Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Prince by Tiffany Reisz

The Prince (2012)
Tiffany Reisz
Grade: A
Genre: erotica
Sex scenes: This is Tiffany Reisz - nuff said
Source: NetGalley 
The Original Sinners (The Red Years): (prequel) Seven Day Loan (1) The Siren, (2) The Angel, (3) The Prince, (4) The Mistress

If you’re familiar with my blog, then you’re aware of how difficult I find it to write reviews with as few spoilers as possible. When I was given The Prince on the condition that my review was free of spoilers, I found myself faced with a Herculean task. Don’t get me wrong, it makes perfect sense: The Prince is book three of Ms Reisz’s Original Sinners series and any review has to appeal to readers who have already started the series as well as those who are new to it. Considering that The Original Sinners is the quite possibly the most explosive and twist-heavy series that I’ve ever read, I think all reviewers who conform to the brief should be getting a medal or something. Or, even better, a signed ARC of The Mistress – we deserve it.

Back to the story. It’s the day that we never dreamed of happening: Nora has left Søren. For Wesley.

Okay, that’s more dramatic than it actually is. Nora had Søren’s permission to leave, which kinda negates all the drama attached. Søren has a reason for everything he does and infuriatingly, often chooses not to share; he wouldn’t ever let his Eleanor go if he wasn’t 100% certain that she will fly back to him. Nora and Wes are off to visit his home where Nora’s status as Queen of the Underground will mean nothing next to Wes’ title of the Prince of Kentucky …

That’s right: Wes is rich. Super rich, and he’s kept it a secret from Nora for all this time. The Raileys are the Royal Family of the thoroughbred racing circuit and standing to inherit it all, Wes is even richer than Kingsley. Wes may want to introduce Nora to his home, way of life and show her what he can offer her that Søren can’t, but poor Wes has forgotten to mention to his father that they’ll be hosting New York’s Number 1 dominatrix for the next few weeks …

Søren has an ulterior motive for sending Nora away and in her absence, needs to sort out the situation at hand – fast. Someone has managed to slink past Kingsley’s notoriously tight security to steal a file from his records: Nora’s. The intel that Kingsley keeps on all manner of persons would be more than enough to bring down entire companies and probably countries too, and so everyone who’s anyone knows that it’s a bad idea to cross Kingsley Edge. Of all the files that he keeps, Nora’s is easily one of the most dangerous. Added to that, Kingsley codes everything in Haitian Creole that only he and his secretary/lover can decipher, and so a normal theft would have been fruitless. Some serious shit is going down …

As they work together to discover who was bold enough to face their wrath, Søren and Kingsley are placed in closer quarters than Søren has allowed since their teenage years. The appearance of Nora into their lives changed their relationship forever and Kingsley is living proof of how much unrequited love hurts. Now that she’s safely out of the picture, Kingsley allows the fantasies that he locks away come to life, and Søren is finding it increasingly hard to resist …

That’s a lot of ellipses. Appropriate, considering that The Prince induces a lot of speechless, WTF? moments. Ms Reisz knows how to knock the wind out of a reader, both when we’re most and least expecting it and the knowledge that she can turn everything I had once held certain upside-down keeps me devotedly turning the pages. Ms Reisz reminds me a lot of S. J. Bolton in that way, even though erotica and crime are prima facie two very different genres. Compared to Ms Reisz’s works, Ms Bolton’s are as pure as the driven snow, but it’s that feeling that the author knows so much more than the reader ever will that drives me crazy and drives me to keep on reading. Both Ms Reisz and Ms Bolton are perfectionists in that art and utter sadists when they’re at their best.

There are two princes in The Prince: Wesley and Kingsley. The former is the ‘Prince of Kentucky’ and the latter … well, we’ve been so used to seeing Kingsley as the King of the Underground that it’s kind of hard to think of him as anything but Top Dog, but there you go.

I’ll start with Wesley. Ms Reisz certainly kept the fact that he’s as rich as Croesus a closely guarded secret. Boy was I duped by Wes’s statement in Night Swimming that his family didn’t have enough money to keep him at his expensive liberal arts college and so were considering pulling him home to Kentucky. Wes is so not the good-boy that he appears to be and although I’m not of Team Wesley, I certainly do like this real Wesley that’s being uncovered in The Prince. He’s been in love with Nora for forever and this is finally his chance to show her that he can give her a life that Søren can’t. Boy, does Wesley pull all the stops out and it sure is fun to watch.

I’m not very good (i.e. crap) at reading between the lines and finding hidden meanings in books. I read for fun and it’s too much like GCSE/AS English if I have to be constantly alert for underlying symbolic shit. Ms Reisz is hellishly good at the subtle undertones and while it all makes complete sense when she tells us, I’m awful at picking it out for myself. Thus, I’m not entirely sure about my analysis of why Kingsley is one of the princes, but I’m going to tell it like I think it is anyway. At school, there’s no question that Søren was King. Even the other priests feared him and Kingsley was the only one who wanted to get close to him and the only person that Søren allowed to do so. Thus, the corollary is that Kingsley becomes the Prince to Søren’s King. This is just me putting together the pieces and so if anyone has the right answer, clarification would be much appreciated.

About a third of the book takes place during Søren and Kingsley’s school years. It’s fascinating to see how their relationship developed and answers so many questions that I didn’t even know needed answering from The Siren and The Angel. The contrast between the young man that Søren was at eighteen, and the forty-seven year old priest he is clear, yet at the same time, there are constant undercurrents of the man that we know he becomes. Søren as we know him is meticulously guarded when it comes to his feelings, and he is only ever himself when he is with Nora. Gloriously, he has yet to erect that fence around his emotions at eighteen and it’s a joy to read about.

While The Siren made me hate Søren, The Angel introduced the possibility that I might actually like him, but The Prince goes the furthest and I think I found myself falling in love with the young Søren a little bit. Scary, I know. After discovering his brutal childhood in The Angel, The Prince allows us to see his subsequent response and it’s both shocking (given the nature of his childhood experiences) yet everything that we might expect from the Søren we know. Given the ending of The Prince, I have no doubt that Tiffany Reisz could have me loving Søren by the end of The Priest. And you know what? There’s a part of me that wants to.

It’s no secret that Kingsley is a Switch, but the bare fact has never been elaborated on further until now. In truth, Kingsley has only ever been the bottom to Søren’s Top, much as Nora has only ever been a submissive to Søren and King, and so he dislikes the term itself. We’ve got to know King as the sexy, Dominant Frenchman he is now, and so getting a glimpse of the reverse thirty years ago where he gave himself to Søren with abandon was touching and brutal to read.

The sex. Boy, is the sex something else when it comes to Tiffany Reisz. I referred in my review of The Angel to one of Ms Reisz’s statements on twitter that I feel needs to be mentioned again:

“I don’t really write graphic sex. I stick to graphic BDSM and let the sex just happen”.

In the interests of a spoiler-free review, I’m just going to leave it there.

As I’ve already mentioned, some substantial time has passed since I read The Prince. One positive does result from this huge time-lapse: we are ever closer to the release date of The Mistress! The Original Sinners series has a planned eight books, but The Mistress will be the last book in this modern-day arc. Books five through eight will take us back in time to examine Nora and Søren’s unusual courtship and I honestly don’t know whether I’m more excited to find out how the dramatic events at the end of The Prince culminates, or to see how Nora and Søren’s relationship began.

To be honest, I’m a little surprised at myself. Before I found Tiffany Reisz, I was always a very Regency/historical romance person. I didn’t mind the odd contemporary, so long as it was funny, and anything quirky in the genre would almost be an automatic favourite. If someone had told me that in a year, I would be a diehard fan of the hardcore erotica writer, Tiffany Reisz, I don’t think I would have believed them. Yes, there’s countless reasons as to why I’m thankful that I did make this discovery, and I just wanted to share a tweet from Ms Reisz that I think applies to me perfectly:
“I do worry that diehard romance fans are getting traumatized with my books but hey, it's an adventure.”
It certainly has been an adventure indeed. See you back here for The Mistress!

Image courtesy of Book Depository.

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