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 40 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.
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Just picture me screaming into the abyss forever
Yes. Everyone. Forever.
Why? Because its a piece of art that's why.
Listen, BDSM is a hard thing. It's hard to participate in, its hard to watch, it's hard to understand and its hard to portray. Yet with For Real, it felt effortless. Laurie and Toby pulled me into their world of dominance of submission and trust and care with the ease of a fish gliding through water. Of course there were stumbles but not for one moment were you ever thrown out of the moment. It was, as the title said, For Real. Toby and Laurie were whole realized and complete people. They were strong and sure and beautiful and vulnerable and interesting all on their own and it made their coming together. I would've been fascinated by their relationship even without kink to be honest.
Plus, as someone who spent a bit of time in the London Underground Clubs scene many many moons ago, it was lovely to hear clubs I knew name-checked every now and then. But that was mostly a bonus for me. ;)
Good lord. Not a book but maybe the movie Secretary if Maggie Gyllenhall and James Spader switched kinks but everything else stayed exactly the same.
Laurie and Toby were both divine but I felt far more comfortable with John Hartley's Laurie than with Paul Berton's Toby because I am closer to Laurie's age than Toby. That's not a sign on his performance, just a sing that I'm getting old *sob*
Old enough to know better. Young enough not to care.
This book was brilliant - both in the sense that instilled joy and pleasure and in the sense that it was in fact intellectually brilliant. Toby was so smart I wanted to reach into my Audible app and shake him with his poetry and literary criticism and creativity and emotional maturity. Everyone in this book was there for a reason. There were no extemporaneous characters. Everyone, even the incidentals, had a purpose. I walked away feeling like I learned something even as I'd been entertained. It's been a long time since I've felt that way about a book. It's lovely to feel that way again.
Now who do I have to bribe to get the rest of Hall's works audiobooked?!
- M. Jones