Cover Image: Something Fabulous

Something Fabulous

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I greatly enjoyed this book. Like many other readers who have left reviews here, I loved the unabashed fun and exuberant queerness of the world the author has created. Both of these make Something Fabulous an engaging read for those who otherwise might not enjoy regency romance, a subgenre that many publishers have not historically done enough to diversify. For that reason alone, this book is a welcome addition. 

For more avid readers of historicals (of which I consider myself one), this book still has a lot to offer, including a great deal to think about, for such a lighthearted romp. It's an ode to common tropes of the genre, but looks at each one of them with a fresh angle: sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, sometimes both. 

I get the sense that Belle might be a challenging character to many readers, and I can see why. However, I loved her. A lot. I think her presence in the book asks readers to take seriously the ramifications of forcing young women into marriages they don't want - a common regency romance plot device. Without ever seeming like she doesn't belong in the madcap universe of this story, Belle also read like a provocative invitation to take regency women's supposed "hysteria" seriously, and to see it for what it often was: a desperate and deeply understandable revolt against social disempowerment. Something Fabulous is a fun book, but it's a smart one too.
Was this review helpful?
Alexis Hall calls this book “ridiculous,” which is an absolutely 100% accurate description. It’s also a terrific read and loads of fun.

There’s lots to love about this book. It’s exuberantly queer, with gay, lesbian, nonbinary, and demisexual characters; cishet people might almost not exist in its world. As you might expect from a book described as ridiculous, the story is very funny, with comical scenes and witty banter. Just when it seems like complete fluff, however, the author will produce some wonderful prose to remind you what an excellent writer he is, like this bit when Valentine admits to Bonny that he’s never been kissed before: “The words first kiss hung a moment in the still air. Then broke like a flock of sparrows and were gone.”

The romance between Valentine and Bonny is lovely. For all the general silliness, Valentine’s journey to understanding his own demisexuality as he falls for Bonny has emotional depth. Already isolated by his rank, Valentine is also aware that he’s not quite like other men in terms of his feelings and desires, which has caused him to withdraw from the world in the belief that love and passion are not for him. Bonny is the catalyst who helps Valentine appreciate that while he may be different, he’s not broken. They share some extremely sweet moments as Bonny guides Valentine through experiencing love and lust for the first time. (Also, the way Bonny calls Valentine “flower” throughout the novel is simply adorable)

As much as I enjoyed the book, however, I did find myself longing for the story to be a little more real and a little less over the top in some respects. The most egregious example of excess involves Bonny’s sister Belle, who acts like Marianne Dashwood from Austen’s Sense and Sensibility on steroids. Belle finds her life boring, so she prefers dramatic pretense to humdrum reality. When Valentine asks her to marry him, Belle assumes the role of a Gothic heroine, with Valentine cast as the villain of the piece. Her insistence on treating Valentine as villainous quickly became more annoying than funny to me, especially when every other character indulges her in her histrionics even when she’s clearly going too far. I might have been able to empathize with Belle’s desire not to be forced into a marriage she didn’t want if she was written more like a real person than a melodramatic ninny. As it was, though, I just found her mostly intolerable.

I may have some quibbles with it, but I think readers who are in the mood for a historical romance that is often silly and occasionally absurd will probably love this novel.

A copy of this book was provided through NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
This is a book that has the humor you would expect from Alexis Hall, and a bit more. It's fun, silly, and filled with characters that will have dying of laughter. Though there was the whole mess surrounding the sister and I think that's where it detracts from the book. Or at least, the glaring one. 

I'd say this is still a book that will be enjoyable on that day you just need a wild ride of a book.
Was this review helpful?
There is something uniquely incredible about queer historical romance. Alexis Hall is my favourite romance author, and this absolutely stood up to their other work. Hall has an amazing capability to make my heart ache in fondness for tender and sensitive characters as well as make me laugh out loud at their antics. This book will be loved by all fans of romance, historical or not, and made me unbelievably happy,
Was this review helpful?
Saying this book was something fabolous sounds cheezy, but it's true! This book is phenomenal.

Me, who doesn't like historical romance, meets this book which is indeed, historical romance. Perfect match?! Yes. 

Loved everything about it, but the best thing is the Alexis Hall magic over this story. The snark and innocent hotness between the characters. Funny scenes with bees, fear of spiders, wearing a gardener's coat while you're a duke - come on! A duke! How dare, LOL.

Bonny was the pure sunshine of the story and I loved how positive and hilarious he was. Loved his obsession about being a twin and having a twin sister. Loved how adventorous he was and straightforward with everything. Let's be clear, Valentine hadn's stood a chance against him, it was a lost battle from the very beginning, haha.

Valentine. Oh sweet, sweet flower. I know that Bonny is the sunshiny unicorn of the story, but I fell hard for Valentine. Probably because I connected with him at the start. If that's not a hell yes answer to my demisexuality question, I don't know what is. So thank you Alexis for creating Valentine and writing him the way he is, becuase he is perfect. Perfectly imperfect and crazy and I love him.

This book is extraordinary. One of my favorite read (last year). I probably will buy it in paperback too, because I need it on my shelf.

Loved the book and HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. I didn't know a book could be this perfect. 

Alexis Hall did it again. 

Was this review helpful?
I dnf’ed this pretty quickly because this writing style is reallllllly not my thing at all and made it difficult to enjoy the story. i’m still giving it a neutral 3 stars because I love Alexis Hall and will support anything they write but this one sadly didn’t work for me personally
Was this review helpful?
Thank you @montlake for a copy of this fun historical romance. This was a fun m/m romance between Bonny and Valentine. I loved the adventure of catching up to Arabella before she makes it to Dover to depart to America. 

Arabella’s disappearance got a bit repetitive and I got tired of her behaving so selfishly and not really talk things through. 

Overall, a fun read.
Was this review helpful?
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.

Grade: B+ /4.5 stars
Was this review helpful?
I’m a relatively new fan of Alexis Hall’s, having read and loved two of his most recent novels, Boyfriend Material and Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake.  He has such a knack for creating lovable characters and putting them in hilarious predicaments that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his latest book, Something Fabulous. Something Fabulous is a Regency romance but it’s not like any Regency romance I’ve ever read.  I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so hard while reading a book. On Goodreads, Hall describes the book as such: “It’s a big gay regency romp about an overly dramatic beautiful rainbow sunshine unicorn and an overly dramatic demisexual grumpy duke, going on a cross-country chase.”  That description is spot-on and I can’t improve upon it.

I’m all about a good grumpy-sunshine romance so I was enamored with the two main characters as soon as they were introduced. Valentine Layton is an ultra-reserved Duke who is intent on doing his duty at all costs, even if it means marrying Arabella Tarleton, a woman he really has no romantic interest in, just to carry out his father’s wishes.  Valentine comes across as a stuffed shirt who could really use a good roll in the hay, and it becomes obvious early on that it’s not Arabella who gets under Valentine’s skin, it’s her twin brother, Bonaventure or “Bonny,” who is just as much of a ray of sunshine as his nickname makes him sound and who pretty obviously has a massive crush on Valentine.  Valentine initially thinks Bonny is a pain in the rear but the two of them are forced to work together to find Arabella, who is so repulsed by the idea of a marriage of convenience with a man she doesn’t love, she runs away in the middle of the night.

I don’t want to spoil what happens when Bonny and Valentine embark on this cross-country chase, but let me just tell you, hilarity ensues. Basically, they’re one step behind Arabella throughout the chase and she plants outrageous lies about Valentine everywhere she has been, so that trouble is waiting for him every time he stops somewhere she stopped and inquires about her. There were a couple of times I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes.

There are also some tender moments and some super steamy ones as Bonny and Valentine finally start to acknowledge their feelings for one another.  I loved watching the two of them grow closer.  The banter is still there so most of these scenes are still quite funny, but they’re also pretty touching as well. There are also a few more serious moments as Valentine reflects on his own sexuality, what is socially expected of a man in his position versus what he realizes he actually wants for his life.

Something Fabulous is not exactly what I was expecting going in, but I still thought it was a very entertaining read.  The humor is silly and over the top at times, think Monty Python or The Princess Bride when you start reading and you’ll have a pretty good feel for the overall tone of the book. If you’re looking for a read that is pure escapism in its silliest form, grab yourself a copy of Something Fabulous.
Was this review helpful?
This might be the most wonderfully ridiculous book I have ever read.  I love that Alexis Hall, an already favorite author of mine, has written what he has called a "gay regency romp".  Y'all...this book is a ride.  It is the epitome of grumpy sunshine featuring a very serious duke and the most sunshiney, glittery twin of the women that said duke is meant to marry.  When Valentine's betrothed, Arabelle, runs away, he finds himself on an epic road trip with Arabelle's twin brother, Bonny.  There are carriage chases, kidnappings (of a sort), skinny dipping sessions, only one bed, duels and parlor games.  The wit and banter is perfection.  I absolutely could not stop laughing at any point.  And yet, the love story between Valentine and Bonny is so achingly beautiful as Valentine learns what it is to be himself and that the person he truly is is lovable.  The romance between these two is hot and steamy and the acceptance found within these pages is immensely heartwarming.  I just loved so much about this one.   It is a sure slump buster and a book that can't help but cheer you up.
Was this review helpful?
This is so gloriously queer and ridiculous that it's an absolute joy to read / listen to. I found myself laughing out loud and multiple times in the audio is incredibly well done.

So this one is about to Valentine who is a Duke and he is supposed to marry Arabella. Except he doesn't really want to marry her and he doesn't think that he wants to marry anyone. He's never been attracted to people and doesn't see marriage or romance in his future. When his less than enthusiastic proposal to Arabella goes awry and she takes off and runs away, Valentine and arabella's twin brother Bonny, set off after her. What follows is a regency romp. It's campy and hilarious and full of a lot of Valentine not knowing what's going on. I adored it.

About the queer rep, Valentine is demiromantic and demisexual, Bonny is gay, Arabella is queer in some form, I am fully convinced that she is somewhere on the aromantic spectrum. Arabella's best friend Peggy is also queer and potentially bigender or genderqueer or gender fluid. Obviously since this is a historical romance no labels are actually used on page so this is all going off of all of the hints in the wording that they use. There are also secondary gay and queer characters and a secondary lesbian couple. It is gloriously queer like I said at the beginning.

I really felt for Valentine in this book. He has had no exposure to any sort of alternative types of romance. He is convinced that he has to marry Arabella to make his father proud and even though he doesn't understand why and that he doesn't want to, he is willing to do it for his reputation or whatever. Really getting to know Bonny better and Bonny in all of his unapologetic gayness, really opens Valentine's eyes to the fact that there are other types of relationships out there. He doesn't understand what's happening when he starts to develop some feelings and he has a couple emotional breakdowns that absolutely gave this book life and made me sappy.

I can't recommend this book enough.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely loved parts of this book. Other parts felt like pulling teeth to read. The author has described it as ridiculous, and that seems right. It’s over the top, dramatic, and hilarious at times. It’s a perfect escape when you’re in the mood for that. 

I did love seeing Valentine become aware of his identity and how deserving he is of happiness, and seeing Bonny love him through that journey of self discovery was really tender and precious. I wanted way less drama with Belle and Peggy and more development between Bonny and Valentine. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Montlake for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Gloriously sweet, funny, sexy and queer Regency romp about a runaway would-be fiancée/ drama queen pursued cross country by her true romantic twin brother and the very awkward and confused duke she was betrothed to at an early age. Of course the drama queen and the Duke are a match made in hell, but dutiful son that he is he can’t quite come to terms with that reality or the fact that he adores and would much rather shag her brother. That’s just the tip of it. In addition to razor sharp characterization and very frank exploration of sexuality, there’s some truly beautiful writing in this absurd yet poignant novel. For example this masterfully rendered moment:

this time, as the laughter broke free of his lips, it brought no tears with it. Instead, it came as easily as butterflies—and spiralled, jewel-winged, into the clear sky.

And this scene setting beauty of a paragraph:

It had only been a few weeks, but summer had laid its claim upon the world: gilded all the grass and crowned the trees with gold. The days, too, were golden things: slivers of silver mornings and soft indigo nights wrapped around sun-drenched afternoons that lingered forever beneath skies as blue as porcelain.

Was this review helpful?
he ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Something Fabulous is a queer Regency novel that follows the adventures of Valentine, the Duke of Malvern, who feels obliged to marry Arabella “Belle” Tarleton because that was his late father’s wish. Arabella strongly believes in romantic love; therefore, a marriage of convenience is certainly not what she hopes for. That’s why she decides to escape. Her twin brother, Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, and Valentine will go on an adventure together to follow her and return her home. During this chase, Valentine will learn to deal with and accept his feelings.
What intrigued me the most about this novel was definitely its setting. I love reading about the regency era, especially when it comes to historical romances that include LGBTQ+ characters and stories.
What I couldn't enjoy was the character of Arabella, who was definitely too dramatic and theatrical all the time, and even though, sometimes, she had her reasons, she kept on doing things for the sake of doing them and to create drama when she could just have listened to the other people’s explanations instead. Moreover, I couldn’t really appreciate the humor used in this novel. I get that it was used to create this sort of light, fun, and theatrical entertainment, but it was a bit too much for my tastes. So, this is why at times I couldn’t enjoy the reading fully. Nevertheless, I think this is a very subjective opinion and that many other readers might recognize it as the top-notch of the novel.
Was this review helpful?
Something Fabulous is an amusing regency romp. Bonny is the epitome of sunshine. He's absolutely unapologetically himself at all times. I love that about him. Valentine is a little ok, a lot harder for me to like. He's so abrasive and self-important at the start. Watching him slowly recognize his feelings is so satisfying and heartwarming. Overall this is a really fun, dramatic but fluffy, witty read, with some really good dry humor. It's regency, grump falls for sunshine, there's only one bed, and so much more. Definitely recommend.
Was this review helpful?
Something Fabulous is a sheer delight of a romance novel. It’s a dramatic, gay, fluffy, joyous book that I enjoyed so much I have already re-read the first quarter before even starting this review. 

At the beginning of Something Fabulous, Valentine proposes to Belle, who adamantly does not want to marry him. She runs off in the middle of the night (as one does in a Regency romance), and Valentine and Bonny, Belle’s twin brother, go after her. Needless to say, hijinks ensue (aka my favorite kind of book) as Valentine and Bonny spend time together on the road. Most of the actual action in the book is the chasing after Belle road trip, but as that is happening, Valentine is having some serious revelations about himself. Per this tweet from Hall, Valentine is a demisexual and him realizing he might have feelings of the romantic and sexual sort for another person is a large part of the story arc. 

Something Fabulous does not want for tropes. We’ve got a grumpy/sunshine pairing (Valentine being the grump, Bonny the sunshine), an inn with only one room with (gasp!) only one bed, and the whole falling for the wrong twin situation. All of this, plus the road trip, is a wonderfully fun combination with non-stop action.

Another thing of note is that this book has the most queer people I have ever seen in a historical romance. I’m fairly certain there were only maybe three straight characters who were barely on the page at all. It was so great seeing that kind of representation of both a variety of identities as well as different relationship pairings. 

My single complaint was that for most of the book, I didn’t understand the vehemence Belle demonstrated in not wanting to marry Valentine. Her side of the story isn’t clear until the end, and it’s a bit frustrating, because though her actions are obviously the impetus for the events of the book, sometimes they are over the top. 

Something Fabulous gives me Band Sinister by KJ Charles combined with The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean vibes. The banter is stellar (I highlighted 42 passages, which I think is a record for me) and the characters are amazing. I highly recommend picking this one up if you like historical romance (or even if you don’t). 

Content notes: Gunshot violence
Was this review helpful?
This book is so freaking ridiculous and over the top and I adored it. I don't even know what else to say.
I think I might have highlighted more passages in this book than I did in all the books I read in 2021 combined. It would have probably been easier to just highlight the entire book.
I laughed out loud so many times, this book made me so happy. 
I loved all the quirky characters who made this story go 'round.
For as silly and wacky and hilarious as this story was, there were also some really tender moments between Valentine and Bonny. And some great moments of self-discovery for Valentine. He was completely clueless about certain things and it was so entertaining to see him work things out in his head. 
I don't know, I just loved this book so much.
Was this review helpful?
Hilarious, ridiculous, ostentatious, fabulous. 

I adored this book. It had me laughing or grinning so much my face hurt the entire time. It's cheesy and trope-y and soft and witty and did queer historical romance with all the camp I could have ever wanted. The characters are all overdone and absolutely beyond lovable. There's a gorgeous sunshine/grumpy thing going on the entire time that's entirely too perfect and ONLY ONE BED oh no! 

I also loved all the rep in the book. Our MCs are a gay man and a possibly demisexual/bisexual/pansexual man? The latter isn't really said but Valentine is just learning everything about himself and talks earnestly about never having sexual attraction in the past for people he hadn't gotten to know. I love ace rep in books and I think I'm seeing it more and more! We also have sapphic lovers who are almost married, a genderfluid/nonbinary character, a potentially bi/pan woman and so so many others along the way. 

I think the best way to describe this book is as a romp and I adored it so much I can't stand it. I would recommend it to anyone who loves romcoms, tropes in their romance, queer romance, historical romance. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Montlake for my ARC!
Was this review helpful?
Silliness and camptastic
A romp across the country
Irritation to more

Stow your serious side as you enter into Something Fabulous. It's silly but endearingly entertaining all the same. It had shades of the ridiculous but again, you tolerate it for the ride. These two characters, a lesson in rubbing one another up the wrong way were such polar opposites.

Valentine was the pompous Duke who seemed to have little insight into his own sexual preferences, desires and he had no idea how others perceived him. Self awareness was not his forte and was his early downfall in the marriage stakes. Bonny was all contrast, overtly aware of who he was, what he liked and he seemed to like Valentine.

Their banter seemed to multiply exponentially which sometimes proved a bit much for my tastes but overall, I had plenty of laughs along with these two. I did not have laughs with Belle, Bonny's sister however. Reading this I would go from snickers to annoyance in a few pages and that dragged my enjoyment down. It took me a while to read this one and I'm blaming Belle in the background and foreground!

Thank you to the publisher through netgalley for an early review copy.
Was this review helpful?
I really wasn't sure where this story would go. Regency stories are in a class by themselves and with something so "taboo" in those days, I wondered how Alexis Hall would handle it. I really enjoyed the story although at times almost cheesy, it had me grinning from the beginning with all the characters having wonderful quirks that made you just fall in love. Bonny is an absolute favorite. He is someone i would love to just spend time with in "my time" as well. But all the characters, even the PIA Arabelle had their charms and the book was an interesting, easy read. Alexis Hall has a great mastery over the language of the times and many of the interesting finds (bedroom drawer) gave me serious fits of giggles. A great story in an unusual time period.
Was this review helpful?