“Boyfriend Material”'s Alexis Hall Has a Spicy New Book, and We Have a Sneak Peek — Read It Here! (Exclusive)

In 'For Real,' the third book in the Spires series, a man finds love where (and when) he least expects it

<p>Sourcebooks Casablanca; Radiante Mozzarelle</p> Alexis Hall and the cover of

Sourcebooks Casablanca; Radiante Mozzarelle

Alexis Hall and the cover of 'For Real'

The inimitable Alexis Hall has a new novel out, and it's a scorcher. For Real hits shelves June 11, wherever books are sold. It's the third in the Spires series, which also includes Glitterland and Waiting for the Flood.

The series is set in Oxford amid its iconic colleges' spires, and each book is linked thematically instead of chronologically. "It’s about the connections between people and how those are mediated through places," Hall explains. Each book stands alone, but the author recommends reading them in publication order. A new, expanded version of the fourth book in the series, Pansies, will hit shelves in the fall.

<p>Sourcebooks Casablanca</p> The Spire series so far

Sourcebooks Casablanca

The Spire series so far

In For Real, Laurence Dalziel is pushing 40 and he's tired. Six years from his last relationship, he's worn down, worn out and washed up, sick of a scene that feels like old news.

Enter Toby Finch. Young, fierce, and fearless, he reminds Laurie of what he once was. It's a tale as old as time and as fresh as the first spring dew: Toby wants Laurie, and Laurie's happy to give over. Bodily, that is. But his heart can't take the inevitable loss, because Toby and Laurie can't last.

Can they?

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If you're not hooked yet, read an exclusive excerpt from For Real, below.

<p>Sourcebooks Casablanca</p> 'For Real' by Alexis Hall

Sourcebooks Casablanca

'For Real' by Alexis Hall

He huddled in closer, still shivering. It would have been so easy to fold him in my arms, and warm him with myself, but also utterly impossible. Wrong, even. And I couldn’t help internally cringing from whatever it was — my own hypocrisy, perhaps — that made kneeling naked at his feet acceptable, when a simple gesture of comfort was not. The truth was, it was easy to deny the intimacy of the first (though, in fleeing from him, I had failed to do so). Much less the second.

“So. Look.” His hands curled into fists. “This bath, right? Is there bubbles?”

It had been a long time since I’d taken a bath — I usually preferred, or perhaps defaulted to, showering — but I recalled some bottles tucked into a corner. “Probably.”

He gave me a haughty look. I had no idea how he managed it, my little, towel-draped prince, but he did. “Well. All right, then.”

So we trooped upstairs, and I ran him a bath and poured half a bottle of Radox Nourish into the water.


“What’s the matter?”

“Like a capful is the recommended human average.”

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He was right. By the time I thought it prudent to turn off the taps, the bath was mostly a pile of bubbles.

“I’ll, err, leave you to it,” I said. “Take as long as you like.”

“Aren’t I keeping you up? Isn’t it really late?”

“It’s probably about three in the morning, but I have tomorrow off.” I could see him on the brink of asking a million personal questions. “So,” I added quickly, “it’s fine.”

His drying hair was curling again at the ends, and he twisted a longer piece absently round a finger. “You don’t want to keep me company?”

“I’d really better not.” I was actually slightly proud at how calm I sounded.

“Don’t flatter yourself. I meant talk to me, not soap all my dirty places.”

Rather than lose myself in imagining the way his water-slick skin would ripple beneath my hands, I gave him a sharp glance. “Yes, you did.”

<p>Radiante Mozzarelle</p> Alexis Hall

Radiante Mozzarelle

Alexis Hall

“Yeah, all right, I did.” He held my gaze for a moment, and then glanced away, the corners of his lips twitching cheekily upwards. “But what are you going to do, throw me out? Oh wait.”

I shouldn’t have laughed. It would only encourage him. “There’s no mercy in you at all, is there?”

That brought him straight back, his eyes like arrows, cobalt-tipped and deadly sharp. “There is. There’s lots and lots.” His voice had taken on a husky edge. “When I’m properly motivated.”

“Well, I’m not motivating you anymore.” I, on the other hand, sounded like an exasperated schoolteacher. “So get in the damn bath.”

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“You’ll stay though, won’t you?”

God. How could he turn so quickly from wicked to vulnerable? It made me dizzy and sweetly helpless, these bonds of silk and mischief. “What’s next, a bedtime story?”

“Do you have Winnie-the-Pooh?”

“If you don’t get in the bath, I’ll drown you in it.”

He gestured imperiously. “Turn round, then.”

I sighed and did as directed.

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I heard the towel fall. Then there was a splash, followed by a yip. “Sh--, It’s hot.”

“Traditionally, baths are.” I risked a glance over my shoulder, and when it inspired no squeal of outraged modesty, tucked my dressing gown into place and sat down on the marble step that led to the sunken bath. It was less undignified than the toilet lid, but I still felt strangely like the … attendant, consort, plaything of some capricious, adolescent god-king.

And some part of me thrilled to the notion.

I imagined the unforgiving chill of the marble beneath my knees. The tug of chains at wrists and ankles. Perhaps the pinching weight of clamps … perhaps … perhaps other violations. He would want his toys adorned.

Oh God. What was I thinking?

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The steam in the room was suddenly unbearable, and I twisted, trying to get comfortable in a cocoon of clinging heat.

My guest, my shame, my fantasy princeling, was tucked at one end of the tub, legs drawn up to his chest, so all I could see were the pale humps of his knees and shoulders rising from the bubbles. He grinned at me. “I wouldn’t really make you read Winnie-the-Pooh.”

I sensed some kind of trap, but I had no idea what form it might take. “I’m glad to hear it.”

There was a brief pause. He trailed a finger idly through the foam, making ribbons. “I’d make you read something else.”

I was determined not to ask him what. That would have been entirely foolish.

“How about…” His eyes gleamed at me. “How about… ‘Thou shalt blind his bright eyes though he wrestle, Thou shalt chain his light limbs though he strive; In his lips all thy serpents shall nestle, In his hands all thy cruelties thrive.’”

I curled an arm over the edge of the bath and hid my face in the crook of my elbow. I couldn’t bear him to see me right then, stripped tenderly to the bone by the blade of his voice.

“‘In the daytime thy voice shall go through him, In his dreams he shall feel thee and ache; Thou shalt kindle by night and subdue him. Asleep and awake.’”

The sound I made, muffled though it was, echoed off the tiles until it seemed infinitely loud, infinitely helpless. I had no idea what he was reciting, but the words hooked into me like thorns.

And, yes, for his wishing and for his pleasure, I would have recited them. For my merciless, smiling prince.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

And, in that moment, I was his, so I answered, “Laurence Dalziel. Most people just call me D.”

“At the club they called you Laurie.”

“My friends call me Laurie,” I corrected him sharply.

“I’m going to call you Laurie.”

I lifted my head. “You call me what I say you call me.”

“It was aspirational.”

“We’re not going to be friends.”

He blinked at me through a coal-dark fringe of water-heavy lashes, and I felt like a prick. “Please.” His eyes got very big. “Please can I call you Laurie? I like it better.”

The kid was dangerous. But I’d known that all along. “Oh all right.” It wasn’t a graceful surrender but, then, they never were.

He splashed me. Playful conqueror. “I’m Toby. Toby Finch.”

I didn’t know what to say — it seemed a little late for pleased to meet you — so I just nodded. Toby. His name was Toby. It seemed as though I’d always known it.

Excerpted from FOR REAL by Alexis Hall. Copyright © 2024 by Alexis Hall. Reprinted by permission of Sourcebooks Casablanca. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

For Real comes out June 11 from Sourcebooks Casablanca, and is available for preorder now, wherever books are sold.

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