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.
Boyfriend Material combined so many things I love in a romcom: fake dating, opposites-attract, and lots of banter. On paper, it should have been the perfect book for me. Unfortunately, while I mostly liked it, I didn’t love it.
One of the main reasons is that the “fake” dating was never actually fake; both characters outright admit that it feels real to both of them early on. There was no pining, no hiding feelings in case the other character doesn’t feel the same way, and the miscommunication (and subsequent breakups) felt contrived and drawn out. The final straw for me was when a new conflict was introduced in the last 10% of the novel, since it was resolved extremely quickly and unsatisfactorily, leaving a lot of loose plot threads unresolved. I do know now that there’s a sequel coming out, but for what was ostensibly a standalone romance, it didn’t provide a believable HEA.
It took a while for me to warm up to Luc, our protagonist. He’s very guarded and uses a standoffish personality to keep from getting hurt – which is understandable, given his past, but makes him come off as a bit of jerk. That being said, his arc involved a lot of character growth as he moved past his self-loathing spirals and into a more healthy headspace.
I absolutely loved Oliver, the incredibly sweet barrister who also happens to be Luc’s fake boyfriend. His rationale for needing a fake boyfriend was less believable than Luc’s, and I think readers would have benefitted from a dual POV to get some of his perspective – that way, big character changes like the one that arose in the last act of the book, wouldn’t have come as much out of left-field.
Overall, Boyfriend Material didn’t live up to my expectations. Hopefully Husband Material will address some of my issues with the story!