“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.”
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.
This is such an intricately layered series, I honestly don’t know where to start. Everything is important. The characters and little pieces of information in each book build up to a fantastically crafted, uniquely satisfying conclusion. I almost don’t want to review it because I’m afraid to unsettle the delicate balance and take away from the crystal-fine construction of the story. I hope I touch on all of the unique aspects of the series. I hope I can do it justice.
The Siren introduces us to the story of all of the original sinners characters and lays the foundation for the rest of the series.
Zach Easton is a star editor who running from a failed marriage and doesn’t want anything to with a ‘gutterswipe’ erotica writer, even if she has the endorsement of his boss. When he meets her, however, all of his preconceived notions go out the window and he is immediately intrigued by her vividly sexual nature and straight forward presence.
As they begin the grueling task of editing her first ‘real’ book, one of substance, Zach is introduced to her mysterious and intriguing lifestyle. She lives in an extravagant house with a young house boy named Wesley ‘Wes’, who she shares a relationship/friendship with that Zach cannot quite figure out. She teaches him about the dark world of BDSM through the book, as well as taking him to the club that she frequents that is run by her ex-Master’s best friend, Kingsley (another important character).
He learns of her ex-lover, Søren, who maintains a somewhat high profile career doubles as a sadist and the most sought after Dominant in the area, quite possibly even the country. Nora and Søren shared a D/s relationship for over thirteen years and she left him a few years ago, though it is not explained why in this book.
There are only two reasons why you leave someone you’re still in love with – either it’s the right thing to do, or it’s the only thing to do.
I can’t even summarize all that happens in the plot because it’s that involved. We follow Nora’s erotic escapades, her struggle to figure out what she wants from life and love and how all of the characters will mesh when the die have been cast.
I was hesitant to start this series because of the content. I really didn’t know what to expect as I’ve heard that it’s very dark / erotic and we all take those kinds of things in different ways. I’m glad my friends at Goodreads encouraged me to buy the books because I read all four within 24 hours. That’s how good it was.
There are people that attempt to write erotic / BDSM novels and granted they do a great job, but they honestly don’t even come close to this series. I believe Reisz accurately captures the true motivations / rewards that those who engage in BDSM play have / get. It’s not really a choice for some of these characters (i.e. Søren, Kingsley, Michael). They don’t chose to behave this way. They need it. It’s the only thing that makes them feel normal. It’s not a game for them. It’s their life. This is one of the reasons why I found this series to be so compelling the BDSM aspect felt completely authentic.
“Zach, this isn’t a game, you know. I don’t just write it. I live it. I’m a Domme, a female Dominant. There aren’t a lot of us around. Most Dominants are men. Technically I’m Switch since I can top and bottom, but if I show up on your doorstep, get ready to say ouch. I’m not good at it – I’m amazing at it. So good at it that I’m as famous down here for my skills with a whip as I am in the straight world for my skills with a pen.”
Caveat- this also means that there are definitely going to be some lines crossed. You aren’t going to like some of the things that happen. But what’s amazing is how Reisz constructs the reasoning surrounding those actions. You can’t help but understand the rationalization. Which is so freaking interesting to me and makes it all the more interesting to read. I love love books that challenge me, that challenge the norm and force me to see things from a different point of view. And literally everything about this book and these characters will challenge you. No doubt about it.
“He saved up her pain, counted it like currency and the more pain she endured, the more pleasure she could buy with it.”
One of my absolute favorite things, aside from the above, is Nora’s attitude about sex and relationships. It was quite refreshing to read about a truly sexually free woman who makes no apologies for her sexual appetite and is confident with her body and her desires. Throughout the series her ideals and her choices are tested by society, her own beliefs, and the people around her. It’s a constant battle to do what she wants because it’s simply what she wants and not be cowed by what others believe she should be doing.
“I know you want to fuck me. And I know you wish you didn’t. So how about we compromise and you can sit here and say, ‘No, Nora,’ ‘Don’t, Nora,’ ‘Stop, Nora,’ and I’ll ignore all those protests and slide right down on your cock anyway? And I’ll do it because no and don’t and stop aren’t your safe word. So you can finally get fucked and still sleep like a baby in your big lonely bed tonight feeling all clean and shiny and virginal because, after all, you did say ‘no’ and that awful Nora Sutherlin just wouldn’t listen.”
She has to decide between two things for pretty much the whole series…does she want the relationship where she’s always felt free to be who she is, or does she only want that relationship because it’s all she’s known for her entire life? This is represented by her struggle with Wesley, whom she loves and cares for but he isn’t a part of the lifestyle. He doesn’t understand BDSM at all and frankly abhors Søren with a passion.
“Kid, Søren could eat you for breakfast and not even need to chew. Don’t ever fuck with a sadist, Wesley. For Søren, torture’s just foreplay.”
“Why did you stay with him?” he’d whispered.
Nora had grinned at him, and she saw a new fear in Wesley’s sweet brown eyes.
“I like foreplay.”
Reisz makes no apologies about sex or the acts that the characters partake in with regard to BDSM. Nora isn’t restricted to one partner, or two for that matter. She has sex with whoever she wants, whenever she wants. But there’s a definite delineation between those who are sex-for-sex and sex-for-feelings.
I truly adore the fact that she didn’t compromise her characters for the sake of comfort. All of them make no apology for who they are and they don’t hold anything back. Søren is a sadist, that’s it. Period. That’s who he is. He isn’t going to change. He’s one of the most most intriguing characters I’ve ever met – and it only gets better as the the series progresses. There are so many things I want to know about him, not just regarding his sexuality, but as a person. He’s quiet, commanding, intelligent. Can look into your eyes and know your soul type of guy. I had to keep reading to know more about this guy. Do we like him, in spite of his sadistic tendencies? What will happen to him and Nora?
The humor. Oh. My. God. Nora is so fucking funny. I highlighted half of this book because of her. She has the sharpest, dirtiest mouth I’ve ever seen. She truly is a character. Again, Reisz is fantastic at crafted truly real characters. It’s fabulous. Bookworm heaven.
Here are some of my favorites:
“We made a deal. I can top, but not bottom.”
“Are you secretly a gay man?” Zachary eyed her curiously.”
“What’s your favourite position?”
“I usually play winger.”
“Zach, I adore you, but you can’t make soccer jokes during phone sex. It just isn’t done.”
“Tell Dr. Jonas next time I’ll do that thing he likes with the peanut butter and the cock ring.”
“It is without a doubt the sole reason he went to medical school.”
“You men. The bra clasp defeats you every time.”
“I think a demonic engineer mus have designed these things. I may have to get bolt cutters.”
“Watch out. Bras are often booby-trapped.”
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