Title: For Real
Author: Alexis Hall
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 437 Pages
At a Glance: The book is on the longer side, but the pacing is perfect. It didn’t feel long or drawn out in any way. I honestly could have read another four hundred pages!
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission.
Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.
Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.
The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have—no matter how right it feels—can’t last. It can’t mean anything.
It can’t be real.
But that’s sort of what love is, I guess. A perpetual state of semi-deranged partiality. – Alexis Hall
Laurie and Toby are both so very lost and broken when they meet. Six years post-breakup, Laurie is still not over the life he lost with his ex, and though he still has needs to be met, he’s become increasingly disenchanted with the BDSM scene. But, when he and Toby see each other at Pervocracy, neither can deny the instant zing that happens between them.
The BDSM relationship is very different here than in other books you may have read in the genre. Toby is far from your typical Dom, and Laurie’s submission looks different as well. Toby is completely certain of what he wants/needs, which is to put someone on his knees and make him beg – particularly, he wants those things with Laurie – however, he has NO idea how to get what he craves. I absolutely loved how the author painted the picture of this relationship. Laurie desperately wants someone to serve and take care of, as well as someone who is fearless in the bedroom, but it does take him some time to wrap his mind around the fact that it’s okay for that person to be Toby. Everything about this pairing worked for me. Toby’s unwavering belief in their connection and, eventually, love, is amazing. His naiveté is actually charming. I enjoyed his character so, so much.
Alexis Hall perfectly executes the alternating POV between the chapters. It changes each chapter, beginning with Laurie – though, there is one chapter near the very end where the author gives us both together – and I’ve never seen a better job done of giving such clear, distinct voices to the players. Granted, the age difference alone makes them completely disparate characters, but Hall gives Toby such a PERFECT nineteen-year-old voice, it makes all the difference. And, Laurie’s exasperation with his life in general, as well as his passion and reluctance to let Toby in, are written so incredibly well. I felt an instant connection to both of the guys.
Toby’s relationship with his grandfather is remarkable, and allows the reader to see where he got some of his stability and ideas of what love should be like. The way Hall trickled out the information about Toby’s mother, and kept it a bit of a mystery, was also interesting and worked very well. And, the class/economic differences between Toby and Laurie, and how that affected particularly Toby’s mindset and choices, was handled very well and was so realistic.
The book is on the longer side, but the pacing is perfect. It didn’t feel long or drawn out in any way. I honestly could have read another four hundred pages! The chemistry between Laurie and Toby is completely fabulous; they are wonderful together. I’m desperately hoping that the author is planning on giving us more of them, because they definitely have more story to tell! For Real is simply fantastic.
Oh! And, I have to mention the cover…I LOVE the depiction of one of the early scenes between Laurie and Toby, and what the cover artist has done with the colors. It’s gorgeous and represents the guys perfectly.
You can buy For Real here: