Author: Alexis Hall
Narrator: Joe Jameson
Audiobook Length: 13 hours 10 minutes
Luc O’Donnell is tangentially – and reluctantly – famous. His rock-star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next 20 years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.
To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and someone who has never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words, he’s perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately, apart from being gay, single, and really really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust settles. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.
But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone…start falling for them…don’t ever want to let them go.
Boyfriend Material was exactly the fun story that I was in the mood for as it featured an opposites attract fake dating love story. This is usually an entertaining troupe, but this story became a delight in my eyes as the two characters each had a lot of flaws that they had to work through. True, one has slightly more obvious ones than the other, but I loved that neither was perfect and they each had to grow to be with the other. Lately, I have read or listened to many novels where one of the characters has flaws and the other has either minor or nonexistent ones. I know this is not a unique concept, but it just happened to be something different among my other reads. I’ve heard of this novel before, so I have no idea why it took me so long to get to it, but I am very glad that I did!
The entire story is told from the point of view of the main character, Lucien (“Luc”) O’Donnell. As the child of two famous people, Luc’s life has been in and out of the spotlight. His public image is not the best and, given that he works for a charity that relies on image, Luc need to find a way to change it one step at a time. The first step is to change his dating partners from random exploits to a nice respectable boyfriend. Unfortunately, there isn’t one readily available for Luc, so a plan eventually gets devised to have a fake boyfriend. He gets set up with an attorney, Oliver Blackwood, his complete opposite.
The humorous banter that these two share is amazing and keeps the reader entertained throughout. Each have their own reasons for agreeing to a fake relationship and each of them approach it in a very logical way. If paparazzi will take pictures of Luc, then he needs to stay at Oliver’s house or have Oliver at his. They think through things together to display a certain image to the world, which I enjoyed as it gave a realistic portrayal of pulling off a fake relationship. I’m not sure how probable this scenario is in reality, but, for me, their methodical approach seemed the best way to go about it. As this is a romance novel, there is the obvious obstacle of when does a fake relationship start having real feelings and how to move forward with them. I loved that this novel stated the obvious in the beginning before the fake relationship was formed as Luc’s friends knew that Oliver may not be right for him at first glance, but he will grow on him with time and more of their true selves are revealed.
I did not begin this novel with high expectations as I have heard mixed reviews on this author. However, I will gladly give him a try if any of his other novels are like this one. Our two main characters do no suffer needless miscommunication as they are very open and honest with each other. Most of their obstacles come from their own issues that they are having a hard time moving past in order to grow and accept themselves. Their relationship faces issues that seem realistic to actual couples, which made this story relatable as there was not some crazy unrealistic situation for the characters to overcome. They each have issues that they are going through, just like everyone else in the world, and they need to work on themselves in order to prepare themselves to accept someone else into their lives.
This novel is a lot longer than the average novel in this genre. I found myself not minding the overall length, but I do with that some of the topics were reworked for different length. There are bits and pieces in the middle that I felt could have been dedicated to more time focusing on Oliver’s relationship with his family. They are interesting to say the least and Oliver has a complicated relationship with them and I felt that more time needed to be dedicated to give more depth to any development. Luc is another character with a complicated family life as he has an absentee famous father and a close relationship with his former singer mother. As the story is told from Luc’s point of view, I can see why the author would not focus as much on Oliver, but I do wish there was just a little more detail.
As I did the audiobook version, it could be that both the timing that I experienced this novel and the format factored into my enjoyment. The narrator, Joe Jameson does a fantastic job voicing the story and the characters. Oliver and Luc are the ones that kept me hooked to this story. Although I loved how supportive their friends were, they did not draw me in to care about them. As characters themselves, I was not drawn to them, but as support for the main characters, I loved them. Overall, this was an entertaining story. Some phrasings and word choices were not completely my style, but they fit the story. A very amusing opposite attract story featuring two likable characters!