For Real by Alexis Hall 5 Stars!!!
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.
Sigh. So good.
I don’t really love romances that contain BDSM aa a rule and the lean in on the SM part even less so but I do read them because despite by preferences there is some damn fine storytelling to be found in this troupe.
This book. This book might be the best I have ever read with a romance where the couples sexual needs are met through BDSM and the if BDSM were not in the story the character would be less of who they are and the plot of the book would suffer.
This love story is about integration of the self and love.
The age difference and being in very different life stages is exquisitely handled. And not just by the older hero but even more so by the younger hero. I love that Toby has acne. I love it so much. It is pitch perfect in terms of not being “grown” and yet being a full person. Laurie’s non caring about it is also such a wonderful thing because as we age the body’s imperfection tend to matter very little and our love comes from the person who inhabits the body. There is a lot of things that ages lets us let go that Laurie represents.
The other aspect of the age difference that Toby can’t be accepted for who he is (a Dom) because of age. He has other struggles of a 19 year old which drive the plot beautiful but never in the oh god grow up way but in the wow remember so human way.
Laurie is heartbroken which is a common theme in Hall’s books. Oh, and there is poetry and the love story that comes from finding equality and acceptance.
Excellent writing as usual and really gorgeous romance.