Alfie Bell is . . . fine. He’s got a six-figure salary, a penthouse in Canary Wharf, the car he swore he’d buy when he was eighteen, and a bunch of fancy London friends.
It’s rough, though, going back to South Shields now that they all know he’s a fully paid-up pansy. It’s the last place he’s expecting to pull. But Fen’s gorgeous, with his pink-tipped hair and hipster glasses, full of the sort of courage Alfie’s never had. It should be a one-night thing, but Alfie hasn’t met anyone like Fen before.
Except he has. At school, when Alfie was everything he was supposed to be, and Fen was the stubborn little gay boy who wouldn’t keep his head down. And now it’s a proper mess: Fen might have slept with Alfie, but he’ll probably never forgive him, and Fen’s got all this other stuff going on anyway, with his mam and her flower shop and the life he left down south.
Alfie just wants to make it right. But how can he, when all they’ve got in common is the nowhere town they both ran away from.
This is my first Alexis Hall book and I was impressed.
The writing is lyrical and such a pleasure to sink into. I love the detail of the North of England Contemporary setting geographically, historically, culturally and in the dialect.
The romance is compelling. I have a great discomfort with the falling in love with my former bully theme but Hall does a good job of dealing with all the layers though even more self reflection and therapy on both their parts would not have hurt.
The grief and depression of Fen’s character and yet solid internal adulthood paired with Alfie’s outward adulthood with the seeking of a full recognition of self and needs and wants make for a compelling love story.
They are both great wounded loving. people and the cast is wonderfully complex as well. They have friends and family and jobs. Those things all evolve as they fall in love and choose a life together.
The main thing that keeps this from being an smashing success of a romance for me is that Alfie’s character is given more light than Fen’s so that when Fen makes some decisions, we are left a little uncomfortable as to if that his best self because we need to see more of Fen’s healing than we do,
Overall, I highly recommend this book for a lush and engrossing romance.