It’s pretty unusual to have a direct sequel to a romance novel. They’re usually all ‘happily ever after, now don’t look too closely at what comes next‘. So it was a refreshing change to jump ahead two years and check in with Luc and Oliver.
I enjoyed Husband Material; Oliver and Luc’s relationship was exactly what you’d expect after two years together. It was a relief to see they hadn’t changed too much, although one would hope that Luc’s need to make everything about himself and his insecurities would have calmed down a little. Oliver is too good at taking everything in stride and getting to the heart of a situation; while he may not be great at analysing his own actions (or reactions) at first, he’s always more than fair when Luc is finally able to get to the point and bring it to his attention.
I have to admit I’m a little disappointed to have no Oliver POVs. Considering Boyfriend Material was all from Luc’s perspective, I’m not sure why I thought we’d get something different this time, but maybe one day Hall will throw us a bone with an Oliver epilogue or something.
Once again, a lot of the joy of the narrative comes from the excellent cast of side characters. While I did feel they were a little more absent in Husband Material than they were in Boyfriend Material – poor Oliver seemed mostly abandoned by his friends – there is nothing better than a confusing conversation between Luc’s colleagues, or a quick WhatsApp group chat. And, of course, I don’t think I could ever get enough of Odile and Judy.
It’s true that some of Oliver and Luc’s conversations start to feel a bit repetitive (get over the balloon arch already), and Luc’s quick jump to self-sabotage and assuming the worst mixed with Oliver’s tendency to withdraw or start acting superior begins to feel like a much too familiar pattern. But it was nice to see that if someone made an off-handed comment or a quick judgment, it wasn’t often allowed to just lie. Oliver and Luc are really good at digging deeper to figure out what caused a specific outcome or why something may not be going as expected. And I like that it’s okay for them to come back to something later and add context or understanding. It showed that while they may not have outgrown their initial defensive actions, they have grown in their relationship and know how to take things seriously when necessary.
I was surprised when I found out there was a second book in this series, but I’m relieved that there will eventually be a third one. I was definitely left wanting more at the end of Husband Material.