Boyfriend Material

Alexis Hall's Boyfriend Material is the sort of romantic comedy that would translate well to film, but achieves a level of depth, intimacy and character development not possible within the constraints of that medium. Hall (Pansies) pairs Luc, the tabloid-fodder son of aging rock stars, with Oliver, an uptight barrister, when each needs a fake boyfriend for a few weeks. Luc needs to rehab his image for his development work for a dung beetle nonprofit, and Oliver needs a date for his parents' anniversary party. A mutual friend sets them up, despite their disastrous meeting a couple of years earlier.

So begins a series of awkward dates, joke-filled text exchanges and mini-breakdowns as Luc sorts out his trust and intimacy problems. Hall deftly balances heavier plot points such as the reappearance of Luc's absentee father and Luc's past disastrous relationship with abundant humor. This is a deeply funny book, especially for fans of situational and British humor, but it's also a love story so endearing and believable that readers will alternate among laughing, grimacing at Luc's self-sabotage and sighing happily.

Both men have complicated histories with relationships, so while they are physically intimate with each other fairly early on, it takes longer to build a foundation of trust and love. Boyfriend Material's very few sex scenes fade to black and Hall emphasizes emotional connection and vulnerability.

This novel is as funny as it is romantic, making it the perfect book for readers who need a pick-me-up. --Suzanne Krohn, editor, Love in Panels

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