Husband Material by Alexis Hall
(London Calling Book 2)
As excited as I was about the idea of this book, I was very much terrified about the actual real presence of it in my hands and in front of my eyeballs. You see, Boyfriend Material is one of the great loves of my life. I have read it and re-read it and listened to it countless times when I just needed…I don’t know… just needed to feel SOMETHING. Had a bad day? Pull Boyfriend Material off the shelf and let Luc’s hot-mess-express of a life give me all the giggles. Diving down an anxiety spiral? Cram earbuds into my ears and let myself get lost in this beautiful love story and Joe Jameson’s perfect voice. So, all of this is a very long-winded way of saying that I was guarding my heart when I opened to the first page of Husband Material. Luc and Oliver and Bridget and Priya and the James Royce-Royces and all of the other delightful characters are like my best friends at this point, and I desperately wanted this book to measure up to the original.
One thing to never, ever doubt? That Alexis Hall will bring it in every possible way.
I thought I could not be more in love with Luc and Oliver than I was, but as I read this second book, I discovered that I was horribly, horribly wrong. Husband Material is not just a fluffy, “oh they’re getting married now!” kind of a sequel. Instead, Hall has taken the characters we already know and has given them even more depth and dimension and some serious obstacles to overcome. Don’t get me wrong, Luc is still awkward and insecure, but he has gained a bit of maturity. Oliver is still reserved and too much in his own head, but he is now in therapy to deal with his disordered eating. Taking inspiration from Four Weddings and a Funeral, this book brings us on a journey through a series of events (each challenging in its own way) as the couple considers what’s next for their own relationship. And throughout, we are treated to as much mayhem and hilarity and heart as we have come to expect from this crew.
In the intervening years since the first book, Luc and Oliver have developed not only personally, but in their relationship as well, with slightly less of the anxiety and insecurity and angst that was so prevalent between them in Boyfriend Material. They have now grown into loving partners, supporting each other in so many little (and occasionally big) ways, even when circumstances keep them apart (and that happens a lot in this book). My one wish would have been to see more of them together in a domestic setting. Also, quick note to the author – I need more Odile. A very much large amount more of Odile. She is precisely the kind of plain-spoken, no-bullshit woman that I strive to be as I get older. And while we’re at it, can we please check in with JoJo? Because – gah! He is my favorite new character. I just want to give him a big hug and make everything lovely for him.
If you’re expecting the same mostly-lighthearted tale that Hall gave us with Boyfriend Material, understand that this book is not strictly that. In these pages we see our beloved leads battling with more complex issues, such as the commercial trappings of queer identity, and what it means to not feel represented by things like, say, a rainbow balloon arch. The most difficult part of the whole book for me was the funeral. The pain was palpable. I actually had to stop reading for a bit after the eulogy because it brought up some things in my own life that I wasn’t necessarily delighted to think about. And throughout the book, Luc and Oliver find themselves facing the age-old dilemma: I know I’m an adult, but certainly there is, I don’t know, an adultier adult somewhere? Maybe? Please? Because I cannot possibly be expected to manage all of these obstacles and worries and FEELINGS all on my own.
Throughout these pages you will laugh (a lot), you will cry (I certainly did), and you will close the book wishing that it didn’t have to end. And since Father Material was just announced as a thing that is really happening (insert all the screaming and squealing here), we know that we may now look forward to more of Oliver’s gentle, sweet-as-lemon-posset soul, and Luc’s snarky, chaotic energy. But this time with (I’m assuming??) babies! *swoon*
A quick note on the audio presentation of this book, since I was blessed to receive both a digital and an audio copy. This second book in the series is once again narrated by Joe Jameson, and he is once again a complete delight to listen to. Each of the many characters in this story has their own unique and easily-identifiable voice, thanks to Jameson’s immense talent. And you know that voice you have in your head when you’re reading a print or digital copy of a book? The one that is narrating the story for you? For me, that voice now sounds like Joe Jameson, no matter the setting or the nationality of the characters I’m reading about.
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for an ARC, and to Dreamscape Media for providing me with an ALC, in exchange for an honest review.