The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
May 1, 2012
Reviewed by Mandi
Note: While I do hide spoilers in this review, the comment section may include discussion of them.
Favorite Quote: And although two people can love each other deeply, sometimes love alone doesn’t cut it. We can only sacrifice so much of ourselves in a relationship before there’s nothing left to love or be loved.
Last week I saw Courtney Milan tweet about how much she enjoyed this book (read her review here). I had just happened to receive it unsolicited for review, and thought well hell, I’ll give it a try. I was warned by many that this book does not have a traditional HEA ending, and they were right. This book is a romance book of sorts (some will argue not a romance book at all), but there is not your normal hero and heroine who fall in love and live happily ever after. Instead we do get two main protagonists, Zach and Nora who have very complicated lives. I love how this book unfolds and I couldn’t imagine a different ending for everyone involved. But I don’t want anyone jumping into this thinking it is a traditional romance book. This excerpt not only explains the book Nora is writing, but maybe the actual book itself:
“This is not a romance novel…” Zach read from her new first chapter. “Excellent line. Evocative and provocative. Ironic as well.”
“Ironic?” Nora sipped at her own mug of hot cocoa. She sat across from him at the table and pulled one leg up to her chest. “It’s true. It isn’t a romance novel.”
“Not a traditional one, of course. Your protagonists don’t end up together, but it is a love story.”
“A love story is not the same as a romance novel. A romance novel is the story of two people falling in love against their will. This is a story of two people who leave each other against their will. It starts to end the minute they meet.”
The Siren is one of the most incredible books I’ve read, but also I think I’ve never felt more uncomfortable in my life. I will most likely put these uncomfortable moments in spoiler tags, but I think I do have to discuss them. But let me start at the beginning.
Zach is an editor for Royal House Publisher. He is from London but currently he is working at the New York office after his wife, Grace and him separated. He is still in love with Grace, but they are currently at odds with each other. You learn late in the book why, but we’ll just leave it at – they love each other but hurt too much to be together. Zach is known as the ‘London Fog,’ for he is a very serious, dour, cranky editor. He is brilliant, but loves to rip manuscripts to shreds, and making authors cry. His new assignment is to edit an erotica book by Nora Sutherlin. Zach is vehemently opposed to this, as he only works with “serious writers.” But his boss knows erotica brings in the big bucks, and doesn’t give Zach much of a choice.
Nora is well known for her erotica, and really wants to break through with a big publishing house to make money. It’s really hard for me to describe Nora. She is petite and beautiful but larger than life. She is chaotic, has a very quick wit, and has this essence surrounding her that everyone is drawn too. She also has this huge vulnerable hole inside of her that she almost drowns in throughout the book. Nora has many more things in her life than just writing. At the age of fifteen, she met Soren and became his submissive. Soren was much older than her (I can’t remember how much older but definitely adult compared to her 15 years old.) Did I mention this book has many things that made me uncomfortable? Okay, so Nora enters into a submissive relationship with Soren. He is extremely dominant. He makes her wait until she is 20 before they consummate their relationship. Does that make things better? I’m not sure. What makes me even more uncomfortable – spoiler about Soren –
A year before this book starts, Nora (in her thirties) has left Soren for reasons you will discover as you read. Her leaving him made her fell apart and she really hasn’t recovered nor stopped loving him. Also during this time, she met Wesley while she was teaching a class. Wesley is very innocent young man around 19 years old. He ends up moving in with her, yet he is a virgin. They live more as best friends, but that boundary becomes very blurry in this book. The scenes between these two are some of my favorite. They have a struggle – they both care so deeply for the other, yet their love for each other is like walking on eggshells. So scared to hurt the other. Their relationship is very heart wrenching. Wesley definitely does not approve of Nora’s lifestyle with Soren, and he thinks eventually she will change and in his mind, come to her senses. You will have to read to see how that all turns out.
So Nora is reeling over leaving her long-term master, lives with a nineteen year old virgin, writes popular erotica and something I haven’t mentioned yet – she is a very famous dominatrix. People pay very big bucks for her to whip/bound/have sex with etc. You see Nora in action in this book. She sleeps with many people. (Again, not a traditional romance book.).
What unfolds is this crazy, amazing story of pain and love, acceptance and forgiveness, beginnings and endings. I literally was absorbed in this story from the first chapter. I can’t explain the dynamics between Zach and Nora, Nora and Wesley, Nora and Soren, and Zach and Grace but they all come together in this beautiful book, that may also kill you a little. Tiffany Reisz writes amazing dialogue and emotional depth. Witty, sharp, smart characters that will completely suck you in. When Zach and Nora first meet:
“Your son, I presume?” Zach asked after Wesley departed.
“My intern. Sort of. He cooks so I guess that makes him more of a factotum. Intern? Factotum?”
“Houseboy,” Zach supplied, putting his large vocabulary to use again. “And a rather well-trained one, I see.”
“Well-trained? Wesley? He’s horribly trained. I can’t even train him to fuck me. But I don’t think you drove all the way from the city just to talk about my intern with me, adorable as he is.”
“No I did not.” Zach fell silent. He waited and watched as Nora Sutherlin sat back in her chair and studied him with her unnerving eyes.
“So….” she began. “I can tell you don’t like me. Shows you’ve got good taste in women at least. Also shows you’ve heard of me. Am I what you expected?”
Zach stared at her a moment. The last three writers he’d worked with had been men in their fifties and early sixties. Never once had he seen any of them in their pajamas. And never had he met a writer as uncomfortably alluring as Nora Sutherlin.
“Thank God for stilettos, right? So what’s the verdict? J.P said he’s giving you total control over the book and me. It’s been a long time since I’ve let a man boss me around. I kind of miss it.”
“The verdict is undecided.”
“A well-hung jury then. Better give me a retrial.”
“You’re very clever.”
“You’re very handsome.”
I like that she kind of builds up to the BDSM parts of the book because, I became completely involved and obsessed with these characters, before the very uncomfortable parts were exposed. Had they been exposed earlier, I may have dropped this book and ran screaming. Spoiler –
The BDSM in this book is very intense and explicit. I could literally feel myself flinch as I read some of the scenes. But, I also feel the scenes felt organic. I never once felt like the author threw them in there for shock value. While I may not understand this lifestyle, I could appreciate the situations these characters were placed in.
I honestly don’t like Soren. He scares me. Nora may trust him. I don’t. I assume he has a much larger part in the second book. Maybe I will come to understand him more? I hope so.
So why am I giving this book an A? This book captivated me, and I think it is extremely well written. Although I did feel uncomfortable in some parts, I still love this book…and I’m okay with that.
Romance Novel News
Ashlyn Macnamara says
Yes, this review explains just how I felt about this book. Not an easy book, but it compelled me to read it. What I like most about it was the way it made me think.
Yes…I’m still thinking about it. I actually want to reread it soon.
Amy H. says
To me, that is the sign of a great book. I just added it to my buy list. Thanks for the review and extra comments!
I had to read that spoiler and holy sh*t! I did not see that one coming. I’m so bringing this book to my high school reunion (have I mentioned before that I went to an all-girls Catholic school? I know! I feel sorry for me also). Anyway, I got the book last week, Twitter is the biggest book seller out there, seriously. I’ll let you know once I’m done, I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride.
I was waiting for you to post this review because I just wrote a post about misleading blurbs and unexpected content ruining the reading experience. Do you think that you were able to enjoy this book more because you knew in advance that it wasn’t a traditional romance? Because the blurb doesn’t hint to it at all, it makes it sound like a cute story.
Great review! Now I want to read it even more ;)
That is a hard question to answer. I’m really glad that I was told it is an nontraditional HEA, but I think I would have figured out that Zach and Nora had different paths to take as I read. Like I said above, I can’t imagine a different end to this book. There is a happy ending for some, and for some not so much – Or more of a continuation into the next book. But I don’t think the end would have come as a shock had I not been told anything.
Excellent review. I am impressed you stuck with it considering those spoilers I just read. I think I might have to try this one too.
I hope many try this one. :)
Great review, I think you handled the spoilers well and described to us why you liked it, as well as how easily some of the content could have, but didn’t, turn you off from the book. This does not sound like my type of book, but I may have to read it one day–plus after following Tiffany on Twitter, I’ve found myself laughing after reading 90 percent of her Tweets, so I’m guessing that that comes through in the book as well, if not to the same degree? :)
Thanks for sharing!
TBQ’s Book Palace
I don’t know if I can compare the author’s tweets to her book – but her characters are very engaging. I sat down and by the first chapter I knew this author’s voice would be really good throughout the book.
What a perfect review. This sums up a lot of my own thoughts on the book. I think the fact that it is so unsettling for just about everyone who reads it, makes everyone so uncomfortable, and yet everyone LOVES it speaks volumes about THE SIREN.
I don’t have enough words to say how amazing this book is. And how you get close to all of the characters, and then get your heart ripped out. But it’s so good.
Yes – my heart got ripped out. But it was worth it ;) Looking forward to book 2.
Everything you’ve said about this book makes me want it!! *woot* ;)
This review really makes me want to buy this book and read it. Don’t know if I can because it took me a week or two to recover from reading Broken by Megan Hart after your review of that one! Whew! I will put it on my book wish list and keep looking at it til I cave in.
LOL – this one affected me different than Broken. After Broken I felt wrecked and drained. After The Siren – It didn’t drain me..I don’t know. But the book will stick with you for a long time :)
This book sounds…intense! Again, Mandi, you have me curious. I’m putting this one in my TBR pile. You’re going to make me broke!!
But at least you’ll go broke with good things to read. LOLOL :)
So there IS a silver lining!!! ;)
Kate L says
I think I need recovery time just from reading your review. ;-) But thanks for it because now I’m adding this one to the TBR list.
Lege Artis says
I ordered it as soon as I saw that A… Recently you also mentioned Bared to You by Silvia Day. Can you compare these two and tell which you loved better? Flawed characters and rocky relationships seem to be your flavor of the month.;)
I liked The Siren better than Bared to You.
Both have damaged characters but they are very different books. Bared to You is more your standard erotic book with a hero that is controlling because he is extremely damaged on the inside.
The Siren has Soren in which bdsm, or being a dominant is his lifestyle. Period. He may have drama in his past, at this point we do not know, but I don’t see him being healed and becoming someone else. Where as the hero in Bared to You most likely will. The Siren is all about the bdsm world, and explores the D/s relationships. Bared to You does not. I liked Bared to You but The Siren is on a different level. Much better writing.
Lege Artis says
Thank you, Mandi. I wasn’t sure about BtY because of all that comparison with book which shall not be named, but great reviews convinced me to try it and it just…didn’t work for me. Day’s writing is not my cup of tea. I’m even more looking forward reading Siren now.
Thanks so much for reviewing this book, yet another gem and great new author the Smexy team has intiduced me to. I loved this book and then went back to read The Seven-Day Loan, which features a much younger Nora (Eleanor still). I had a different reaction to Soren; I can’t wait to learn more about him and find him scary only in good ways. We definitely agree that the writing is excellent and that the plot, not the sex, drives this story forward and I find that just so refreshing!
Wow this sure is a “heavy” book. I am glad you loved it so much, despite the things that really bugged you. Not my kind of book though.
Nicola O. says
Fantastic review. Thank you for hiding the spoilers, I did not read them. I am really curious about this book now.
Mandi, as ever your recommendation of The Siren intrigued me to read it. I am not sure if I remember how I found your blog but I am forever happy about it. Nora broke my heart and left me wanting a HEA I knew just wouldn’t come. I can’t wait to continue Nora’s journey with her. I need to read Reisz’s earlier books. Thanks again.
Hey Michelle…I can’t wait for the next one to see where Nora and Soren go. So glad you read it!
ashelynn hetland says
ugh, let me tell you, I had the same problems you had with The Siren. It made me so uncomfortable and ICKY what Soren was and what he got her for their anniversary. *shudders* NO THANK YOU. I totally liked Michael–and I think the second book is about him–but come on, couldn’t he have been older? PLEASE?
but other than that, I really did like this one.
Your review is excellent, I didn’t have the same perspective of the book and explained why in my review but did think the author is a very gifted writer.
Thanks for sharing Mandi! :)
I just stumbled upon your review after having just read the Siren and Angel straight through in one day. Holy cow, I love them. Admittedly, I like Soren after the second book and will have a hard time in mass for a while.
I like him now too!! I hope you like The Prince too :)
Hello.First time on your website. Love your review. I am absolutely in love with this books. Like someone else said the way tiffany eases you into everything its not so shocking to me. I think if this was another writer i would of had to read it with my eyes closed. But I feel like tiffany swallowd the darkness out of a dark subject and throw up love every where. Like Nora said “Soren is the only man who has never hurt me.” Make complete sense to me! Happy Reading!
Hi Cara :)
Yes – Tiffany is an amazing storyteller. And because of that, the content, while difficult at times, feels organic to the story and to the characters lives. She is a really great writer.
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