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Publisher's Summary

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 18, 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 hasn't 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.

Contains mature themes.

©2018 Alexis Hall (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about Pansies

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Bit of a tearjerker

Alfie is the kind of guy who never needed, nor wanted, to examine his life or privilege until he figured out he was gay. His way is about crashing headlong then fixing things after. This includes hooking up with Fen, his former teenage target. Fen is wallowing in “brackish despair” after losing his mom and gives in to the urge to sleep with his former bully, who doesn’t even have the decency to remember bullying him. They both want more, but Fen needs some convincing.

In general, Fen and Alfie are good for each other. Thankfully most of the book, except the prologue & epilogue, are from Alfie’s POV because Fen’s grief might have been overwhelming otherwise. The book is mostly about the guys learning to live with how life is, in a time when it’s less difficult but not easy to be gay. Alfie is pretty good about making things easier for Fen, who needs that. Fen offers Alfie both the need for thoughtful reflection and bursts of happiness and comfort. I liked the story for all that it made me cry rather more than I prefer.

Steam: Med. M/M sexytimes on page, intermittently. It felt like the right amount.

Narration: I like the narrator from other stories. He was good here too. Emotes enough but not melodramatically. I have no way of knowing if the accents were right but they sounded fine to me. The POV & time shifts for the first 3 scenes made it hard to attach at first, but by the time the guys meet up at the bar, things settled enough to make sense. Not sure if it would have been more or less confusing in print.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Just didn't go anywhere

I've read several Alexis Hall novels. Some I really loved and others not at all. They don't even sound like the same author wrote them. This never seemed to go anywhere. The plot stagnated. I don't mind some angst but this never let up. I just gave up and didn't finish.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

emotional, raw take on school bully transformation

Outstanding! The characters are extremely well-formed, even secondary characters. Plot is a bit slow in the middle, but it's worth sticking it out. Sometimes I felt claustrophobic in the setting, but the setting (small town in northern England) is lovely.

I avoided this one for awhile because I was nervous about the "school bully" angle, but it's handled well. Some of what happens is unhealthy, and it's acknowledged as that and written in a really human, engaging way. Watching Alfie grow is beautiful. At times, some of the things he does or says are horrendous (especially in the past but also in the book), but he learns, and it feels genuine. He's a total romantic, which is so charming. Although some of the things he does or says that are called romantic in the book seem like nothing special--but they mean a lot to Fen, so I enjoyed it all the same.

Fen is slow to heal after losing his mother, and it feels real. Hall is extremely gifted at capturing real human emotions. Fen writes beautiful letters to his mother, but they all sound like Hall's writing style (unique compound words, metaphors, and adjectives), which sometimes threw me out of the scene. But they're emotional and raw, so I appreciated the insight they gave us into Fen's POV.

Sometimes I didn't understand Fen and Alfie as a couple. Their intimate scenes (physical and otherwise) are really beautiful, but everything in-between suggests they're a poor match. They have very little in common aside from what they want in a partner (perhaps that's enough?). They work by the end (they grow for each other, especially Alfie), but it was shaky for me in the middle.

I wish Alfie's friends had featured more. Their role in the beginning seems important, and I was disappointed that they only resurface toward the end. They would have helped the story feel less claustrophobic and slow, but oh well.

I am abnormally invested in Greg, Alfie's friend, and I wish he had his own book. Just want HEAs all around!

Performance is outstanding!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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MM Enemies to Lovers

I just cannot recommend this series enough. This entire series was just brilliant. I adored everything about it, I think that is why it took me a year to read them, as I wanted to spread them out, I have them all in ebook and audio and have one in paperback soon to add the others. So that is all on that.

Now for the book, it was enemies to lovers/previous bully to lovers. It was done so impeccably well. I loved both Fen and Alfie and just could not get enough of their story. Alfie, the school bully turned hopeless romantic was just wonderful. He grew so much and in just the short amount of time in running into Fen again. He was able to feel so deeply and try to understand what he had put Fen through in school growing up. Now, Alfie is trying to make it right while falling totally in love with Fen in the process. Fen is such a beautiful character and he too grows wildly. He is able to overcome his grief and start living for himself. It is just a beautiful story and I am just so happy Alexis has decided to share it with us. His writing for this series is so well done, I just cannot stress that enough. Cornell Collins on this audio was amazing and I know I will be going back to relisten/relive this story over and over.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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No one does redemption better than Alexis Hall

In book after book, Alexis Hall gives us a character who's given up, or very nearly, and he slowly, carefully, and sometimes with really wicked sharp wit, brings them back to life, usually through a lover who won't give up on them. The Billionaire series and the Spires series are both about redemption through love, and as corny as that sounds, Alexis Hall makes it so deeply human that the cliche turns real and has the power to move and even inspire. I loved the book, the narration, the whole thing, and as with every Alexis Hall book, I finish it and get so unnerved that there's not another one to listen to that I go back and listen to it again, and it holds up to a second listen, and I suspect to a third.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful.

Alexis Hall has a unique and wonderful gift. There isn’t a story he’s written that hasn’t totally engaged me and made me fall in love with his characters. There’s a realism to his writing that touches the reader with the simple beauty and frailty of the MC’s.
Cornell Colons does a superb job in bringing these characters to life. I felt like I was overhearing the conversations and was completely immersed in their world.
A wonderful love story beautifully told.
Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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great narration but hard to hear on the highway

I love every single queer book that MLD/Cornell Collins has narrated. especially this one but their is one big thing that made this hard to listen to. I like to listen in the car while driving and generally this involves highways. Every single MLD book is hard to hear while driving on the highway. My phone is turned all the way up and I have to turn up the stereo so loud it's uncomfortable. This isn't an issue with other books. It could be a sound mixing issue or my car who knows but it's frustrating

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Don’t Be Fooled by the Title

This is the third or fourth book that I’ve enjoys ed by Alexis Hall because of Cornell Collins narration skills ( translation) , acting skills and flawless command of accents,he leaves you with the sensation of being in the front row of a HIT Broadway play. Beautifully written, beautifully performed.

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Just so fu*king wholsome

The book in itself is incredible, sweet and vivid and filled with infinite care for detail, in the plot and the characters. And as to the performance - Cornell Collins, people. I have yet to hear him do less than remarkably.

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A MUST LISTEN!!!

Seriously I cannot recommend Alexis Hall’s writing enough! Pansies is another spectacular and unique story bright to life by Hall.

As with all his writing Pansies is completely it’s own world, our leading men are so different from each other but they both have broken pieces of themselves that they cannot fix without the others love and understanding. The heart wrenching tale of Fen and Alfie will have you laughing, crying and begging for a happy ending.

I will day this book like all of Halls stories is not a traditional romance plot. There is no mold or trope to explain the love story of these two men (enemies to lovers doesn’t really fit because that’s all in the past and all that remains are the scars) all I can say is you will not regret buying this book and falling head over heals for these two men

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  • Northie
  • 11-13-21

A Geordie romance

Why bother with an exotic location for your queer romance when South Shields works perfectly well? I love the way Alexis Hall sees beyond surface drabness to find so many points of character, fascination, and natural beauty. And surely it's important some queer tales take place in forgotten geographic corners. This story showcases the author's ability to write humour, pathos, sexiness, and descriptive flights of fancy. Both lead characters are believable, ranging far beyond those who populate many queer romances. And they're both lovable, in their different ways. Alfie's DIY has me laughing every time.
The narrator does an excellent job, Geordie accents and all.

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  • HMM
  • 07-28-21

Listend to a story I read before

I knew this one and decided to buy the audiobook. Again I finish feeling content but convinced to never pick it up again.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Book addict
  • 02-14-20

Good book

I enjoyed listening to this a lot. By the end I wasn’t as swept away as I have been by other Alexis Hall books which is why I gave four stars, but it’s still good. The narrator’s voice was lovely, but the times when he did accents were a bit cringe worthy - fortunately most of the time he didn’t have an accent. He morphed from Geordie accent to Yorkshire and back again. His voice is great to listen to otherwise, though.

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  • lex
  • 11-02-21

Soooo enjoyed this

Loved this book from the story to Cornell Collins narrating it, I'm recommending this book to everyone I know.

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  • Greta
  • 06-04-21

A lovely really great story

Such a well written book with romance, sexy scenes and great story. Highly recommended. I listened at 1.3 speed which I think was even better as it suited the sometimes neurotic characters. Would also recommend boyfriend material by same author