I have a bunch of exciting new releases to share in this post, and the best part is that they’re all queer! Keep reading to see my reviews of Alexis Hall’s new fake dating contemporary, Elia Winters’ road trip contemporary, and Olivia Waite’s latest historical romance.
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall (July 7)
Boyfriend Material, as mentioned above, is a contemporary fake dating romance, and it is delightful. Luc is the son of two famous musicians, and as such winds up in the tabloids more than he’d like. When a fall on the street gets spun as a drunken night out, the charity he works for asks him to clean up his act. He decides one of the bests ways to reform his image is by dating someone much more professional and organized than him, someone like barrister Oliver, who just so happens to need a date to an upcoming family function. While the two get off to a rocky start, they slowly evolve from fake dating to real dating, even though both of them are terrified of admitting their feelings for each other.
I wound up enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would! Obviously I was expecting to like it when I requested it; I’d seen a lot about what a hilarious romcom it was and how good it was, so I was looking forward to it. But then I started reading it, and it wasn’t particularly my thing. Luc is a mess, and while I 100 percent support publishing all of the messy protagonists, they’re not usually the types of characters I find myself drawn to. This book also has a specific type of humor that didn’t always work for me (though lots of people said they found it hilarious), and the beginning was, quite frankly, rather slow. But then Luc started to grow on me, and I came to completely love him and his budding relationship with Oliver. It was so lovely to see his character arc evolve over the course of the story.
I will say, I didn’t like that it took until the last 15 percent of the book for Luc to realize that most of his relationship with Oliver was about dealing with Luc’s problems, and not Oliver’s. And then when some of those problems are finally revealed, we don’t really get to see Oliver work through them and strengthen his relationship with Luc, either. I also felt like things were really quickly wrapped up at the end, and I wish we’d gotten more time with Luc and Oliver together after Oliver finally made a fool of himself for Luc. But I say that because I’m obsessed with these two, and I really needed more!
All in all, these two are adorable, and I love how awkward they were together at first but how they eventually came to realize how well they worked together. And I really liked how both of them kind of needed the relationship to be fake in order to be vulnerable and eventually let it become real. Oh, and this is definitely an example of fake dating that works for me! Luc is very honest about it with the people who matter most in his life, though again, I wish Oliver’s friends and family had played a role much earlier in the story. Actually, typing this out makes me realize how underdeveloped Oliver’s arc is in comparison to Luc’s, and I wonder if having alternate POVs instead of just Luc’s would have made a difference in how the story was structured and developed and made it more even? But I also enjoyed Luc’s story so much that I’m hesitant to have that altered too much! All in all, this was a really fun, engaging read, and I highly recommend it!
Rep: White gay heroes; white(?) genderqueer author.
I received an arc of Boyfriend Material from the publisher via Netgalley.
Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters (July 28)
Hairpin Curves is a beautiful former-friends-to-friends-to-lovers contemporary romance. Megan and Scarlett used to be best friends, but when Scarlett ditched Megan to go to a different college with no explanation, their friendship fell apart. Fast forward several years, and a mutual friend has invited them to her wedding, not realizing that the two of them aren’t close anymore. For their own reasons, both Megan and Scarlett want to attend the wedding, and plans evolve into an epic joint road trip. As the miles go by, the two of them not only start to repair their relationship, they realize there’s the potential for something more.
I really enjoyed this! Though I’m not particularly surprised, as I tend to like Winters’ writing. This is such a beautiful story of these two friends reconnecting after several years and slowly realizing that they want to be more than friends. It was rather melancholy and sad, as both Scarlett and Megan are unhappy with their lives and spend a lot of time discussing what went wrong with their friendship, so definitely don’t pick this up expecting a lighthearted romp. But it was such a lovely story, and I enjoyed it so much. It was also fun for me to see them stop in New York (yes, New Yorkers absolutely avoid Times Square), and I can’t tell you how much I love the fact that they got snowed in together with just one bed. One of the best tropes!
Rep: White, bisexual heroines; white bisexual polyam female author.
I received an arc of Hairpin Curves from the publisher via Netgalley.
The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite (July 28)
In The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, Agatha and Penelope cross paths when widowed Agatha needs help removing a beehive from her print works. The two seem to exist in different worlds, but find themselves unable to stay away from each other, sparking a friendship that slowly evolves into something more.
I was so looking forward to this book after how absolutely blown away I was by The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, but unfortunately I struggled to read this one. It was the slowest of slow burns — seriously, they don’t even kiss until 72 percent of the way into the book — and there just wasn’t enough tension or banter to really keep pulling me through the book, so I struggled to pick it up and stay focused. I meant to have this particular review up a week or so ago, but got held up for this one. And then I genuinely didn’t think I’d get to it for today because I struggled so much to read it. But I did wind up finishing it, and it just really wasn’t my thing. It’s beautifully written and I liked the characters and how their stories wrapped up, but I was never invested in it. It was too slow of a read for me.
Rep: White lesbian heroine, white bisexual (I think?) heroine; white bisexual female author.
I received an arc of The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows from the publisher via Edelweiss.
I’m not sure any of these books were quite what I was expecting, but I’m so glad I had a chance to pick them all up! While The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows didn’t work for me, I still can’t wait to see what Olivia Waite does next, and I really enjoyed Hairpin Curves and Boyfriend Material. All of these books are out now, so which one are you most excited to pick up first? Let me know in the comments!
*I’m new to using rep tags, so I’m still getting in the habit of paying attention while reading and looking up details about the authors (I largely pulled their info from their Twitter profiles). Please let me know if I made any errors, and I’d be happy to fix them!