Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Saint by Tiffany Reisz

The Saint (2014) (Harlequin MIRA)
Tiffany Reisz
Grade: A
Genre: erotica
Sex scenes: hot / BDSM / not for the faint-of-heart
The Original Sinners: (prequel) Seven Day Loan, (The Red Years): (1) The Siren, (2) The Angel, (3) The Prince, (4) The Mistress, (The White Years): (5) The Saint
Romance Reading Book Challenge 2014: A book without a happy ever after 

Once upon a time, Nora Sutherlin was just Eleanor Schreiber, daughter of a wannabe-nun and crook with mob ties. At fifteen years old, all her mother wants is a daughter who loves God, goes to Church, respects her priest and even her mother a little. Instead, she gets Eleanor whose quick brain and fast-talking often gets her into trouble – as much trouble as the clever hands that know how to hotwire luxury cars before you can say five Hail Mary’s. It is these illegal activities that get Eleanor arrested. With the help of her priest, she escapes juvie by the skin of her teeth and instead lands community service under the supervision of Father Stearns – or to Eleanor, Søren.

The first time Eleanor lands her eyes on Søren, she firstly can’t believe that such beauty is wasted on a lifetime of celibacy and secondly, she falls irrevocably in love. This enchanting love story between a fifteen-year-old delinquent and a twenty-nine-year-old celibate priest is Wakefield, Connecticut’s biggest secret, with The Saint spanning the first five years of their unusual relationship.

A newcomer to Tiffany Reisz and the Original Sinners series might be more than a little confused by what to read first and what order the books go in. The links above set out the order of the books as published and my recommended reading order. Books 1-4 make up The Red Years: set in present day, Nora Sutherlin is a best-selling erotica author by day and New York’s number one dominatrix by night. Books 5-8 are The White Years: beginning with The Saint, Nora was just fifteen-year-old Eleanor Schreiber with no idea of the havoc that she is to wreak on the world. The Red Years must be read before The White Years. Not only will you spoil major elements of The Red Years if you start with the prequel books first, but also you won’t be able to appreciate Ms Reisz’s brilliance in linking together the entire series as she had – it’s truly remarkable.

The Saint was the second of four books I had earmarked as my most anticipated books of the year. Like the first (in terms of release date: A Dark and Twisted Tide), it has made my list of best books of 2014. The King, book six in the series and the second White Years prequel book is my fourth most anticipated book of the year and should be a real treat to end off the year in December. I recently discovered that books seven and eight now have titles: The Virgin and The Queen – I can barely contain my excitement for the next year’s publishing schedule.

Fifteen-year-old Nora is wonderful but formidable. She’s immature in ways you would expect from a girl that age, but also way more mature than her years in terms of her intellectual abilities and sexuality. The banter and highly sexually-charged innuendo between Eleanor (it’s weird to think of her as Nora in this period of her life) and Søren is electric and he’s almost gentle in comparison to the Søren we know from The Red Years. The Saint was only the start and I’m more than ready to see how their relationship shifts over the years as we’ll start to see Nora asserting her independence and Eleanor fading into the background. It feels a little bipolar to be describing one character as two people, but that sort of is the case with Nora.

The Saint only further proves that Tiffany Reisz is a force to be reckoned with. We’ve had the dark, twisted mind-fuckery that was The Red Years and we know we’ve pretty much got a happy-ever-after for Nora and Søren – as much of a happy-ever-after as they can get, anyway. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t more of their story to tell and I was stupid for thinking that ‘prequel’ actually meant 100% prequel. The Saint starts off with a chapter in the present and it almost wrenched my heart out. I was absolutely convinced that the sadistic Reisz had killed off a character and with the amount of carefully-crafted mind-fuckery that she pulls, I was duped until the very chapter. Most of The Saint is actually a prequel, but Ms Reisz has very cleverly crafted the book such that Nora in the present is telling stories of her past to another character – I really hope that the next three books will follow suit because it was absolutely brilliant.

I love how The Saint (as I expect books 6-8 will also do) brings the whole series in a full circle as secrets and little particulars from books 1-4 are revealed. We fnd out in full and highly-appreciated graphic detail exactly what happened that night before Søren's father's funeral, Nora's inspiration for 'Sutherlin' as her pseudonym, where the moniker 'Little One' originated and whether she passed Kingsley's 'Have you ever had sex in the back of a Rolls-Royce test.' Possibly Reisz's best work yet - we'll just have to see whether it'll be surpassed by The King. Or The Virgin. Or The Queen. The way that Tiffany Reisz is wriitng, I wouldn't be surprised and to be honest, I'm rather hoping that they will.

Image courtesy of Tiffany Reisz

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