Nora is a young erotica author who wants to take her writing to the next level, so she decides to switch publishing houses in order to makes sure that her latest manuscript is her break through novel. Nora is sure that newly transplanted editor Zachary Easton will be able to help her but he initially wants nothing to do with her and her but after getting to know Nora and her crazy lifestyle he reluctantly agrees to help her finish her novel within six weeks-with the caveat that if he does not like the finished work he will add her manuscript to the slush pile abyss. She agrees to his deal and they work tirelessly to turn her novel into the best possible novel it can be. As the deadline looms near and Nora and Zachary become closer the boundaries between her two worlds are becoming blurred. With the addition of Wesley her stalwart and trusting intern that she believes is her future, and Soren an integral part of her past that she wants nothing more to do with-or so she thinks- her life quickly spirals out of control. Nora is determined to finish her book no matter what the cost- even if it means that she has to finish watching the world around her turn to ash to finish it.
I have been reading erotica, romance novels, and erotica romance since I was in junior high school so I am not new to these sub-genres and the characters that inhabit them. This is not erotic romance. There are many semi erotic scenes, but there was no character/ relationship development between any of the characters; this is sensually charged literary fiction masquerading as an erotic romance. My jaded soul longed for an interesting and detailed sex scene. I wanted a real romance and not a drama filled underdeveloped and occasionally unbelievable set of relationships. I felt that this story could have been taken much further than was presented. If you were thinking of reading this book for long hot sex scenes and a well drawn romance then this is not the book for you. The dialogue and set of circumstances is what holds this book together. The smart prose, philosophical, theological questions, and many nods to other literary works of art keep this book from being overwhelmingly boring; it is the exact opposite of boring, in fact. There are real people here who say and do things that are cruel, dirty, and sometimes, illegal. Reisz has created a familiar but dark world with an opaque view on characters that seem all too familiar, occasionally over the top, but familiar. But even with the dark parts there is love and hope, there just is not enough of it to make this even remotely resemble a romance. Those moments are too far in between ad felt tacked on to keep up appearances. In summary, the story is not the problem but the label that it was given.
Nora is the main draw for me. She is a compelling heroine who is quick witted and funny. Nora is s young ambitious bdsm author who lives a double life. She is an increasingly popular kink author by day and dominatrix by night. What I love most about her is her tenaciousness insistence on making sure her life is balanced between the dark life that she craves and keeping laughter in her life to keep her sane outside of her dungeon. As the story unfolds you are also presented with an emotionally vulnerable young woman who is just recovering from a serious breakup with the only man that she has ever loved. I liked Nora in all her messiness. I think she is an open and honest woman, whom for the most part, had a firm grasp on with whom she was and where she is going. I think my favorite moments with her are not when she is being the unabashed flirt that she is, but the moments when she is alone writing and erasing her memories that she had with Soren. Those brief scenes are heart breaking and haunting, but oddly refreshing.
Nora and Zachary’s relationship is all too predictable but still an interesting read. I liked their chemistry and wished that their friendship was played up a bit more because it read like she did not really have many friends that she could talk to outside of the bdsm lifestyle. Whether that was by Nora’s own design is left a mystery. Wesley, her intern, is the closest thing she has to a friend outside of the industry and even then she holds him at arm’s length. I found their relationship the most intriguing of the three and wished that she had explored their relationship more thoroughly.
On the other hand, Nora’s relationship with Soren is borderline abusive, and mildly uncomfortable to read. I have admitted in an earlier review that I have had issues with bdsm, but, even with those books there was always a clear sense that these people cared for one another and respected one another with absolute certainty beyond just giving and taking a beating. But these two are not just beating people up but are psychologically and emotionally abusing one another. I think I may have had a more positive reaction to Nora and Soren’s story if Ms. Reisz chose to focus solely on Soren and Nora and not included the other characters, but because she did I felt that I was not given information to sympathize with the state of their relationship at all. He comes off as a world class manipulative alpha douche with deep seated emotional issues that cannot be washed over as just being brooding, enigmatic, or dark. Or whatever adjective you wish to use to describe the typical bad boy in the story. (As you can read I am so over male characters written in this manner.) The kicker for me is a revealing conversation that he has with Zachary about Nora. I want to discuss it further but I do not want to spoil it for anyone. There are moments in the book that are meant to make Soren look softer but do nothing for me at all to win me over to his side. Using kids, and his connection to them, to make me soften towards him is a cheap ploy that makes another event in the story even more disgusting.
Ms. Reisz made a valiant effort to make it look like everything that happened between them was really a mutual decision, but the more that she had Nora insist that they (Nora and Soren) were equals the more I got the sense that Nora did not even believe what she was saying and kept saying it to reassure herself. Like if you keep repeating the same lie over and over some way, somehow it will eventually become the truth. I do not want to paint Nora as a victim because she is not, but there is something wrong with their relationship. Her entire relationship with Wesley is similar to her and Soren’s but with a different outcome. There is a reason she is reluctant to bring Wesley into her world and not because he is against bdsm, but there are stronger implications to the culmination of their relationship, there would be serious consequences that she was not ready to deal with.
Even spewing all of my negative reactions in this review than displaying more of the positive i actually liked this book and will recommend that people read this book asap. As an erotic romance this is an epic fail but if I take away the label and just review the story then it is a well-executed first novel. Every time I think of The Siren I keep thinking of a twisted version of Goldilocks and the three bears. I cannot stop from having random thoughts about it even after having finished the book a few weeks ago. This book needs to be read and discussed ad nauseum. Being able to catch a reader’s attention and keep it even after the book has ended is a small fete that not many authors can accomplish- whether I liked or will like every part of the book is a different story. Ms. Reisz is a talented writer who will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with soon.
In the world of kink authors, she's the top.
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.
"A beautiful, lyrical story... The Siren is about love lost and found, the choices that make us who we are...and above all, finding our way home. I can only hope that Ms. Reisz pens a sequel!" ?bestselling author Jo Davis