Published by Riptide on 6/1/2015
Genres: Romance, Erotica
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Amazon, Audible
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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.
“All these still places in his soul that he disturbs for me.”
Alexis Hall has more than a way with words. With For Real, he brought me to my knees with his impassioned prose, his fierce and vibrant characters, and his intensely sensual yet moving love story.
This story captured me from the first few paragraphs. Truly, I knew I was in for a good one after only a couple of paragraphs when I experienced Laurie’s bleak, sarcastic, and utterly lovable personality. Then when I met Toby… forget it. Insta-love — on my part, not on the part of the characters. No, this love story was a frustrating and fun battle of wills between two sweetly complicated characters.
“He looked unbelievably fragile just then, all bones and youth and awkward angles… I wanted to be on my knees again. I wanted to let him burn, as free and wild as our hearts could bear.”
For Real follows Laurie and Toby, two men from very different backgrounds who are looking for different things when it comes to love, but soon realize that what they want may only be found in each other. This is an erotic romance that features BDSM, but it’s unlike any other erotic romance that I’ve ever read simply because the characters are the stars of this story — the characters and the writing, not the sex. Now, I’m not saying that it isn’t hot as hell, because it is, but it’s made more intense because of Laurie and Toby.
“He lifts his head before I die. And I just lie there, incandescent, taut, and panting. His fingertips brush my throat. And I spill another stupid sound… I’m glass for him, all the way to my blood-red, shining heart.”
Laurie is a stern, Oxford educated trauma surgeon, a 37-year-old workaholic who lives a pretty straightforward life, except for the fact that he’s a Sub. I did not expect that! Sure, it’s in the synopsis, but when you meet Laurie, when you get in his head, you’ll know what I mean. And Toby, well, he’s an inexperienced 19-year-old who’s lost regarding all aspects of his life, except for one thing. He’s a Dom. He likes control, he wants to hurt, he wants to heal, he wants someone to bend to his will, but he’s completely clueless about how to bring that about.
Laurie sees Toby one night when he reluctantly accepts an invitation to a sex club; their eyes lock, and he sees him. He sees the man Toby is meant to be, the man he’s meant to please, and after a sizzling meet cute Laurie and Toby engage in an unforgettable relationship that’s built on sexual chemistry, but blooms into something meaningful and heartfelt.
“Another of his secrets, I guess. How incredibly kind he is behind that stern mouth and those cold eyes. I don’t think anybody has been quite this kind to me my entire life. Or done so much to make me feel special.”
I so adore this love story because the characters are such contradictions. Alexis Hall doesn’t play by the rules at all. You think you know who a Dom is, how they act, and the role they play? Forget it. You think you know who a Sub is, how they act and the role they play? Forget that too. These characters are layered and beautiful and intriguing. They’re both powerful, both weak, both unrelenting, both vulnerable, both cocksure, both insecure, both open hearted, both closed off, both cruel, and both tender. They are both unique and engaging, and I feel spoiled for having gotten to know them. It’s fabulous.
“If I can get him so desperate, so mindless, so pleasure struck, so completely mine that he’s begging me to fuck him—so that just me entering him is enough to break him—then we can break together. And be whole after.”
Now, I will say that the characters are very… vibrant. No, that’s not the right word. Dynamic, maybe. Alive. Let me just say that these characters feel real. Alexis Hall writes in such a way that feels like he’s in character. Method Writing, is there such a thing? His creations feel like people. They have very distinct voices and personalities, hopes, dreams, and fears. I love both Laurie and Toby, but I will warn that they may not be for everyone. Particularly, Toby, who is definitely a chatterbox, and more sensitive than Laurie, so his POV is more introspective and moody. As I said though, I love him.
For Real is erotica just how I like it: both emotionally stimulating, and… erm… sexually stimulating. Alexis Hall showed me that he’s a maestro with words with Glitterland, and with For Real he showed me it wasn’t a fluke, and also what it is to elevate a misconceived genre. If you like your romance sexy, if you like it smart, and if you like it with heart, then I definitely recommend For Real.
“He had made me feel . . . beautiful, powerful. Free.”