Audiobook review: Something Spectacular by Alexis Hall
If pining for one’s best friend were a virtue, then Peggy Delancey would have been sainted by now—or whatever the non-religious equivalent might be. Unfortunately, being in love with someone who can’t love you back tends to put a strain on a person. Still, with some distance from Arabella Tarleton, Peggy’s beginning to have an idea about what she wants in life, and even wonder if maybe she ought to be able to have it. Of course, running to Belle’s aid the instant she asks (to help her fall in love with someone else) may not be the best start to the endeavor. And falling in love with the focus of said best friend’s aspirations herself is definitely not the most supportive thing she’s ever done. But what is she to do if love insists on happening anyway?
While I enjoyed Something Fabulous, the first novel in this series, I adored Something Spectacular. Peggy was one of my favorite characters to begin with, so I was thrilled to hear she was getting her own story. Mr. Hall is always very thorough in his introductions regarding any content warnings and liberties taken, and it’s definitely worthwhile to listen to them here. With that in mind, I found it extraordinarily easy to care about Peggy (and the others, too), get lost in the story for its own sake, and hope for the happiest of endings.
As much as I appreciated the story itself, I absolutely loved the narration of Something Spectacular. Whether it’s Peggy’s snark, uncertainty, regret, or baffled adoration, Robyn Holdaway captured each facet as perfectly as I could have imagined. That they devoted seemingly equal effort to imbue that same determined rightness in the other characters, as well, made listening to Something Spectacular a genuine pleasure. From Belle’s unexpectedly hushed and frustrated self-censure to Bonny’s enthusiasm for…everything, to the ridiculousness of unearned superiority nearly dripping off the haughtiest of the tertiary characters, Holdaway hits just the right timbre throughout.
Unsurprisingly, I really do suggest reading or listening to Something Fabulous before picking up Something Spectacular. The vast majority of the central players are introduced in all their quirky gloriousness there, and I worry that parts of the narrative (especially the funniest bits) won’t shine as brightly without the familiarity. Mr. Hall has also written a wonderful post about “Orfeo’s Music” that contains links to relevant performances, etc., which I highly recommend as a companion to the story itself. Overall, I believe most readers of both the author and first novel in the series will like Something Spectacular, and I’d love to see if there’s at least one more HEA for some of these characters a little further down the road.
About the Book:
Peggy Delancey’s not at all ready to move on from her former flame, Arabella Tarleton. But Belle has her own plans for a love match, and she needs Peggy’s help to make those plans a reality. Still hung up on her feelings and unable to deny Belle what she wants, Peggy reluctantly agrees to help her woo the famous and flamboyant opera singer Orfeo.
She certainly doesn’t expect to find common ground with a celebrated soprano, but when Peggy and Orfeo meet, a whole new flame is ignited that she can’t ignore. Peggy finds an immediate kinship with Orfeo, a castrato who’s just as nonconforming as she is—and just as affected by their instant connection.
They’ve never been able to find their place in the world, but as the pair walks the line between friendship, flirtation, and something more, they may just find their place with each other.
Author: Alexis Hall
Narrator: Robyn Holdaway
Series: Something Fabulous #2
Genre: Historical Romance, LGBTQ, non-binary
Audiobook Release Date: April 11, 2023
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Length: 11 hours/12 minutes
Source: Purchased with my own funds
Audio Speed: 1.0x
Audible/Amazon (affilate link)