Review: The Siren by Tiffany Reisz


The Siren (The Original Sinners) by Tiffany Reisz
Contemporary / Erotica
2012-05-01 (Mira)

Rating: A
Heat: Sizzling

Heroine: Nora Sutherlin – Writer, Kinky 
Hero: Zach Easton – Editor, Vanilla 
Setting: Connecticut, USA



Give me a minute to catch my breath... To let the heavy weight on my chest lighten... Because, dear lord, that was... exhausting.

This novel first caught my interest when a favorite author of mine, Courtney Milan, gave it a five star review (read). I read the blurb, took note of the dark subject matter, the fact that it was so divergent to Milan's own writing, and couldn't help but become intrigued.

And with so many warnings that it isn't a romance novel, well, call me Kitty because I was curious as a cat.

But to be fair, I will also warn you - this truly isn't a romance novel. There isn't a happily ever after ending. It isn't for the faint of heart. Or for anyone afraid of some darkness (okay, or a lot...). But it is still a love story, in my opinion.

It is simply one of the saddest and unlikeliest love stories I've ever read.

It is also erotica, and yet it's not. Sex isn't the focus of the story, but it is there and it does cross into territory only a book classified as erotica would dare to go (ie: think kinky - bdsm, s&m, D/s).

We'll call it an amalgam of Romance and Erotica and... Horror. It is all those things while also being none of them. It is also likely to offend a good majority of people with its varied subject matter. I, however, sometimes like to be made uncomfortable. Step outside my box... and this book is way outside said box.

Nora, aka Eleanor aka Ellie aka Mistress aka THE Dominatrix, is the heroine of this story... but we cannot limit the hero to only Zach. In my opinion there are three heroes: Zach, Wesley, and Soren. Though only Wesley resembles what that word usually represents.

Since the story opens with Zach, I will begin with him. Zach is a terrified man. Completely, one hundred percent afraid. Afraid of saying yes, afraid of saying no. Afraid to do the wrong thing or make the wrong choice. And so he makes no choice... which is a choice in itself. Throughout the book we watch Zach struggle with himself and with Nora. Since separating from his wife, Nora is the first woman to catch and hold his interest. She also scares the living hell out of him. For Zach, Nora is... terrifyingly safe or safely terrifying. Because of who and what she is, Zach can let his inner darkness out. While they get to know each other, Nora becomes his catharsis. Zach becomes Nora's mentor. I would classify them as a mutually beneficial partnership, and it was gratifying to see them grow as individuals because of each other.

And then there is Wesley. In a world of dark, he is the only light. He is safe and he is wholesome. Wesley is the antithesis of Nora. And opposites can't help but attract. Wesley entered Nora's life after a very long, very bleak period. Like a knight in shining armor, he rescued her (more or less) and was there while she discovered who she is without Soren. He helped her laugh again. They grew close, became friends, and deep feelings took root. In a perfect world, it would be no contest as to who I would pick for Nora... You can't help but to fall for him. (And there is my penchant for the virgin hero.)

Which leaves Soren. I can't think of another character who is as intimidating as him. His presence on the page is simply awing... and I think it's safe to say he scares the hell of me. Though Soren doesn't make an appearance until late in the book, through Nora he is always a presence hovering around her. You get to know him piecemeal, either via flashbacks or conversations between Nora and another character, so there is always this vague sense of who he is to Nora but not who he really is. Soren is compelling and provoking and I found myself liking him and hating him, in equal measures. While it was difficult to understand their love and what they meant to each other, since pain does not equal love to me, they both do clearly love each other. Madly and deeply, in their own way.

Finally, the woman herself, Nora. Nora is witty and snarky. You could call her a seal because words, like water, roll off her back. And people do so love to throw their words at her (cough, Zach, cough). Nora is a very compassionate character. She manages to be both a guy's gal and a woman's woman. No bad blood or ill will from her, like you might expect in a world where the M-word (monogamy) is a no-no. I would truly like to have Nora as a BFF.

This is a very character-driven, emotional roller coaster. I loved how real it felt, how uncomfortable it often made me. How gritty and dark the characters could be. It was a peak into another world. And what a kinky world it was.

I honestly can't wait for the next book in this series - The Angel. I wish it were another book starring Nora and Soren and Wesley, but I have a feeling it might star Michael. Either way, I'm sure it will hurt... but not harm. Just like The Siren.

Edit 6/10/12: From the author herself --

I promise ALL the sequels involve Nora and Soren and Wesley. Nora is ALWAYS my main character.

Favorite Quote:

At that Wesley gave a grim chuckle and looked up at the ceiling.
"I couldn't care less if you were fucking him."
"My God, did you just say 'fuck'? You're a good, clean Methodist. You don't swear."
"You have no idea what I do."
"I do know what you do. I know you sleep with your bedroom door unlocked," Nora retorted. "Expecting company?"
"I know you stand in my door at night and watch me sleep. Expecting an invitation?"
Now it was Nora's eyes that widened.


Thoughts While Reading:

9.0% - "Miz Reisz sure can write a line. Every other page is quote-worthy."
19.0% - "Wow. Nothing like peering into someone else's darkness... Fictional or otherwise."
44.0% - "Well that was one helluva flashback. Gutwrenching, really."
63.0% - "Never met a character quite like Soren. Such a presense. Intimidating."


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