 

**Received an eARC via NetGalley for Bonkers Book Club**
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After really enjoying Boyfriend Material and Murder Most Actual, I was excited to try this historical M/M romcom from Alexis Hall. Unfortunately, I think it's a little... out there... for my tastes. Fans of The Wisteria Society for Lady Scoundrels may enjoy this one, for while not fantasy, it takes a number of creative liberties and dramatic turns. Indeed, without giving too much away, the main character(s) go on a cross-country carriage adventure which involves kidnapping, dueling, and much, much more. It strayed so far from plausible that I found it hard to get into, but that's just my personal preference. For those who appreciate the fantastical and overly dramatic, I think this would be quite an enjoyable read; it's prose is well done and its leads are entertaining. 

Thanks to Montlake for my eARC! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

4 stars - 6/10
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Something Fabulous is the gay regency romp I never knew I needed in my life and never wanted to end! It was outrageous, over-the-top, hilarious, incredibly sweet and a little raunchy - everything I could ever want in a story! After Valentine Layton, Duke of Malvern, proposes to Arabella Tarleton, she runs away and her twin brother Bonaventure (Bonny) enlists Valentine’s help to bring her back home, resulting in a ridiculous cross-country chase. 

Valentine is reserved, naive and lonely, hiding behind his duties as a duke instead of putting himself out there to live his life. On the flip side, Bonny is charming, flirtatious and so creative. They’re opposites in almost every way, but as they get to know each other again, their relationship takes a really precious and endearing turn. Valentine’s demisexuality and inexperience is definitely in stark contrast with Bonny’s flamboyant nature and wealth of experience and it makes for some awkward and sweet conversations and a lot of growth. 

The banter and chemistry between Valentine and Bonny was next level. Their grumpy/sunshine dynamic pulled me in and What started out as Valentine thinking Bonny was just a ridiculous man obsessed with romance and stories turned into a fun and emotional journey toward self-discovery, acceptance and unconditional love. 

I really wanted to take off half a star for Arabella Tarleton’s character - she was so irritating, dramatic, violent and rude that it drove me up a wall, but I couldn’t take any stars away because without her insane antics, Valentine and Bonny would have never had a chance to fall in love and be together. 

This book is campy (in the best way possible!) yet intelligent and deep, all things I’ve come to love about Hall’s writing. Like always, I didn’t want it to end, but when it did, I had a huge smile on my face for Valentine and Bonny. I can’t recommend this book enough - I already pre-ordered the paperback because I need to have this book in my collection!
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6 stars.

(Thank you to the Bonkers Romance Book Club and NetGalley for a digital ARC)

This book is bottled sunshine, like dripping honey-covered fingers unabashedly being shoved in mouths, like giggles shared under the covers of a summer campout, like the perpetual buoyant optimism of a honey-bee (yes, you're sensing a bee-theme, and you'd be correct). This book is fiercely, unapologetically fabulous. It is goddamn hopeful. It dares to dream of love, of the experience of truly being seen, of the opportunity to live in the fantasy worlds that we bookish people wish we truly lived in.

I giggled. I squealed. I may have even squeezed my poor e-reader to my chest and flailed around at various points. This book may have single-handedly fought back the last 2 years of COVID-related-anxiety/life anxiety/seasonal depression - like a complete hard-reset of my central nervous system leaving me a bit brighter and shinier and hopeful.

There's really no other words, other than please RUN/DON'T WALK to get yourself a copy as soon as you can.

My ARC is digital, otherwise my highlighting job would have looked like a demonic two-year-old who is three cupcakes deep into a birthday party got a handful of markers and went to town. No joke: I think every other page of my e-book has highlights. Some of my highlights have highlights.

The story and characters and romance are superb, top-tier, flawless - what else to expect from Alexis Hall? But what really shines is the writing. I have no idea HOW he did it, but... I want this entire book to be taught as a masterclass of SOMETHING. I don't even know what it is?!?! But I need... so much more of it?! Please?!

And for those interested, a summary of the tropes you want and need and will certainly get:

•marriage of (in)convenience
•an absolute beaming ray of sunshine + a very un-self-aware grumpy cloud
•demisexual rep
•sapphic couples
•trans* / non-binary rep
•honestly, queer rep of every kind / everywhere / pretty much everyone in this book is queer and it's great
•road trips (but with curricles)
•only. one. bed.
•rope play (but not how you think)
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Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall

*thanks to Bonkers Romance for the book!

This book is billed as a fun-filled, over-the-top queer Regency romp, and it fully delivers on that promise. 

Valentine is a grumpy Duke who is disconnected from his feelings and from himself, and sort of on a “does what is expected” autopilot. Bonny is his opposite: loud, loquacious, confident, joyful. He truly believes in romance and the promise of love for everyone, including himself. I picture them as Mr. Darcy and a more boisterous Bingley from the 2005 P&P movie.

The plot is basically a series of increasingly improbable and hilarious hijinks. The banter crackles, honestly no one writes this kind of dialogue better than Alexis Hall. I loved all the side characters, though I did find the sister to be a bit much at times. I really loved Valentine’s slow realization of his feelings for Bonny, and I really appreciated Bonny giving him space to do so. 

Recommended if you’re interested in something light, funny, queer, sexy, and completely full-suspension-of-disbelief bananas.

🌶🌶🌶 Sex is on the page in a couple of scenes, with some explicit descriptions
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Thank you very much to the publisher Montlake and NetGalley UK for the digital ARC!

“Something Fabulous” by Alexis Hall set in the regency era and hella gay. *rainbows everywhere* 

Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, is somewhat grumpy and reserved, and he has two problems:
1.	His recent proposal to Miss Arabella Tarleton, with which he hoped to fulfil their fathers’ wishes, went horribly wrong when she flees into the night.
2.	Her brother, who goes by the ridiculous name of Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, barges into his bedroom at an ungodly hour and demands that Valentine join him on a mission to find her.

„Not only had Tarleton burst in on Valentine unannounced at an unseemly – nay, ungodly – hour and subjected his proposal to excoriating critique; he was now getting his feelings everywhere.“

Begrudgingly, Valentine agrees to go, and finds himself much closer to the hopeless romantic childhood friend he lost somewhere along the way, when he had to take over the responsibilities of being a Duke. And so a chaotic romp through the English countryside begins, and it involves bees, only one bed at the inn (oh no!), sapphic saviours/kidnappers (depending on who you ask), a duel (of course!), a horny gentleman with a hunting lodge dreams are made of, and hungry flowers.  

“Bonny had made himself: from books and stories, and hopes and dreams. As Valentine had made himself from duty and fear and mistrust and ignorance.”

Needless to say, I loved this. It has Alexis Hall’s signature style hilariously funny writing, which works really well in this historical setting. The characters are overly dramatic in the best way possible and I love them dearly. The banter! The incredibly gentle discussion of sexuality, gender and body image! The steamy scenes! It also makes a lot of important points about privilege when it comes to Valentine’s status as a Duke, and as a man. 

This book has gay, sapphic, genderfluid and demisexual representation.

5/5 Stars
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What a flirty, sexy, absurdly funny regency romp from Alexis Hall! Valentine, Duke of Malvern, is chasing his runaway fiancé across the English countryside with the help of her twin brother, Boneventure, when he discovers he may in fact be closer to love then he thought. I loved the playful witty banter, the whimsical + ridiculous storylines, the vibrant characters and of course, the historical queer rep. I definitely laughed out loud several times while reading this. I’ve read a couple of books from this author and I appreciate his creative + flexible writing talents. Note to readers: it helps to suspend disbelief to fully enjoy this one. It’s truly something… frivolous, fantastic, and fabulous. 

Thank you so much to Montlake + Netgalley for this ARC.
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I smiled and I grinned and I laughed out loud while reading "Something Fabulous". This book was over the top, hilarious and downright fabulous. I am a new fan of Alexis Hall and plan to read everything I can by this talented author.
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I don’t really want to give a star rating because  I think this is a good book objectively, but maybe not the right book for me right now. It’s funny with lots of hijinks, but also I was very over the hijinks halfway through. It’s almost a little satirical, definitely very over the top, but I think this is gonna be a big hit when it comes out in a few weeks. I did appreciate how there were very few straight people, and how accepting everyone in this world was.
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.

I wanted to love Alexis Hall’s Something Fabulous. But while there are things I appreciate about it—including how funny parts are—on the whole it’s uneven for me & I was increasingly frustrated by some of the characters 😩.

The premise of this romance is that Valentine, a Duke, has just proposed very badly to Arabella Tarleton out of a sense of family duty. She runs away & her twin Bonny persuades Valentine to follow her & do better with his proposing.

A road trip romance that takes them all over, that encapsulates lots of adventures, & that opens the stuffy Valentine’s eyes & mind over & over again, Something Fabulous is—like others have said—often fun & funny & gives me some of those screwball comedy moments I love. One of my fave things is how consistently clueless Valentine is—how often he misses the obvious clues about relationships (especially those of a romantic nature) & people in general.

Alexis Hall tackles Valentine’s privilege again & again & that’s a refreshing element in this historical. As is Arabella’s unwillingness to give her life over to anyone she doesn’t want to, including (especially?) a Duke.

But by the end of the book I was exhausted by the characters & their hijinx & I just wanted something else to happen, besides Valentine still being insensitive & overly concerned with appearance & what he grew up believing in & for Arabella to stop being reckless & actually violent. At a certain point it just stopped working for me.

This book is by turns amusing & serious & Bonny & Peggy provide anchors for the story. The speech at the end is particularly lovely to me. But overall this romance didn’t win me over 😢.

3.5 ⭐️. Release date: 01/25.

CW: Bonny hooks up with someone else before he & Valentine begin a romantic relationship. Arabella sabotages Valentine’s curricle & shoots him later.

[ID: an ebook sits on a series of open hardbacks. A yellow flower pokes up from between two books.]
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I received an ARC from the publisher and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 
Every time I think I can’t love Alexis Hall as an author more, he releases another absolute gem of a book and conquers yet another genre or style. In the first of two ventures into historical romance this year, Something Fabulous is everything I love (and even some stuff I’m a bit critical of) in HR, with a gay twist and Hall’s signature British humor. 
The two leads are an absolute delight. Hall describes them in his GR pitch as “a overly dramatic beautiful rainbow sunshine unicorn” and “a overly dramatic demisexual grumpy duke.” While grumpy dukes aren’t typically my cup of tea, Hall’s rendition of the archetype in Valentine is brilliant. He’s very much aware of his position and responsibilities, but he’s not snobbish about it (much). I rooted for him to overcome his dedication to duty and conformity over all else, and this is perhaps one of the best renditions of that trope I’ve read. I appreciate the way it subtly touches on the issues gay men faced at the time, while retaining the generally positive, lighthearted tone and providing a believable path for Valentine to find his HEA with Bonny. 
And Bonny is sentimental and lovely, and he’s one of those characters you can’t help but immediately love. I loved his kinship with his sister Arabella, and how he was interested in what she wanted. 
The romance is so freaking fun. These two have the best banter initially, and I loved seeing them interact as they’re on this madcap chase after Arabella, with things slowly evolving from animosity due to their present situation and seemingly opposing worldviews to falling for each other. 
The supporting cast is great too. I was particularly surprised by Valentine’s mother, the former duchess. She’s so different from many stereotypical  mother characters in historicals, and was the catalyst for one of my absolute favorite moments. 
This book is so charming, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for more queer historical romance.
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