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August 4, 2012

Review: The Siren by Tiffany Reisz

Series: The Original Sinners #1
Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Release Date: Originally published October 18, 2011
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
The Siren is a modern-day retelling of My Fair Lady with uptight English literary fiction editor Zachary Easton as an unwilling Professor Higgins and well-known wild child Nora Sutherlin as his erotica-writing Eliza Doolittle. Zach only has six weeks left at Royal House New York before he heads to Los Angeles to take over as Chief Managing Editor at Royal West. When his boss orders him to help Nora Sutherlin rewrite her latest novel, Zach agrees to work with her only if he is given complete control over the fate of her book. If Nora doesn’t rewrite it to his satisfaction in six weeks, Royal won’t publish it.



I know people think erotica is just romance novel with rougher sex. It's not. It's a subgenre of anything, it's horror. Romance is sex plus love. Erotica is sex plus fear.
- Nora Sutherlin


Proceed with caution, this review is a little lengthy.
There are only a handful of books that resonated with me throughout the years and these are the titles I would proudly sit next to The Holy Bible: The Alchemist, Sophie's World, Memnoch the Devil, Sybil and The Iliad. Whether or not these books are good is another discussion but what I want to highlight is these made me THINK, it gave me an EXPERIENCE unique to my senses, it gave me thoughts that proved to be visceral and challenged my beliefs, way of thinking and sometimes even my faith. And I think I have to add THE SIREN by Tiffany Reisz on the short list. I said this many times but I'll say it again: I was emotionally and mentally off balanced after reading Nora Sutherlin's tale.



In a Nutshell
THE SIREN is Nora Sutherlin, she's an erotica author by day and Top Domme by night, she's a very notable person in both the literary world and underground kink. Nora is about to have a breakthrough in her legit profession and her upcoming novel, The Consolation Prize, is about to open a lot of doors for her. Fortunately for Nora, Zach Easton is her editor, one of the best editors in the publishing world. At first glance these two are from opposing ends of the stick but it's this difference that would usher in a very intriguing relationship between these two that made THE SIREN into one hell of an addictive story for me. Trust me, nothing is what it seems to be as far as this book is concerned and whatever preconceived notions you have about the book, drop it because Tiffany Reisz will blow you away.

The Violence
Before I started this, Cimmaron warned me about the violence, she said that it's brutal and bloody and definitely dark. So with trepidation I forged ahead, in my head I can always skip the whipping, caning and torture and stick to the dark emotions and even darker thoughts of the characters. For what it's worth, THE SIREN wasn't bloody in the physical sense but it sure was EMOTIONALLY violent. Let me start with the sex and the usual accouterments associated with BDSM because I promise you, I am the LAST person who'll ever go hardcore much less derive any pleasure from the practice and I'm pretty sure a lot of readers out there share these same sentiments.
S&M is as psychological as it is physical and sexual Zack. Imagine being as deep inside a woman's mind as you are inside her body.
The physical violence was tempered and spread sparingly throughout the story, if you want specifics, the sexual violence was more on Nora's novel, The Consolation Prize, than in her life. So it really was more of an outside-looking-in kind of thing, we will not witness any "love pats" being done to Nora as TReisz skipped that and rather implied what happened on Nora's playtime by showing us the "after" rather than the "during". Even The explicit sex one usually finds in erotica novels is close to non existent and wasn't as graphic as other novels, in fact "active sex" happened on the last quarter of the book and it's surprisingly un-kinky. However there was a lot of talk about sex, a lot of flirting, a lot of fantasies and graphic word play between Nora and the rest of the characters that made the story R-18.

So sexually, THE SIREN is a tease as TReisz commands our imagination and participation giving us free rein to fill in the blanks. But it is never lacking, the thoughts and emotions that went with the story was orgasmic, vivid and provoking, Nora will fuck with your mind, leave you panting, battered and bruised and the next thing you know, she's making you beg for more. She'll make you want more of her background, more of her world, more of the emotions and everything else that will bind you to her in the end.

The Siren
Playful, flirt, cocky, vulnerable, brazen.

Adjectives TReisz used in the book which perfectly describes Nora Sutherlin. Parts of Nora bled into Caroline, the heroine of The Consolation Prize as the novel, from what I derived, is semi-autobiographical. Inspired by true events, Caroline illustrates Nora's past but it was more speculative than matter-of-fact, I often wondered if it was pure fiction or based on true events?

Nora is a delectable heroine. I instantly liked her in Seven Day Loan as the well trained sub Eleanor but obviously I fell in love with her in THE SIREN. She's peppy, outspoken, not afraid to push your buttons, unapologetic and doesn't seem to bear any guilt over most things, definitely not on her lifestyle. She's protective of those she loves, like Wesley, her intern/roommate, her work, her life and her views. Which is ironic because the title submissive usually isn't synonymous with strength and independence.
I've spent the last twelve house in hell. Sorry, I forgot to bring you a souvenir.
I have all the souvenirs I need from my own trips there. Nora and Zach  
I love Nora, she never tried to convince me or even justified her sexual preference and practice, she never sold me the idea that BDSM was OK nor did she try to have me buy into it. TReisz told her story in a matter-of-fact way, she did show how outsiders perceive their unconventional practice but as far as I'm concerned, TReisz never romanticized it or even tried to glamorize what Nora does at night when she goes out to play with the bad boys and girls, it's the taboo attached to the whole thing that gives it appeal.
My Eleanor... such a creature of Divine Discontent.
Divine Discontent?
God's dirty little secret. He will make you suffer, little one, until he makes you wise.
Nora has as many facets to her, each one as rich and decadent as the next. When THE SIREN starts, Nora is all red and leather but as the story progress, she becomes real, a person with dreams and normal issues. There's much about Nora's background that TReisz is yet to tell which makes reading The Angel a must, Nora's background seems to be so normal I wonder how she became who she is and what motivated her to submit to Soren and his kinky fuckery.

Big Bad Men
THE SIREN was romantic but the romance was more idyllic than anything. The men are as complex as Nora which made the novel even more addictive and arresting. The men in Nora's life represent different sides of her needs, wants, ideals, each one of them respond to the main facets of her personality that she's still trying to merge. I can't help getting drawn to Zach, Wesley and even Soren, each of them symbolizes Nora's past, present and future and at the same time these three men blend in together, switching places which means Nora is truly messed up as far as her personal life is concerned, she's unattached but she always finds herself getting yanked in different directions.
If I gagged you right now and put you flat on your back and fucked you seven ways til Sunday right here on this fine mahogany desk... would you sign my contract? she asked.
The one I responded to the most was Wesley, he was so sweet, innocent and an unlikely match for Nora. I find it tragic that he became the collateral damage of Nora's complicated life and I am hoping that we haven't heard the last of Wesley, I want this kid to have a HEA! I feel like he has the most to offer Nora as far as normalcy and stability is concerned but then again Nora's still in the habit of flitting to settle in one place much less one person.
When Soren touched her she became his. When Wesley touched her, she became herself.
The most hypnotic, enigmatic and controversial of them all is Soren. I was so ready to hate this man, making him out to be a great manipulator and a predator extraordinaire but like Nora, Soren is another complicated character. He is both light and dark but never gray and inasmuch as he is Nora's rock and support, he is also the person who can unravel her.

The Story
THE SIREN is full of controversies not only because of the BDSM but due to TReisz's inclusion of the Catholic faith which reminded me a lot of Anne Rice's older novels. I will not open that argument in this review but I'm pretty sure some readers will find it offensive or even derogatory. But as a devout and practicing Catholic, I can assure you that it goes beyond categorizing and stereotyping, there is so much more to the story that's yet to be told so I would hold off any judgment first until I've read The Angel and The Prince.
But I can't win you without selling who I am to afford you.
And I can't win you without selling my soul, right? Wesley asked.
Overall, THE SIREN is a masterfully written erotica free of guilt and shame. TReisz pushed and pulled my emotions, she made me braver and fearful at the same time in terms of being more tolerant of the darker side of romance, sex, the human mind put together. I love TReisz's word plays, she strings pretty words in such a fashion that at times it felt lyrical I can't help but be seduced by her siren song. Not only that but some of Nora's reflections are so raw and brutally honest it felt so familiar as it crossed my mind in the past but I was too chicken to say it out loud. In conclusion, the bar has been raised and THE SIREN is my benchmark from here on out as far as erotica is concerned.

Thank you Tiffany Reisz for Nora Sutherland and kudos to a magnificent story!





14 comments:

  1. I haven't tried an erotica novel but your review has me thinking I might give this one a chance. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. This is a good place to start. Before I dived in this genre I read up on what erotica is and this one fits the bill perfectly. It's about sexuality more than the act itself.

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  2. Great Review Braine! The word that comes to mind when I think about this book is Taboo. I really enjoyed it. I thought Nora and Zach were a great balance throughout. Wes is still up in the air though. Maybe he has a little bit of a bad boy underneath that do-good shell. :o)

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    1. I like Wee because he represents what Nora wants ultimately but looking at it, normalcy is more of an ideal than a reality for Nora at this point.

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  3. wow this one sounds like a tough read. It definitely sounds like something that makes u think and I like that it challenged ur beliefs a little. There're just so many layers to this. I'm very curious about these characters and their lives. hmm maybe I should pick this up

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    1. Read it Ning, its thought provoking.

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  4. Oooh! I'm so excited to read this book!! >.< Aaah, great review Braine, I cannot believe the complexities this book contains, but I'm am sooo in as far as reading it! I can't wait to find out more on Nora!!

    Neyra @ Darkest Addictions

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    1. Thanks Neyra, I hope you read it soon.

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  5. Excellent review, Braine! You already know that I had trouble reconciling the Catholic undertones with the characters, but at the same time, I cannot wait to read The Angel.

    This is a tough read, but it's worth it. Excellent writing and a masterful story!

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    1. Thanks Jamie, inserting religion to an already controversial topic is bold. I want to know more of Soren before I jump into anything, I know there's a curve ball somewhere that might make me like him... Scary thought but we'll see.

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  6. After reading your review I'm not as terrified to read this book. Beautifully written sis! Moving this up the TBR pile.

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    1. Yes please do!!! It will throw you off balance in a good way. I can't wait to read Gabriel's series, from your review I think it'll have the same effect on me and I love reading books like these.

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  7. love the review Braine..I'm going to have to get this one soon ;)

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  8. Excellent review! I just read an excerpt from this book and put it at the top of my TBR pile. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it, Braine! Do you think it's necessary to read Seven Day Loan first?

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