Book Reviews

Breathe (London Love) by Sophia Soames

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Escorts/Porn Stars/Strippers / Romance
Reviewed by ParisDude on 12-November-2021

Book Blurb

Meet Ryan, aka, Joey Hole, disgraced former adult entertainer with more issues than he can keep track of. His boyfriend left him for an Instagram twink with 150K followers, his mum wants him out of her spare room and then there's that idiot at college who just won't take no for an answer.

Meet Luke. He was once the rich kid who'd just been gifted his first car, and now he doesn't even own a bike. He's also slumming it in a house full of ungrateful siblings and his first trip to the Food-bank gave him some goddamn emotional scars. Life is getting better though, and he's acing it at college, as well as making some brilliant new friends. Well except for that stuck up twatwaffle Ryan who won't talk to him and refuses to like his brilliant social media posts....

The first book in Sophia Soames' London Love Series. These standalone novels will follow the ups and downs of couples living extraordinary ordinary London lives.


Book Review

The two main characters of this fuzzy-fizzy-feelings-inducing romance novel are two men in their early twenties, both battered and bruised by existence. On one hand, there’s Ryan Aspinall. After a painful and chaotic breakup with his boyfriend Henry, he has just moved back from New York to the West London neighborhood he grew up in. Most of his young adult life he spent as a renowned twink actor in the adult entertainment business—in other words, as Joey Hole, he built a promising porn career over in the US. Unfortunately, he really left with a bang, so he feels his five minutes of fame—150K followers on social media accounts plus some awards, after all, aren’t nothing—have come to an end. All he wants to do now is lick his wounds, certainly not find out what to do with his life. On his mother’s advice, he enrols in a community college training course to become a physical coach, however.


That’s where he meets unprepossessing, nerdy, clingy Luke Walters. Luke with the bad haurcut, the cheap clothes, the ceaseless, nosy questions, and the suffocating and shamelessly expressed need to become Ryan’s friend. Ryan has no time for that, he is still too busy wallowing in his sorrow and self-pity. What he doesn’t know—yet—is Luke’s own, sad story. Together with his five brothers and sisters, Luke grew up as the spoilt second child of self-centered, over-ambitious rich parents, for whom the most important things in life were money, their careers, competition, and making their children be poster kids—in that order. Alas, one of their financial scam schemes imploded, and both ended up in prison, leaving their children to their own devices. That’s how Luke inadvertently became responsible for his younger siblings at a very young age and has slowly turned into a shy, weird, self-conscious guy. He doesn’t even understand what it is that draws him to Ryan—he isn’t gay, for starters, and there’s no place in his busy life for friends. As he says to his sister Emma, “Everything is too much, all the time. But we just have to get on with it. It’s not like we have a choice.” Yet there he is, running after someone he shouldn’t fancy and who doesn’t want to speak to him.


Sophia Soames is an expert in creating those endearing one-in-a-million characters and imagining those unique stories that, at a glance, sound and look muddled, almost hopeless. What are the chances for guys like Ryan, the hotter-than-hot, vain, and self-obsessed ex-porn twink, and Luke, supposedly straight, unrequited “family father” with almost no social skills, to meet, get to know each other, start a one-sided interest story, then deepen their acquaintance until they finally slip from cautious friends to lovers in one natural, beautiful move? Close to zero, right? I don’t know many writers who would come up with such a plot, decide it was worth a try, and then go and pull it off so adroitly. Because yes, this is a wonderful novel, one I read in only two evenings, I was so engrossed and delighted by it (no surprise there—I love Soames’s writing).


Several things stood out for me in this one (the following list is in no particular order). First, the writer’s incursion into the world of adult entertainment. People watch porn, but rare are those who admit it, and rarer still those who present porn actors as human beings who just happen to have a rather peculiar job. Ryan is a three-dimensional, endearing young guy who chose his path and was happy with what he was doing for some years. There’s not a hint of moral or ethical judgment concerning this guy, not from the author nor from any secondary characters (not even Ryan’s very supportive if somewhat meddlesome mother), and that was a very pleasant and soothing thing. The same is true concerning someone being gay—it’s never a big deal. I suspect the calm and natural acceptance of differences in people to be one of Sophia Soames’s own character traits, and I just love it.


Secondly, and this is something I’d almost call Sophia Soames’s trademark, people are a mess. Yes, all of them. No one is smooth, easy, uncomplicated. They all have complex lives, follow sometimes unsuspected paths, take on-the-spur and therefore seemingly counterproductive decisions, and strangely it all adds up, it all works perfectly well in the end. What the novel shows is a refreshing chunk of real life, however messed up it looks.


Thirdly, there’s plenty of room for suspense and conflict. And yet, I found no tragedy, no drama, no fighting. Painful experiences, yes (and Sophia’s trigger warnings are there to avoid readers inadvertently stumbling upon scenes too painful for them), and momentary stallings. But the people in all of the writer’s books talk things out. They share (without oversharing), they discuss, they listen (which is even more important), and they try to understand each other. Last but not least, I also learned a thing or two about the workings of the social security system in the UK, which despite all attempts by accountant-like politicians such as Thatcher or Blair (to name but two) is still functioning. The social workers, the family welfare assistants, even the doctors and nurses in this book all really and deeply care for those they are asked to help. Take that doctor who tells Ryan, “There’s no need to keep things in your heart that don’t give you happiness.” Isn’t that just the sort of advice we’d all like to get from our doctors, too?


Well, and let’s not forget the romance. Heart-warming, with a few steamy scenes that are woven in in just the way I like them (in order to make the plot move forward, that is, and not merely because they’re expected), a lot of holding hands, and kisses, kisses, kisses aplenty. For any romantic soul, this is indeed a book they shouldn’t miss—fuzzy-fizzy feelings guaranteed. Amazing news: a follow-up novella as well as a follow-up novel have already been released, and I cannot wait to lay my hands (and eyes) on them.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the author. This book has been provided by the author for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 368 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 15-May-2021
Price $3.99 ebook
Buy Link