Here’s the TLDR version of my review: I liked Boyfriend Material so much that as soon as I finished, I pre-ordered a paperback copy, and I intend to get the Audible edition too. In the interest of full disclosure, I pre-ordered the Kindle edition back in December, but buying all three versions of a book is a rarity for me and something I only do for my most favorite books.
If you want an actual review, here you go:
Luc O’Donnell is a bit of a hot mess. He’s always been vaguely famous because his parents are famous, but now that his estranged rock star dad is back in the spotlight, that means there’s more of an interest in what Luc is doing.
And that’s a problem because, as I said, Luc is a bit of a hot mess. He needs a boyfriend to help give him the appearance of normalcy. His friend sets him up with Oliver, who is super super normal and the complete opposite of a hot mess.
Fortunately for Luc, Oliver also needs a boyfriend to take to a big event, so they agree to be fake boyfriends until both of their big events are over, and then they’ll “break up” and go their separate ways.
But OMG, guess what? Over the course of pretending to be fake boyfriends, Luc begins to develop real feelings, and maybe—just maybe—Oliver might feel the same way, which is completely ridiculous because they have almost nothing in common other than being gay.
Romances tend to be dual-perspective, but in Boyfriend Material, the story unfolds from only Luc’s first-person perspective. Hall does this a lot with his romances, and this device always works to strengthen the narrative. Knowing what the love interest is thinking would take away from some of the mystery; the reader only knows what the protagonist knows.
In this specific instance, it works out especially well because Luc is super funny and Oliver is boring. I don’t mean that in a negative sense—I absolutely love Oliver—but he has his life together and his life is a series of predictable routines, until Luc comes along, of course. I think having Oliver’s perspective would make him seem like less of the Ideal that he’s presented as being,
On that note, there’s some interesting discourse on Good Gay vs. Bad Gay. It’s kind of like Goofus and Gallant from Highlights Magazine: Good Gays work as barristers and Bad Gays are photographed drunk in the gutter. To be more specific, Oliver’s homosexuality is tolerated more by society because he blends in and doesn’t do anything scandalous, whereas Luc is Scandal Personified and a cause for concern for the donors to the charitable organization he works at.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this book employs the “sunshine vs grump” trope because Luc has too much baggage to be a sunshine, although he is a lot of fun and I loved his sense of humor. Oliver, however, is definitely a bit of a grump, so it was simply delightful seeing these two opposites being forced to work together.
Hall always does such a good job with secondary characters, and this book is no exception. From Luc’s French mum who has developed an affinity for Drag Race to Luc’s frightfully dim ex-public schoolboy Alex Twaddle, the secondary characters not only served as excellent foils for giving the reader insight into Luc’s personality, but they also stood well on their own, even when they weren’t interacting with Luc.
I would absolutely recommend Boyfriend Material. I love all of Hall’s books, but this is probably one of my most favorites. As I mentioned at the beginning, I will soon be the proud owner of three different versions of the same book, and if that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is.
I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks Casablanca/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.