Saturday, 6 August 2016

Grif’s Toy by Joseph Lance Tonlet

303 Pages
# 1 Tease and Denial
Own / E-book

The blurb

Grif believes he’ll live his life as a virgin. After all, who would want him? How could anyone find him, a guy who came with less than man-sized equipment, worthy of their love?

What he hadn’t counted on were the two amazing men who would change his life. After entering college, he meets Tate, his fun-loving roommate. While years later, with Tate now just a memory, Wes, a handsome, rugged ex-marine who runs his own security firm enters his life.

Both men lead Grif through a twisted mesh of pleasure, pain, and denial, as they force him to see his value, despite his size and insecurities.


My thoughts

I wonder if I’m the only one who postpones reading certain books because I’m convinced it’s going to be one of those extra special reads and I know that looking forward to one day opening the book is almost as good as reading it will be. After all, I can only read a book for the first time once. Grif’s Toy was such a book for me and the only reason I managed to force myself to dive in now, is because I know the sequel ‘Wes’ Denial’ is only a few weeks away from being released.

So, I hear you ask, did the book live up to my expectations?

The short answer is ‘yes’, and then some. I think it took me exactly half a page to fall for Grif, hard. The whole story is told from his point of view, and his mind was a thing of wonder. In almost every aspect of his life he’s confident and sure of himself, he’s smart, he’s funny and he’s loyal to a fault, without ever coming across as being too good to be true. The one big hang-up in his life is the size of his penis. He’s only a teenager when he first realises how small he is compared to other boys his age, and in that moment he makes up his mind that he will never share this, what he feels is a humiliation, with anybody else.

Enter first Tate and then Wes. Both men see all of Grif and both of them, eventually, manage to convince Grif that the size of his penis is not the defining factor when it comes to how they see him, even while (or maybe because) they use what Grif sees almost as his deformity, for their own and Grif’s pleasure.

This story is not written linearly. The story jumps back and forth, showing pivotal moments in Grif’s life and in his relationships with the two men who pull him out of his self-imposed solitary confinement. While it did mean I had to concentrate that little bit harder and pay close attention to the chapter headings, I’m grateful the author told the story like that. The fact that I knew from the start that Grif was in a loving, be it unconventional, relationship and happy there, made it possible for me to read all that had gone before without being a nervous wreck. And I’m in awe of the way Joseph Lance Tonlet managed to juggle all the scenes in such a way that I could easily see how the past influenced the present. Without Tate, Grif probably wouldn’t have been ready for Wes, and because a Wes chapter would either precede or follow a Tate chapter it was possible for me to pinpoint the moments in the past that made the present development plausible.

It wasn’t easy to get my head around the fact that what I thought would be hard to read and dark turned out to be gloriously beautiful and deeply touching. The thing is, I don’t get humiliation. I can’t imagine deriving any pleasure or excitement either from humiliating someone else or being humiliated myself, and I fully expected to be turned off by that aspect of the story. Imagine my surprise when I wasn’t; quite the opposite in fact.

“Bringing you to tears gives me so much pleasure. You are so beautiful.” - Wes

The first time I read that sentiment all my hackles went up and I was all ‘but that’s just wrong’. Except that it wasn’t. Not when Grif’s thoughts are:

“…every time I revealed more, made myself more vulnerable, there was every possibility that he’d use it against me in the most painful, and thus pleasurable, ways imaginable.” - Grif

I don’t think it was the humiliation itself that worked for me. What hooked me was the coming together of two men who are meant for each other because their needs and desires mirror and complement each other’s perfectly.

“And there it was, the key combination. Sure, I enjoyed the submission, the pain and the denigration. But it was the combination—the indubitable knowledge—that he enjoyed my submission, inflicting the pain, and delivering denigration, as much as I enjoyed receiving it. That’s where the complete bliss lay.” - Grif

That is all any of us wants; a partner who fits perfectly into our personal reality. And the coming together or first Grif and Tate and then Grif and Wes was a thing of beauty that touched me deeply even while Grif’s desires and emotions continued to confuse me. And it’s a really strange experience to truly enjoy reading about something you realise you don’t actually like as soon as you stop and think about it for a few minutes. To be honest, the whole humiliation thing messed with my head, be it in the most amazing way. Because while Gif finds satisfaction in being humiliated, the fact that he does makes him feel no end of humiliation. So either it is a gift that keeps on giving or …. And that’s where my imagination and words fail me. All I know is that the concept keeps on spinning through my mind, and that it will in all likelihood continue to do so for a long time. Especially since I not only found it fascinating but, much to my surprise, also very hot.

I think this is only the second time in my long reading history that I’ve completely fallen in love with characters although I don’t understand what they give to and get from each other and couldn’t, with the best will in the world, imagine myself in their positions. My mind truly is a wondrous thing at times.

I did it again, didn’t I? I wrote a long and rambling review and chances are nobody except me will have any idea exactly what I was trying to say here. So allow me to try and summarise my thoughts and feelings.

I adored this book. It was exquisitely written and touched me in ways few, if any, books have touched me before. I’m always grateful when I find a book that surprises me, makes me stop and think, question myself and what I thought I knew, and forces me to broaden my horizons. Grif’s Toy did all those things. Grif and Wes will stay with me for days, if not weeks, to come. And I’m so grateful I postponed reading this book until the release of Wes’ Denial had been announced. I can’t wait to spend more time with these two men and have them broaden my horizons even further.

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  1. Great review !! I have this already on my Kindle. Up listed it :)

    1. Thank you! I'd be very surprised if you didn't love this book.

  2. Beautiful review, Helena! That is the true brilliance of Joseph. In everything he writes he makes you, "think, question and broaden your horizons."

    1. Thank you! He really does that, and I love him and his books all the more for it.

  3. Helena,

    In all honesty, you've made me a bit speechless. *shakes head* There are times, like now, when I read a review and I'm nearly brought to tears. Writing is a deeply personal thing for me - something I feel acutely when I'm doing it - and knowing the result has touched someone, the way Grif's Toy seems to have done with you, is the most rewarding experience of my life. Thank you for taking the time to share your's a gift I deeply treasure!

    Most sincerely,

    1. A clear case of a tear for a tear so; your men touched me deeply.

  4. Your review could have been mine word-for-word, except it is your perfect review. So I believe I know what you are trying to say. Thank you Helena. Thank you Joseph.

    1. That's a relief, Tracey. The more I love a book the harder I find it to write a coherent review. I'm so glad it made sense to you.

  5. Your 'ramblings' make perfect sense to me as well. Often when I read one of your reviews I just sit and nod to myself; thinking 'that's how I felt too'.