Thursday, June 21, 2012
Book: The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
I am reviewing a copy of The Siren I received through NetGalley.
When I finished The Siren, my only thought was "Wow." I'm still not convinced I can adequately convey what I think about this book.
First, I can't really classify it. It is NOT a romance. It does contain graphic sexual scenes, and yet I wouldn't consider it erotica. It is a love story, but not a romantic love story.
Nora, Zach, Soren, Wesley are the four major characters - basically three male characters whose lives revolve around Nora's life and activity.
The very basic gist is that Nora is a well-known erotica writer who has something more personal she wants to write and hunts out a better publishing house. Zack is a high-falutin' editor who looks down his nose as something so trashy as erotica, but decides to edit her book, as long as she does it his way and only his way. Soren is Nora's past, her old Dom. Wesley is a pre-med student, living in Nora's house and serving as her houseboy, to be politically incorrect, in exchange for room and board.
Some of Nora's past life is revealed to us in glimpses through her writing. In addition to editing the book to Zach's exacting specifications, she writes pseudo journal entries, which she subsequently erases without saving. These journal entries almost entirely relate to her past relationship with Soren, and it is in her relationship with Soren that I find my only real disappointment with The Siren. Though she and Soren are presented as a sub and her Dom, their interactions strike me (in my admittedly limited understanding of the "alternative" lifestyle of BDSM) as closer to Master/slave than D/s, and Soren's power over her fear-based rather than love-based. I never doubt that she loves him, even now, but I just don't see his love for her. Maybe this is a failing in me that I am simply unable to really connect with the deep level of physical pain he "gives" her - how this can possibly be love.
There is a plenitude of sexually graphic scenes in the book that I did not find erotic. Emotionally impactful, yes. Erotic, no. I felt like I had found a diary full of intimate passages about people I knew, describing how they came to be so connected. I had no trouble at all envisioning Nora's love for each one of these men, and she did love them, though each one entirely differently. And Zach's and Wesley's love for Nora was equally accessible.
The Siren is emotionally uncomfortable, in a good way, and the story continues unrelentingly to the end, and resolves in the only way it can. It's not a Happily Ever After. It's not even a Happily Enough For Now. It's just the only way this book could end, the heartbreakingly right way for this story, or this piece of the story, to conclude.
I unashamedly admit to grabbing my box of tissues and blowing my nose through several minutes of "Wow." I will most definitely be looking for more work from Tiffany Reisz.