Thursday, July 13, 2017

To Be Read Pile: Ollie Always - John Wiltshire


Named after the main character in his mother's infamous Oliver novels, Ollie's been fighting his fictional namesake his whole life. It's a battle for identity he is slowly and inevitably losing. Ex-army PTI, Tom knows all about battles--the real ones that break soldiers. When he volunteers to help with the Oliver situation, Ollie hears more in the offer than Tom apparently intends, for Tom quickly informs Ollie that he's married. Which is absolutely fine, because Ollie isn't gay--that's Oliver. Tom and Ollie discover fairly swiftly that there is often a very fine dividing line between fact and fiction.

Best Line: Ollie’s cries turned into a wail of genuine and total distress. “I’ve put my hand in dog shit!”"

This was such a sweet, fun romance! Ollie is neurotic and ditzy and remarkably sweet when he wants to be. He's moved to New Zealand to escape the shadow of his mother's writing and maybe to write his own bestseller in the process. Unfortunately, he's become a little too enamoured with cat videos (we've all been there) and the sexy stranger who likes jogging past his house without his shirt (Haven't been there but I like what I've seen in the travel brochures) to get anything done!

Tom is a life coach who sees a man in some desperate need of coaching plus he's totally gorgeous in an ex-army I-will-solve-your-problems-by-taking-you-for-jogs type way. Not really the path to romance I would have chosen but it works for Ollie. Not that he's gay, of course. Oliver is gay. Ollie is... okay. Ollie is probably a little bit gay.

 I loved the interplay between Ollie's life and the fictional Oliver's. Oliver is a creepy, underage manipulator who uses sex to get what he wants. Despite their personality differences, Oliver's life has mirrored Ollie's but always just been a little bit better. If Ollie got into a good school, Oliver would get in, get perfect grades and probably be sleeping with the headmaster. Living with this constant comparison and knowing that his mother engineered it has left Ollie with an intense inferiority complex and makes every scene with his mother (who is blithely unaware of how weird the situation is)and her friends (hands down the best supporting characters ever) uniquely uncomfortable.

Word of warning. This is one of those books that didn't know when to quit. Chapter 21 has a sweet, charming ending that brought everything together in a way that leaves you feeling buoyant and happy. Chapter Twenty Two onwards is a mire of uncomfortable dithering and sex scenes that were better left somewhere far far away from the shining, silly perfection of everything previous. Do yourself a favour and just pretend that last quarter of the book doesn't exist. Do not make my mistakes.

If you like your romance sweet and silly and charming with just the right level of legitimate angst, Ollie, Always is an excellent choice to while away a few hours on your weekend!

Get it here

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