Breaking the mould

For Real by Hall - Alexis Hall

I admit I was confused. I wasn’t sure who was the Dom here. Supposedly Toby calls the shots, but Lauren fulfilled that role a way too often. Yes, I’m aware Toby is new in the scene, and I could really imagine him as the perfect controlled Dom in the years to come. But this book felt… strange, at least.

Am I allowed to have these doubts and at the same time love the relationship just as it is?

As if.

Despite all of the above, I could really appreciate the D/s theme here. I loved that first scene together, when Toby asks Laure 

if he needs a safeword and Lauren just says: “I’m kneeling at your feet while you wank. If I don’t like it, I can stand up and walk away.”

(show spoiler)

 I have to say it: it was refreshing and daring and I was impressed and amused.

Toby is so mischievous I was grinning like an idiot every time he managed to have his way with Lauren. He is very creative. And the time they meet at the club, 

Lauren all of a sudden telling Toby what’s he doing there and then Toby speaking his mind and his longings out loud, only for Lauren’s ears. And Lauren going on his knees...

(show spoiler)

 I must say my own knees were like jelly in that same moment. And that scene when I thought everything was going to shit and become an embarrassing turning point of their lives but suddenly… Toby says no. I loved him to pieces then, I swear I would have kissed the floor at his feet and everything else around him.

And him.

Yes, there were plenty of moments I truly adored.

I loved how they weren’t the prettiest guys on Earth. Lauren is described as attractive but not handsome, whereas Toby is lanky figure and face full of acne doesn’t make him the ideal picture we have of a Dom covered in black leather.

In fact, I was really glad I didn’t miss the leather here. The BDSM dynamics in this book are more spontaneous, more due to the the heat-of-the-moment than an scheduled and calculated scene from both sides. I don’t say it was more natural nor adequate, but I believe it something different to everything I’ve read before about the topic. More humorous, less serious, but equally fun.

I loved the kinky. And the food games.

The age gap was shocking and an important matter in the story. Josy pointed it out to me that Toby’s POV was in present tense, whereas Lauren’s was in past tense. It’s a smart move to show how age shapes them both in their way of thinking, or how their way of thinking suits their ages. Toby’s mind is more focused on the now, on the immediate, on the carpe diem. Lauren’s worries about a past that has been dragging him down for too long, and a perspective of things that is more mature, but that doesn’t mean it’s more spot on than Toby’s. In fact, it’s Toby the one who recognizes what’s important very early in their relationship and wants to grab it with both hands and never let go. Lauren is wary and has been hurt, and he doesn’t want another big mistake in his existence.

But Toby makes him feel alive for the first time since… a long way ago.

He has never felt the compulsion of surrendering to anybody. Not since Robert.

And that scares him like nothing else does.

On the other hand, Lauren is more experienced in other aspects of life, and he wants to guide Toby, something that Toby wants to hide from him at all costs.

I liked seeing that things were not that simple as to say that Toby-was-above and Lauren-was-beneath, because in fact they guide each other and their roles change depending on what they are dealing with. They take care of each other, worry about each other, help each other, and protect each other. I liked seeing how they complement each other and that no one was a master in a specific field, they just were imperfect, and they learn from their mistakes and their insecurities and their demons.

I have to dedicate a few words to Alexis’s writing. I really have a hard time with him. I’m not a native speaker so every paragraph of his was a true challenge to my knowledge of the language. Alexis’s cryptic style is unmistakable but it also requires such a high level of attention I sometimes miss the point of the conversation entirely. It’s one of those authors who really make me wonder “Do I really speak English?”. It’s not just the slang of the cultural British hints. It’s more than that. Something that made re-read entire paragraphs hoping to get the dialogue straight. The syntax is so complex and unusual I often wonder if I’m the only one having problems with it.


My twin monster Josy and I read this together!