Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

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.

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The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

I loved The Royal We, so I was very excited to find out there was going to be a sequel and even more excited to receive an ARC of The Heir Affair.

NB: If Royal Family alt-history interests you, but you have not read The Royal We, I suggest you proceed with caution because it’s almost impossible to properly discuss The Heir Affair without mentioning key details from The Royal We.

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Camp by L.C. Rosen

I want to begin this review by saying that I have been looking forward to this book since it was announced because I’ve spent seven summers at camp as a camper/counselor and now my oldest goes away to camp too. With summer camp being cancelled for the year, I was looking forward to a camp story even more.

Randy has been going to Camp Outland for queer teens for years, but he wants things to be different: Randy wants to catch the attention of Hudson, a fellow camper, but Hudson only likes straight-acting guys, and that’s not Randy. But it could be, right? Randy spent the entire school year formulating a plan, and he shows up at camp as “Del”, who is totally not into nail polish and musicals and all the things that Randy likes.

And the plan works! Hudson notices Del right away and he doesn’t even realize that Del is the same kid he’s been going to camp with for four years, but as the summer progresses, Randy is spending all his time playing sports and doing ropes course challenges instead of being in the musical with his friends, and he begins to wonder if all the sacrifices he’s making are worth it.

As a veteran camper, I remember the intensity of summer romances, so I can empathize with Randy’s pining for Hudson, but he’s changing his entire personality for another boy and missing out on all the things that he loves—and more importantly, by doing this, he’s not being true to himself. That said, I truly understand why he would want to do something that drastic.

Camp provides an interesting retrospective on masc4masc culture, and how the attitude is already evident among 16-year-old kids. The campers might all have a place on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, but there’s already a division among the returning campers; they choose to live in separate bunks, they sit at different dining tables, and they don’t even interact at group activities. However, Randy chooses to live in the “drama cabin” with this theatre friends, so some of the sporty kids end up sitting with the drama kids, and this leads to new friendships.

In Rosen’s book Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts), he used the advice column medium to impart a lot of useful sex-ed information to the readers. In Camp, he uses a weekly camp program to share queer history with the readers. I love the way that both of these devices were blended seamlessly into the narrative.

I would absolutely recommend Camp. It captures the magic of camp perfectly. Randy is such a sweetheart, and he certainly learns a lot over the course of the book. I am already looking forward to Rosen’s next book.

Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera

Dominican-American Desta Walker has finally returned to Ethiopia, where his family lived for a few years when he was a small boy, and later, where his father died.

He meets Elias through his job, and the two hit it off right away. But being gay is still criminalized, so any sort of relationship has to be clandestine.

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Just Like That by Cole McCade

Book Info:

Title: Just Like That

Author: Cole McCade

Series: Albin Academy, #1

Length: 320 pages

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)

On-Sale: June 30, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback *ebook and audio formats also available!

Price: $14.99 U.S. 

ISBN: 9781335146458

Book Description: Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to Omen, Massachusetts.

But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable.

Professor Fox Iseya

Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal.

Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb…until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life.

Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap.

To find the love they’ve always needed…

Just like that.

In Just Like That, critically acclaimed author Cole McCade introduces us to Albin Academy: a private boys’ school where some of the world’s richest families send their problem children to learn discipline and maturity, out of the public eye.

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Axel’s Pup by Kim Dare

I first heard about Axel’s Pup when my Twitter friend Holly mentioned it, rather fittingly, in a tweet about Best Books No One Knows About. I looked it up, saw that it was available via Audible Escape, and downloaded it immediately.

Almost as soon as I finished listening to all 20 hours and 40 minutes, I went back and purchased the Kindle edition of Axel’s Pup and my own copy of the audiobook.

Axel is the leader of the Black Dragons Motorcycle Club and he also owns the Dragon’s Lair pub where he and his friends spend most of their time. The Dragon’s Lair also serves as a BDSM for the queer community.

Needless to say, Axel is surprised when clean-cut young Bayden shows up on an expensive motorcycle. He dismisses the boy as a rich kid. But of course, appearances are deceiving.

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Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

I have always loved watching Olympic gymnastics, so I was excited about this book. It’s a little bittersweet, in that the Tokyo Olympics actually take place in 2020 as scheduled, but with the way publishing works, I’m sure this isn’t the only book set in 2020 that makes no mention of the pandemic and/or the postponement of the Games.

Avery Abrams spent most of her life training to be an Olympic gymnast, but a poor showing at the 2012 Trials ended that goal. The next decade was a series of ups and downs that ends with her football player boyfriend (think TB12 circa 2004) dumping her.

Avery moves back to her small town in Massachusetts and gets a job at her hometown gym, working alongside Ryan Nicholson, who she totally had a crush on back in the day. They’re both training Hallie, a sixteen year old gymnast who has Olympic dreams of her own.

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A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

When emails from an African prince show up in Naledi’s inbox, she dismisses them as a scam. Little does she know—not only are the emails are genuine, but she is Prince Thabiso’s long-lost fiancée.

At first, Prince Thabiso isn’t impressed that the woman he has been engaged to since childhood doesn’t recognize him, but he quickly sees the potential benefits. Everybody always fawns over him because he’s a prince, but Ledi treats him like a regular guy.

So he decides not to tell her that he’s a prince. Or that they’re engaged.

But the truth always comes out eventually.

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Pansies by Alexis Hall

I first discovered Alexis Hall’s books in December 2018, and spent the next month reading his entire back catalog, including Pansies. A couple of months ago, the audiobook for Pansies came out, so I dove right back into the story.

Alfie grew up as a local lad in South Shields, but left his hometown for university and a high-powered financial career in London. He also realized that he was gay during this interim, something that surprised his family and friends since he had always been such a stereotypical lad.

Don’t worry: we’ll begin to address the culture of toxic masculinity later, as it plays a prevalent theme in the book.

Anyway, Alfie is back in town for a wedding, and meets Fen at a pub. After they hook up, Fen reveals that they went to high school together, and Alfie used to bully him, and he’s appalled that Alfie didn’t even recognize him.

And that’s when Alfie realizes that he feels a genuine connection with Fen, and he needs to make amends for all the things he did as a boy, and prove to Fen that he’s not the same person that he was in high school.

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Again Again by e. lockhart

Adelaide Buchwald is a “fac brat” (child of a faculty member) at a boarding school. She has just broken up with her boyfriend and is spending the summer walking dogs, and she is going to spend her summer walking dogs. On her third day at the park, she meets a boy.

The narrative splits into three different possibilities (accentuated by bold text) of how the conversation could proceed, before the real possibility plays out.

To say much more would be delving into spoiler territory, but needless to say, this is a summer where anything can happen. This book is so much more than the classic tale of “girl meets boy”.

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