Rating: 5 out of 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.
My heart is so zing I can’t even….. Seriously. Not enough words to express how much I loved this story. I had a bunch of friends who had read this and loved it but although I like this author’s work I was still a little dubious about the age gap. It wasn’t the amount of years as much as the fact that Toby was only 19. I went into this feeling a lot like Laurie did. I thought Toby was too young for this story to feel real to me.
This story looks at two very different men at two very different stages of their lives. Toby is working and still living at home with his mother. He knows he has dominate tendencies but really all he has are fantasies. He’s not had any real experience or opportunity to learn how to be a Dom. Laurie is on the opposite spectrum. He’s in his late 30’s and is a doctor. He has an established career and is financially stable. He’s had both short and long term sexual and bdsm relationships. While Laurie should be the one with the most self-confidence he really isn’t. He’s jaded and a tad bitter and he really doesn’t believe love will happen for him again. Toby also has a lack of self-confidence in some ways but his is more an age thing. He’s not sure what he has to offer Laurie. Watching these two try to work through their respective issues was just beautiful. While Toby struggles with not knowing what he wants to do with his future and how to have the sexual relationship he wants, he’s filled with enthusiasm and maybe most importantly, hope. And after awhile with him, those thing start to spread to Laurie.
I felt the author did a great job with both characters. The magic in the storytelling for me was that we got the story told from each characters point of view. I felt like this really helped me to understand what each of them were going through. I found myself identifying with both of them at one point or the other. I understood the doubts Laurie had in regards to Toby’s age. I’m not sure I could date someone that much younger than me. On the other hand I’ve been 19 and I though Toby was a great representation of what it’s like to be at that stage of life.
I also really enjoyed the kink aspect of the story. So often in BDSM books there is a type of formula that seems to be used. This book contained none of that. Toby has the desire to dominate but no real idea how to do it and it stands to reason a young Dom would need to be taught by someone. I loved how Laurie does that in this story and how he gently helps Toby to figure out who he is and what he wants in that regard.
An added bonus to this story was listening to it on audio. I highly recommend you give the audiobook a try. There are two narrators and they both do an excellent job. I think a great narrator can add to and enhance a story and in this case I feel like these narrators did just that.
I read a lot, like 300+ books a year, and there are usually only a handful that really stand out as something unique. Something that makes me think about it for days after I’m done. This book is one of those stand outs and I really can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Cover art by Simoné. I liked the cover and I feel like it does a good job representing the characters and the plot.
Audible Audio, 13 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Audible Studios (first published June 1st 2015)
Original TitleFor Real
Literary AwardsRITA Award by Romance Writers of America for Best Erotic Romance (2016)