Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
Cover mildly NSFW, so linking. Hot cover here! Getcha hot cover here!
I have a limited amount of reading time at night, and a very good internal clock. Usually without fail, I know exactly when I have to stop reading, glance over to the clock to confirm it, and close my Kindle. This book blew that out of the water. Most nights I didn't glance at the clock until an hour later than I should have stopped reading, said "it's not a good stopping point, I'll read for just another couple minutes" and then another hour would pass. I actually got no work done today at my job because I was just so darned tired from lack of sleep.
Though a very simple story, it was handled well. A 19 year old teen meets a middle aged man in a BDSM club. They have a connection, and the story follows their relationship as it grows and builds. In most stories like this, the younger man would be the sub, but in this book he was the dom. That was a nice twist. (Some reviewers had issues with the 19 year old's age, saying he often came off as much younger, and thus the story made them uncomfortable since he was underage. I'd agree with the much younger part, I would have guessed he was 16 if the author hadn't repeatedly stated he was 19.)
Though it was right on the borderline of 'too much sex,' the story never crossed that line. Sex scenes are good and fun and hot, but more and more, I need substance to go with them. Sex scenes are like the sauce on a meal -- they make a meal better, but a dinner of nothing but sauce wouldn't be very satisfying.
While I very much enjoyed most of the story, it wasn't perfect. (I think I'm harder on stories that are close to perfect than I am on ones that are mediocre.) There was too much "Oh he won't love me because I'm too young" and "Oh he won't love me because I'm too old". Near the end, there was one of those annoying if they'd only TALK TO EACH OTHER, this whole issue would be settled! situation caused because the teen didn't charge his phone for a day (on purpose, he knew it was dead, right after their first big fight).
I'll admit I skimmed the last scene of the story, because it was more sex and the plot was settled by that point. Sex is nice, kinky sex nicer, but the story was over and it was just fluff for me.
This book very much reminded me of Manna Francis/manna's epic slash original fiction series The Administration. Sex, BDSM, cooking/food played a major role in both, and even mention of an unhappy, pacing jaguar in a zoo. (If you haven't read The Admin yet, I STRONGLY recommend it. Most of the stories are free on her site, and I deeply love the whole series.)
I didn't love For Real as much as a lot of people did, but especially the first half of it I loved a lot. If you're okay with a story about nothing but relationships, with a heaping helping of semi-graphic M/M sex scenes (kinky and not), then you should give this book a try.