For Real (A Spires story) by Alexis Hall ~ Book Review by Beverley

ForReal_500x750Title: For Real (A Spires story)

Author: Alexis Hall

Publisher: Riptide

Cover Artist: Simone

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 06/01/2015

Length: Long Novel (~ 100K+)

Genre: BDSM, Contemporary, M/M Romance

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.

My View:

First of all, let me say I loved this new release from Alexis Hall. So why am I not awarding For Real, 5*?

For me this novel is a paradox – I love it, but some aspects don’t work for me and yet the bits that don’t work make me love For Real, in a different way…

It is easier to begin with what I love about this story of a May to December relationship. For Real revolves exclusively around two characters Laurence Dalziel, a thirty seven year old trauma consultant, an Oxford man through and through, and Toby. Toby is nineteen, intelligent, neglected by parents and adored by his ‘Granddad’. Their route to each other, initially, is the need /desire in one to submit through BDSM and the desire in the other to Dominate through BDSM. In both, this desire is restricted mainly, to sex.

Being Alexis Hall, he reverses the obvious dynamic, and gives us an adorable, fearless teenage Dom with acne, and a self-possessed, wealthy, older Submissive. The writing, as always, is exquisite and this author never fails to include pithy, perceptive observations on life, which almost have me gasping from the truth behind them.

Granddad’s resting at the moment. He sounds all wheezy, but not like he’s in pain, and I kind of find myself breathing along with him, like I’m helping or something.

And how;

Half-naked always felt so much more naked than naked.

Plus, the obvious 🙂

…Mary Berry who is like the best person ever.

There are many wonderful observations in this novel. I didn’t cry, but very near the end I let out a spontaneous painful sob. All I will say is that it related to ‘Frog’, and the pain of that sob has stayed with me.

The author’s attitude and approach to BDSM is very believable, and again very Alexis Hall. I love the ‘make do’ elements, which highlight the psychology and joy behind the BDSM scenes rather than the paraphernalia. One very successful scene, regarding a Lemon Meringue pie, is very inventive and sexy. I am going to steal the recipe as well

I hope the review reveals how much I love this book. Now the hard bit – the negative parts that removed that half star – for me. I completely believed in Laurie as a submissive. The psychology of a person in a high stressed ‘life and death’ job desiring to submit and let go – it all felt right almost visceral.

I loved Toby, as a character, he was adorable in his teenage – ness, but I couldn’t believe in him as a Dom, and I feel bad for Toby saying that. I respect what the author was saying and trying to do, but Toby felt too much like a ‘baby-Dom’ for it to feel like true sexual domination. Having said this – there is a ‘flogging’ scene towards the end that really did work for me, and did have me believing that Toby would grow into his dominance.

My last negative observation is that for the first time, in my opinion, there were too many superlatives and adjectives. Alexis Hall’s writing really comes into its own when he picks just that right word, or phrase, to decimate the reader. In some parts, I felt awash in the descriptions of emotion and feelings and (for me!) it kept some of the BDSM aspects from being sexy or truly emotional.

Rather than a BDSM novel – For Real is a love story – with BDSM. I am dying to read it again so what does that say…? I told you a paradox.

This novel has actually caused me to have an epiphany regarding my rating of books 😉

 

Links

Amazon

For Real (A Spires story) on Goodreads
Riptide

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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11 thoughts on “For Real (A Spires story) by Alexis Hall ~ Book Review by Beverley

  1. Wow, very thoughtful review BJ, I actually read through this twice, thinking about what you said.

    I hope you don’t mind if I comment *ahem*a bit at length?

    Sorry, I’m sort of reacting to this as if it’s a blog post, rather than a review, so while I have some thoughts that are different from yours, I don’t mean any of that to be read as in any way critical of the review, not at all! 🙂

    On Laurie, yes, I also felt he was very believably submissive. However, it’s interesting where you say: “The psychology of a person in a high stressed ‘life and death’ job needing to submit and let go”

    I think that’s kind of the way I might *instinctively* look at things, or look for clues in childhood experiences, etc., because I tend to be very analytical & cause/effect. And not that those things might not be valid. But because I felt that both the author & the characters consciously did not go there, just sort of took domination/submission as just, a way some people are, not necessarily for any particular reason, I also consciously resisted going there. And also tried not to think of it as need. There was a quote from Laurie that sticks with me: “I’d never liked to think of submission as need, because it stripped away too much agency and reduced to helpless compulsion everything I craved and wanted and thrilled to. What I *needed* was the choice to share these things, not simply to have them fulfilled.”

    Haha, it’s Alexis, y’know, so I tend to go over & over these things in my mind like they’re a Buddhist koan or something 😉

    Anyway, what was really interesting to me was on the negatives. I’m didn’t have either of those reactions & didn’t notice anything with regard to superlatives. On the “baby dom” thing, though, I can see exactly where you’re coming from. But I think I came at the experience from another angle. I tried to put into practice some of what I have been learning in the last two years, to think about this stuff deconstructively. To separate myself as I was reading this, from defining what is dominant according to what *feels* dominant to *me*, because that’s subjective. Which isn’t easy to do. I just sort of, started off from position that my reaction was irrelevant. That all that matters to Toby & Laurie, is how *they* feel. And just accepted that they felt as they said they did. To do anything else would have felt like, defining “dominance” by my own perspective & personal preferences.

    I sort of felt that was a point the story is making? That there is not necessarily a “way of being” that is inherently dominant or submissive. That it’s more what each person feels inside. Again, as in, wanting to dominate/feeling dominant and having your partner want to submit to you/feel dominated, is all that’s required?

    I will admit that attitude doesn’t come naturally to me. But it reminds me of some of the Teatime discussions. About power & masculinity & normative attractiveness. How certain things may “feel” *normal* or *masculine* or *feminine* or *weak* or *powerful* or *attractive* or *unattractive*, or whatever, but that’s not really about them actually *being* those things, intrinsically. As in, what do you experience as powerful, & why, & does that really mean only that thing actually *is* powerful, or is that just another part of internalizing a patriarchal & normative social construction of what power means? All that jazz 😉

    Eek, sorry for blowing up the comments 😛

    Obviously you win the prize for a thought provoking review! From me, anyway 🙂

    • I’m really glad I provoked a response Pam. Too often we review books and receive no replies, and it can be soul destroying. We all care about what we read, and how we present our reading experiences – it is nice to know our reviews are read.

      I totally agree with you that no action, occupation, or reaction is inherently masculine/feminine, or indeed dominant/submissive.

      We are taught deconstruction of text, but until we can equate that with a similarly rigorous deconstruction of societal norms etc., we will always be subjective in our reading.

      A trauma surgeon could be a submissive by nature, as a psychological need brought on by the nature of his job, or indeed a Dominant whose nature leads him to a demanding job. I believed and enjoyed the author’s take on this.

      Toby is presented as ‘needing’ to dominate sexually, but it read as a teenager growing into his desires. Above all though, Alexis presents a couple against the norm where age, upbringing, background and BSDM roles are concerned, and does this successfully. My reading of Toby was a very young dom – who I read would grow into that role, but did not present as such during this narrative.

      I think whether you say a character ‘needs’ / ‘feels’, or ‘feels the need’ is really a matter of semantics.

      • Can I get in here too, just for conversations sake? Like Pam, not trying to debate your opinion or anything. (Though, much as I hate it, I have about 4 minutes before I need to walk out the door, so it’ll be brief and ill-thought out by necessity.)

        I think Hall focused fairly heavily on Laurie and as such it’s very heavy on GIVING submission, as choice. Toby was a baby Dom, with another sub he wouldn’t have been able to dominate. He didn’t have the gravitas or experience to do it. However, Laurie could very effectively GIVE him his submission, even if Toby didn’t yet know how to take it (which is what I think Laurie wanted eventually). There’s the whole scene with the friends, where they’re incredulous about if he can really sub for a kid.

        This is another subversion of the genre’s tropes, as the focus is usually on the Dom and what he can make the Sub do, not the Sub and want he can do for the Dom. But for Laurie, I felt fulfilling someone else’s needs & wants was a big part of his satisfaction. Personally, this was part of what I loved about the book. (I gave it a 4.5 too).

        Great review. I really enjoyed your thoughts on the book.

  2. Very interesting review. I couldn’t get into this author’s “Kane” series at all, but this book sounds as if it might be something for me. Thank you!

    • Wow Jennifer if Alexis Hall’s work is new to you I am very envious because you have a wonderful selection of novels and novellas to read for the first time 🙂

  3. Nearly finished this. I’m not always a fan of BDSM stories, but I’d read so many good reviews I thought I’d give it a try, and wow. I love the way the story is written. The writer’s choice of words and phrases make the story sing. Also, anyone who includes my favourite John Donne quote gets my vote. I’m going to get to the end soon and part of me isn’t looking forward to that at all..

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