Original Sinners, Book 1
Heat Factor: There’s flogging but no descriptions of genitalia.
Character Chemistry: Nora is all that is desirable, and therefore has pretty good chemistry with just about everyone.
Plot: Erotica Writer and Stuffy British Editor revise her latest book.
Overall: Please read this book so I have someone to talk to about it.
Let’s start by saying that this book subverted my expectations. Reisz pushes at the boundaries of what counts as a romance here – there is still a central love story (or several), but the characters and their relationships to each other are complicated. So the blurb, which talks about Nora the Erotica Writer and Zach the Editor working on her latest book together, does not entirely capture what is actually going on.
Where Reisz really excels is in the slow release of information. There were several points in the book where she added a small detail to a character’s backstory, and I would be like “GAH! That’s changes EVERYTHING!”
Because of all this stuff about subverting expectations and the importance of minutiae, I’m not going to talk a lot about details.
I will say, in vague terms: the writing is excellent, and the characters are complicated and therefore interesting.
I will also say, in vague terms: there are several scenes that readers may find upsetting, so if you are not into reading about problematic sexual power plays, this is not the book for you.
However. I had some issues with the portrayal of the kink community. What I am about to say may be taken with a grain of salt, because I am not a member of said kink community, but here I go anyways.
On the positive side, kink is normalized – the community is shown to be full of rich and famous and powerful people. Most of these rich and famous and powerful people are shown to be closeted about their kink, which, fair enough.
The problem arises when we start getting insights into various members of the community; everyone about whom we are given background information is kinky because of some serious damage or trauma. Examples of minor characters include a woman who was aggressively raped when she was 14 and now can only get off when it’s rough and a man who has the hots for a child and deals with it by paying someone to beat it out of him.
Furthermore, kink is shown to be something you’re born into; a person is either intrinsically vanilla or intrinsically not. I don’t know if I agree, but I can buy it. However, this idea of being intrinsically kinky allows characters to justify bad behavior. Let’s talk Nora and Søren. (Background, they were together for years, Nora left Søren 5 years before The Siren takes place, but she still loves him.) They have a love for the ages. When they first met, Søren knew that she was “one of them.” But. They met when she was 15 and he was 30. He was in a position of power over her. They didn’t have sex until she was 20 because of looooove and also until he had trained her as a good submissive. That is called grooming. And it’s gross.
Even with the elements of emotional squick, I still found this book really engaging and plan on reading the sequel.
PS: I wasn’t kidding about finding someone to talk to about it. (I tried to convince Ingrid to do another duel with me but she said Priest was enough Catholic guilt BDSM to last her a lifetime. I, on the other hand, seem to have found a new niche sub-subgenre to obsess over.)
Buy Now: Amazon
Looking for something with similar elements, but that is maybe less complicated?