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ARC Book Review: The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore

Title: The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle

Author: Neil Blackmore

Length: 320 pages

Publisher: Penguin

Synopsis: When Benjamin and Edgar Bowen embark on a Grand Tour of Europe, they are ready to meet people of Quality. They have trunks full of powdered silver wigs and matching wigs, a hunger to experience the architectural wonders of Ancient Rome, and an ability to quote Voltaire (at length). They will make connections and establish themselves in high society, just as their mother had planned. But it soon becomes apparent that their suits are not quite the right shade of grey, their smiles are to ready, their appreciation of the arts ridiculous. Class, they learn, is not something that can be studied. Benjamin‘s real education become when he meets Horace Lavelle. Beautiful, charismatic, seductive, Lavelle delights in skewering the pretensions and prejudices of their milieu. He consumes Benjamin’s every thought. Love can transform a person. Can it save them?

In ‘The Intoxicating Mr Levelle’ we follow twin brothers Edgar and Benjamin as the begin their Grand Tour of Europe ready to meet the elite and begin the rest of their lives.

My expectations for this book were high, and ultimately it failed to live up to them. For a while I thought it was going to meet them, I thought it might be the queer historical fiction novel I’ve been waiting a long time for. But unfortunately it wasn’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong I did enjoy the book, it was good. There was much to enjoy. It had some fantastic characters (not all), i loved the Grand Tour aspect, I loved the relationship between the brothers.

I loved the period of history it was set in. Loved it, I’ve been waiting for a queer book in this setting for a long time. I loved all the details, they added some much to this novel. The clothing, the places I really did enjoy this aspect.

Now the romance, it kind of feels like the whole novel depends on it to work and for me it just didn’t work. I absolutely loved fun element to the romance, and the sex scenes were good. I think it’s always a good thing when queer love is done well in book but probably of the actual romance was just a bit off because Lavelle treated Benjamin like shit and somehow Benjamin was besotted with him. I know Lavelle showed him a new side to himself and a different way to live but he didn’t have to be a dick while doing.

I absolutely hate Lavelle. Hated him. I get what author was tiring to do, but it didn’t work for me. I couldn’t have put up with him for two seconds. I think he needed to be likeable for it to work and he wasn’t. I liked the message that Lavelle brings to the book, just not the character. I couldn’t understand why Benjamin would be in love with him.

I would recommend this book. It was a bit of fun, and I’m sure some of you would even like Lavelle. It was a quick read too. But when I remember this book, I just remember being annoyed by it. So make of that what you will.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for a copy of this book in exchange for a honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 13th. Out in EBook now.

Until the next review

JTH

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Pride Month YA recommendations.

Pride Month is upon us. It’s a very exciting time. Last month, I spent the whole entirety of June nothing but queer books and it made my heart very happy. Very happy indeed. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do that this month, so I thought I’d share my recommendations.

These book are all YA. I truly think YA books have some fantastic options for us to read with some fantastic representation. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again. Representation Matters. I’m trying to keep all these books as Own Voice options, but at the bottom of the blog, I’ll put a little section that aren’t own voices.

These books will help young queer people to find themselves, find others like them and I can’t tell you how important that is. It’s all about acceptance. I remember being a young queer boy and desperately trying to find the courage to be able to buy a queer book in my local bookstore. Now, there’s only a little hesitation when I buy them.

I’ll be doing another post for some adult literature queer books, a bit later.

So let’s get started shall we.

‘History Is All You Left Me’ by Adam Silvera. This book is so beautiful, heartbreaking and emotional. It was the first queer book I read, so it owns a very special place in my heart. It deals with so much, and there’s some beautiful queer representation at its heart. This was the book I had to pluck up the courage to buy and I’m so glad I did. In the photo above are some more of Adams books if you’d like to check them out. But History really is the most beautiful for me.

‘Camp’ by L.C.Rosen. Boy oh boy, do I love this book. It took queer to another level. It put femme characters centre stage and it’s brilliant. It’s not something I’ve seen before, and I hope more books follow. It’s a beautiful story of self acceptance, queer love, and being proud to be you. It’s just so celebratory. Rosens other book ‘Jack of Hearts’ also very good. I really can’t recommend this one enough. It’s out May 28th. Just in time for Pride Month.

Felix Ever After by Kacen …. Now, I am going to be honest and say I haven’t actually read this one, but I’m going to recommend because it’s got Trans POC representation, which is so underrepresented. The story revolves around Felix, who learns to love himself. And I can’t think of a more positive message than that. Also, let’s just look at the cover. STUNNING.

Hideous Beauty by William Hussey. This is a queer thriller and it’s fantastic. While this one had a love story that will make you heart soar, it’s also going to break it. It’s filled with mystery and romance. It’s a little darker than some of the others on this list, but just as beautiful. This one is also out on the 28th. Just in time for Pride.

Boy Queen by George Lester. Another book I’ve read recently and loved. Again, we have another femme character at the centre and I love it. This book is delightful. It’s full of drag queens, romance, self pride and love. This is definitely one to add to your queer collection. It’s out August 6th.

Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian. Again, I have to confess I haven’t read this book. I’m mentioning one I haven’t read just to bring them to your attention and maybe you’ll like the sound of them. This one is set in the 1980s and centred around the Aids crisis, a moment in queer history we can never forget. But it’s from teenagers perspective. I can’t tell you how badly I’m looking forward to reading this one.

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram. Again, this is another one I haven’t read but want to highlight. This has got an abundance of different representations. Queer, Mental Health and POC. And this book is getting a sequel so it can’t be bad right? A friend recommended this to me and I trust their opinion highly. I am incredibly excited to read it.

‘Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe’ by Benjamin Alice Sáenz. Well this book reads just like a love song. It’s stunning. Quiet and impactful and it will have you weeping at the end. Beautiful. Just beautiful. And highly underrated.

There are so many more books out there, like ‘ I Wish You All The Best’ by Mason Deaver, ‘The Gravity of Us’ by Phil Stamper, ‘ziggy, stardust & me’ by James Branderson. ‘Alex in Wonderland’ by Simon James Green, ‘The Black Flamingo’ by Dean Atta and ‘Wranglestone’ by Darren Charlton. I encourage you to look all these Own Voice books up.

Now for some of those books that aren’t own voice. ‘Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli. ‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston, ‘Only Mostly Devastated’ by Sophie Gonzales, ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell and ‘I’ll Give You The Sun’ by Jandy Nelson.

I also really need to add some F/F books. I did recently read ‘Queen of Coin and Whispers’ by Helen Corcoran which was fantastic. And waiting for ‘The Henna Wars’ by Adiba Jaigirdar to arrive, which I can’t wait to read.

So there we have, some fantastic books that celebrate inclusivity, queer love, queer pride and self acceptance. They all teach such valuable lessons.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Let me know if there’s any I’m missing, or if you’ve read some of these and you love them, or if they’ve helped you.

Until the next review

JTH