Griffin has got a small penis—not tiny, but smaller than average. It’s something that embarrassed him at a young age. But while in college, with the help of his best friend Tate, Grif comes to realize that he likes to be humiliated during sex. Though Tate is straight, he doesn’t mind a blow job from his best friend. Their relationship is unconventional, but it works for both of them. When an accident takes Tate from Grif, Grif’s life is thrown into upheaval. But Grif learns to cope and live with Tate’s legacy, as well as being the sole heir to Tate’s fortune. As he navigates his life, he finds fulfillment in every area except for the bedroom. He’s unwilling to expose himself to someone else.
But there is a connection between Grif and Wes from the moment they meet, and Wes’s persistence is what finally breaks down Grif’s walls. Wes understands Grif’s need for being humiliated during sex, and it fits perfectly with his need to see his partner cry. When they play, they call it Chocolate—as a direct opposition to vanilla. They are happy and well suited to each other. Now Grif just needs to trust in Wes, and see where their relationship can take them.
Okay, here’s the thing you need to know about this book: the story is told in a non-linear fashion. We begin by seeing Wes and Grif at a restaurant and having Chocolate time, and right off the bat we can see how these two guys work so well together. Then, intermingled with the current day relationship and watching it grow, we are taken on a flashback journey as Grif tells us how he arrived at that point. This both worked and didn’t for me. Because the flashbacks weren’t always in order and jumped around time wise. Overall, I liked going back in time and seeing Grif’s life up until the current day. Each chapter is labeled with the season and year, so immediately we know what part of the past we’re in, or if we are in the present day. But when the flashbacks jumped around, it often took me time to orient myself and that pulled me out of the story some. It would have worked better for me if the flashbacks were told in linear progression, so that I could have more easily oriented myself. That being said, it was an effective tool for telling Grif’s story.
What I really enjoyed about Grif was his confidence in himself. It didn’t extend to his sex life, but this guy was well grounded with an awesome family and a really great best friend. The author did a fantastic job of getting us into his head, feeling his emotions along with him, and really letting us see his motivation. This guy endeared himself to me from the very beginning and I was more than willing to go on his journey with him. This is Grif’s story, and though sex and love play a huge role in the plot, especially when it came to Wes, it felt like it was just a part of Grif’s tale. This wasn’t a bad thing at all; I enjoyed that aspect.
Wes, while ostensibly the second MC, had a smaller role to play. We see him in present day and in his interaction with Grif. It’s clear that he loves the man. We also see when they meet and the beginnings of how they get to where they are now. But like I said, this is Grif’s story, and it is all colored with his perspective.
I have to talk about Chocolate. At first, I didn’t understand exactly what was going on the first time Wes uttered that word. As the story progressed, it was clear that it was their code word for when they take their sexual play to a darker level. We do get the explanation eventually, and I have to admit, I sort of loved the contrast between chocolate and vanilla, and thought it was a clever way for the men to indicate which kind of sex they were going to have. But remember that I said that Grif’s kink is humiliation, in particular about his small dick, which they call a toy. Some of the interactions were a bit hard for me to read, the language really humiliating and derogatory. I had to remind myself more than once that this was Grif’s kink, and that it worked for him, even though it didn’t work for me. When I was able to take that little step back, it was easier to handle.
Grif’s Toy is the first of a series, and I thought it was a good start. While there were some aspects that didn’t work as well for me, I thought the writing was really good, and I’d be interested to see what this author has in store for us next.