Grif's Toy by Joseph Lance Tonlet #Review
Reading a book from a new author provokes a certain amount of anticipation in me. I always have a bit of trepidation not knowing what to expect. I choose books that interest me hoping to be able to get lost in the words, and to feel a connection. Grif’s Toy, by Joseph Lance Tonlet, not only pulled me into the story, but also kept me there for the duration.
You would not know, unless you had the knowledge already, that this is the first novel by this author. He has a different writing style that I immediately adjusted too and really came to love the way he relayed the story.
Grif’s Toy opens up with Grif and Wes already being a committed couple. Their partnership is unique and for lack of a better term, complicated. This is my first experience with reading about a couple whose sexual proclivities, at first glance, seem harsh and mean. Wes whispers the word “Chocolate” to Grif and everything changes. The tone, the demands, as well as, commands. Wes’ expectations of Grif are to obey without question or simply utter the word “Vanilla” as everything will cease, immediately.
I’ve read enough BDSM books that I picked up on the meaning of those two words but in the context when they were in force, I felt conflicted and confused. Wes, quite simply, appears to be a jerk with no compassion or concern for the things he is asking of Grif. He thrives and gets pleasure from causing Grif discourse and humiliating him to the point of tears. These actions, brought on by the feelings Grif is experiencing, only further increases Wes’ pleasure. But…hold on everybody. Sometimes things are not always as they appear.
Reading further and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, you realize that these things that, at first, seem rude and crude are things that actually give Grif just as much pleasure, if not more so, than Wes. You will also come to see just how much Wes loves Grif and vice versa. They have a beautiful, thoughtful, and very passionate relationship. They understand each other, immensely, in or out of the bedroom. They complement each other perfectly. And, as cliché as it sounds, they are a match made in Heaven.
Joseph takes us back and forth mapping out Grif’s life. We go back to his college years and meet Tate. A true and humble friend who over time will teach Grif how to love himself just as he is. During these times of the story, you will find yourself smiling from ear to ear. Most of the time not even realizing you’ve been doing so, but you can’t help it.
The banter between Grif and Tate is contagious. Their witty comebacks and good-nature ribbing is absolutely hilarious. Tate will become someone in Grif’s life that cannot be measured by words. Their relationship and camaraderie is such a gift and a treasure.
“Tate,” I whispered, as my entire body shook. Like I’d suddenly grown cold, but I felt the opposite. I felt heated all over.
“It’s okay, Grif. It’s all good, Big Guy,” he soothed. I nodded and exhaled deeply. Fuck, on the one hand, I was so incredibly scared, but on the other, this was Tate. There wasn’t anyone I trusted and could be myself with more than him.
Tate is straight, but he understands Grif like no one else ever has. His sexuality is something he has always been secure with and he helps Grif be just as secure with his own. As time goes on, Grif will come to learn just how much of a gift Tate was and how special their friendship had become.
We also visit Grif in his younger years. We find out why his insecurities towards his manhood come into question. This leads to insecurities that will haunt him and dictate his actions for the rest of his life. He has a beautiful relationship with his parents, more so with his father, and it was heart-warming to witness. They never held any prejudices towards his sexuality. They loved him for him and supported him with decisions that he made for himself and his well-being.
When Grif meets Wes, Tate, unfortunately, is just a memory. But a memory that is always on his mind. Tate helped to create the man who Grif has become, and therefore, will always be part of his heart. Wes is immediately attracted but he plays by the rules Grif lays out. Wes is the only other man Grif has ever been with other than Tate. Honesty and integrity is something they both adhere too. It’s also something that seems to enhance their relationship. Voicing their thoughts and feelings is something they do from the very beginning.
“When we talk, about important things – like sex, fetishes, feelings, for example – I’d really like to hear your voice…to hear your words. Particularly when using words is difficult; either from apprehension, or embarrassment, or fear, or shame…whatever the reason…I’d really enjoy you expressing those emotions vocally.”
From here, their relationship grows and understandings are in place and become common practice. These two men love each other more than life itself. Their partnership/relationship is so well-balanced. Even though Grif is the submissive in their lovemaking during moments of “Chocolate” he can be aggressive and forceful and doesn’t hesitate to put Wes in his place if need be. You figure out early on that everything they do is out of love for each other. Every facet of their relationship, whether in or out of the bedroom, is something they both cherish.
Yes! He’s gonna fuck me. From the very first time we’d done this, I’d fallen in love with the feeling of being filled, of him taking me, of enjoying how much he loved being inside me. I loved the surprise too; I never knew if he was going to be soft, or gentle, or loving, or playful, or if he was going to be rough, or demanding, or possessive and fuck me into oblivion. I enjoyed all of them equally; he was amazing no matter what mood he was in.
The author takes us on a 14 year journey through Grif’s life. He meets many incredible people who come to mean so much in his life. The main characters certainly carry the story, but without the side characters, such as, Matthew, Pavel, Lance, and others, Grif’s life would not be what it is. The value they bring to Grif’s life is immense.
They are a riot and the fun they have seems endless. They are quick-witted and it seems their humor knows no bounds. But just as they are fun, they can also become your worst nightmare if they ever felt Grif was being threatened. Their loyalty and dedication has no limits.
The author writes with so much passion and his prose is quite lyrical at times. You always know who is speaking and what time-frame you are in.
Normally, I usually steer away from these story-lines. With Grif’s Toy, I can honestly say that not only did I enjoy it, I was anxious for the times when the story would go back in time so that I could find out more insight into these characters that I have come to love throughout this story.
I hope Mr. Tonlet has plans to give us much more of these characters. I know I am looking forward to discovering everything he has to offer us. Overall impression of Grif’s Toy is a strong recommendation to anyone who loves D/s relationships where safe, sane, and consensual, are always the most important factor. So much humor that will having you laughing aloud and sex that is super-hot and sexy whether Chocolate or vanilla is in play.
This story may be the author’s first published novel but he definitely writes a story like a seasoned pro. 5 Stars
**Thank you to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review**