Narrator: Joe Jameson
Series: London Calling #1
Published by Dreamscape Media on July 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 13 hours, 11 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook
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.
I admit, it was the fabulous cover of Boyfriend Material that first caught my eye when browsing audio selections on the eLibrary; almost like a London travel advert. Boyfriend Material, an LGBTQ+ romance, is the first installment in the London Calling series by Alexis Hall. At first glance, it appeared to be a clever take on the Fake Dating trope. However, it is the engaging characters and witty dialogue that really make this book standout.
Being famous-adjacent is the bane of Luc O’Donnell’s life. The tabloid interest in his life has been at the root of his crappy attitude and distrust of any potential romantic partners. He calls himself a “cagey, grumpy, paranoid mess who would find a way to ruin even the most basic human interaction.” While I usually find the emo-jerk character tedious, it is his social commentary and self-deprecating remarks that had me laughing out loud. A LOT. As expected, the attitude was just a mask for his insecurities and self-hatred. As the story continued, it was clear there was more to Luc and I desperately wanted him to get a HEA.
Oliver Blackwood, on the other hand, is my kind of hero. I am a sucker for the Mr. Darcy type and he ticks off all the boxes. He might not have the same level of meltdowns as Luc, but the author did a good job of imbuing him with culturally relevant insecurities. Of course, all he needs is a partner who can bring out his lighter, less-serious side and who cares for him regardless (or in spite off) of his success or family connections.
“I knew how to make him angry and how to make him laugh, and I hoped I could make him happy.”
The author doesn’t skimp on the self-hate Luc feels, but she also does a great job of growing him up and owning his happiness. But the love a good man certainly helps him along this journey towards loving himself. Oliver re-affirms that Luc deserves to be happy and deserves love as much as the next person; “You’re more than a bonus, Lucien. You’re Integral.” The best part about the fake dating trope is that moment when the feels get real. The story is told from Luc’s perspective, and it is obvious to everyone, except Luc, how Oliver feels. I suppose that is half the fun.
I loved the rom-com aspect of Boyfriend Material. I thought both characters were hilarious and expected the laugh out loud bits. It was the breathlessly romantic moments and sharing of sweet sentiments that were more surprising. This is definitely more of a ‘clean’ romance, although there is an abundance of raunchy talk. The lack of actual sex in the book doesn’t preclude lack of intimate moments between the main characters and I appreciated how the author was able to amplify the intimacy through vulnerability.
“These weren’t just yeah whatever kisses …They were everything I thought I could never have, everything I’d been pretending I never wanted, telling me that I was worth it, that he’d be there for me and put up with me and wouldn’t let me drive him away”
Two unhappy, people looking to make a love connection; it is a universal theme in romance that keeps readers coming back for more. Of course if they do this while pretending to date for some convoluted reason, what’s not to love? Boyfriend Material serves up a poignant love story with a lot of laughs.
I loved the narration for this book. Joe Jameson performed Luc’s voice exactly as I would have imagined him speaking. I found it easy to distinguish between the different characters and the pacing was perfect for me while listening at 1.25x.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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