Series: Original Sinners #1
Published: 2012 by Harlequin Mira
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“I know people think erotica is just a romance novel with rougher sex. It’s not. If it’s a subgenre of anything, it’s horror.”
“Romance is sex plus love. Erotica is sex plus fear. You’re terrified of me aren’t you?”
“Slightly,” he admitted, rubbing the back of his neck.
The Siren by Tiffany Reisz is the story of sexual tension between erotica writer Nora Sutherlin and her reluctant editor, Zachary Easton. Zachary is a neurotic and somewhat repressed character with a stick up his ass. He is a serious editor who edits serious books, and he looks down on anyone or anything that doesn’t meet his literary standards. When his boss hands him Nora’s manuscript, he doesn’t want to edit it because it’s erotica, but finds himself liking it against his own better judgement. He also finds himself captivated by Nora; she is witty, sexual, and unabashedly herself, and when he’s around her, it brings to the surface thoughts and feelings that he’s been trying to forget.
…and the summary that I just wrote is altogether too simplistic to even begin to encapsulate the awesomeness that is The Siren. Most of the time when I read romance or erotica, I’m looking for escapism. The Siren has that, but more. The best way to characterize it, borrowing from one of the characters in the series, is “Literary friction.” It’s the kind of book where I’m wowed by the writing and the layers and the tangled relationships and just how frickin’ meta it is. Ladies and gentlemen, this is BDSM erotica that makes references to Kirkegaard and Catholicism. It assumes that readers have brains and know how to use them. It’s hot, smart, and completely unputdownable. I would wholeheartedly recommend it (but only if you aren’t offended by kinky sex, because there’s plenty of that to go around).
Normally I hate books where there are love triangles/quadrilaterals/other love polygons. I feel like the characters are playing with each other’s feelings and acting like children. Here, there are a lot of relationships between characters, but it all feels completely authentic and makes sense. I actually ENJOYED the fact that characters liked multiple people and had to sort out what they really wanted. There’s Nora, who’s living with a college-aged vanilla guy named Wesley. She and Wesley have domestic bliss, although their relationship borders on platonic but with the possibility of more. There’s tension, but little action. And you can tell that Nora has something with him, but the inherent problem is that Nora is kinky and Wes is vanilla and they just aren’t compatible because she needs something that he’d never be comfortable giving her. Then there’s Soren, Nora’s ex dominant, whom she’s never really gotten over. All the while she’s flirting with Zach, who’s still not over his wife back in Britain and wonders what went wrong. His relationship with Nora and the way she shows him her world is part of his healing process and helps him to figure things out. The final outcomes of the relationships are part of a process of self-discovery for all of the characters involved, and a relationship ending isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you learn from it and move on and it’s not the end of the world but the beginning of something different.
Am I rambling? Maybe I am. When I finished reading The Siren, I immediately bought the sequel, which I breezed through in a day or two because I couldn’t put it down. I’m thrilled that The Siren is only the first book in a larger series and that I won’t have to leave behind any of the characters whom I’ve come to love. I never thought I’d be so completely blown away by an erotica novel.