I have no funny gifs for this one, this series deserves some thoughtful... thoughts.
Don't cane me (over the rating).
I can practically count on one hand the number of quality erotica books I've read in the past year and four of them belong in this series. BDSM is a bit of an intimidating topic in books for me because most of the time, the better writers would get stuck within the psyche of the characters while the pedestrian smut peddler would just give you chapter after chapter of contortionist sex and dirty talking.
The Original Sinners series gradually rose above both extremes of the spectrum, satiating both the voyeur and the thinking (vanilla) reader. Picking up The Siren and choosing to continue, is choosing to take a journey to unfamiliar territory and you have no way of going back to the comforts of the vanilla perspective (the biggest being love as a monogamous concept), unchanged. Wherever Tiffany Reisz is taking Nora, Søren, Kingsley and Wesley, there would be no life vest, no safewords and no insurance.
Going in, I already feel the series has left me at the peak of that unknown territory in The Prince through difficult terrain and breath-taking heights. And picking up immediately after the end of The Prince, this delves into the next 48 hours of Nora's captivity.
That's two book days spread across 464 paperback pages.
It felt like the long walk home. A plateau more than a crest. And instead of ending on a note higher than its predecessor, this one felt more subdued.
This wasn't necessarily a bad book, it was good. But the series has already set the bar high and using its own yardstick against itself… this was just okay. What I loved, I really loved. What I didn't care for I couldn't overlook (beyond the rhyming names which drove me bonkers: Stern Stearns and Wesley Railey? Why???)
I was skeptical towards the blurb because I thought it would just be a string of novella-like shorts from Nora's perspective told to entertain a madwoman and keep herself alive until the cavalry comes to the rescue. It wasn't. A big chunk of it was also the cavalry trying to figure out how to get Nora safely away from the clutches of the villain. Which given how early they've figured out the logistics of Nora's kidnapping felt a bit too slow and exploratory.
Yet despite the narrative, the redundancy that comes with flashbacks didn't bother me at all. The grace and eloquence in execution gave a precise impact to my feels.
"Don't be afraid to hurt me, too. I know you want to let go. Let go with me. You need comfort. Let me comfort you with my body. Lose yourself inside me. Forget what you've lost, forget what you can't have. There's no shame in trying to forget for a night even if you know you'll remember in the morning."
I love how that quote fit for two different characters in two different, yet connected situations. Brilliant, powerful writing and not entirely surprising coming from Tiffany Reisz. I have to be put out there how much this twisted me from the inside.
The characters I loved, I still loved by the end. I find it amazing how despite knowing all these things about Soren and his past, he remains a mystery unfurled, a well with no bottom in sight.
"You're my favorite monster," she said against his lips.
"I broke him into a thousand pieces simply for the pleasure of putting him back together just to break him apart again."
On the other hand, I missed the emotions Kingsley surprisingly, forcibly wrenched out of me from the last book. He was more of a looming presence than an active player in this chess game of feels (ew, cheesy line). Very much like a King, huh. I'm confuddled by Wesley's endgame that I begin to wonder how things would've ended if Laila wasn't in the picture. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't like how things ended for both characters. This book gave a strong argument for unquantifiable love which made a believer out of me... until one scene made me scrap that belief system altogether and in turn question every single character in this series.
The new additions were a mixed bag. I initially liked the villain because she made sense at certain points but she also lacked a certain flair to be on equal footing with Nora. I found their banter initially entertaining but lost interest because despite her threats and the details of her plans, the depth of her malevolence felt anemic at best and her response to Nora's barbs felt flat and predictable. I liked the blonde addition, not so much the redhead. While the former feels like she SHOULD be there, the latter was an ill-fit if one would try to view the series as a whole. I felt the story has already shifted its focus between Soren, Kingsley and Nora which far more interested me as a fan of this series than the Zach storyline.I don't mind what happened to her, it's why it has to be her at all that niggles. I appreciate the multiple dimensions of these characters and it IS foolish to expect that their stories would only move in a single linear direction but she has been reduced as a peripheral character in the past books at best and the logic of having her here was fuzzy… save for that twist in the end which felt a bit too gimmicky for my tastes.
Because the ending…while not necessarily bad felt like an oddity with the depth this series has gone to. because I couldn't believe for one second that anything would surprise Soren. I was made out to believe he's this omniscient character and I'm happy to end this thinking someone as resolute as him exists in the literary universe.
As a whole I felt this was a lukewarm end to a great series but a brilliant promise to what The White Years will bring.
Review Copy provided by Harlequin MIRA thru Netgalley in exchange for an impartial review. Quotes may not appear on the final, published copies.