Sunday, 8 July 2012

Seven Day Loan by Tiffany Reisz

Seven Day Loan (2010) (short story)
Tiffany Reisz
Grade: A-
Genre: erotica/contemporary
Sex scenes: scorching
Source: NetGalley
The Original Sinners (The Red Years): (prequel) Seven Day Loan (1) The Siren, (2) The Angel, (3) The Prince, (4) The Mistress
Ms Reisz gives a new meaning to the term ‘short story’. I’d wanted to read Seven Day Loan before The Siren after it was recommended Heroes and Heartbreakers, but it was only available in e-book form and shock-horror in this digital age, I don’t have an e-reader. Thus, imagine my elation when I saw that it was available on NetGalley and then I received confirmation the next day saying that it was ready for download. As mentioned in my review, The Siren is a substantial work: nearly four-hundred pages long. In my head, I equate the term short story with novella; I generally don’t like either because I feel that the authors cannot do the story and characters justice in such a limited arena. Ms Reisz managed to prove me wrong in just twenty-five pages. Yes, that’s right: Seven Day Loan is a mere twenty-five pages long. This is the sort of length that I’d expect my five-year-old cousin to be reading – though clearly of a genre more suited to his age group.

Eleanor is the Nora of The Siren and a very young twenty-three years old in Seven Day Loan. As mentioned in my review of The Siren, she’s belonged to her master, the most revered yet feared sadist in the New York Underworld community (Seven Day Loan is careful never to mention His name) since she was fifteen and loves him absolutely. When he gives Eleanor away to a friend for a week, she has no choice but to obey. He demonstrates his ownership in their confrontation at the beginning of the book when Eleanor is expressing her “righteous indignation” at being passed around like a pass-the-parcel:

“Who does [your body] belong to?”
“You, sir.”

“Mine to keep?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Mine to give away?”

She swallowed before answering. “Yes, sir.”

“And mine to claim again?

Tears tried to form in her eyes but she forced them down. She nodded and whispered, “Yes, sir.””

Daniel has been grieving for his dead wife for three years. He is a librarian and she was a partner at a Manhattan law firm, an older wealthy woman who was a secret submissive. Given Daniel’s Dominant tendencies, they shared seven years of marital bliss and her battle with cancer was devastating on them both. Daniel hasn’t been out of the huge house that they shared since the funeral: three years, five months and nine days ago.

The pair spend the week holed up in the draughty mansion in a haze of sex, talking and converting the library from the Library of Congress system to the Dewey Decimal. Daniel has been celibate ever since Maggie’s death, but his Dominance in the bedroom has not been forgotten. Quickly, he begins to reconnect with the real world and welcomes Eleanor’s humour and love for life into his previously morose life. Daniel could be in serious trouble if he forgets that Eleanor is only a seven day loan …

Seven Day Loan was beyond awesome. I never thought I would say that about a short story, but there you go. I don’t even think that it can even be called a short story; it’s more like a bitesize-story because it can be devoured in one yummy bite and leave you wanting so much more – I’m insatiable.

As of now, I’ve read Seven Day Loan, The Siren and every single one of the short stories inbetween. Seven Day Loan is careful not to reveal the shocker about Eleanor’s owner (from hereon referred to as Him) until near the end and if I had read this story first, the shocker would have definitely had a bigger impact, especially since Ms Reisz purposely leaves him shrouded in mystery. In the whole scheme of things, Seven Day Loan wasn’t all that important because I had read almost everything else first. I was able to learn enough from the other short stories to piece together what had happened in Seven Day Loan and as a result, reading it only confirmed things that I already knew/guessed. Despite that, I’m feeling something of a content satisfaction in being up to date and everything feels like it has fallen into place.

As already mentioned, I read Daniel Part Two before Seven Day Loan and so had a pretty good idea about what happened in the latter that led up to the former. It’s funny: Daniel Part Two was made available in nine parts on Ms Reisz’s website and is nine times longer* than its prequel. Daniel in Seven Day Loan is broken up and still in mourning three years after his wife died; Daniel in Daniel Part Two is broken up that Eleanor left him in Seven Day Loan. There’s just over a year separating Seven Day Loan and Daniel Part Two but Daniel is much changed during that period and he has Eleanor to thank. She shows him that life is too short to simply mope around alone and thanks to her, his self-confidence has been renewed and he regains control of his own life; he’s a Dominant for Chrissakes. Eleanor’s impact on Daniel’s life is even greater than even she had expected – though He would have probably predicted the entire thing.

“She’d shocked him out of the waking coma he’d been living in his wife’s death. She had been his blitzkrieg. Had she ordered him to drop to his knees and worship at her feet, he might have obeyed.” - [From Daniel Part Two, Chapter Two]

Eleanor is so so different to the Nora as we know her in The Siren. We see that she’s always had a wicked and dirty sense of humour, the ability to come up with the best, snarky comebacks as well as a tendency to appear more Dominant than submissive, but the differences are stark. For a start, you can’t help but notice Eleanor’s youth. Eleanor is as innocent as she is chaste, but for lack of a better word, there is an air of something akin to innocence about her that has been destroyed by the time we reach The Siren. In many senses, Eleanor is still a child and it only makes reading Seven Day Loan that bit more bittersweet heart-breaking because I know what will happen as she grows up.

While heart-breaking, I love how I read Seven Day Loan knowing the Nora that Eleanor will become. Belonging to Him makes Eleanor a completely different person and she doesn’t have quite the same confidence or independence as we saw in The Siren. Giving orders seems so natural to Nora in The Siren and so it seems incomprehensible that for ten years of her life as seen in Seven Day Loan, she was the one obeying them – though not without a healthy amount of disobedience and backchat first. I’d sometimes forget that Eleanor and Nora are one and the same; that’s how good Ms Reisz is in portraying these two phases of Nora’s life. The hints to Eleanor’s future made me smile in the knowledge that I knew something that Eleanor doesn’t yet (“Has anyone told you that you should be a writer?”) and Irina sums it up well in Daniel Part Two:

“That girl is no sub … There are submissives … and there are people who submit. She’s the latter. I have met sadists less intimidating than her. She’s either a Dominant in denial or a Switch.”

As always, the dialogue is great and I loved the easy interaction between Eleanor and Daniel once the former got over her annoyance at being left with a stranger to do as he pleases for a week. Their casual banter makes it seems like they’ve known each other for seven years rather than seven days and I love how Ms Reisz manages to portray of their lifestyle like it’s the norm. The following (because I just love to quote Ms Reisz) is a great dialogue between the two that captures the fluency of their relationship as well as a hint of things to come:

“Daniel laughed. “I keep forgetting who I’m dealing with. The Queen of Kink.”

“I’m a trained submissive. More like King’s Consort. I’m not worthy to hold actual rank,” she said with a wink.

“Well, I’m honoured to consort with you.”

Eleanor gave him her best wicked grin. “Then consort with me already.””

In just twenty-five pages, Ms Reisz still manages to make the story one of the hottest things I’ve ever read. It’s seriously not for the faint-of-heart, so if BDSM is not for you, then steer clear of Tiffany Reisz in general. In terms of the sex, I much preferred Seven Day Loan to The Siren. Much of the sex in The Siren referred to past encounters between Eleanor and Him that I found a little sickening because of their brutality. It’s different with Daniel. I’d gotten an idea of his attitude as a Dominant in Daniel Part Two and unlike Him, Daniel would never go beyond what his partner is comfortable with and capable of. This sweetness comes across in Seven Day Loan and there’s a much better communication of their mutual consent during sex and some pretty hair-raising acts.

Tiffany Reisz’s blog is brilliant. I swear, every time I take a look, there’s a new excerpt begging to be read that leaves me lost for words. She indicates each story’s timeframe in relation to The Siren and they all weave together beautifully; I love being able to catch references to events that will be taking place in the future in a different story. One thing that had really annoyed me before I was able to get my hands on Seven Day Loan and The Siren is that there weren’t any excerpts available on said otherwise brilliant site; a ton of freebies, but nothing from the items actually for sale – though I guess that’s the point. So I had finished reading Seven Day Loan and was moseying around her website, looking for more tidbits to feed my addiction. I read The Teacher, The Mitzvah and The Ingénue but that still wasn’t enough and so I visited Ms Reisz’s twitter page to see if there was any up-to-date news. Boy was there: for twenty-four hours only, a sneak-peak would be available of the first chapter of The Angel. I haven’t checked, but I assume that it’s now been taken down and so I really should have churned out this review days ago so that people could take a look, but I haven’t had time. I am now unbelievably excited for book two of what is an eight book series – another surprise since I had thought that The Siren would only be a trilogy. There aren’t words for how happy I am at the prospect of so much more Nora to come.

My only fault with Seven Day Loan is the number of typos that ran through the entire thing. When it comes to spelling and grammar, I’m that annoying person who will always interrupt to correct a person’s speech if they say something grammatically incorrect. Despite this, the brilliance of Seven Day Loan and my newfound love for Ms Reisz is such that I couldn’t care less that editorial didn’t manage to all the mistakes, so long as she continues to write such beautiful work. I’m not quite as heartbroken as I was after finishing The Siren, but I can imagine that given the choices that Nora had made in The Siren, the rest of the books in the series will have a similar effect on me – not that that’s going to stop me reading them. Isn't that rather masochistic of me?

On a sort-of-related side-note, I hate how everything remotely categorised as erotica or erotic is being marketed like Fifty Shades of Grey. There are already tons of copycat covers and while some like Sylvia Day's Crossfire covers are brilliant and IMO, better versions of the Fifty Shades theme, it's like the Twilight phenomenon all over again and I hate it. Yes, Fifty Shades is immensely popular right now (800,000 copies the week before last; something like 600,000 last week) and I think partly because erotica has always been something of a taboo/behind closed doors genre, but it's demeaning of other authors to market their books the same way just because Fifty Shades is the craze right now. In some cases, I think the 'copycats' are much better than the real thing - both in terms of the covers as well as the books themselves.

Seven Day Loan is part of Mills & Boon special 'Twelve Shades of Surrender' e-book offer, aimed at readers who are looking for books to read after Fifty Shades. It's a very good marketing technique to offer such a variety of short reads; M&B are definitely a company who can provide a range of similar materials on demand like this unlike other, more traditional publishers, but it still gets on my nerves. Other authors will be benefitting off of the back of E. L. James rather than their own merit, and while such promotions will be guaranteed to widen their fanbase in the long run, the starting techniques for doing so make me a little nauseous. Granted, I wouldn't have got my hands on Seven Day Loan without it, but in my opinion, Seven Day Loan is in a higher league altogether than Fifty Shades and I hope people take the time to read it and realise it.

*I've no idea how much longer Daniel Part Two is compared to Seven Day Loan. I'd wager quite a bit.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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