Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 1st June 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Erotic Romance, BDSM
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.
I have read so many books over the years… thousands, from mainstream bestselling authors to my now favoured, gay romance authors who indulge my need for escapism. We all have our favourites whose style gel with our own inner readers. But there are very few that totally take your breath away. Well… let me tell you about Alexis Hall; because I get very excited when I read an author for the first time and their words make me realise I am reading a book from a remarkably talented author. I had tears in my eyes at times reading this book… at the pure and unadulterated rawness and honesty I found in the writing and also the characters. Alexis Hall’s ingenuity and superb command of the written word made For Real an absolute delight and pleasure to read, with an originality to his style that I found beautiful and somewhat quirky… in a very good way. The prose was reflective and thought provoking and the empathy almost intimate… something usually reserved those familiar with my heart.
You may be wondering to yourself, how an author can make the dynamics between an inexperienced, scrawny and acne scared, nineteen year old Dom, with all the enthusiasm of youth… And a lifestyle weary thirty seven year old sub, convincing… But believe me, Alexis Hall will not only have you believing it, but eating it up and fully invested in embarking on this journey with Toby and Laurie.
It’s intense at times, both emotionally painful and heartfelt, it’s also touching and hilarious with a vibrancy that Alexis Hall subtly weaves into this tale. He makes their imperfections beautiful, managing to capture an unconventional D/s relationship that gives us passion with purpose and plausibility and the connection between Toby and Laurie palpable. It felt as though they had discovered a missing piece of themselves they would never be whole without, something unique to them. It’s definitely an unlikely pairing, however, that doesn’t make it any less right. For them, it’s For Real …but it doesn’t come without its complications.
Toby is a kid… a naive boy, inexperienced sexually, emotionally and in life experiences… he’s not worldly-wise but in his core he knows who he is and what he wants, he’s confident… but there is a vulnerability to him that is utterly endearing, because knowing what you want and being able to achieve that need are two very different things, especially for someone so young. But that didn’t stop me having an overwhelming feeling of optimism for him as I watched his exploration into something his body craves and his mind desires, where fantasy becomes a mind blowing reality.
Laurie is a disillusioned man, which makes him very grumpy. He may have all the trappings of wealth and a good career, having achieved his goals in life… but sadness just emanates from him. Having been in a D/s relationship for twelve years and apart from his ex for six, he is a sub adrift, unable to find what he needs to make him happy. Laurie just broke my heart
Laurie was frightened by his feelings towards Toby. The boy had awoken a fire inside him he thought lost. And also, by what he had become, as he starts to realise how lonely and void of emotion he actually was. Meeting Toby was a wakeup call for Laurie, in life and also within himself; beginning to question the morality of a relationship, especially a D/s relationship, with a teenager? The implications and consequences, not only of the here and now but of the future with such a big age gap, had him totally conflicted, trying to keep his distance, to save himself the pain of heartbreak later down the road. But while he was pulling back, poor Toby was wanting to go full steam ahead. Toby feels from his heart, and aww… bless …his heart, it’s so innocently open to love.
His inner musings were at times manic and hilarious. I absolutely adored how his uncertainties and self-consciousness naiveté highlight his grown up inadequacies; especially in dealing with relationships, he’s clueless… For him, it’s about so much more than just being a Dom. Oh…and his guileless exuberance, awe and humbleness by how Laurie entrusts him with so much power was just so endearing, but he’s also intelligent and observant enough to appreciate it for the gift it is and still young enough for his hormones to get that it’s fucking HOT! And believe me he’s not wrong… this is highly erotic kinky fuckery that will have you wanting to experiment with Lemon Meringue Pie… Haha, you’ll have to read the book for that one.
Are you still with me?… because this is where you must be thinking… how on earth can you have this vibrant animated boy who works in a caff, master an insular and emotionally detached intelligent submissive, who is a doctor no less. It’s not conventional, and with Toby’s lack of experience, there is nothing polished about his domination of Laurie, more like, inarticulate fumbling's and crude sincerity. Which for me, somehow made them so much more emotionally exposed and despite the lack of finesse, it gives them both what they want in its purest form, full of emotion and desire. Not a game played… but complete and utter trust in each other. They complement each other perfectly with both their strengths and weaknesses enhanced and nurtured by the other. A complete balance for them, of both emotion and body.
This is a long book at 400 plus pages, but in all honesty, it didn’t feel its length, as the pacing is perfect. I actually read it in one sitting… I couldn’t put it down. Given the choice, I would have preferred a little more time spent with the characters rather than the sex, a bit of a shocker for me, I know. But I think the length of the book could have afforded that. A minor niggle that doesn’t detract from the fact this book is a superb read!
Just Bloody BRILLIANT!