THE SAINT (The Original Sinners Series: The White Years #1)
By Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: Mills & Boon (UK) / Harlequin MIRA (USA)
Publication Date: 27th May 2014(UK) / 24th June (US)
Format: Paperback (442 pages)
Source: Review Copy
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 Søren 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. (Goodreads)
Whenever a favourite author releases a new instalment of a series or a new book in a new series, there is a strong mixture of fear of fear and anticipation. Many times, I have been brimming with excitement at the next book by a beloved author, only to be let down by a lacklustre book. However I can safely say that The Saint by Tiffany Reisz is NOT one of those books.
As I began to delve into The Saint, I found that my expectation of what to expect where immediately blown out of the water. When I heard that The White Years would be set in the early years of Eleanor (which is Nora’s real name) and Soren’s relationship, I expected to actually take place in that time period. Instead, we have an almost mirror image of what happened in The Siren, with Nora telling her origin story to another outsider to her world. By breaking up the tale between the past and the present, it keeps us on our toes. From previous books, I knew that there was a reason for her telling this tale, especially as it appeared that Nora was dealing with some very deep personal issues.
She is not the same spunky Nora we left at the end of The Mistress. Reisz leaves plenty of breadcrumbs of who Nora could possibly be feeling so much pain over. I had it pegged as everyone including her publicists, hairdressers, dog-walkers cousin. I knew it had to be someone very close, especially as she appeared to have moments of melancholy, when she was recounting her early years to her newest “friend”, Nico. When it is revealed who Nora is in pain over, it makes sense and the pieces all fall into place. The last few chapters really did pack an emotional punch and I felt a lump in my throat. We see a rare moment of vulnerability in the spunky Nora and it makes her more “human”. She has sought refuge in Europe, rather than the USA and this seemed to cement my fears on who she was mourning.
The flashbacks to when the young Nora and Sorens paths first clashed are intriguing for we were never really told how their first meetings went. In fact, it was Nora that seemed to be doing the majority of the pursuing, even though it was clear that Soren was attracted to her. What I have to say did surprise me is how Soren tried to dissuade Nora’s affections. Though it was clear he did care for her, for me it came across that he didn’t want to bring Nora into his world. Some people will disagree with me and I have already seen this stated on some forms that Soren was effectively “grooming” Nora, but I do disagree with this. Soren encouraged and still encourages Nora to experience as much before fully embracing this alternative lifestyle. Though they have both overcame so much since their first encounter, you still see the creeping doubts that this is the life she wants.
In this book, the relationship with both her parents plays a big part in explaining who Nora was and is. Her feelings of inadequacy with her mother and the clearly destructive relationship with her father may have played a part in why Nora sought affection and acceptance in Soren. He seemed to get her and recognised a kindred spirit who has had a troubled up bringing just like him. True, it was not as dark as Soren’s but with a mother who claimed to have wished she had never had Nora and a father that was using her for his own selfish needs, Nora is just as mixed up as Soren.
It is only in the last two chapters do we realise that Nora reminiscing over her past is a way for her to make peace with the person she is in mourning for. Nora is going through the grieving process and her sanctuary in Europe is a way for her to try to get through this difficult time. Reading the last two chapters really did choke me up and my heart went out to Nora in that moment
Overall I really did enjoy this book and once again showcases Reisz gift of writing a book that is both sensual and thought provoking. Reisz never writes in crass terminology nor cheapens the sex scenes by using crass terms. They are written in poetic ways that it almost becomes a dance. There is a deeper layer to her scenes that really shines through. With the more “darker” sex scenes involving BDSM, it never goes to the shock tactic. Instead she will sometimes use the morning after to let you come to your own conclusions.
The Original Sinner series is one of my favourite series and the characters are ones who I route for no matter what. They are flawed and complex, much like real people. Yes, it is unorthodox and yes, these books should shock me with their subjects and characters, but they challenge my thinking. They make me question what we determine what is right or wrong and what we label as acceptable. This is the sign of a great writer and if Reisz decided to switch to writing crime novels, I would still follow her books because she always keeps me on my toes.
The White Years
1 The Saint
2 The King