Other Reviewers: Goodreads
I had the opportunity to review Grif’s Toy, by Joseph Lance Tonlet and jumped at the chance. When finding a new author, it’s much like discovering a new band or actor. You get an opportunity to discover his writing style and then watch over the books and series as it matures and develops. So getting a chance to see it at the creative birth? Magic.
As always, when given an Advance Reader Copy, my review is honest and unbiased.
Grif has always had issues with the size of his “equipment” and found any type of romantic relationship impossible because of it. However, when he runs into a man named Wes, his life is changed forever. The question is, will he be able to accept the possibilities?
Before you read the review any further, I need to you to realize that this book deals with BDSM in a realistic and detailed manner. So if you are off put by that type of discussion or read, then this book and review is not for you. I would consider what happens in this book to be Edge Play, so not something 50 Shades housewife level kink. Ok, warning over, let’s get to the book. Oh, and the quotes from this book? They will be HOT, so no under 18 for this review!
This book really is a follow through of Grif’s life from pre-teen to current time, so don’t get disoriented with the Memento time jumps. Without spoiling too much of the plot, let’s just say that Grif has a small penis and his embarrassment and humiliation because of that has kept him from any serious sexual relationship. In college, he has a roommate named Tate, their relationship complicated but loving. I do not want spoil that for the reader, so let’s just say that it is the beginning for Grif to understand his need for kink.
Grif is, well us. Let’s face it, there is something about ourselves that we don’t like about our own body. In Grif’s case, he hates the fact that he has a small penis, but he is turned on by a lover who makes fun of his small package in a sexual situation. This is called humiliation play and is considered a more advanced type of play. For obvious reasons, someone could get seriously psychologically scarred because of this type of play.
But for Grif, this type of sexual interaction is a need that he requires fulfillment: a type of masochist, someone physical, but more psychological. We see how Wes controls his orgasms and has various painful punishments. You or I might not understand it or agree to the type of relationship that they have, but it works for them:
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 the denigration, as much as I enjoyed receiving it. That’s where the complete bliss lay.
We see where Grif has accepted who he is and what he needs from a partner.
We only see Wes through Grif’s masochistic eyes:
“And speaking of aching, I often find it impossibly difficult to believe I’ve been lucky enough to find all of that in someone who not only understands my desire — my need — to inflict both physical and emotional pain, but someone who appreciates it. Someone who burns with equal desire and gratitude in receiving it, in a way I never believed possible.”
Being a true sadist, which Wes is, is hard to describe and makes someone who is not in the scene understand he is not evil. After all, how could you “torture” someone who you love? I follow a podcast called Intellectual Kink (great podcast) and the Mistress there discussed how she had to accept that she was still a good person being a sadist. Just because you enjoy being a sadist does not mean that you are evil or a mean person. What it means is that you need to find that masochist who NEEDS the pain and humiliation just as much as Wes needs to give it.
And as we see Wes through Grif’s eyes, we can tell that this is a loving and caring relationship; in fact, Wes is giving something to Grif that no one else has been able to do.
Let’s talk about BDSM for a minute. There is something called NMKBIO: “Not My Kink, but it’s OK” in the scene. For example, someone might like to be just paddled in the bedroom, but if you tried to swat them in public it would not be acceptable. For others, they have a more Master/save relationship and it is 24/7. It all depends on the relationship. And certainly, it is always (or SHOULD BE) consensual. So, it might not be your thing, but it is certainly theirs.
I have written many BDSM reviews that discuss the types of psychological need that some individuals have. No, not everyone in the scene has been sexual abused, most folks are just fine. Here are just a few recent reviews: Training Season, Screwing the System, and Leather + Lace that I also thought got the scenes correct.
In my opinion, I think that Joseph Lance Tonlet got the kink right. He demonstrated how kink is a life journey. We first need to find what arouses us and then we have to find safe partners to fulfill our needs. Sometimes we make mistakes in the beginning and sometimes we get lucky. In Grif’s case? He got some loving friends and lovers:
His voice was low and husky when he asked, “Chocolate?”
Surprised by the question, particularly in this setting, I paused briefly before swallowing and replying to our coded question with, “Yes, Wes. Chocolate.”
I couldn’t help but notice the glint in his eye at my response, before he picked the menu back up and studied it.
Remember: “Safe, Sane, and Consensual.” This author got it right.
We are all searching to find a mate/mates in our lives that complete us. Hokey, maybe? But not untrue. For Grif and Wes, they have been waiting for find someone who got their needs, both in the “vanilla” as well the “chocolate” settings. So, the theme here is that we can find someone who fulfills us, but we also must accept ourselves:
It had taken me a while to say it — hell, to even admit it to myself — as I had given up on the idea of finding someone to love and share my life with, let alone another person who understood me so completely. But here I was, in love with a handsome, sexy, incredibly compassionate man whose strongest desire was to make me happy and build a life together.
This quote is everything about the book and the development of this relationship.
The writing in this book was compelling. I started this book late one night and stayed up until 2 am to finish it; it was that addictive. The sex scenes were so descriptive (and hot) that I felt like I was there. Not a book to read while sitting with your family surrounding you!
But more than that, this was a well thought out book. The pacing was good and Tonlet gave us the time to develop Grif’s character as we discover what his problems are and learn to care about him. The accuracy of how the author wrote about kink and played the scenes demonstrates either someone who is in the scene or can do very good research. I love an author who can give me the sexy kink, but at the same time give me the relationship development and the psychological connections.
What could be better?
This book is set in First Person, with all our focus on Grif’s point of view. This is fine, but part of me wished I could have gotten into Tate’s and Wes’s head. The author did a good job of getting their personalities across, but I would have loved their perspectives.
Overall, I loved this book, which can be seen by the 5-Stars I gave Grif’s Toy. The only caveat I would give a potential reader is that it is not your typical romance and the BDSM aspects might not be for everyone. If you are not comfortable with BDSM, then I think you might be overwhelmed with some of the scenes in this book. It’s not by any fault of the author, simply because of the subject matter.
I look forward to seeing the author’s voice develop as he tightens his craft. I will be “first in line” when the next book comes out! I have put Joseph Lance Tonlet on my must reader author list!