Husband Material by Alexis Hall
London Calling #2
LGBT Contemporary Romance
Published August 2, 2022, by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Reviewed by Kate
I’ll admit to being a little wary about Husband Material, being that it is the sequel to Boyfriend Material, which in my opinion is a self-contained romance novel. Husband Material doesn’t feel like what one might expect from a romance novel, but it is still strongly focused on the relationship arc of the characters and ends with a happily ever after.
Husband Material follows Luc and Oliver as they navigate being a couple surrounded by friends getting married and dramatic family dynamics. There’s a lot of heavy material in this book, as Luc and Oliver clash on self-expression, feeling like part of the LGBTQ+ community, and how family mindsets really can mess you up. One of the aspects of this book that was so fascinating to me was that in a “typical” romance novel, you generally have two characters who are not together and you spend the book wondering how they’re going to get together in the end, but in Husband Material, we have two characters who are already together, and I spent the book wondering how they were going to manage to not break up at the end.
If Boyfriend Material was more Luc working out his issues, it felt like Husband Material definitely leans toward Oliver working out his issues. It’s interesting because the book is told completely from Luc’s perspective, but I still feel that the reader gets enough insight from Oliver’s conversations with Luc that you can really feel how Oliver is struggling. And if Boyfriend Material is about starting a relationship, Husband Material is about keeping that relationship, and how it isn’t always easy, but definitely worth it.
However, even though Husband Material tackles some pretty weighty topics, that doesn’t stop it from being absolutely laugh out loud funny at times. I envy the way Hall can put together a conversation between the characters – the back and forth of the dialogue is so smooth and readable. I loved getting to immerse myself back in Luc and Oliver’s world, with their friends and family. I do recommend that if you haven’t read Boyfriend Material yet, I would read that first. Though I think Husband Material could mostly stand-alone, I don’t know that it would be as enjoyable without having read Boyfriend Material.
I really enjoyed Husband Material. It’s a delightful read that manages to humorously show how two people can be together while they are still growing and changing. While I love reading about the new relationships that most romance novels depict, Husband Material tackled the actual day to day relationship, where you don’t have the constant butterflies and it’s more about choosing to be with a person again and again, despite differences, and despite the fact that people change over time. I wholeheartedly recommend both Boyfriend Material and Husband Material for an actual rom-com reading experience that also manages to bring the emotions.
Author’s content notes (link):
Homophobia (challenged), internalized homophobia (challenged), bigoted language spoken by a minor character (presented very much as a bad thing), references (though not graphic) to an eating disorder, mentions of past emotional parental neglect, death of a parent (heart attack; happens off page), grief, on-page funeral service.