Review – The Last Good Knight by Tiffany Reisz

The Last Good Knight Banner

So, I guess I should first mention that this post is part of the blog tour (I hope that’s obvious.) There’s a tour-wide giveaway here — check it out!

I read and loved the first four books in Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners series. (I say the first four books, but it’s kind of like Star Wars... the series started with the fourth (or fifth, if you count the novella) one.) So when I heard about this novella, I was pretty excited about it. Then I heard it was being released as a serial and I worried a little bit.

The Last Good Knight: An Original Sinners novella told in five parts:

Part I: Scars and Stripes

It’s lust at first sight when Mistress Nora encounters a sexy newcomer to The 8th Circle. She’s happy for the distraction, since she left her lover, Søren, but her session with Lance is cut short when her boss, Kingsley Edge, reveals they’re all in danger….

Part II: Sore Spots

With a potential stalker on the loose, Kingsley hires Lance as Nora’s bodyguard, but stipulates no sex while he’s on duty. Frustrated by the ex-SEAL’s noble chivalry, Nora is driven to seek release with the one man she’s trying to forget….

Part III: The Games Destiny Plays

Shocked to see Nora’s bruises, Lance is furious that she put herself in danger and demands to know where she got them. As Nora confesses her true nature, she’s equally shocked to learn that Lance has some secrets of his own, drawing them together despite Kingsley’s orders….

Part IV: Fit to Be Tied

With her feelings for Lance warring with her recent encounter with Søren, Nora returns to Lance’s bed and finds herself toying with the idea of…toying with him on a permanent basis. But after she gets a glimpse into his personal angst, Nora realizes she has the power to rescue this white knight….

Part V: The Last Good Night

Now that the perpetrator has been apprehended, Nora sadly acknowledges she doesn’t need a bodyguard anymore. She adores Lance and wants to keep him but is faced with a dilemma. If she uses her connections to help Lance, she’ll have to give him up forever…

The bottom line is that I liked this novella, but I have a few reservations about leaving it at that. I’ll put ’em in a list. I know you’ve been missing my lists.

  1. It’s a serial novella. That means that each $0.99 installment gives you about 25-30 pages of reading, with the expectation that you’ll purchase the other 4 installments to continue the story. Novellas are fast-paced little bites of stories anyway, and it’s slightly irritating to receive the story in this incremental format. I read them as ARCs — meaning that I had all five to start with (and I didn’t pay for them), and I was still slightly annoyed every time I had to find the next installment in my library and try to get back into the story. If you’re worried about the cost, I’ll be fair and put it in perspective… the total price for this approx. 120-page story is $4.95… the average Harlequin Presents story is about 180 pages long and costs $4.99. It’s up to you to decide whether a bit of Tiffany Reisz erotica is worth slightly more per-page than an HP.  My main irritation stems from the (admittedly ridiculous) inconvenience of having to open up five different books during one rather short reading experience. I know — I’m nit-picking — but novellas are already bite sized… do we really need to break them down further than that?
  2. Read those blurbs again… The thing is, the villain that drives most of the plot — that brings Nora and Lance together in a no-touching-allowed way — is an entirely off-page thing that never seems to be as big a deal as the characters believe. It’s like all the characters have these huge reactions to an invisible monster that turns out to be a nuisance rather than a danger.
  3. This one’s possibly just me, but it was a little weird reading a book about Nora and the other OS crew that takes place before The Siren, because OS books 2-4 so completely changed my views on Nora and Søren. It wasn’t a bad thing, but it was a little difficult for me to get into the right brain space to read this story. I suspect i’ll have the same problem with the other OS books (the prequels. Here’s hoping there aren’t any droid armies, Yoda fights or epic NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO moments in those books. I don’t think I could take it.)

So, yeah, those things were kind of strange or irritating, but I did like the novella. Once I got over the weirdness of going back in time with Nora and Søren, I loved how their dynamic played out. It’s also fantastic how you can read The Siren again after reading this novella and get another perspective on the Nora/Søren interactions. And I loved how the interludes between Nora and Lance, while necessarily short-lived, manage to be emotionally true and compelling. While the ending was a little bit heartbreaking, it was a really good kind of heartbreak.

While I’m not completely sure why this story needed to be told (maybe just to introduce Lance to the world?… Actually, that’s enough of a reason for me), I enjoyed reading it.

Amazon: (US Links)<br>Part I: http://amzn.to/1fVdUvP<br>Barnes & Noble:<br>Part I: http://bit.ly/RM6jI5

If you’re interested in more information about the author, check her out in the usual places: Twitter: @TiffanyReisz  https://twitter.com/tiffanyreisz, Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/littleredridingcrop, and Website: http://www.tiffanyreisz.com/.

Author PictureTiffany Reisz lives with her boyfriend (a reformed book reviewer) and two cats (one good, one evil). She graduated with a B.A. in English from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and is making both her parents and her professors proud by writing BDSM erotica under her real name. She has five piercings, one tattoo, and has been arrested twice.

When not under arrest, Tiffany enjoys Latin Dance, Latin Men, and Latin Verbs. She dropped out of a conservative southern seminary in order to pursue her dream of becoming a smut peddler. Johnny Depp’s aunt was her fourth grade teacher. Her first full-length novel THE SIREN was inspired by a desire to tie up actor Jason Isaacs (on paper). She hopes someday life will imitate art (in bed).

If she couldn’t write, she would die.

*FTC Disclosure – I received e-galleys of all 5 installments from Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

What I’ve been reading lately – you know, when I’m not watching the Olympics

99% of the time, I am not a sports fan.  I don’t care about any of the big sports in my country, I don’t play any sports myself, and I live in a kind of expectant terror that my daughters will develop an interest in soccer or softball or — God help me — basketball.  But then the Olympics come around, winter or summer, and all of that changes.

I don’t like sports, but goddamn: I love the Olympics.  So I’ve been glued to the TV and mobile app, mesmerized by the snowboarding (the men’s and women’s slopestyle events were AWESOME!), the skiing (who knew alpine skiing was so damn exciting? And the moguls? Holy crap!), the figure skating (Yulia Lipinitskaya and Yevgeny Plushenko: ’nuff said), the short-track speed skating (I could write some fan fiction about that Canadian guy who won gold in the 1500), the luge, the ski jumping… And I am beyond thrilled that women’s ski jumping will debut at this Olympics.

So, yeah… I haven’t been reading so much, but I did manage to spare some attention for a pair of books that made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions and had enough draw to capture (and hold) my attention away from men’s biathlon and men’s alpine downhill, respectively.

First up is Maisey Yates’s Crazy, Stupid Sex. 

The blurb, according to Goodreads:

How to Land the Hot Guy 1.0

A multimillionaire by the age of 27, app developer Evie James is clueless when it comes to hooking up. So she does what any self-respecting geek-girl looking to get laid would do: she programs her own app for landing a hot guy. After a few failed attempts at making contact, beta testing leads her to Caleb Anderson.

Caleb is used to female attention, but finds himself attracted to Evie because of her unique brand of awkward. A master of one-night stands, he’s more than happy to show her what she’s been missing in the bedroom. But he quickly discovers that one night with a woman like Evie will never be enough for him.

So, yeah. Crazy, Stupid Sex is basically Ryan Gosling + geek girl = LURVE fanfic, and it’s enormously entertaining.  Here’s a quick list of the things I loved about this book:

  1. Believably successful lady character.
  2. Excellent dialogue that incorporates ubiquitous geek references (the Doctor, LOTR paraphernalia, gaming enthusiasm, social awkwardness) with snappy wit.
  3. A unicorn burrito.
  4. References to a sex tip list, which is pretty much the only thing that comes to mind when I think of Cosmo.  Thankfully, Yates opted not to explore some of the more strange Cosmo sex tip offerings, such as using your feet instead of your hands and smearing food all over yourself and your partner.

I could have handled a slightly less angsty hero, a lot more sucking up at the end, a female friend for Evie, and a smidge more showing than telling, but I would still be happy to read this book a few more times just for the sheer fun of it.  Besides… it was more interesting than the men’s biathlon, and that’s really saying something.

And then there’s Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz.

The blurb, according to Goodreads:

Wanted: Adventurous, open-minded man willing to try anything…
As a popular sex blogger, Beatriz gets paid to have orgasms. So being on deadline the week of her sister’s wedding isn’t as rough as it sounds. There’s just one hitch: Bea’s assignment is to write a review of a sex position manual, but she doesn’t have a plus one to play with.

The good news: Ben, the one who got away back in college, is also attending stag–and he’s as temptingly gorgeous as ever.  The bad news: Ben turned down Bea’s offer of graduation night sex five years ago.  The best news: He’s not planning on making the same mistake twice.

A red-hot retelling of Much Ado About Nothing for people who love Shakespeare but thought his plays could use a few more sex scenes.

So, when I say, “Erotic retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing,” you probably don’t think, “Awesome!” But you should, because, in the hands of Tiffany Reisz, it is.  Misbehaving translates the comedy of errors as a contemporary erotic romance and shines with wit and clever plotting.  As much an adaptation as a retelling, the book draws together elements from the original and creates something new that feels both authentic and original.

And it’s damn funny.

The sex scenes are classic Tiffany Reisz.  You won’t find any dripping petals or creaming or turgid manhood here.  Reisz acknowledges the awkwardness and the sexiness of real sex and calls attendant parts by their real names.  Personally, I prefer that approach to literary sex, because if I have to be reading about people getting it on, I’d rather do so without the distraction of strange euphemisms, the linguistic tip-toeing that transfers a feeling of junior high prurience onto my reading experience.

The bottom line is that this book is so much more interesting than men’s downhill alpine skiing, and that’s really saying something.  (For reals: incredibly fit men wearing spandex suits and skiing down a mountain at 80 mph is pretty damn interesting.)  So, when I say, “erotic retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing,” you should really say, “Hell yes.”

Crazy, Stupid Sex and Misbehaving were both released on Feb. 11, 2014 by Cosmo Hot Reads, an imprint of Harlequin.  For more information about the books, click on the cover images above to visit their respective pages on Goodreads.  For more information on the authors, check out Maisey Yates’s and Tiffany Reisz’s websites.  And, if you’re on the Twitter, you should seriously be following these two.  They are hilarious.  (For the lazy, here are the links for Maisey and Tiffany.)

*FTC Disclosure – I received e-galleys of these books from Cosmo Hot Reads from Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My gushing about Olympic awesomeness was a bonus.*

My best and worst reads in 2013

I read a lot of books this year (172 as of my writing this), and I thought it might be fun to identify the outliers at both ends of the spectrum.

The Best:

1.  The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers – There is so much life in this novella, complete with joy and pain, disappointment and transcendence. It is, without doubt, the best book I read all year. (*)

2.  Big Boy by Ruthie Knox – Hands down my favorite Ruthie Knox book (which is really saying something, guys), Big Boy is remarkably atypical for the genre.  It features characters whose sole, necessary, act of selfishness in lives governed by sacrifice is the small amount of time they take from each other.  And when they shift to giving instead of taking? It’s magic. (<3)

3.  Snow-Kissed by Laura Florand – Infertility, grief, and a broken marriage, these are the subjects of this beautifully moving novella that explores the jagged edges of two people, long in love, who were blown apart by grief but who find a way back.   (<3)

4.  A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant – I don’t know that I have ever been more surprised by a romance novel than I was by Cecilia Grant’s debut.  Thematically, the novel discusses trust, intimacy, and the slow development of love with humor so sly it’s easy to miss.  But it’s most remarkable (I think) for its complete lack of instalust and magical chemistry.  If you haven’t read this book, you really should. (<3)

5.  About Last Night by Ruthie Knox – I read this book in one sitting and, when I was done, I started it again immediately, because I just wasn’t ready to let it go. Through this book, Knox taught me how to be a better reader (and, by extension, a better woman, perhaps), to sit and savor the moments of truth that can be found in a book, to rediscover and embrace the reason I read.  (<3)

6 and 7.  The Heiress Effect and The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan – My favorite thing about Courtney MIlan’s writing is that when you start reading her books, her characters always seem so damn mysterious, and that mystery never seems like a clever device to snag reader interest.  It’s just that her characters are so full, possess such depth, that it takes a few hundred pages to get to know them.  And then you do, and your heart just breaks, because their issues are real.  You’ve met women like Jane, and you know your history — and your current affairs — so you know her plight (and her sister’s) is not unusual.  You know that all the pieces of Violet’s character really existed, lived out by real women throughout the ages.  And it hurts so much to know it, so deeply, so viscerally, a punch.  But you also know men like Oliver and Sebastian.  And even though it hurts so much to read and experience all that reality, at the end you are gifted a triumph, and it gives you the strength to keep putting your back into it, to keep living your life. (<3)

8.  The Mistress by Tiffany Reisz – By the time I reached the end of The Mistress, I was crying a little, laughing a lot, pumping my fist in the air, feeling intellectually alive and overwhelmed by joy.  And I felt rather like I did after I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the first time, like this story that had always existed behind a veil had been revealed, and I’d had the good fortune to witness that unveiling.   (*)

9.  Too Hot to Handle by Victoria Dahl – This book is funny, but it isn’t lighthearted.  It’s like that moment when the seas of life have buffeted you about so much that you end up getting a mouthful of sea water, and you try to spit it out with some dignity, but it just comes out as warm, extra salty drool, and suddenly it’s fucking hilarious that — on top of everything else — you’ve just drooled, so instead of worrying about drowning, you just laugh.  Anyway, it’s kind of a coming of age story for people who waited until their thirties to figure themselves out, but it doesn’t have any of that angst because it just doesn’t have time for bullshit. (*)

10.  To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer – This one made the list because it is probably the most romantic story I read all year.  I mean, come on: Eden and Levi fall in love writing letters to each other about Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.  It was a foregone conclusion that I would love this story, that it would stick with me all year. (<3)

 The Worst

Well, there are the obvious contenders for worst books read all year.  there’s even an obvious winner.  But there were also a slew of books that just disappointed me (or made me disappointed in myself).  Chief among these is:

Most disappointing book of 2013: And Then She Fell by Stephanie Laurens (<3 :~(…).  I cannot believe that I bought this, my 31st Laurens book.  I am deeply disappointed in myself.  On the other hand, it seems to have finally helped me break the cycle of addiction.  The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh, the next book in the series, has been out for six months, and I’ve had absolutely no desire to purchase it.

So there you have it.  Many of these books were published in 2013 but not all of them.  Some of these books were received as e-ARCs from publishers (marked with *) and some were purchased by me (marked with <3).

What are the best and worst books you read this year?

 

Review – The Mistress by Tiffany Reisz with bonus Q and A

the-mistress-banner

See, I told you you’d be hearing more from me about this book.  I love all four books of The Original Sinners: The Red Years, and I love them differently.  If you’re interested in hopping on this bandwagon (and you should be), please check out The SirenThe Angeland The Prince.  A warning, though… once you read one of Tiffany Reisz’s books, other authors’ attempts at bdsm erotica will seem a bit lame.  Honestly, that’s not a bad thing.

There’s punishment – and then there’s vengeance.

Nora Sutherlin is being held, bound and naked. Under different circumstances, she would enjoy the situation immensely, but her captor isn’t interested in play. Or pity.

As the reality of her impending peril unfolds, Nora becomes Scheherazade, buying each hour of her life with stories-sensual tales of Søren, Kingsley and Wesley, each of whom has tempted and tested and tortured her in his own way. This, Nora realizes, is her life: nothing so simple, so vanilla, as a mere love triangle for her. It’s a knot in a silken cord, a tangled mass of longings of the body and the heart and the mind. And it may unravel at any moment.

But in Nora’s world, no one is ever truly powerless – a cadre of her friends, protectors and lovers stands ready to do anything to save her, even when the only certainty seems to be sacrifice and heartbreak…

My Review

The Mistress is an excellent conclusion to the Original Sinners: The Red Years quartet. No matter how you approach these books as a reader — whether you’re looking for a hot story to light your fire or a nuanced and intricate tale you can really sink into — there is plenty to love and enjoy. Though I noticed some pacing issues throughout the first half (that may or may not have been committed on purpose), the second half of the book more than made up for it. And the ending — so perfect and fantastic and funny and (a little bit) sadistic… I really can’t recommend this series highly enough. Anywhere Reisz wants to take me as a reader, I want to go.

If you’re into spoilers or you’ve already read The Mistress and are hankering for a discussion about it, my book buddy Kim and I discussed The Mistress at length over at Reflections of a Book Addict. I’m not kidding about the spoilers, though… Proceed with caution.

Q&A with Tiffany Reisz

1.  RwA: What is your favorite thing about The Mistress or, if you prefer, about the entire series?

Reisz: My favorite part of The Mistress is Grace Easton’s character. Her purpose in the books is allegorical (read The Gospel of Luke if you want to see how), but her character is very real and was an absolute joy to write. I wanted to bring in an outsider to see Søren with new eyes, eyes of faith and an open-heart. Suzanne in The Angel viewed him with a jaundiced suspicious eye. Grace’s eyes were much more enjoyable to see through. And she sees the real Søren. Her view of him is the purest in all the books.

2.  RwA: Was there anything about The Mistress that took you by surprise or pulled you in a new direction while you were writing it?

Reisz: I was surprised by how much I cried writing it. Just sobbed like a baby. I knew how it would end but I was so moved by how much Nora loves. It caught me off-guard. I knew it intellectually but it wasn’t until she faced losing her loved ones that I discovered (and maybe her too) how much she loved them.

3.  RwA: I caught some of the literary/Biblical references sprinkled throughout The Mistress, but I’m sure I missed just as many or more.  What are some of the references readers might discover in this or the other Original Sinners books?

Reisz: In The Mistress, Grace is one big reference to the Gospel of Luke. The last line of the book is an allusion to a famous verse in the Gospel of John AND a reference to Sarah in the Old Testament. Kingsley and Søren have a David and Jonathan relationship. And the three of them—Nora, Søren, and Kingsley—are my unholy Trinity.

4.  RwA: What is the significance of the Jabberwocky as a monster, a safe word, and/or a tie that binds Eleanor and Søren?

Reisz: The Jabberwocky is a nonsense poem and yet it isn’t. The Jabberwocky is a monster and a knight in shining armor comes and cuts his head off. Personally I’d rather have Jabberwockies in the world than men with swords. It’s emblematic of misunderstood monsters who the world thinks need slayed but really should just be written about.

5.  RwA: How does writing The White Years compare to writing The Red Years?

Reisz: Writing the first book of The White Years, The Priest, was ridiculously fun. Nora Sutherlin as a teenage girl? It was a blast. I think The Priest is the most fun I’ve ever had writing. I hope readers find it equally fun to read!

Thank you, Tiffany, for answering my random questions!  I’m looking forward to reading anything you care to write.

Blog Tour Giveaway

Tour-wide Giveaway: **Open to US ONLY**  (1) Kindle 6” E-reader, (10) Signed copy of The Mistress by Tiffany Reisz, (3) e-book of The Mistress, (4) e-book of The Mistress Files, (1) 10 minute phone call with Tiffany Reisz, (1) Swag Bag containing: 4 signed bookplates, bookmarks, 1 Original Sinner button, and 1 Original Sinner pen.

Follow this link to a Rafflecopter giveaway to participate. All winners will be drawn on August 11th and notified by The Novel Tease via email provided.

Author Picture

Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her boyfriend (a reformed book reviewer) and two cats (one good, one evil). She graduated with a B.A. in English from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and is making both her parents and her professors proud by writing BDSM erotica under her real name. She has five piercings, one tattoo, and has been arrested twice.

When not under arrest, Tiffany enjoys Latin Dance, Latin Men, and Latin Verbs. She dropped out of a conservative southern seminary in order to pursue her dream of becoming a smut peddler. Johnny Depp’s aunt was her fourth grade teacher. Her first full-length novel THE SIREN was inspired by a desire to tie up actor Jason Isaacs (on paper). She hopes someday life will imitate art (in bed).

If she couldn’t write, she would die.

Twitter: @TiffanyReisz  https://twitter.com/tiffanyreisz

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/littleredridingcrop

Website: http://www.tiffanyreisz.com/

The Mistress was released on July 30, 2013 as a paperback and e-book by Harlequin MIRA.  If you like, you can buy this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or you can find out more about it on Goodreads.

*FTC Disclosure – I received an e-galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Dueling discussion and review with Kim – The Mistress by Tiffany Reisz

Cover image, The Mistress by Tiffany Reisz

I’ve not made my liking for Tiffany Reisz’s The Original Sinners: The Red Years series that much of a secret, so it should come as no surprise that I got my hands all over a review copy for the final book in this quartet, The Mistress, as soon as I could.  While my reading buddy Kim and I have individually read and blogged about the three previous books in the series, we decided to discuss this one together.  Why?  Well, you’ll just have to read our discussion to find out.

Also, this isn’t the last you’ll be hearing from me about The Mistress.  I’m participating in a blog tour (my first blog tour… I have a feeling it shouldn’t actually feel this exciting, but whatever. I’m stoked.) to promote the book, and I’ll have another post next week with a less spoiltastic review/brain dump as well as a Q & A with Tiffany Reisz.

Anyway, go check out Kim’s and my discussion of The Mistress, posted over at Kim’s blog, Reflections of a Book Addict.

The Mistress was released on July 30, 2013 as an e-book and paperback by Harlequin MIRA.  For more information about the entire series (which you really should read, even if you’re not interested in sex novels, as my friends like to call them), check out Tiffany Reisz’s website.

*FTC Disclosure – I received an e-galley of this book from Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Reading with Analysis’s Birthday!

This blog’s first blogiversary is tomorrow, actually, and I want to celebrate a few things.  This year has been remarkable for me in a whole bunch of ways.  For starters, I came out of the romance-reading closet, and I discovered that a heck of a lot of truly brilliant women (and some amazing men) happily read that genre and find intellectual fulfillment in it.  I am not alone.  I know that, now.  In fact, I made friends!  (Anyone who knows me well will understand how big a thing it is for me to make a friend; it’s difficult for me… I’m way too neurotic for most people.)  I have had so much fun talking about books on this blog, on others’ blogs, on Goodreads, and on Twitter with other people who love books (especially love stories in their various forms) just as much as I do.

Anyway, who cares, right?  Let’s get to the good stuff.  I have assembled a somewhat random giveaway (why be boring?) to thank everyone who follows this blog and helps make this whole blogging thing rather an exciting experience for me.

First up is Simon the Fox, squshie extraordinaire.  I love these squshies… they are small felt plush animals (also, dinosaurs and monsters) with vaguely square shapes (hence the name: square plushies = squshies), which is awesome in itself, but my favorite thing about the squshies is that each animal has a totally random story.  Kiki the Tiger, for example, is an encyclopedia-reading cheerleader, and Jasper the Bear loves food on a stick.  For this giveaway, I selected Simon the Fox, who loves to make up stories and wants to write a mystery novel.  (To learn more about squshies, visit squshies.net)

Simon the Fox

Next up are the book prizes.  I agonized about whether I should give away specific books or just offer gift cards for quite a while… And (somewhat obviously) I decided to do specific books.  These books have really knocked my socks off, and I want to give other people the chance to read them (even folk who don’t normally read romance or erotica.  Trust me, these books are good, sexy times notwithstanding.).  Rest assured, winners will have the opportunity to choose their prize, on a first come, first served basis.

1.  The Courtney Milan starter pack, e-book only, available in Kindle or .epub format.  This starter pack includes the novella The Governess Affair and the full-length novel The Duchess War.

Cover image, the Duchess War

Cover image, the Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

2.  The Tiffany Reisz starter pack, e-book or paperback (you choose), includes one copy of The Siren, the first book in Reisz’s Original Sinners series.

Cover image, The Siren by Tiffany Reisz

3.  My favorite Elizabeth Hoyt book, paperback or e-book (you choose).  Includes one copy of The Raven Prince.

Cover image, The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

That’s great, Kel, how do we win these prizes?  Funny you should ask!  Here’s them rules:

  1. Leave a comment and answer any (or all) of the following arbitrarily-chosen questions: (1) What are you reading right now? (2) What’s the best book you’ve ever read? (3) How do you go about discussing the books you’ve read?  Are you lucky enough to have an in-person discussion network, or do you primarily conduct any discussions online?  (4) Do you ever read romance or erotica novels?  (5) Do you have a genre that you just can’t like (i.e., I have a tough time reading books set in space… for some reason, I’m just predisposed to dislike ’em.)?
  2. This giveaway is limited to folk who follow my blog.  If you want on this crazy train, just enter your email address in that little box on the sidebar; if you have a WordPress site, just click the follow button.
  3. You need to be willing to provide an email and/or postal address (if you want a real, paper book — or a Simon the Fox — to hold in your grubby hands) in order to claim your prize.

The giveaway will run through Thursday, February 21 at 11:59 p.m.  I’ll announce the 4 winners at some point on Friday, February 21.  My giveaways have traditionally been… less than stellar.  If fewer than four people sign up to participate in this one, I’ll let y’all duke it out to decide who wins what.  I’m flexible.

Thanks, y’all!  This year’s been a blast, and I’m looking forward to another year full of reading and analyzing.

Review – The Prince by Tiffany Reisz

This review was seriously delayed by an attack of evil migraines (yes, plural).  The next time you see a migraine, punch it in the face for me.  Don’t worry: that migraine totally deserves it.

Cover image, The Prince by Tiffany Reisz

I adore that cover.  Anyway, as always, I begin with the plot summary courtesy of Goodreads:

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer…preferably in bed. That’s always been Kingsley Edge’s strategy with his associate, the notorious New York dominatrix Nora Sutherlin. But with Nora away in Kentucky, now it’s Kingsley’s chance to take her place at the feet of the only man he’s ever wanted — Søren, Nora’s on-again, off-again lover — until a new threat from an old enemy forces him to confront his past.

Wes Railey is still the object of Nora’s tamest yet most maddening fantasies, and the one man she can’t forget. He’s young. He’s wonderful. He’s also thoroughbred royalty and she’s in “his” world now. But Nora is no simpering Southern belle, and her dream of fitting into Wesley’s world is perpetually at odds with her dear Søren’s relentlessly seductive pull.

Two worlds of wealth and passion call to her and whichever one Nora chooses, it will be the hardest decision she will ever have to make… unless someone makes it for her…

Tangent: Perhaps the reason I hate plot summaries so very much is that I am consumed by a powerful jealousy – I want that job.  I want to write teasers like “…it will be the hardest decision she will ever have to make… unless someone makes it for her…” that hint at ominous doings.  But I don’t./tangent

Anyway.  I am attempting a thematic review of this book (in keeping with my previous Original Sinners series reviews).  I’m fairly certain I can write the review without including any spoilers, but if you’re itching to read The Prince and just haven’t gotten to it yet, it’s probably a good idea to read the book first and then come back to read my review (just in cases).

I unequivocally loved The Siren and The Angel.  I also loved The Prince, but not unequivocally.  Don’t get me wrong–it still earned the 5-star review it will get from me on Goodreads–but there were a few random elements that sort of poked me in a not entirely good way.  I figured I would get them out of the way before I delve into a discussion of some of the book’s themes.

  1. Zoolander.  There’s this moment towards the middle of the book wherein Kingsley ruminates about how folk think he’s handsome, and Søren definitely is handsome, and Eleanor is beautiful, but another character is just stunningly gorgeous.  And I’m sure I’m completely ridiculous, but when I read that line, this is what played in my head:
  2. I really hate cliffhangers, and this book ends with a big one.  Of course, my personal dislike of cliffhangers (I hated ’em in Harry Potter, too) has nothing to do with the book, but this is my review, and I’ll bitch about cliffhangers if I want to.
  3. Super-duper unsexy sexy sexy times.  (I think Anachronist at Books as Portable Pieces of Thoughts really has the best commentary on the unbelievably unsexy sex in certain parts of this book.)  Overall, I liked the book, but I was still shocked and slightly embarrassed to encounter explody spuge and seriously awkward conversation.  I get that those scenes had to be at least a trifle awkward (they would have been unrealistic, otherwise), but that doesn’t mean that all the awkwardness was even slightly pleasant.  Goodness.

So, caveats aside, The Prince is dark.  It is arranged in two parallel story lines that are intercut, with the “North” story (past and present) following Kingsley and Søren and the “South” story following Nora and Wes.  I enjoyed the intercutting because it helped the pacing throughout the story and gave me time to recover from some of the book’s darker moments.  I’ve seen some comments from other readers that read all of the “South” sections first and then all of the “North” sections, and I thought it was funny (not really ha ha, but a little) that those readers turned Reisz into Tolkien, just a bit.  On the whole, I thought the “North” segments were stronger than the “South” ones.  Kingsley absolutely shines in this book, and Wes seemed a trifle flat, especially by comparison.

If Søren bore a resemblance to the God of the Old Testament in The Angelhe seems to be the spittin’ image in this book, when he appears as a teen.  As an adult, Søren still bears a resemblance to God but it’s to the God of the New Testament (I think).  He makes sacrifices and has to deal with their consequences.  He loves, and he has to watch his loved ones battle it out and make mistakes, and he can’t really know how it will all end.  He’s a God who went from being in complete control to having to wait and hope that his people (person, really) will come back to him.  Uncertainty does not sit well with the Almighty, and neither does Søren handle it without considerable friction.  I loved every one of Søren’s scenes, even the brutal ones.

I am not sure if it is just a case of contrast, but I really disliked Wes in this book, and I was confused by Nora.  While Søren and Kingsley are confronting and, to an extent, reliving the past, Wes and Nora spend their time building an incongruous fantasy dream world and exploring the brutality of the thoroughbred racing world.  (I should point out that I enjoyed the latter explorations as they provided insights to both Wes’ and Nora’s view of her world in the underground.)  Perhaps this issue is just that a lot of the “South” scenes were written from Wes’ point of view, and I didn’t enjoy being in his head nearly as much as I enjoy Nora’s.  She’s funny; he’s sappy.

I recommend this book to anyone who read and enjoyed The Siren and The Angel and is tolerant of very dark subject matter.  There are some extremely intense scenes, and sensitive readers should approach with caution.  I am one of those sensitive readers, actually, but I found enough interesting material and often starkly beautiful writing to compensate me for the few panic attacks this book brought on.  Speaking of starkly beautiful writing, this book contains one of my favorite sentences of all time.  For that one sentence alone, I would give this book a 5-star review; but, of course, I found many more reasons for that rating.

The Prince was released on November 20 by Harlequin MIRA in both e-book and print format, I believe.  For more information about the author (including a selection of free bedtime stories that are well worth a read–but read The Siren first–check out the author’s website http://tiffanyreisz.com.  If you click on the cover image above, you can visit the book’s page on Goodreads and follow links to purchase through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

*FTC Disclosure – I received an e-galley of this book from Harlequin through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*