Sunday, 2 September 2012

Review: The Siren - Tiffany Reisz

The Siren
Zach is on his way to LA and as far away as he can get from London. He only has six more weeks to go, but first, he’s asked to edit one more manuscript. The catch is, the novel is an erotica written by Nora Sutherlin. That same novel means more to Nora than anything else she’s written and she wants to get it right. She’s desperate enough to give Zach total control over it.

The blurb promises gruelling, draining, and shockingly arousing writing sessions, which are notably absent from the book. There is writing, there are sessions, there are shredded scenes, and there are excerpts from the book within the book—something I particularly disliked mostly because of the dip in quality—none of which were the reason for my rating. 

The word I’m stumbling over is the last one in the list—arousing.

Once again, I’m the odd man out; I don’t get the appeal. 

Reisz can write well and there were certain things I enjoyed reading. I mostly liked the banter between characters and the characterisations. I liked the fact that none of them were boring or insufferably honourable and good. I liked that they were flawed. 

I adored Wes. He was used to mirror Nora’s relationship with Søren and I kept thinking he was better than that, that he deserved to get away. As good a guy as he was, as vanilla, he never came across as sanctimonious. Quite the opposite, he knew his flaws, just like he recognised Nora’s flaws and accepted them. He was honest with himself. 

Unlike Zach. The Jewish—a very important fact that—Zachary or Zechariah Easton had to quite literally have the truth beaten out of him. That certainly didn’t add to his nonexistent appeal, but I’m glad someone found him appealing if it takes him far away from the story. Zach also earned the label too stupid to live for not figuring out or at least suspecting what Nora’s day job was.

Søren, Nora’s old Dom, let’s just say that I liked him much more with the robes on than off and that I didn’t understand why he’d care for Nora on any level. Although, I wouldn’t mind reading more about his flavour of mind-fuckery as long as it was kept out of the dungeon-hell. As a turn on, Søren fails.

J.P., Kingsley, and Mary, were among the supporting cast I’d like to know more about, but not as much as I was left wanting layers for the office villain. He was an example of a lazy characterisation and especially disappointing compared to the effort put into the main cast. 

And then there was Nora Sutherlin, the author and pseudonym for Eleanor Schreiber. The woman, the Switch, who’s not afraid of her sexuality or playing the game. In fact, I think that might be the only thing she’s not afraid of, the game. Nora only ever came close to being honest with herself and facing her own feelings when she was with Wes. I’d go as far as to call her a coward that’s how busy running from herself she was. And all I have for a coward is pity. 

No, Nora isn’t a likeable main character, but being a user and a bitch doesn’t make her strong either. It simply makes her interesting and that’s where the strength of this novel is—in the characters. 

But. There’s more. 

Or rather, there isn’t. The Siren is an erotica but very unerotic at that. I’m not a fan of pain and I don’t particularly get excited by the forbidden aspect of sex—hazards of having been born a Finn with a mother who never shut up about the human reproduction when I was growing up and living in a sauna culture where the most natural state of man is in the nude. The closest I came to finding anything erotic in this book was when Nora was with Wes, Michael, or Sheridan. That’s when she let little bit of her armour slip away, emotions trickle out and almost show intimacy. 

At this point, I feel like I’m repeating myself, because I’ve written it so often lately. I could list a spoilery list of events—which include hints of SPOILER blood play, a sex scene with an underaged boy, a f/f BDSM scene, multiple occasions of beatings leading to face injuries, casual dismissal of the law enforcement, a rape, an unrealistic office fight, bringing religion into sexuality, infidelity saving a marriage END—and not see a plot in it. But apparently that’s okay, because Nora’s introduces the reader and Zach to the shocking horrors of BDSM life. I only half-kid. The pure BDSM shocked and horrified me about as much as it aroused me, which is to say very little. 

To be perfectly honest, I was bored. It didn’t take me days to finish reading the book because I was savouring the story; it took me days because reading a sex scene after another became a chore. Neither did the manufactured confrontations or Nora’s assumed self-sacrifice help. I only devoured the pages when there was emotional torture or those rare moments honesty for example when Søren was telling Nora off or when was Wes his adorable self.

All this left me thinking that this would have been a much better book without the sex and wishing Reisz had written a deliciously twisted character drama centering around something other than kink. As well written as The Siren is, it’s not enough to make it a good book. 

Just to make this clear: Yes, I was trying out a new genre. No, I was not expecting a romance. Yes, I still think the book failed. 

2 stars



Series: The Original Sinners #1
Pages: 319 (epub)
Publisher:         Harlequin
Imprint: HarlequinMIRA
ISBN: 9781459234499
Published:         September 20th 2011
Source: Bought

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.


29 comments:

  1. I suppose there is nothing worse than a novel which was supposed to be scandalous and arousing and HOTTTT and proved to be simply boring. Especially to a Finn. ;p
    A great review, Rameau, thanks for your warning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read the book and wrote the review and I still don't know what happened. Maybe I just had an averse reaction to the hype.

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  2. Thanks Rameau

    Unerotic erotica..eh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'd think that a contradiction in terms, wouldn't you? *le sigh*

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  3. I thought that this book has less sex than most erotica, but I do read a lot of it. LOL. Sorry it wasn't for you. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, it has less straightforward sex than you'd expect from an erotica, but that doesn't stop from reading those scenes becoming a chore. For me at least.

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  4. Sorry you didn't see the appeal but at least liked Wes.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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    Replies
    1. Wes is the reason why I'm tempted to try the second book, but we'll see.

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  5. I don't think this is for me either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't recommend it if you're not interested in the genre.

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  6. No definitely not for me. Reading sex scene after sex scene bores me. I won't go near the shades of Gray books , I don't need to read about sado-masochist behavior. It makes me feel like a dirty peeping tom to read about this. I am not a prud, but I prefer action to sex.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that's fine. The book is not for everyone, but I wouldn't even mention it in the same context with Motu/FSoG. At least Tiffany Reisz researched the subject.

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  7. Erotica is always iffy for me. I need plot. And this current trend of demeaning "edgy" sex just isn't something I enjoy to read about. I always just pity everyone involved.
    I have a few friends that loved it but I'm pretty sure it won't be for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't mind reading or trying erotica, it just doesn't have the desired effect on me. I rarely find it arousing or shocking or horrifying or whatever the author hopes I'll feel. I'm much more interested in the emotions and psychology of the situation than the sex act itself.

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  8. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one. This type of genre can be so hit and miss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry too. I'm starting to think it's the hype that I react badly to rather than the books hyped about themselves.

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  9. I was considering this one, thanks for saving me the trouble ... not for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen mostly positive reviews for the book, a handful of poorer ratings, but not really any negative reviews. That's why I felt it important to write this. I'm glad if it helped you.

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  10. Great review Rameau, kudos for keeping reading instead of throwing the book away (or deleting it).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I don't delete books I buy and I value my Kindle too much to throwing it anywhere (even at the nearest wall).

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  11. I saw this book a lot these days but I'm glad I didn't pick it now. thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tastes vary and apparently sex is the newest big thing. Which shouldn't be news considering how long mankind has survived...

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  12. Great review! Made me laugh, and reading it was more interesting than the book itself. If reading sex scenes in an erotic book bored you then this book must be quite a disappointment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It might be because the author relied so heavily on the shock factor--look, we tie people up, terrifying!--and I just wasn't shocked.

      And thank you. I'm glad you liked the review.

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  13. Sounds like everyone wants to write this stuff now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whatever sells, that seems to be the motto of the day.

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