For Real is the third book in Alexis Hall’s Spires series of contemporary m/m romance novels. This book was my first experience with Hall, and if you don’t want to read the rest of the review, all you need to know is that I loved this book so much that I spent the rest of the week buying just about everything else that Hall has written.
Laurie has been in a slump since his boyfriend broke up with him. They were together for over a dozen years, but the relationship ended eight years ago, and Laurie is still not over it. He’s been going through the motions of normalcy for years, and he feels extremely pessimistic when his friends drag him to a specialty club.
But something is different- Laurie meets Toby, who is only nineteen years old, but knows that he has dominant tendencies, despite never having been in a relationship that explored that dynamic.
And it’s utter madness, because Laurie is almost twenty years older than Toby, but he takes Toby home with him because Laurie has always been submissive in his encounters.
There’s no possible way that Laurie and Toby can have any sort of relationship because they are too different. Sure, they click in the bedroom (and living room and kitchen), but what about the age difference? What about the fact that Laurie is a doctor and Toby works in a café instead of going to university? This relationship is too intense to last, and it’ll fizzle out eventually. But what if it doesn’t?
This book is amazing. I’ve already said that, but it’s worth saying again. It’s unconventional, and that’s what makes it interesting. The narrative is divided between Laurie and Toby’s perspectives. Dual perspective is fairly standard for a romance novel, but many of Hall’s books have only one narrator. Having both perspectives helps provide a rounded examination of the events of the book. The relationship is so new for both Laurie and Toby, and each man has different expectations of what they’re hoping to get out of their time together.
Speaking of which, Laurie and Toby have this amazing chemistry, and their scenes together are intensely hot. There’s some awkwardness because the dynamic is new to Toby, but he adapts quickly. Their flexibility and willingness to learn from each other is part of what makes Laurie and Toby such an interesting couple. And wow, is there a lot for them to learn about each other. Wow.
I would absolutely recommend For Real. The books in the Spires series are only loosely connected, so can read the books in any order. I initially read For Real back in December of 2018, and then I listened to the Audible edition last month. I like all of Hall’s books, so it’s hard to pick favorites… but if I absolutely had to, this would be one of my most favorites. I’m looking forward to more from Hall in the future, but until then, I’ll have to content myself with reading (and listening to) the back catalog.