Take me back to London Town
Finishing a book is bittersweet. On one hand there is usually significant resolution because you’ve come to the end, but on the other hand you’ve spent a great deal of time watching these characters develop and grow through their journey, only to come to a hard and fast stop. Having a sequel allows for that window that was firmly shut to open once again and allow you to visit with people you’ve come to care about in some small measure.
Alexis Hall brings readers back to London with his new novel “Husband Material”, which checks back in with Luc and Oliver, who are two years into their relationship and seemingly in domestic bliss. After growing attached to Luc’s hits-too-close-to-home self deprecating humor and Oliver’s steadfast demeanor, being able to linger in their world again felt like a treat.
‘Oh, this is nice,‘ I told him. ‘It reminds me of when we were first going out and I didn’t like you.’ And it was a testament to how far we’d come that I could say something like that and he’d laugh. And Oliver laughing in a special-occasion suit was a very good Oliver indeed.
“Husband Material” is very much character driven. Most of the novel circles around Luc and Oliver and how they engage socially with others while navigating taking their own ‘next steps’. Hopefully you can manage expectations well enough to enjoy the characters’ return to the page without needing a huge overarching plotline, because there isn’t much of one.
I really enjoyed reading the first half of this book because I was able to see Luc and Oliver, who I fell head over heels for in “Boyfriend Material”. Two years later they are still together, in a good place, and are settling down with each other, acknowledging each other’s warts and all. I realized halfway through, though, that there wasn’t as much character development off the page as I’d initially hoped for, and they didn’t grow during “Husband Material” either.
See, this was the problem with trying to be a better human being to impress your boyfriend. You ended up having to be a better human to everybody.
Luc is still self-deprecating, but it’s not as funny this time around. He’s insecure and self-sabotaging. Oliver is exceptionally anxious, even though he hides it better than Luc, and he hasn’t really worked out much of his family issues or reconciled being gay with being part of the gay community. To summarize, the same issues that plagued these characters in book 1 are still lingering in book 2, except they’re really together not just fake-dating together.
To be frank, “Husband Material” isn’t the novel that I was hoping it would be. I’m rating it 2.5 stars, bee-cause while it wasn’t everything that I hoped it would be, I still enjoyed experiencing Luc and Oliver’s banter again on the page. These two really do get into some fun shenanigans, and they have some interesting conversations. Luc’s internal monologue and commentary specifically reminds me of hearing my best friends tell a story over drinks. I hope that there will be more of them in Hall’s future London Calling novels, even as secondary characters, because they deserve more love.
I’m Val, and I’m excited to share my love of books with you! I’m a sassy Sour Patch kid from New Jersey, dog mom to Chance the beagle, and much like the rest of the Hive, I’m a coffee lover (I think it’s a requirement to be here). The first book I remember reading voluntarily involved a boy wizard who lived in the cupboard under the stairs, and I’ve been chasing magic ever since. I love Happily Ever Afters, and I love love. My favorite genres are romance and rom-coms, fantasy, and young adult/new adult. If I’m not reading, I’m probably kayaking, watching the Great British Baking Show, or discovering a new craft beer.