Series: Spires Universe
Author: Alexis Hall
Length: Novel (405 pages)
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (October 10th 2016)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 3.5 Hearts
Blurb: 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’s never 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.
Review: Alexis Hall can be a hit and miss for me, and I’m glad this book worked. I found it to be enjoyable and full of feels and without much drama to speak of. It’s just a sweet story of enemies becoming lovers, but that’s not all this story is. Fen’s hurt at the loss of his mother cuts deep and I love how Alexis portrayed Fen’s relationship with his mother and his mother’s all-encompassing love for Fen, even without us having the opportunity to see her alive after Fen was born.
Fen and Alfie are pretty much total opposites from an early age; while Fen spent the majority of his youth being bullied at school and being made fun of, Alfie spent his youth making Fen’s life a living hell. I honestly think that Fen wouldn’t have made it without his mother’s love and support. Alfie lived a closeted life until his mid 20’s and his coming out created a rift between Alfie and his family. Moving to England and becoming a successful, rich person was one of the things Alfie has dreamed about doing, but his life is lonely. Alfie is a romantic who can’t and won’t spend his life going through a string of one night stands.
Returning to South Shields for his best friend’s wedding is hard on Alfie, and seeing his best friend blissfully happy makes him feel sorry for himself. In a moment of desperation, Alfie makes it to the only gay bar in town, where he meets the most beautiful man he’s ever seen and the chemistry is instant. One night of passion between Fen and Alfie reveals horrible memories and bring many realizations on Alfie’s part.
There are many feelings and apologies standing in their way, but somehow Alfie and Fen make it work. It’s not all smooth sailing because Alfie’s own homophobia keeps him from being truthful about his relationship with Fen when it counts the most.
Pansies truly is a wonderful, poetic book, so why only 3.5 Hearts? Well it was a bit too long for my tastes. I thought less pages full of Alfie’s cowardice would’ve been just about perfect. Also Alfie’s courtship of Fen was cute, but a little awkward as well, and I can’t put my finger on what didn’t work for me.
One thing that got my attention though and makes me hope for another book is Alfie’s ex and good friend from London. I would absolutely love to read his story.