The Saint, by Tiffany Reisz
Series: The Original Sinners: The White Years #1
The Original Sinners #5 (Stand-alone)
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Note: This is the first book in the second half of the Original Sinners series. While I believe it stands very strongly on its own, and did not feel confusion about characters or plots, the author advises reading the books in a very specific order and not starting with this one.
In the beginning, there was him.
Gutsy, green-eyed Eleanor never met a rule she didn’t want to break. She’s sick of her mother’s zealotry and the confines of Catholic school, and declares she’ll never go to church again. But her first glimpse of beautiful, magnetic Father Marcus Stearns and his lust-worthy Italian motorcycle is an epiphany. Suddenly, daily Mass seems like a reward, and her punishment is the ache she feels when they’re apart. He is intelligent and insightful and he seems to know her intimately at her very core. Eleanor is consumed—and even she knows that can’t be right.
But when one desperate mistake nearly costs Eleanor everything, it is Søren who steps in to save her. She vows to repay him with complete obedience…and a whole world opens before her as he reveals to her his deepest secrets.
Danger can be managed—pain, welcomed. Everything is about to begin.
Priest / Religion (Catholic)
Coming of Age
Relationship with a Minor
Rape (Off-page, secondary character)
Holy Mother of God.
This book has been on my radar since learning that this RITA award-winner has two bisexual main characters and poly relationships. I bought the paperback on a whim, and finally settled in to read it this morning.
It is now this evening. I have just finished it. And I’m going to write the review immediately in the hopes of capturing even a fraction of the ecstasy, awe, and loss that I felt as I turned the last page.
“Forever,” she said.
And he said, “Everything.”
This novel is exquisite. It’s a prequel and a sequel, two entwined timelines, and falls in the middle of an epic series, yet stands strongly on its own. It’s an introduction to Eleanor, the willful girl who falls in love with the sinfully gorgeous Father Marcus (aka Søren), and it’s a tantalizing glimpse at Nora, the mature dominatrix who has been shaped by that love.
It’s the kind of erotic romance that I yearn for. It’s a coming of age. It’s brutally honest. It’s rough and vicious and will likely leave a few scars on your heart. It tackles specific topics with a frank and delightful head-on approach. Virginity, dominance, self-confidence and self-harm, and the power of desire. And yes, it’s a BDSM romance. But this isn’t some naughty page-turner; this is consent blended with bruises and scars, terrifying want and desperate need.
Søren is not a Christian Gray. This is not a sanitized version of your kinky daydreams.
Eleanor and Søren’s story is the focus here. She’s fifteen at the start; he’s twenty-nine. (Note: there is no actual intercourse between them until it’s legal… but there is definitely a very sexual relationship before then.) This is the rare love at first sight that I buy into 100%, and their relationship unfolded so perfectly, so gracefully, that it was a pure joy to read. But this isn’t an easy, satisfying romance, oh no! Reisz makes both of them work for it. And she challenges you as the reader as well: to push yourself to the limits, to find what makes you uncomfortable, what lines you draw in the sand, and then to step over them.
I’m going to stress here: read the warnings. Please, for the love of god, read the warnings.
The secondary plot is Nora, now thirty-six, and her lover Nico, who is twenty-five. And oh, yes, do I hope we get more of these two in the future. While their relationship isn’t as deep, as meaningful as her love with Søren, what Nora has with Nico is fresh and delightful and lovely.
“Lie back,” he said. “Open your legs.”
“The five best words in the English language.”
“Couche-toi. Écarte les cuisses,” Nico said.
“The five best words in the French language.”
I don’t want to delve into the plots, because I think they’re an absolute marvel to discover on your own. But the two stories overlap perfectly, and the mirrored reflection of Eleanor-the-girl and Nora-the-woman are bookends on a romance that defies description.
And yes, both Eleanor and Søren are bisexual. While this is not a focus in this novel, it’s readily apparent on-page, and I’ve been told that it’s a more central focus in other books in the series. To erase that aspect of their identities, even though the focus is a male/female relationship, is to erase an integral part of these characters.
An absolutely stunning novel. I’ll leave you with another one of my (many) favorite quotes:
He wore a basic black cotton T-shirt and work jeans. She wore a silk nightgown. He’d been working all day and had come to her with mud on his boots. She’d been mourning all week and came to him with sorrow in her heart.
Tiffany Reisz is the author of the internationally bestselling and award-winning Original Sinners series for Mira Books (Harlequin/Mills & Boon). Tiffany’s books inhabit a sexy shadowy world where romance, erotica and literature meet and do immoral and possibly illegal things to each other. She describes her genre as “literary friction,” a term she stole from her main character, who gets in trouble almost as often as the author herself. If she couldn’t write, she would die.
You can find her online at http://www.tiffanyreisz.com/
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