I know that I usually deliver more of a fun, lighthearted tone with my Sexy Summer Saturday posts. But I can't do that with The Siren. This isn't the book I thought it would be. I'm not actually sure what I expected. But I can honestly say I got more than I bargained for.
The Siren...this book read as a psychological thriller to me more than erotica. Zach Easton is a defeated man. He's beloved wife Grace has left him, or she let him go. He came to America to escape the pain, but like a good tortured hero, doesn't succeed. Grace is a shadow, he sees her in every moment, everywhere. He's haunted. When his boss forces him to work with the famous erotica writer Nora Sutherlin, Zach is dismayed to say the least. Determined to break Nora, to frighten her away, Zach is brutal with her, calling her work trash. But Nora has strength unimagined by Zach. Having known true ruthlessness, she thrives under his rule. Their combined strengths, his brutal honesty and unerring eye for editing; her unbreakable will to succeed, her whole-hearted devotion for her book, drives them to tear the book down and build it back up into a beautiful, heartbreaking work of art.
I know, the book I just described doesn't sound like a psychological study or erotica. But that's just the beginning. The characters are what make The Siren such an emotionally draining story. You have Zach, haunted and repressed, refusing to allow himself anything other than guilt for the breakdown of his marriage, guilt for his attraction to the enigmatic Nora. Nora...I was by turns sad for her, and in awe of her. She is free with her sexuality, bold. In addition to being a talented author, Nora is a Domme. The Domme, apparently. Nora leads an extravagant, thrilling and slightly scary second life as Mistress Nora. Clients pay exorbitant amounts of money for only an hour under her whip. But before Nora was a Domme, she was a submissive who spent many years with Soren, a god in the underground S&M world. And although Nora left Soren years ago, she'll never truly be free of him. His love means pain, a pain that Nora craves, walked away from, but of which she is never truly free. Perhaps the most heart-breaking character in The Siren is Wesley. Wesley is Nora's college-aged roommate/house boy/best friend. Wesley is protective, kind-hearted, and pure. Due to the differences in age and station, Nora seems to be Wesley's caretaker, but he takes exquisite care of her as well. Their relationship was beautiful, endearing, healthy. And doomed?
I learned quite a lot while reading The Siren. I discovered more than I ever knew existed about the world of BDSM. The rules, the thoughts of the people who live it, love it. Some of it scared me, to be perfectly honest. But amid all the pain and all the rules, I saw love. I found respect. And although I don't fully understand the appeal of being flogged or bound, I have no judgment towards those who do.
The brilliance of The Siren is the story within the story. Nora's book, it reads as a memoir ~
"I don't want to write this story any more than you want to read it"
~ Is it Nora's love letter to Soren? Is it her long goodbye to Wesley? I feel like I know the answer, but then again, I feel as if I know nothing. The ending was surprising, exciting and very open, leaving the next book in the series, The Angel, with an immense freedom.
The Siren was by turns dark, dangerous, beautiful, disturbing, sophisticated, exhilarating, sad, and yet hopeful. Tiffany Reisz has a remarkable ability to make the reader (speaking for myself) feel vulnerable, yet safe. I appreciate this book for what it taught me and what it made me feel. I am so happy that I read The Siren and will definitely be reading The Angel.
" 'Writing erotica is like f*cking someone for the first time. You aren't sure exactly what he wants yet so you so you try to give him everything he could possibly want. Everything and anything...' She annunciated the words like a cat stretching in sunlight. 'You hit every nerve and eventually you'll hit the nerve. Have I hit any nerves yet?' " (eARC, 5%)
"Her resolve to love him without making love to him wavered at times, but her profound respect for him kept dragging her wayward heart and body back in line. But as his untutored lips trembled under her lips, and his tongue tentatively sought hers, that resolve threw itself onto the blade, sliced itself in two, slid to the ground and died there, quiet and happy and without any further protest." (eARC, 84%)show more