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The Siren Paperback – July 31, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
In a story with themes that will cross the line for some readers, , Reisz tackles the story of erotica writer Nora Sutherlin 7.who is leaving her old publishing house. The head of her new publisher 7-9 orders Zachary Easton to edit Nora's novel. Zachary, still shell-shocked by his impending divorce back in his native Britain, is six weeks away from moving to the publisher's Los Angeles office and the last thing he wants to do is edit what he considers to be trash. Zach takes on the project with one caveat: he will have complete creative control. Zach soon finds that Nora isn't the trash-writing trollop he assumed, but a complicated woman whose twisted ideas of love were formed early in life. As both battle their demons‚--îNora, a sadistic old lover and Zach, regret over his failed‚--îthey find a true connection. While both characters are well drawn, the author never quite makes either completely sympathetic, and many are likely to find the themes contained in the story‚--îincluding hard-core S&M and a sexual relationship with a Catholic priest‚--îobjectionable. Sensationalistic but not overly compelling.
"Tiffany Reisz is a smart, artful, and masterful new voice in erotic fiction! An erotica star on the rise!"-Award-winning author Lacey Alexander
"Dazzling, devastating and sinfully erotic, Reisz writes unforgettable characters you'll either want to know or want to be. The Siren is an alluring book-within-a-book, a story that will leave you breathless and bruised, aching for another chapter with Nora Sutherlin and her men."
-Miranda Baker, author of Bottoms Up and Soloplay
The Original Sinners series certainly lives up to its name: it's mindbendingly original and crammed with more sin than you can shake a hot poker at. I haven't read a book this dangerous and subversive since Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club. The most shocking thing, however, is how much you'll feel for the characters. If your heart doesn't break at least ten times over the course of The Siren, check yourself into a morgue."--Andrew Shaffer, author, Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love
"Provocative, smart and downright cheeky. The Siren put me through my paces and had me begging for more."
-Emma Petersen, author of Reign of Pleasure
"Daring, sophisticated, and literary. . .exactly what good erotica should be."
-Kitty Thomas, author of Tender Mercies
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Top Customer Reviews
I have a SO much to say about The Siren, so this review may be incoherent; it makes me that big of a bumbling mess. But I'll tell you a secret: all the best books do.
I suppose I should warn you: This book isn't what you're expecting. If you are a fan of romance novels, you will not like The Siren. If you enjoy erotica, smut with explicitly arousing pornographic detail, and no romance in between, you too will be disappointed because The Siren is neither. The blurb and cover indicate otherwise, I know. I picked up this one thinking it was just another Harlequin but with a kinkier theme. I assumed it was a variant of the regular romance novels we know and love/hate, with a cute but trite twist on the heroine who is an erotica author (as opposed to, say, a sexy librarian, single mother, English student, tourist, or whatever other props romance novelists are inclined to use), and another one on the hero, who's a handsome but provocative Brit. Swoon. Sounds like a romance, right? Nice try, but no. To say there is a hero and heroine to begin with, is a ridiculous statement. To the traditional literature fans who demand two protagonists in a love story: you will be sorely dissatisfied; there are none.
So then, you are brought to ask, why DO I freaking love this book so much. In so many words (or, relatively none at all), it's because The Siren is complex. It's not a book you read and forget about the next day. It's incredibly intelligent in both structure and style: a perfect combination of present-day havoc and brief, flitting memories, with a deep, effortless tone that must be superglue -- I couldn't keep my hands off! The pages literally turned themselves. I devoured the whole thing way before I wanted to -- before I could even realize.
The characters are human and unforgettable. Zach, I feel, is the one I can explain most easily, so I'll talk about him first. Eight years ago, he met the woman of his dreams, albeit, through a ferocious, sexually-charged tumble he swears he never deserved, and he married her. But thirteen months ago, his life began falling apart when she told him to leave. So he hops on a plane to New York to forget about her and focus on his career. A Cambridge professor, he's a much sought-after figure at Royal House Publishing; soon, within the time span of thirteen months, he gains notoriety as being the house's toughest, but best editor, as well as the infamous label, London Fog, because of his cold, shady demeanor.
What I just worship, is how well Reisz portrays the tragedies of real-life relationships, including the failure to recognize a lasting love's demons because of the need to deal with first, those of our own. Even though The Siren is highly indulgent in setting, the feelings we see and grow upon, are so, so real. The characters are so complex and so fleshed-out, that I feel the utter aching they are each inflicted with and sharply inhale the searing breaths each of them take. Further, the author's eloquence and novelty shock me. Just in general, everything she comes up with, everything she pens, is astonishing. There not many authors who are this skilled. So Reisz, I commend.
The Siren is sexier than sex itself, but not because of its explicit scenes. I can't pinpoint this one as erotica because the scenes, while frequent and red-hot, are not the pivot of the novel. They certainly make it a naughtier read, but they aren't what solely constitute it. This isn't another Harlequin, not another aforementioned penny dreadful. You must know what I mean: boy meets girl, boy wants girl, girl finds a reason not to like boy, boy does something to win girl's heart, girl wants boy, sex, marriage, happy ending, boom. The end. Nope. None of that. The Siren has a story other than the expected romantic elements. As a whole, you could view The Siren as a love story, a very tragic, very arresting love story, but it could never be a romance. Romances are meant to make you feel good. The Siren will make you feel so empty, you will want to tear up the book's spine, but so affected, you will then want to make love to its ripped-out pages. I guess that's what separates erotica or erotic romance from erotic literary fiction; this is the kind of material readers will debate about and speculate on for the years to come, rather than binge on in one sitting and fail to ever recall again.
It gets better (or, I argue with myself, worse), though; you think I'm done with my review, hooo boy you're wrong. The best (and most painful) part about The Siren is that it's not about Zach's relationship with Nora. He is a mere passerby in her life, an extremely troubled one at that, one who is vanquishing his own monsters. That isn't to say his involvement with her is insignificant, because the way in which she helps him overcome his angsts will be indistinguishable from the method in which he will help her stave off her own. But once Zach proceeds, she will never be able to influence him again, and vice versa. The Siren is not a romance. Once the two briefly-acquainted lovers have saved each other in ways only they will ever have known, they will move apart, move along, and move on, in order to face (and hopefully fight) the bigger catastrophes they each have managed to push aside for the book's time being. This is one of The Siren's most tragic messages of all: life goes on.
I'm kind of a whore for purgatory when it comes to fiction. The more tragic, the more I grow attached. The Siren, to summarize, is brutal, twisted. It isn't a nice, pleasant story. Charming, wicked, savage, oh yes. But it's not a good story. It's gnawing, it's agonizing. It is hideous and immoral, but I am proud to say, I enjoyed every sentence of it; without one word out of place, The Siren is a true tour de force. Masochists, this one's for you.
The Siren is NOT for everyone, I'll be among many to confess. If you like wholesome stories, stay away. If you like morals, well-being, and happy endings, stay away. If you like missionary position, please -- just stay the eff away. I warn my readers: The Siren prances around topics like statutory rape, sexual violence (BDSM), polyamory, casual sex, sodomy, a wickedly clever pottymouth, and sins under the Catholic church... and well, to civility. Yes, it's an intense, brutal, blasphemous read, both in its harsh sadomasochistic scenes and emotional turmoil, BUT it absolutely will steal your breath away. I disclose not everyone will find The Siren palatable, but guarantee that no reader will finish it without having been thoroughly and salaciously impacted, and that much must be enough to make you want to at least give it a try.
Now, let's have a stupendous and thought-provoking one-way discussion about Nora Sutherlin, the female lead. While I refuse to name a definitive hero and heroine in this book, Nora's, no doubt, our frontwoman. She's as complicated as the plotline itself, and I couldn't love her any more for it. She is, essentially, the ideal female fatale. She is wry, cheeky, sexy, hilarious. Guys want her, girls want to be her... hell, to be honest, girls want her even more. But she also possesses fragility that isn't as deeply embedded into her skin as one would expect. Zach discovers it quite directly, actually. Nora is a masochist in only the most disturbing of ways, a masochist who not only enjoys the strike of the cane and the welts purpling her body, but also the pain arisen from heartbreak and perversion, that stems mainly from self-disgust. And the way to vindicate such vile sins? Well, a lashing or two; that ought to be punishment enough. Nora is a highly flawed character, a walking contradiction, and by all means, not a righteous one. Yet despite her brashness, charm, and impropriety, she is in desperate need of tenderness and care. She is strong, a renown Dominatrix, merciless, dangerous... but she is at the same time, the weakest character, the most miserably vulnerable, in that the worst of pain is always inflicted on her -- not by others, not by Søren -- but by herself. She is brought to life through Reisz's mastery of words, which almost make her a fantasy of a woman, and even with her mistakes, her awful hideous, selfish ambitions -- she is a character I love, and loved even to the end.
The Siren is a book that distinguishes hurting from harming, and reveals a broken character's most tragic purging of sins. The Siren proves that we can have fun and be sinfully sexy, naughty, and rogue, but in the end, we are all only just human. The Siren conveys the sheer importance of the craft of writing: bringing people back to life, resurrection with words; and does a little bit of reviving itself. The Siren reveals a grievous lesson: that in the end, if we're lucky, we all return to the people we love, and if we're not, we are destroyed by their persisting memory; and tells us a corrupt secret: that the only way to be cured of a broken heart is to break one back.
My fingers literally trembled as I turned the remaining pages of this one. I am outraged to have to wait til September for the sequel's release. Tiffany, you sadist! You better not disappoint me.
The Siren starts off promisingly, with two middle-aged characters named Zach and Nora who are well-developed and, though not totally likeable, interesting. Nora is the Dominatrix-cum erotica writer-cum Serious Novelist who's hoping to make a name for herself in the literary world. Zach is her reluctant editor, and also the Everyman, the average reader's window into Nora's BDSM world and all of its wonders.
The problem is, by the final third of the novel, the wonders are getting overplayed and over-the-top, and so is Nora and everyone else in her coterie. Let's see, we've got the impossibly innocent and wholesome Wesley (an infatuated 19-year-old who lives with her and is her "best friend"); a "zut-alors!" accented Frenchman whose name I can't be bothered to remember, but who runs the BDSM club where Nora works; Nora's on-again-off-again lover, an alpha male Catholic priest named Soren; and a few inconsequential female characters who inevitably pale in Nora's light and wander off, never to be seen again. We are often told that Nora is hypnotic, entrancing, and--my favorite--"dangerous." In fact, Zach's estranged wife says that Nora is the only Other Woman whom she could forgive her husband for straying with. She's just that compelling, yo.
In the midst of all this, Zach is a calming influence. He's got his baggage (see: estranged wife), but he's an intelligent, thoughtful man with a really well-developed voice and perspective. His POV sections provide a much needed rest in between the dialed-to-11 crises of Nora's life. They are immensely helpful in terms of pacing the novel and giving the reader a chance to breathe. In his character, Tiffany Reisz aces the "show, don't tell" maxim. We are told that Zach is a first-rate editor, but his inner life, professional competence, and repartee with Nora make that realistic. As I said, he's not always likable, but he's believable.
Nora starts off that way too. She's certainly not the usual female protagonist of an erotica/romance. I wanted to get to know her better. But by the end of the book, she's turned into a weird fantasy object, desired by all and known by none. We are told she is compelling, but by the time I reached "The End" I had no idea why. She wasn't complex. She was a drama queen who made her own problems. Think about all the drama queens you know who are irresistible, fascinating, and whose company you love spending time in. I'll wait.
That's the problem. Drama queens are boring. And by the end of the book, Reisz has conveniently jettisoned Zach. This leaves the sequels to continue on with Nora and all the other five-alarm characters who bear no resemblance to persons living or dead. I'm only a few chapters into The Angel and I'm already exhausted. I doubt I'll finish it.
This makes it sound like I hated the book. I didn't. I made highlights as I read on my Kindle. There was some beautiful prose. Through Nora and Zach, a writer and an editor, Reisz muses on what good writing is. I mostly agreed with her conclusions. I thought the first 2/3 of the book were absolutely cracking. I even found myself re-reading multiple passages--usually from Zach's POV--because I found them insightful and sharp.
In fact, 21 pages in, Zach says to Nora: "You're very clever. Cleverness is the last recourse of an amateur." True on all counts.
The narrator took some getting used to, and the tense that the story was written in isn’t my favorite. Yet it all worked out amazingly. The narrator grew on me and I loved the many accents he had. And the third person almost read like a television show. I could see the characters and environment that they were in.
As far as BDSM books go, this has to be one of my favorites. Nora’s story is heartbreaking. I fell in love with all of them. Soren, Zack, Wesley, they all have their little kinks and I loved them all. If you are expecting hearts and flowers with a lovely ending, you are in for some disappointment. This is a forbidden love story and each of the stories within the story have an ending, it just may not be what you expect. Thankfully the series goes on and maybe I’ll get the ending I want. Great Story Ms Reisz. I am now and will forever be a huge fan.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wow, talk about layers, this book is filled with them. Lots of complex layers to the story line and especially to the characters (Nora and Soren mainly.Read more