Sunday Book Review: For Real by Alexis Hall


Let’s start with the blurb, shall we?

Laurence Dalziel, a thirty-seven year old trauma surgeon, is worn down and washed up. And for him the BDSM scene especially is all played out. He’s tired of pantomiming submission, and he’s long since given up looking for more than hollow release.

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. He doesn’t know how he ended up where he is or where he’s meant to be going. But he knows, with all the terrible certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie.

He wants Laurie on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love. But while Laurie will surrender his body to Toby’s desires, he won’t surrender his heart. Because whatever they have, however right it feels, he knows it can’t last. Toby has to live his own life, and Laurie has to let him.

It can’t be for real.

I just finished this book. I want to read it again. It’s the sort of book that I know I’m going to reread, and I want to save it to savor in the dark of the winter months when I need something really hot to get me feeling like myself again.

I probably won’t hold out that long.

In fact, I may just start tomorrow.

Honestly, it was that good. I admit I have a soft spot for kink stories. If you don’t share it, maybe this isn’t going to be a book that hits the same notes for you, but I swear, even if kink isn’t your thing it’s a fantastically solid bit of writing with wonderful characters that crawl inside your mind and set up shop.

The Good:

I was exceptionally drawn in by Hall’s ability to weave exposition and character quirks together as part of a story that felt both fast and furious even though it was actually a longer read with a lot of depth. Toby’s background is interesting, but the type that handled poorly might have just come off as a cheap prop. He is the son of a famous artist, and therefore somewhat well known in certain circles, which is a nice subplot in the story.

The Excellent:

The BDSM scenes in this book were so lovingly crafted and perfectly balanced in the telling that I couldn’t find much (read: any) fault with them. At the very least Hall must have hung out at a few kink clubs before writing this book. He seems to genuinely understand the trust involved in a Dom/sub relationship and have a good feel for how real life sometimes interrupts fantasies.

I also cannot compliment enough the characterization of Toby. I love that Toby has a thousand flaws and is the Dom in their relationship, in spite of his age. On a personal note I really related to his food joy, and I totally got the whole misunderstood possible genius thing. My partner constantly feels like he’s under siege because he’s highly intelligent and chooses to sink his attention into things like food rather than finance. There’s something to be said for being happy rather than being what the world wants from you, and the character of Toby displays this idea beautifully.

Also, there are serious parts of this story and Hall handles the subject of grief far more competently than most authors I’ve read. His characters all seem to react completely realistically to life, or they just insist on themselves so well that I think they are. Either way, it’s rare for me to read an entire book and not stop to question a character reaction even once. It’s sort of a “nature of the beast” thing, since I write and edit myself.

The Euphoric:

Some of the sex in this book was completely raunchy in the best way possible. Hall has the ability to let his characters lose control in such a way that it is both hypnotizing and traumatizing and wonderful all at the same time. I’m torn because I don’t want to have many spoilers here, but there is one scene in particular that I reread several times where Laurie cums in Toby and then…well, he licks it out of him. Now, that all sounds completely, ridiculously dirty when I just say it that way, but Hall actually made that scene touching. TOUCHING. How did he do that? I’m not really sure. Some strange magic lives in whatever pen he used to write that scene down, and I can’t wait to read …well, every other thing he’s ever published. I hear Glitterland is good, and I’m set to read it next.

The Bad:

Things I didn’t like about this book? Well, the only thing I can say is that Hall didn’t do a good job describing an anal hook. I was compelled to google it to get a good read on the visuals of one sex scene, even though I probably could have gotten away without doing so. My google break in no way ruined the scene for me or lessened my enjoyment of the novel. I was also unfamiliar with a St. Andrew’s Cross and had to google that when it was mentioned in a kink party scene because it was expected that I should know what one was.

A few of the side characters I felt were maybe unnecessary, like Angel, but they all added a nice bit of fluff to the story that I enjoyed.

My overall assessment of this book is to buy it. Buy it now. Read it. Love it with me.

Check out my book Threefold Love.


1 Comment

Filed under BDSM, Book Review, gay fiction, m/m

One response to “Sunday Book Review: For Real by Alexis Hall

  1. Reblogged this on Monica Baker's Official Blog. and commented:
    Check out this awesome book review by my fellow author Ki Brightly. ❤ It might give you an idea on what to read next 😀


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