If you are a regular reader, you’ll know how much I despised Thirty Shades of Grey. So whenever I read a tag line stating that this book is better than Thirty Shades I am more than a bit cautious.
To all of you I say, this book more than deserves the accolade because this book is just one of those reads that you HAVE to read on. From the first page to the very last, this showcases a brilliant writing talent.
The premise of the book is that our heroine, Nora is trying to break out into the mainstream market with her newest erotic novel. All she has to do is meet a six week deadline and turn in a final edit to her potential editor, Zach as he is leaving for the west coast.
It’s not an overly complex premise, but this simplicity works in the stories favor. By keeping it simple, Reisz creates a cast of characters that are interesting and very, very complex. Not one of them is the traditional “good” or “naive” character usually found in these books. Each character has a damaged past, some more than others. It is this that gives the story the meat to really sink your teeth in.
The two main characters are Zach and Nora. Everyone else in their orbit helps to define who these people are. Saying that, you do feel that these secondary characters have their own skeletons in their closets. In the course of this book, we find out some of them. Others I can only surmise will be explored in future books in the series.
Nora, our lead female in this series, is an unusual heroine at least for me. Female characters are usually the ones that are the innocent party in these types of books. Yet Nora is the exact opposite. By day she is an infamous erotic writer, by night she is the infamous Domantrix, The Siren in an underground club called The 8th Circle.
As the book progresses, you get a better picture of what made Nora this person. We are shown this through snippets of the book she is writing. You get a sense that this backstory is far from fiction and the fact that she deletes these passages seems to indicate that these are memories that she wishes to keep private.
Nora, to me, is such a fantastic female character. She owns her sexuality in such a way that she is not embarrassed by the fact that she likes to be both a Dom and a Sub. True, she hides this side of herself from Zach, but this is more due to the fact she is unsure how he would react. He is not from her world, for the lack of a better word.
A big part of Nora’s life is the mostly mysterious Soren, her first master. Reisz writes this character in such a way that I had built up this image of a high powered businessman. Yet, when his profession is revealed, it both makes sense and is still a complete shock. Pieces fall into place and I kicked myself at not spotting the clues.
The other main character that has a big part to play in Nora’s personal life is Wes, her younger virgin Intern. In Wes, Nora seems to see a chance at a “normal” life. Unfortunately, this looks like it is not to be. Nora had made a promise not to go back to Soren for their anniversary, after she ended up in the hospital after a very bad beating. I hear your gasps at this statement. Why does Nora keep going back to a man who treated her as his property? Who controlled every aspect in her life? Who put her in the hospital?
Resiz manages to answer all these questions in a way that makes sense. Nora was saved by Soren. You can tell from her backstory that she was this close to going completely off the rails. Soren managed to keep her on the straight and narrow, allowing her to finish high school and giving her what she needed to function. It was a form of love and though it isn’t my idea of love I did get what was trying to be achieved. There was no contract between the two and when Nora left, it was with Soren’s blessing.
Nora and Soren’s relationship is complex and Nora is drawn back to him, time and time again like a moth to the flame. When things seem to fall apart between Nora and Wes, she turns back to those who know her best, Soren and the clubs owner Kingsley.
You can probably tell that I really like Nora, but I have neglected to mention her editor Zach, the other character whose story is explored in this book. He comes into Nora’s atmosphere reluctantly at the insistence of his boss. You can tell that at first he looks down on Nora and what she is known for. True, her previous novels are very popular, but Zach doesn’t see how she can fit into this prestigious publishing house.
Nora manages to break down his defenses and you end up seeing an equally fractured individual who is trying to carve out a normal life too. He has left his wife back in England, but you get the feeling that this was not done lightly. When the truth eventually does come out, you can’t help but see the parallels between Nora and Zach. In a way both are kindred spirits, who help each other come to terms with their personal demons.
For one of the two, there is a happy ending. For the other, it seems that there journey is far from over. Yet, for the person who has yet to get that Happy Ever After there is a sense of hope even though it is a sad ending.
This was a difficult book to review as I it is difficult to find the words to convey how brilliant a book this is. It is a character driven novel that manages to convey an alternative lifestyle in a sympathetic and mature manner. Other books that I have read in this genre give a very one sided view on things and at times seem to be there only for shock value. The racy scenes in this book all serve a purpose, while are smoking hot. Honestly, you need a cool drink after a few of them!
Resiz is a brilliant writer and I’m looking forward to reading the next book immensely.
Rating: 5 Stars
The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
(The Original Sinners #1)
Contemporary Erotic Romance
Mills & Boon (Jan 2012)
Paperback: 432 pages