Book Reviews

Exhale (London Love) by Sophia Soames

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by ParisDude on 14-December-2021

Book Blurb

What do you do when your relationship falls apart? Well, you bury yourself in a deep hole of grief, one you have so carelessly dug for yourself. Jamie Walters needs to find a way out of the mess his life has become, but the way forward is not as straight as he thought it would have been. What's the point anyway? Women are off the menu but Jamie still wants the entire textbook fairy-tale. The romantic dates and the flowers and holding hands in the dark, and Grindr certainly isn't the place to find your happily ever after..

Catch up with Jamie and the rest of the Walters family in this sweet little insta-love fairy-tale where Jamie finally gets his happily ever after, Originally published as part of the Love is All Anthology, Exhale has been reedited and extended to the quirky little fairy-tale it was always meant to be.


Exhale is a standalone novella but is best enjoyed after reading Breathe.
Trigger warnings: Brief mention of pregnancy loss.


Book Review

I think I wrote once that I was no big fan of novellas because, in general, I found them either too short (often suffering from a lack of plot and character development) or too long (as compared to short stories, which follow their own rules). They are hybrids I couldn’t really warm up to. Well, please consider me corrected, atoned, redeemed. Because after this masterful novella written by Sophia Soames, I might just change my mind. And if I don’t, I at least can unashamedly admit I not only dug this one—I outright loved it.


Plot-wise, imagine a Grindr hook-up going awfully (and at the same time wonderfully) wrong. Jamie Walters, whom I have already encountered in book one of the London Love series (he is the main character Luke’s twin brother), has split up with his girlfriend some time ago. They’ve remained best friends, but he has the impression something is missing in his life. And at twenty-three, he starts being afraid he’ll never ever meet his other half, never ever find happiness. His friends, though, tell him to stop moping and to enjoy being young, enjoy London, enjoy life instead. That’s why, on a whim, he opens a Grindr account—he wants to find out what the slightly queer side of his personality could offer him. But each time he is about to meet one of the guys who contact him, he chickens out at the last moment. In fact, he realizes that what he wants and needs is not (only) an honest and good shag. No, he wants so much more: to be held, and hugged, and kissed, and told that he is loved, that he is someone’s Prince Charming. And he wants to pour the full load of love he has inside on someone, too.


So, maybe, Grindr is not the best option right now… Yet, when Leo messages him with loads of strange emojis, he feels something stir inside. After exchanging several texts on Grindr, the two young men finally decide it’s time to meet and, well, hook up (the ultimate goal of any Grindr contact, after all). And when they meet… nothing goes according to the unwritten Grindr-script. No short debate about who tops, who bottoms, and where they should go, but two young guys who upon seeing each other recognize something of themselves in the other person, open their hearts, and spill out, helter-skelter, all the chaotic, messy, inavowable contents they’ve stacked up inside. Loneliness, fear, hopes of love and romantic scenes, all put on the table (literally—they have coffee in a café) in less than half an hour. And inexorably, when two souls show themselves unashamedly in all their beauty and glory, what follows is one of the first believable insta-love stories I’ve ever read.


Does the plot sound weird? Does it sound unrealistic? It probably is. Do you dislike insta-love stories as much as I (normally) do? You’ll be in good hands. Trust the author. Because, once again, Sophia Soames pulls it off. Magistrally. With her trademark messy yet mature-despite-their-young-age characters (spoiler alert: the newcomer Leo therefore blends in perfectly with the rest of the messy Walters family in the end), light (and yet profound) banter, meaningful, nigh soulful messages delivered during a first meeting, with honesty, tenderness, and a sense for creating warm, fuzzy feelings in the reader’s chest (in mine, at least, she did), Sophia has written yet another story where I couldn’t help but sighing again and again, “Aw! So cute!”



Recommended (don’t miss out on the first book of the series, ‘Breathe’), and you’re welcome. Now, I’m sorry, but I’m off to read London Love book two.





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 Novella, 125 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 25-October-2021
Price $3.29 ebook
Buy Link