Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Siren

The Siren
by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Harlequin MIRA
432 pages
Published on
Thanks to Net Galley for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes

Those of you whose kink was tested by Fifty Shades of Grey can go ahead and skip this review, because if you thought Christian and Ana were edgy and disturbing, you have no idea - NO IDEA - what BDSM is all about.

If you're still here, it's because you want to find out about this hot, dark and passionate book. And it is ... hot, dark and passionate.

We first met Nora Sutherlin in Seven Day Loan, in which her lover loaned her for one week to his friend. Nora was a submissive to her Dominant lover, and if he wanted to share her, he shared her.

In the previous book, Nora's name was Eleanor, but here, she changed it for several reasons. First, she has left her Dom, a man she deeply loved (and who loved her in return) but with whom she felt a future could not exist. There is a reason for this, which was first revealed in Seven Day Loan. Nora also has become an author, having written several best selling books about - you guessed it - characters who engage in BDSM.

When we see her again, Nora has been assigned an editor, Zach Easton, an Englishman not too fondly known as the London Fog. Zach demands that Nora make wholesale changes to her book, but he assures her that if she tweaks it as he asks, she will write something extraordinary. Yet Zach strongly disapproves of Nora's BDSM dalliances, causing her to keep a secret from him: she has become the number one Dominatix in New York City.

The Siren is all about double lives. Each character has one, and each must come to terms with which life is real.

First, there is Nora, author by day, dominatrix by night. But Nora, overachiever that she is, has another double life, if not a third. She develops feelings for Zach, just as she tries to understand her feelings for Wesley, a nineteen year old college boy she hired as a sort of manservant. Wesley is a virgin, and he and Nora care about each other quite a bit. She sees herself in him, even though he clearly is more of a vanilla guy than one interested in BDSM. Then there is her former Dom, whom she can't let go. She submits to him, yet earns a tremendous fortune as a dominatrix.

In the case of Zach, we have the stereotypical stuffy Englishman who is shocked and disturbed by bondage and dominance. Yet he lost his virginity at age thirteen, seven years younger than Nora was. He is married, but his marriage is troubled; he left his wife in England to come to New York (next stop, Los Angeles). He is married, but he isn't. He is appalled by BDSM, but drawn to it.

Then there is Wesley. Young, sweet, HOT Wesley. He is a solid Christian boy who studies hard in college and is devoted to Nora. Wesley must watch his insulin, because he is a severe diabetic. He says he wants to wait and have sex with someone who loves him, yet he is so determined to not be a romantic part of Nora's life that he fails to see that she does love him. He is a virgin living with a slut.

But what you really want to know about are those sexy times, right? Tiffany Reisz can write some sex scenes, people. They are not wildly graphic (they are far, FAR less graphic here than in Seven Day Loan), and for the most part, there is a tender romance behind them. For all of her worldly experiences, Nora still wants what most of us want: to love and be loved, and to be allowed the freedom to experience those things.

Her relationship with her former Dom clearly is intended to shock us. Yet he, too, leads a double life (boy, does he ever). What is striking (no pun intended) about him, though, is the depth of his love for Nora. He really does love her, and when he tells her that he wishes she was still his, you feel it. Despite the dissolution of their romance, he nonetheless advises her on Zach and Wesley, and his observations are astute.

This is a good book. If you are curious about BDSM, please do not use Fifty Shades of Grey as your idiot's guide. Instead, read this one. There are some wonderful explanations of the lifestyle, what draws people to it, what keeps them entrenched, and how it affects them. There also are some interesting discourses on erotica, which is the genre Nora writes. While there are not a lot of sex scenes, and those present are relatively tame, it's because the focus here is the characters. In Seven Day Loan, the focus is a sort of sexual awakening.

And now I must go get ready for Angel, which is the next book in this series.

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