Mel's Reviews > For Real

For Real by Alexis  Hall
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favourites-2015, genre-contemporary, bbs
Read 3 times. Last read May 30, 2015 to June 4, 2015.

The book is getting better and better with every read or listen. Loved the audio <3


OMGOMGOMGOMG

FOR REAL WON THE RITA AWARD

SQUEEEEEEEEEEE

ALL THE LOVE FOR THIS BOOK AND ALEXIS

SO WELL DESERVED





So we put our arms around each other again. I lead and Laurie follows [...], and there's moonlight, and we dance and dance and dance until we fly and my heart is so zing, I can't even.

I found it :D The perfect quote.
It makes me smile so much, I can't even.
Not only is this quote from one of my (many) favourite scenes, it's also this metaphorical kinda thing. You know, with the leading and following and dancing and all the rest, too.
Perfect.


I guess, by now you all know that Alexis is my favourite author, that I love everything he writes—no matter what—and everything he does and says. I often feel like this worshipping silly fangirl, that nobody takes seriously or should take seriously, but hey... I made peace with it ;-P



So, I want to remind myself of several things:

1.) Surrendering, submitting is opening yourself, offering yourself, in circumstances that are not restricted to some kinky sex you might or not might be into

I have this thing I do when I fight with my husband, when I feel cornered or misunderstood. I get all empty and hide myself from him. It's partly because, gosh, fighting is hard, but also because it's something I can withhold, I guess. Like maybe he isn't worthy of myself in that moment. It's not a conscious choice, though, just a habit or mechanism I learned early on in life.

[Laurie] still won't meet my eyes, so I reach up, catch his chin, and make him. He flinches, and then, well, it's not quite a sigh, but the rhythm of his breathing changes. Slows. His eyes soften slightly, and I realise it's how he looks when he's at my feet.
He swallows. Then whispers, "Thank you, Toby, for letting me kneel for you."
And, holy shit, if I hadn't just come all the come in the universe, I'd probably be coming right now.


This was just one example. Seeing Laurie submit to Toby in a conversation by answering him, although he doesn't want to, got me thinking about that part of myself. I even found the courage, the trust—in a minor argument—to not do as I usually do. I gave an answer, I gave him myself.

And isn't that the best thing a romance book can give us—apart from all the happiness, I mean? This is such a precious thing. To take something away from a book. And unfortunately, that doesn't happen often enough. So when it does, it's like this special thing that's to be treasured.


2.) Submission and dominance is not about acts, but about what it means; it's not about appearances, either

I'm not a huge fan of books that have a BDSM theme or content. It's not that I don't find it hot, because seriously, I do. Immensely so.

My first experience was with M/F romance. And here, I'm gonna have to tell you first that the main reason I stopped reading M/F is the power dynamics and the stereotypes that come with it. Power/dominance belongs to the male, submitting to the female. And even if you finally have a strong female character, that will stop in the bedroom at the latest. Adding BDSM to that is like heightening this to the extreme. Since I already hate the former, I absolutely can't with the latter.
Somehow, coming into the world of M/M, I didn't acquire the habit of reading BDSM. It wasn't a conscious choice. It's probably that in my mind there is still this little negativity present.

So, what I love is when submitting does not equal weakness. This is the case here in 'For Real', and it's so, so amazing!

Here are some quotes that show what Laurie thinks about it:

In truth, they [submissive acts] had made me strong. Proud, too. And I'd never really separated the need to submit, to be hurt, and sometimes to be forced, from what seemed to me the most natural impulses of love: to be touched, to be known, to be naked, to be safe.

Thank you for the pain. Thank you for letting it mean so much to you. Thank you for believing I'm beautiful. Thank you for making me feel so powerful. Thank you for loving me. Thank you. Thank you.

"I want to give him everything, and the things I can't give, I want him to take."


I found it also so very refreshing that there are no deeds automatically submissive or dominant.

It's not what you do, it's what it means.

But I suppose it comes down to whether you think dominance and submission are about acts or about people."


I absolutely love—again, I know—that Alexis messes with norms and expectations. It's not about how one looks, about how old one is, about sexual preferences. No, it's about who we are.

I have to say that I think I understood a lot more about BDSM than I have before. Some things will probably always be an enigma to me—the wish to cause someone pain, for example—but for me it all came down to this:

Toby liked to be under my skin. He wanted to be inside me, in my body and in my mind. In my heart.

It gets me [Toby] hard as fuck, and kind of tender at the same time [...]
the pleasure and the power and Laurie being Laurie—so utterly gorgeous when he's all undone, no control or pride left, stripped back to nothing but this. Because beyond shame, fear, and vulnerability, there's only true things: sex and love and us.


Beautiful!


3.) Love or falling in love has no boundaries, no conformities, is not restricted in any outer circumstance

I fell in love with my husband when I was 17 and I married him 2 years later, and today, 13 years later, we're still happy together and love each other deeply. Age is no hinderance to love, to know what you want. Maybe it's even easier sometimes, because you haven't lost your way yet, like Laurie did.

Age difference obviously has it's challenges, but it's just a thing like every other. There's always something that is in your way, that changes your relationship, that challenges it. It's the now that counts. It's not the fear of a tomorrow that might bring problems. It will bring them. Just make sure to love in the now and try to conquer whatever is thrown at you. And peeps, this can be just something like moving places, changing jobs, getting kids, or even less obvious as getting older.

[Toby:] "You promised you wouldn't do this again, but you're still doing it. You're just doing it a different way. So stop pretending I could just walk away and it wouldn't mean anything to you. Stop pretending it's all about me and what I want. Stop pretending this isn't real. Just stop fucking pretending. Because you're here too."


4.) Baking can be so much more fun than you've ever thought possible

Yeah, I'm stopping with the 'wisdom' now. I just have to get it out there that this book is so much kinky fun without getting extreme on the kink. It's not about the heavier, dirtier, what have you sex. It's befitting an unexperienced dom who's learning what he likes and he can do and what is good for his partner. I had so much fun reading this. Not only the kinky, inventive sex, but also the psychological meanings, the push and pull—it was just as fascinating to me.


5.) A disappointment does not justify such annoyance. Mel, seriously, get over it

I have this other thing—I am a peculiar person, I know. I hate—no I loath—orchestrated angst. Situations, reactions that seem not plausible to me. I just... Makes me so fucking mad when I have to read about this. It's me. It's seriously one of my hard limits.

I have really problems to come back from this when it happens in a book, because I have issues, obviously.

So, at 88% there happens something in the book that I did not like. Gasp! Did you hear that, you all? I did not like something that is related to Alexis. And I did not like it because I thought that Toby was really overreacting and I just couldn't find it realistic that he would react so strongly.

So I crawled to my fellow buddy reader Marco, sniffing and disappointed and all, and got it all out, and it helped. Therapy. And then I read all my former updates again to remind me of the awesomeness of all the rest. And then I thought if maybe I had it all wrong, but came to the conclusion that it's quite alright to not love every single thing, that it's okay to not like something, but still love the rest and the book as a whole.

I don't know if I should show this in my rating... So maybe this is only a 4.5 read, or maybe it's a 5 star read, but it's not worthy to join my favourite shelf. Oh well, I don't know. I don't care anymore, either. I've come to doubt all the meaning of stars, anyway.

All I can say is:

Alexis deserves to be my favourite. With every book he writes. With 'For Real' right now. With the next book I'll read. I know it. Because his books and I, we just click. It's like they are made for me.



ETA, October 2015: It's been a while since I read FOR REAL, and from time to time I thought about it, and about the issue I had with Toby's behaviour. And I kinda had an epiphany. Don't laugh, it's probably obvious for everyone else, but hey... It's good to finally get there, right?

So... I wouldn't have reacted like he did, even at his age. I was and still am very different than he is. And in a way that's because I've been very, very lucky.

What I realised, though, is that I can't and shouldn't expect my personal behaviour as any standard. Ha. Well, I usually don't. But here, and sometimes when reading, I can't help it. It's because I get so involved in everything, that I somehow merge with the story.

At this point I shouldn't. I hope I will be aware of that in the future, that only because I would do differently, doesn't mean that a reaction isn't valid. Because it is.



ETA, January 2016, after my first re-read: I even loved this more the second time around. And I'm happy to announce that I really do get Toby now, not only how he reacts in their first real fight (what I've written about above), but also his dominant and sadistic side. I was just looking in the wrong place before. You have to look at Laurie to really get it :) Because... what these two have, what they give each other... it simply is beautiful and true and right.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 18, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
April 18, 2015 – Shelved
May 6, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read-already-own
May 30, 2015 – Started Reading
May 30, 2015 –
0.0% "\n \n After I waited the whole fucking day yesterday, it is finally here. The wait is over."
May 30, 2015 –
0.0% "I won't be able to get all my thoughts and updates into this limited updated space, so I'll always use the comments, too."
May 30, 2015 –
7.0% "Only 7% in and this has already been hot as fuck, heartbreaking, and challenging all norms :D"
May 30, 2015 –
11.0% "awww :-))) so tender, those moments when they open up to each other with a simple word or gesture. so intriguing, the push and pull between them, the fear and the dare. loved that scene in the bath "
May 30, 2015 –
19.0% "Gosh... HOTTT!\n \n Toby's inner monologue is so very amusing, but seriously, I hope he learns to calm down during the sex scenes ;-P\n I love how he is shy and hesitant one moment, but then it's like his instincts overrule him and he just goes for whatever he thinks he wants and, moreover, what Laurie needs.\n The dynamics between those two are so fascinating!"
May 31, 2015 –
30.0% "So, the beginning of this new chapter was hard to read. This was not pretty, but I believe this had to be there.\n All the more sweet and wonderful was the rest of it."
May 31, 2015 –
30.0% "I absolutely love both Toby and Laurie. I couldn't pick one over the other. They both are very fascinating to me, too, because Alexis gave them so much depths. It's so great to wonder what they will do next, what they will think and say, how they will submit and dominate. And I mean this last bit not in a kinky kind of way—although that is awesome, too."
June 1, 2015 –
40.0% "OMG, I absolutely fucking loved that last chapter from Toby's POV. He's the most endearing guy there is. And this combination of strength and uncertainty is awesome. AWESOME."
June 1, 2015 –
44.0% "Oh my, this is so so sooo beautiful, sigh. I'm all gooey and mushy inside, and so so happy.\n \n Laurie has the best friends: My friends were not my allies. That was probably why they were friends.\n I don't know, Laurie is so set in his thoughts that this thing with Toby can't be anything serious, he doesn't see anymore how ridiculous his arguments are. Good he has friends who tell him :D"
June 2, 2015 –
52.0% "It's so nice to see them getting closer, to see Laurie deconstruct his walls. But seriously, Toby, what's it with the double standard? You need to trust Laurie with your stuff, too. I'll be patient and wait..."
June 2, 2015 –
58.0% "A Vibrating Anal Plug. While going out for dinner with friends.\n \n How the fuck am I supposed to survive the next chapter.\n \n Already dead."
June 2, 2015 –
58.0% "You didn't really think the 'Anal Plug Update' was all you're gonna get, right? I just needed that out of the way ;-P\n \n I loved that scene when they were out buying perfume, especially their reaction to the cashier's statement. That was great. And the 'discussion' afterwards that ended in the most romantic thing ever :D"
June 2, 2015 –
66.0% "Hmmmmm :-) Lovely. Romantic. Sexy. All the best things: So we put our arms around each other again. I lead any Laurie follows [...], and there's moonlight, and we dance and dance and dance until we fly and my heart is so zing, I can't even."
June 3, 2015 –
82.0% "oh fuck, am I glad they turned that all around. now I'm exhausted. phew. I was so scared for them there. I think I still haven't quite recovered. I should have never have doubted Toby Alexis.\n \n On a lighter note: hehe, that lemon meringue pie baking was sublime. the best."
June 3, 2015 –
88.0% "Gosh, I'm so fucking disappointed. This turn of events, Toby's hyperbolic reaction... you lost me here. Right now, I just can't believe he'd do this—which makes this angsty, which I don't like, which I hate. Maybe the next chapter can bring a new light on this for me, but... I don't know."
June 3, 2015 –
93.0% "I still have this knot in my stomach. Because of this one thing. Because I am over-sensitive.\n I want it gone. I need to move one. Because they already did. They overcame. I want to, too."
June 4, 2015 –
100.0% "Happy sigh :-))\n While the last 15% of the book weren't just as amazing for me as the rest, this was still great, and this is an amazing book. I'll probably spend ages on my review to get all my thoughts and love out. Some last quotes first, though:"
June 4, 2015 – Finished Reading
December 15, 2015 – Shelved as: favourites-2015
December 28, 2015 –
19.0% "This book is fucking PERFECT!!!\n \n "
December 31, 2015 –
58.0% "Oh wow, this book makes me so happy :)))\n \n \n \n About to enter the Oxford dinner :D pluggy-plug :D"
January 25, 2016 –
78.0% "Reading the meringue pie scene on commute was pure torture :D"
June 12, 2016 – Shelved as: genre-contemporary
October 14, 2016 – Started Reading (Audible Audio Edition)
October 14, 2016 – Shelved (Audible Audio Edition)
October 14, 2016 –
page 0
0.0% "Audio Book <3\n\n" (Audible Audio Edition)
April 12, 2017 – Finished Reading (Audible Audio Edition)
May 6, 2019 – Shelved as: bbs

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)

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Gigi Fangirling right beside you!!


message 2: by Mel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mel Glad to hear it, Gigi :-) June can't come fast enough...


message 3: by Bev (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bev Fab review Mel, and I love the quotes. I dread to think how many pages mine will be cos of the quotes...I'll have to take a firm hold of those keys on the keyboard and resist what my kindle is telling me to type, hehe. ^_^


message 4: by Maya (last edited Jun 04, 2015 12:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maya That's an amazing review, Mel!

I loved this: "This is such a precious thing. To take something away from a book. And unfortunately, that doesn't happen often enough. So when it does, it's like this special thing that's to be treasured." and I couldn't agree more.

(view spoiler)


message 5: by Mel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mel Uhh, thank you, Bev :-)
I got the quotes all done through my updates, lol. I do so know what you mean, though. If I hadn't already written them down somewhere, I'd never have been able to choose for my review!


message 6: by Mel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mel Thanks so much, Maya!

I know that I'm quite peculiar with the last 15%. I'm glad you could connect with this part so much. Shows me it really is my sensibility and that this was a plausible overreaction ;-P


message 7: by Bev (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bev Mel *I guess nowt changes except ourselves* wrote: "Uhh, thank you, Bev :-)
I got the quotes all done through my updates, lol. I do so know what you mean, though. If I hadn't already written them down somewhere, I'd never have been able to choose fo..."


I'm going to have to decide what to quote and what to keep in my notes, but it's sooo difficult. I've highlighted most of the flipping book...;)


message 8: by Mel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mel hehe, me too :-) and good luck!


Rachel Fantastic review!


message 10: by Mel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mel Thanks so much, Rachel!


Heidi Beautiful review Mel!


message 12: by Mel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mel Thanks, Chili :D


Irina Amazing review, Mel! Your praise for this book months ago has made me really curious and I loved it. Thank you! x


message 14: by Mel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mel Awww :) Thank you, Irina! And I'm overly happy that you loved it, too!


twelvejan [Alexandria] Amazing, I love how you take the whole book apart and give it so much meaning!


message 16: by Mel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mel twelvejan [Alexandria] wrote: "Amazing, I love how you take the whole book apart and give it so much meaning!"

:)))) Thanks so much... It's such an amazing book!


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