I have been touting Tiffany Reisz’s The Siren as my favorite book within the genre I write since I read it last fall. Because I discovered it in the middle of writing my second book, I didn’t have the luxury of reading it several times and totally immersing myself in Nora Sutherlin’s world like I would have were I not a writer myself.
I miss the days when I was just a reader. As a reader you can read books over and over again until you either get enough, or desire to read more. With great books, you always desire to read more because you just know you’ve missed something pertinent as you devour the words. The Siren falls in the category of “great book” for me and is one that I will read again and again.
There are many things about The Siren I consider utter genius, which I will attempt to share with you in this review. First of all, I love that the heroine, Nora Sutherlin is an erotica writer who practices the peculiar brand of kink she writes about. She is also a Dominatrix whose clientele lists reads like a veritable Who’s-Who in New York City, and around the world. Although she is a best-seller at thirty-three, Nora is not embraced by the literary world, much like a true-to-life erotica writer we all know and some love today. However, unlike this best-selling erotica writer we know today, Nora Sutherlin agrees to work with a renowned editor to improve her story which is being published by Royal House Publishing.
Editor, Zachary Easton, nicknamed “The London Fog” because of his less-than-sunny disposition, has been assigned by his managing editor, J. P. Bonner to make Nora’s new book the stellar literary work it deserves to be. Zach reluctantly agrees to take Nora on conditionally. As he prepares to leave for the L.A. branch in six weeks, he will work with Nora on the rewrites, but he will decide once the book is finished if it should be published. After a rough start, surprisingly, Nora’s writing impresses Zach, and they work very well together–even through the growing attraction they have for each other.
Although they each have previous relationships (and in Nora’s case, a burgeoning current relationship) that preclude anything other than a physical relationship for them, Zach has assured Nora there won’t be any sex until after the book is finished. Nora rises to the challenge and uses this as her motivation to meet Zach’s deadline. She is also very driven, because she hopes her work will finally be validated by her new publisher.
As drawn to Nora as he is, Zach remains irrevocably in love with his estranged wife, Grace, and he tortures himself incessantly for having lost her. His feelings for Grace continue to exist even though he indulges himself with guilt-ridden fantasies about Nora. While Nora remains irrevocably in love with Søren, the man who introduced her to BDSM, and exercises her Catholic guilt over her feelings for Wesley, her nineteen year old assistant. There is a healthy amount of guilt and secrets to go around for all.
Reisz masterfully develops the characters, peeling layer after layer of their secrets back to reveal exactly who they are. Another facet of the genius of the author is her use of the juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane, skillfully interwoven in a way that one might believe revolting to both the truly religious and the atheist alike, but somehow Reisz makes it all work. She also infuses Nora Sutherlin with that inimitable quality that some women possess which makes other women immediately hate her. I expected to despise Nora by the end of the book, but she and all the other players were written so beautifully, the objective reader can only love them and root for them to be happy. However, because there’s only one Nora and three men (in this book) who are part of her romantic life, someone is going to be hurt.
Nora cloaks her vulnerability in a blunt, unapologetic, in-your-face strength that could be off-putting, but you can’t resist loving her, as all the men in her life clearly do. Zach is taciturn and charming, but tortured by a guilty conscience of his own making. Kingsley Edge is one character I really want to get to know better, but what I saw of him in The Siren was very intriguing. Søren is an enigma, but impressive nonetheless. I had a hard time liking him in the beginning, but he redeems himself in my eyes eventually (and I won’t tell you how, because I’m not going to spoil). And, Wes, the vanilla Christian boy who loves a Dominatrix is absolutely fascinating.
This is one of the most intelligently written books I’ve ever read, bar none. It goes to show that even in the genre of erotica; there are also levels of literary greatness to aspire to, and to be achieved. Tiffany Reisz does this in spades.
The Siren savages your emotions, yet leaves you wanting and needing to have your heart shredded anew; as I’m sure Reisz will happily do again in The Angel, The Prince and coming very soon, The Mistress.
I give The Siren five stars.
Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her boyfriend (a reformed book reviewer) and two cats (one good, one evil). She graduated with a B.A. in English from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and is making both her parents and her professors proud by writing BDSM erotica under her real name. She has five piercings, one tattoo, and has been arrested twice.
When not under arrest, Tiffany enjoys Latin Dance, Latin Men, and Latin Verbs. She dropped out of a conservative southern seminary in order to pursue her dream of becoming a smut peddler. Johnny Depp’s aunt was her fourth grade teacher. Her first full-length novel THE SIREN was inspired by a desire to tie up actor Jason Isaacs (on paper). She hopes someday life will imitate art (in bed).
THE SIREN was awarded the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Erotic Romance 2012.
If she couldn’t write, she would die.