Glitterland (Spires Universe #1) by Alexis Hall 

4.5 stars actually.

It’s pretty tricky to get a higher than a 4 from me for a contemporary romance. However, this book….oh. So much to unpack. So much juicy emotional angst, classism, mental health issues, Essex culture, and snobbery. (Even better than Hall’s historical romance)

Ash Winters goes to a bar and picks up a boy in a club in Essex who is a stereotypical glitter-shirted, gel-coiffed, accented model. And somehow, despite only wanting a one-night stand, as Ash is a total and complete mess, the glitter boy ends up making him…calm. And happy.

Only Ash is a snobby writer intellectual, and he can’t quite reconcile himself to the model/club boy despite how happy it makes him to be with Darian. He makes cutting remarks Darian probably doesn’t quite get or blows off. He treats him as embarassing in front of his collegiate/intellectual friends.

But mostly he just considers himself unloveable and broken.

Only that’s not how Darian sees him.

And in between there is joyful, steamy smex scenes where they are loving and giving to each other.

There’s just a lot of lovely writing in this. Phrases like when Alexis describes being in Darian’s presence like feeling light through broken glass, etc.

The emotional complexity and descriptive phrases are what elevates this to 4.5 level. Alexis Hall is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers.