I was sent this book as advance reading/listening copies by the publisher via NetGalley/libro.fm for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way
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 twenty 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 he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: 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 has settled. 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.
It’s hard to find something more to say other than: I loved this so much! It promised to be a hilarious romcom with one of my favorite tropes (fake dating) and the execution totally did justice to the premise.
I fell deeply in love with both main characters, although we only get Luc’s POV throughout the novel. While reading or while listening to the audiobook I always had the feeling that Luc’s emotions were passing onto me by osmosis and I felt all he felt, whether he was happy or sad or a lot of things in between. I also really liked his friends and his mom in particular, and even his coworkers. I think especially his interactions with the coworkers made for some of the most hilarious scenes and I found myself laughing out loud more than once (or… more than fifteen times probably).
Despite the truly hilarious moments, that are frankly the majority, you should also expect heartfelt scenes that truly show that this is, under a really funny veil, an emotionally deep book about accepting your flaws and seeing that perhaps you’re not as broken as you thought. I really think Alexis Hall did a wonderful job at portraying a realistic protagonist in his late twenties that struggles with expectations and past trauma and the idea of himself that the world reflects back to him. Oliver’s character likewise showed more depth than initially would appear, and the two complement each other fantastically and you could feel through every page how good their were for each other.
I don’t think saying more would be doing a favor to anyone who wants to read this book for themselves, so let me just say that if you’re a romance reader who’s looking for an inclusive m/m romance this is for you, and if you don’t read a lot of romance but like to make an exception once in a while this might be the book you’re looking for.
Rep: gay men (MC and LI), gay side characters, bi side character, South Asian Muslim lesbian side character
TWs: homophobia, mentions of cancer, mild depictions and mention of eating disorder, mentions and depictions of emotional abuse (parent to child)