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.
©2015 Alexis Hall (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
Loved every second of this - the dual narration worked well here and Laurie and Toby each had their completely separate personalities blended superbly. A great story well narrated.
The writing is brilliant, characterisation complex and sophisticated. There are no easy familiar scenes or patterns to this love story - more than almost any other writer, this one ignores the reader's expectations except for giving us an occasional burst of hope and a share of the characters' joy. The characters' pain is vivid as well , but never unbearable to hear about as there is always enough optimism from somewhere to keep going - Toby, one of the two protagonists, is irrepressible but also fragile while Laurie is emotionally weathered, outwardly and inwardly tough but still vulnerable. Insight into both characters comes through very explicit descriptions of their sexual involvement but also their inner thoughts in the first person. A book which I finished and immediately started reading again.
"Glitterland" also by Alexis Hall; Stacia Kane's Chess and Terrible novels;
Sounded under-rehearsed, ill-prepared and sloppily-executed, For example - the narrator of Laurie's first-person sections gave Toby a feasible East London accent (we are told Toby's mother has an "East London" voice) but Laurie's voice is oddly theatrical and overly precise - he sounds like he is trying very hard to speak properly and it lacks spontaneity (this might be right for the character sometimes, but not when we are hearing his internal monologue surely). It is also rather expressionless and in many places there are spoken words followed by e.g. "his voice [was] breaking.." or other descriptor - when the words had not been spoken like that at all!
The narrator giving Toby his first-person voice made him sound like Prince William with a bit of estuary English with a glottal-stop "t" - sounded just like every ex-public-school 20 year old you've ever met, but this did not seem right for the character as written. A good performance but then he mispronounced not only "AGA" (the cooker) as "ay gee ay" and unforgiveably Laurie's surname "Dalziel" as "dall zeel" when IN THE BOOK on page 2 or 3 the pronunciation is subtly indicated - correctly of course - as "Dee-ell".
As often happens when actors are underprepared, and are, in effect, practising as they begin the recording, the performances improved somewhat as the actors learned their characters as time went on, but the basics of accent and characterisation by the two performers were simply not the same - did they talk to each other about it? Did anyone play each of them the other's performance? If not, then this is just cheating the listener with a second-rate performance - I felt both actors prevented from giving their best work.
Pay more attention to who produces an audible recording. This writer's earlier book "Glitterland" was narrated by Nicholas Boulton who I think really gave a perfect performance.Even "Waiting for the Flood" was pretty good. In both cases the narrators had to produce two different male voices with different accents and personalities. They did pretty well especially compared to this one.
Although the narration overall was no worse than many, compared to the skill of the writing it is woeful. Audible has seriously undermined the impact of this beautifully-written book. The book itself won a RITA award and is brilliant MM erotica.
Alexis Hall is an absolute wordsmith, and I have been waiting for the audio book of this, my fave story of his. Not sure how much input he had in choosing the narrators, but Paul Berton was fab as Tobermory although his 'voice' was a little more upmarket than I expected for someone from Shoreditch, which is definitely East End London. As for John Hartley's Laurie, well I couldn't make my mind up whether he's Australian or South African trying to read as an Englishman, but there were several phrases that gave him away, in particular I'd which came out as Ah'd, but it didn't detract from this wonderful story. Thrilled to bits with it.
"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?!
I chose the book because I've read nearly all of the books by Alexis Hall and enjoyed all of them. This one really touched a special place for me dealing with confusion, loss, low self- esteem and just wanting to be loved no matter what your station in life.
One of the best books I've listened to in a long time.
The absolute best D/s book I've ever read! Hands-down! Never has an author captured the essence of being a submissive more accurately. So effin' perfect it almost hurts when the last words are uttered and the book has concluded! God, I want MORE of these two and their beautiful relationship. *goes to knees* Please, Sir, more.
"Why was the narrator changed?"
I loved, loved, loved this book. It's still wonderful, I'll still listen, but the original narrator was so much better than this updated version. I see the desire to have two separate narrators for the two POV characters, but the original narrator did a much better job keeping two distinct voices when one chapter belonged to one person while making the other's dialogue in their section so much more seamless.
"Superb narration for superb story"
As much as I enjoy reading Alexis Hall's excellent prose, this time I enjoyed hearing it even more. These narrators brought the characters to life by dramatizing the story, not merely reading Hall's beautifully literate prose.
I highly recommend this production, and know I will listen to it many times.
"Get this right now!"
I loooooooooved this book when I first read it. And now I love it even more. John and Paul's voices were absolutely stunning, true to the character I pictured, and had me swooning with love for these characters all over again.
This is one I will listen to over and over again!
"Fall in Love for Real!!!"
Beautiful story about the complicated life of a young boy with to many difficulties to overcome and a man who just want to find someone to complement his life.
We all know love is complicated but when you finally find it at your doorstep the only thing that you need to do is open the door and let it in.
This by far is one if not the absolute best dom/sub book that I've ever read. The relationship between the two main characters is amazing, and I love how it develops. I love that it didn't have that typical romance guide where they take time to get together, then they do, then someone messes up, and then they get back together. It's like you got to follow along and grow with the characters and they become real people. This book was so much more than the sex, and speaking up the sex... It was amazing! Like literally amazing. The sex scenes are well placed. I loved how it really showed dom/sub relationship in such a different way. This book was just absolutely beautiful. Most books like this don't show bdsm it such a good and beautiful light. They just make the sex scenes dirty and raunchy but this one is just amazing. I can not give a good enough review on this book to do it close to justice.
I really enjoyed this book. Great story, well written. The characters so different yet so comparable to each other.
The narration was well done
Well, I not only read the book over the last week, but I listened to the audio as well. The narrators are two that I don't remember listening to before, John Hartley and Paul Berton. Their voice characters was inspired, and I loved their accents which brought the characters even more alive. I felt that I could actually see Toby and Laurie at times, and I ached for their awkwardness and I cried with them as they navigated through the beginnings of a new, unusual relationship. I'm glad they were able to overcome their obstacles and be happy. A truly well-written story and totally worth a credit.
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