The Siren

The Siren - Tiffany Reisz Synopsis:New York. Nora Sutherlin, a successful erotica writer, is trying to sell her latest novel to a respectable publishing house. She thinks it is her best and the most personal book so far and she hopes it will establish her position as a serious, professional writer. The publishers are willing to buy it, and pay her a six-number advance fee, but under one condition: she will revise it with their editor. Nora agrees; in fact she wants the best editor they have because this time she wants to do it right. She is allotted Zach/Zechariah Easton, a former Oxford lecturer straight from the British Isles, a real professional but hardly a fan of erotica. The fate of her book, and her career, depends on him.Will Nora be able to sell her book? Will Zach cooperate with her? What will she and her editor learn during their cooperation? Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.My impressions:Overall I think the author was trying too hard to make this story original. With so many BDSM novels on the market, representing every possible flavour, from mild romance to hard-core porn, it is a daunting task, I am sure of it. Still trying too hard is more often than not a bad strategy – even worse than not trying at all. It might make you write bad things and masquerade them as good. Perhaps it was supposed to be ‘the’ feature marking this book as something different than your ordinary Harlequin fare, something dashing and new. I saw many positive reviews which described this novel as such but in my case it was a failure. First let me tell you that presenting sexual relationship between an adult and a minor as a form of entertainment is child pornography, full stop. Nothing can be considered a sufficient explanation or justification of including such things in an erotica novel, not even the consensual character of the intercourse. Be warned- this book crosses the decency borderline in more than one way. I don’t think here only about a scene in which Nora deflowers a fifteen-year-old boy to make him ‘understand’ his S&M sexuality; I think here mainly about her twisted, unreal and completely outrageous treatment of Wesley, her poor intern boy, so much in love with her that he, a Christian virgin, wants to live under the same roof with a working Dominatrix. Puppy love can be understood, psychological and physical abuse of a minor - not. And not even try to tell me (like Nora told Wes) that a handjob is not a sexual act because it is.Now something which stuck out as completely weird and immature from the beginning to the very end- the appearance of the characters. Everybody and anybody in this novel is ridiculously good-looking. Nora is a beautiful petite brunette with the right curves to muscles ratio. Zach, her editor is a blue-eyed, dark-haired wonder of a man, over six feet tall and built like a young god (or at least a professional tennis player – those strong arms and flat stomach). Wesley, Nora’s live-in assistant, is a handsome epitome of an American kid from Kentucky – brown eyes, a thatch of blond hair, tanned skin and the mandatory six-pack belly. Søren, oh dear… he is even taller than Zach, obviously he had to be the tallest, at least according to his creator he was a kind of god almighty in miniature after all. Should I also mention his arctic-blue eyes, platinum-blond hair and, generally excellent physique more appropriate for a Michelangelo sculpture than for a priest? Of course the beauty pageant doesn’t end with the main characters. After a while that overindulgence in handsomeness became a pet-hate of mine; by the way I am sure Kirkegaard, a fierce critic of idealists, is turning in his grave. Laughing hard. Now do these types remind you of something? When was the last time you saw so many good-looking people in one place? In a movie? Soap opera perchance? In a glossy magazine? A tv add? Not on a real street of course? Exactly my thoughts…Now let me pass to the characterization itself. People in this novel all have one main flaw – too many ‘buts’ attached. It often happens when an author wants to twist the ball too much. Let me illustrate that affliction by describing Nora, the main female lead, in more detail. Her nom-de-plume is Nora Sutherlin BUT her real name is Eleanor Schreiber (from German ‘schreiben’ meaning "to write" so we can be sure she chose her career right). She is an author of very adult, very kinky books BUT she adores children’s novels. She looks pretty young (being petite and all) and she has a way with children BUT she is also rather blunt with her language and one of the most feared Dommes around. She is into BDSM big time BUT deep down she is a very caring, compassionate woman ( her relationship with Wesley is the proof). She has a live-in toy boy called an assistant BUT it is not as it seems, they don’t have sex as he is a male virgin and a Methodist. She has a lot of sex appeal and she loves bed games and indecent lingerie BUT deep down she is just that lost, poor sweetie with bad experiences, looking for real love in all the wrong places (cue in the violin in the background)… I could continue that list for a while and please, don’t even let me start describing Soren, the badass Catholic priest. While I am more than pleased to tollerate a character with two-three buts, exceeding that number is not a good idea and in the case of most of characters I encountered here it was DEFINITELY NOT a good idea. Too many buts don’t equate very complex, freshly original creations. Heroes with such an affliction feel spurious to me at best.Now the style. The book was well-written but it seemed, from time to time, that the editor took a nap or went out to buy some coffee and got assaulted by a brain thief who dumbed him/her down. As a result a man (Zach) is getting an erection just because he can stroke a red Aston Martin, the car of the infamous James Bond. Like, really stroking, from bumber to bumper. And pressing the horn. Oh dear, is this boy really fortyish ? Then I found such a lovely sentence: ” (…) the dawn of her body meeting the horizon of his.” Editor – we have an emergency! Similar emergencies can be found in many sexual intercourse scenes. They were strangely bland and mechanical, sometimes even painfully so – I don’t know why but such was my personal perception. The cherry on the top of the cake should be left at the very end, right? Here it is. One name. Søren. A Catholic priest, a Jesuit to boot, who is also a BDSM god and the former Master of Nora. An extremely gifted sadist who can make you love the pain. He didn’t work for me. Not even for one second. Now one simple question. How come? How it was even possible? Although I can easily imagine Catholic sadists or even sado-masochists as they follow their proclivities masquerading them as acts of devotion (all these crucifixes around, poenitentiam agite, flogging, hair shirts etc) I really was astounded by the fact that Søren, a simple parson, managed to hide his double life (and a lover) so long from his brothers and sisters. Ok, mainly from his brothers. Imagine it or not but Catholic priests are not merely ornamental, they do have a lot of duties to perform and they rarely work alone, not in one of big city parishes anyway. They surely wouldn’t have time to hang around kinky clubs and carry on romances, no matter in what form. Not to mention the fact that somebody would notice, sooner or later. I don’t say priests never engage in such activities because of course it can happen. I am saying it is never as offhand and casual as presented here and take it from a girl born and raised in a Catholic country. Simply unreal. And the great looks of Søren would make it even more impossible because he would be watched and judged constantly by his eager parishioners, easier to remember and recognize. You can trick one man for a long time and you can trick plenty of people for a short time – but never both.Final verdict:I really cannot recommend this book to anyone with clear conscience. I don’t say it because I am a religious prude or because I am against smearing the Catholic Church or BDSM. I say so mainly because it is bad literature masquerading as something new, ground-breaking and exciting using the oldest trick possible - sex.