Re-re-read in honor of Husband Material: Re-re-reading this book, especially after reading Husband Material, made me realize that it’s a five star book by me. While “Priya” the Muslim will never cease to exasperate me (to recap: Priya is a Hindu name, or more relevantly it’s not a kosher Muslim name because it is religious. While it does mean “beloved” it’s also a name used for a minor goddess, and as such would not be given to a practicing Muslim child. Google, my friend!) so much of this book is fantastic. These books test your patience, sort of like Mhairi McFarlane, in that there’s as much B Plot around self improvement as there is A Plot around romance. As a side benefit there is delightful C Plot around Luc’s friends, motley crew that they are.
I think, though, that reading this one again made me (unfortunately) dislike Husband Material on its own merits just a tad. While I stand by my review of a book in which characters haven’t magically solved their issues, the ease with which Boyfriend Material handles Luc and Oliver’s mental health makes the somewhat more ponderous tone of Husband Material even more plodding. A friend of mine said she couldn’t get through the book because it was just characters doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. I don’t disagree! Even here, Luc’s minor freakout through the bathroom door is cringeworthy and what-are-you-doing-worthy in the extreme, but you feel like he’s grown from the experience and trying his best. That’s really the thread that keeps this entire book together: the road to hell might be paved with good intentions, but at least the latter are there.
Re-read: wanted to read this after reading The Charm Offensive and I am very glad I did! Luc and Oliver are excellent. This book is hilarious. Bridget continues to be the best. I am glad I now have this obscure reference to a Ferrero Rocher commercial from the 90s to pull out and flabbergast people with. I cannot wait for the follow-up, Husband Material.
Original review: This book is practically DRIPPING in your standard British rom com tropes–the quirky cast of co-dependent friends, costume parties, piling into questionable automobiles to make Grand Romantic Gestures. For heavens’ sake, the Token Straight Friend’s name is Bridget and she goes by Bridge, like hello paging Helen Fielding.
I will also like to point out here that our Muslim lesbian friend is named PRIYA which, if you are South Asian, will be jarring af when it comes out (that she is Muslim, not that she is a lesbian). Because Priya is…not a Muslim name. At least, it suggests a whole history (one Hindu parent?) that might also have been relevant in a conversation about why our sapphic friend eschews pork but not alcohol. Poor copy editing! This is why representation matters.
But in any case, this is a story of a self-professed Hot Mess who agrees to a Fake Relationship for trope reasons that make so much sense (the issue is, of course, that his job cannot both be meaningless and mean so much that he needs to find a Fake Boyfriend) (but that is me being nitpicky, I know). I usually find self destructive characters to be The Most, but in this case I was charmed by Luc and intrigued with why Oliver would put up with him. I was rooting for the two, and barely noticed that this book was longer than most in its genre (that genre being, of course, romantic novels with bright block-y primary color covers) (you know what I mean).
I wish we’d spent more time addressing Oliver’s issues, but as noted this book was already pushing 400+ pages (I think). And this wasn’t his story, per se. Recommend all around!