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Monday, October 8, 2012

'The Angel' The Original Sinners #2 by Tiffany Reisz

 Received from the Publisher 

From the BLURB:

No safe word can protect the heart...

Infamous erotica author and accomplished dominatrix Nora Sutherlin is doing something utterly out of character: hiding. While her longtime lover, Søren–whose fetishes, if exposed, would be his ruin–is under scrutiny pending a major promotion, Nora’s lying low and away from temptation in the lap of luxury.

Her host, the wealthy and uninhibited Griffin Fiske, is thrilled to have Nora stay at his country estate, especially once he meets her traveling companion. Young, inexperienced and angelically beautiful, Michael has become Nora’s protégé, and this summer with Griffin is going to be his training, where the hazing never ends.

But while her flesh is willing, Nora’s mind is wandering. To thoughts of Søren, her master, under investigation by a journalist with an ax to grind. And to another man from Nora’s past, whose hold on her is less bruising, but whose secrets are no less painful. It’s a summer that will prove the old adage: love hurts.


Following the events of ‘The Siren’, Nora Sutherlin has returned to her old master and first love, Søren. But to fly home to him she had to give up her old intern and would-be-lover, Wesley. Now Nora finds herself in the midst of a potential scandal concerning her beloved priest. Søren is up for a promotion, and someone has made an anonymous tip to war-zone journalist, Suzanne Kanter, that there’s a conflict of interest . . . remembering her own familial wounds regarding a corrupt priest, Suzanne takes it upon herself to unearth Father Sterns’s deepest, darkest secrets.

Meanwhile infamous erotica writer, Nora Sutherlin, is taking it upon herself to hide away in the country with her dearest friend, trust fund darling and occasional lover, Griffin Fiske. Hiding goes against her very nature, but to keep Søren safe and divert attention away from him, Nora will do anything she has to. But two months away from her home and master will not lessen Søren’s hold, and he has one more command to make of Nora before she leaves . . . he asks that she take Michael Dimir with her, the young man Nora introduced to their lifestyle one year ago. Michael was saved the moment Søren realized what he was and his sexual impulses, but the young man still battles with his tyrannical father, his own disgust in himself and a deep yearning to belong to someone.

In two months away from home all of these original sinners will face battles within themselves and against each another.

‘The Angel’ is the second novel in Tiffany Reisz’s ‘Original Sinners’ dark erotica series.

I so enjoyed Reisz’s first outing with ‘The Siren’ that I had quite high-hopes for her follow-up, and if I’m 100% honest, I didn’t know if she could meet them. Well, I’ve got to give major props to Reisz because not only did she exceed my expectations with this second book, but she has made me utterly anxious for third (but, pretty please, not final!) book in the series ‘The Prince’, which is due for release in November.

‘The Angel’ picks up pretty much where ‘The Siren’ left off, give or take a few months. Nora is happily ensconced in her relationship with Søren once again, though her beloved master and priest is concerned that Nora has been ignoring calls from her old intern (and unrequited lover) Wesley. Seventeen-year-old Michael is just as introverted as ever, despite his erotic introduction to the BDSM world courtesy of Ms. Sutherlin – Michael may have found solace in his like-minded fetishist, but he is still cowed by his oppressive father and his own insecurities about who he is and what he desires. Meanwhile, Kingsley Edge has had a break-in at his office, and someone has stolen a single, secret-filled, file … Nora’s. At the same time, an unexpected twist in a church promotion has Father Stearns (‘Søren’) up for promotion and under journalistic scrutiny when war-reporter Suzanne Kanter is anonymously tipped to follow his trail. Nora and Michael, both being the potential biggest scandal stories attached to Søren, agree to a two-month sojourn in the country at the lavish estate of Griffin Fiske, 8th Circle regular, Nora’s friend (sometime bed-mate) and generally despised by Søren.

Also circling these characters’ stories is Wesley, back home in Kentucky and unsuccessfully trying to forget about Nora Sutherlin and what she’s doing (and who she’s doing it with) since they parted ways. Zachary Easton is also a phone call away for Nora, as he’s back in England and trying for a baby with his wife, Grace, but still offering input into Nora’s latest novel and romantic catastrophes.

Early on in the novel Nora recounts for Michael a bit of wisdom passed on to her by the infamous Kingsley Edge, who said: “Fetishes . . . they’re the pet you feed or the beast that eats you.” I think that’s a lovely idiom for the ‘Original Sinners’ series in general, but especially for this mid-way book.

‘The Siren’ was such a fantastic introductory book, not just to the ‘Original Sinners’ universe, but to erotica and BDSM in general. I felt like Tiffany Resiz presented some wonderful, insightful arguments regarding the misrepresentation of erotica (often thought of as ‘smut’ or ‘porn’ etc) and without really pressing on the reader to take a side for or against fetishism and BDSM, but at least asking us to think on human nature and the arguments of ‘to each their own’. Well, ‘The Angel’ feels like Reisz is carrying on that message of exploring acceptance, as we delve into some characters’ dark pasts and current struggles.

Søren was very much an unknown element in ‘The Siren’, and all the more intimidating for how characters spoke about and around him, but readers were given very little page-time with his pervading presence. That’s all turned on its head in ‘Angel’, and Søren actually takes up quite a lot of the book’s spotlight. It’s wonderful that readers are now ‘in’ on the Søren story, because reading about journalist Suzanne Kanter’s investigations into him put us in a most curious, sympathetic position. It’s easy to see how so much of Søren’s life and secrets could be horribly, damnably misconstrued from Kanter’s probing. And where once I’m sure a few readers were disgusted by the thought of Søren (based on Wesley’s dislike and Nora’s curious recollections) we are now in a position to be almost defending him. It’s a great little alliance Reisz has formed for the reader, and a great way for those of us (even readers who adamantly disliked Søren and thought him a vile leading man for Nora) to see a different side and rethink our judgements. Søren is also pieced together because in her unearthing, Suzanne Kanter finds the terrible truth of Søren’s past … and it is awful, perhaps especially because it’s so coloured in grey. I will give nothing away, save to say Reisz has added layers and colours to Søren that, even if you don’t find him a fulfilling romantic interest, any reader will surely find him a complex and tough character to admire.

But on the subject of Søren and romance … I appreciated and was surprised at how much ‘The Angel’ is an examination of Søren and Nora’s love. And even though these two are separated (again) in this book, their love definitely shines through. It’s a conundrum, when readers know the degrading, harming foundation of their sexual relationship (and there is a confronting scene very early on which won’t sit well with many readers) but to then read about how their relationship is still very much about love and romance? That was interesting, and again a way that Reisz was expanding the characters and readers misinterpretations about the BDSM world.

When Father Stearns started counselling him after his suicide attempt, Michael finally worked up the courage to ask him about Nora, who Father S called Eleanor. For some reason the first question that came out was, “Is she pretty?”
Father Stearns answered, “Michael, Eleanor is without a doubt the most beautiful woman who has ever or will ever live. If you could take a night time thunderstorm and turn it into a woman, you would have a very good idea what she looks like. And a fairly good idea how she behaves as well,” he’d said and smiled.

On the subject of unconventional romances, a wonderful focus in ‘The Angel’ is on Michael and his growing infatuation with dominant, Grififn Fiske. Griffin is an ex-addict, playboy, trust-fund baby, despised by Søren but beloved of Nora. When Michael lays eyes on Griffin he has a whole new set of internal conundrums – having recently reconciled his sub-tendencies, to then realize he’s also attracted to men? ‘The Angel’ is a book of upheaval for both Michael and Griffin, and it was so interesting to read their coming together (and, again, very romantic).

I feel like I should also stress that while Reisz’s writing may come across as dripping in noir erotica, she is a writer of many shades and she is funny. The same way that Nora Sutherlin is both a seductress and a comic-wit, Tiffany Reisz can write an uncomfortably violent sex scene one moment, and then write a funny turn-around laden with pop-culture references. Like this scene, in which Nora says what we’re all thinking about Søren;

“Yes, sir?” she said when Michael lay safely out of earshot. “How are you, little one?” came Søren’s voice over the line.
“Lonely for a certain six-foot-four blond Scandinavian guy I know.”
Griffin started to go back into Michael’s room and Nora barred the closed door with her body.
“Anyone I know?” Søren asked.
“Alexander Skarsgård.” Griffin feinted to the right before attempting to duck under her arm. She raised her leg and braced it on the door frame to block him.
“I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the gentleman.”
“He’s a Swedish vampire. Anyway, how are you, sir?”

Wesley is on the perimeter for most of this book, but towards the end his role in upcoming third book, ‘The Prince’, becomes apparent and he’s partly the reason I am now left desperate for that third instalment. But as I said, I am now hoping the ‘Original Sinners’ won’t be over with just three books. Reisz’s characters, their struggles (both internal, and with each other) are so compelling and ever growing with endless storytelling possibilities … and the fact that I’m saying that about an erotica series should let people know Tiffany Reisz does not write your typical, run-of-the-mill, empty sex, no substance erotica novels. She is in a league all of her own, and if ‘The Siren’ and ‘The Angel’ are any indication, ‘The Prince’ is going to be one hell of a third act!

5/5

3 comments:

  1. I thought there was already going to be a fourth book called The Mistress but I don't know where I heard that though!

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    Replies
    1. ARGH! After posting this review I too have heard whispers of a fourth book ... so excited!

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  2. I gave this one a miss Danielle, but it sounds like perhpas i should give it a go after all!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

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