Author: Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Date: July 24th 2012
Genre: Romance- Erotica
From Goodreads: Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she’s sure it’ll be her breakout book…if it ever sees the light of day.
Zachary Easton holds Nora’s fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it’s no deal.
Nora’s grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining…and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous—staying away from him…or returning to his bed?
Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.
So I was in a store the other day, and since I live in south Mississippi, this is the kind of shit that happens- a radio talk show was being played in lieu of Muzak and on this show they were talking about JESUS and SIN (only one of which interests me, I’ll let you decide which) and some bored, frigid, anal-retentive soccer mom (probably from Brevard County Florida) was expressing her disgust at having been duped into reading Fifty Shades of Grey after hearing that it was a “romance.” She then went on about how it was amoral smut and no one should read it. I could hear the spittle hitting the mic as she waxed passionately in a religious fervor over the atrocious insinuation that ANYONE would read that book and enjoy it! And since I live in south Mississippi, and I’ve become desensitized to this shit over time, I flipped-off the ceiling, got what I came for and left. Of course Fifty Shades of Grey is smut. I don’t believe for one second that anyone can seriously claim to have heard otherwise. On my way out the door, I remembered that I had received a copy of The Siren on my Kindle and I decided to go home and give it a go if for no other reason than to come back here and lie to anyone dumb enough to believe that this book is a romance novel.
But no really, it is not a romance novel. It is exactly what Tiffany’s character, Nora, bills it as. It is an anti-romance novel. It isn’t about the heat and passion and wonder of a budding new relationship, it is about the burning, desperation and pain of a dying one. And it is incredibly moving and so very sad.
Nora is writing a story, one about a BDSM couple, whose relationship is coming to an end because they are both very different people, who each express love in a different way. Having only ever written straight erotica, Nora seeks the help of a highly accredited editor to help her tell her story. Predictably, she and the editor develop a relationship of course and struggle to keep things professional between them until the book is finished. Nora’s relationship with the editor is just one of the many relationships in her life, each one satisfying a different side of Nora but ultimately none of them giving her the fulfillment she seeks. It’s absolutely gut wrenching to watch each of these love affairs play out and I cried more than once for Nora. She’s a wreck of a human being, utterly broken, despite her protests that she has decided to be this way.
Reisz gives a lot of insight into the whole BDSM lifestyle (much more than I wanted to know- which truth be told was ZERO), and tries to explain away what looks like blatant sexual abuse as a chosen lifestyle between two consenting adults. This is where she lost me. I GET that philosophy, really I do, and I get that this is how some people live and get off and really TO EACH HIS OWN- I can accept that it exists but you’ll never convince me that it is OK. Someone ends up in the emergency room in the name of “consensual relations” and the nurse in me COULD NEVER accept THAT. So I was more than a little weirded out by the whole thing- but shit, I read the book knowing what it was about so I’m not going to claim to be surprised.
But I’m painting an unfair picture here, because the sexual scenes in this book are few and shocking as they are, ARE NOT WHAT THE STORY IS ABOUT. The actual story, the emotion, the mindfuck, is so much more powerful and disturbing than the whips and chains could ever be. And here’s the kicker, unlike that popular smut floating around out there (with its laughably nonexistent plot and THE MOST god-awful writing) this is amazingly well written and a thoroughly heartbreaking story. I give full marks to Reisz for her writing and story telling ability. Nora’s life takes the reader through every imaginable sensation and it’s emotionally exhausting. However, I dug down deep, and still couldn’t find one ounce of respect for Nora as a person (could find all sorts of kudos for Nora’s writing) and ultimately that fact (and the fact that this is just not my thing) will keep me from reading anything further in the series.
I had two MAJOR issues (aside from Nora herself), one being the ER instance mentioned above and one being Soren’s identity which was for pure shock value and in poor taste- completely unbecoming of Miz Reisz’s writing ability which is far better than the tabloid turn of events that was Soren.