Here is the third book in the series of re-post reviews of The Original Sinners Series: The Red Years. These original appeared on the website Book Mood Reviews.
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…. (Goodreads)
Having finished THE ANGEL, I moved quickly on to THE PRINCE, desperate to find out where the numerous loose plotlines would go. However, while I expected this to concentrate on the blossoming romance between Nora and Wes, I was pleasantly surprised that in fact the majority of the book was about the complex and extremely dark relationship between Soren and Kingsley, the King of Kink. And when I say dark, I mean DARK!
As reader, I could only watch helplessly as the origins of these two very different people becoming “friends” unfolded. Truth be told, this was such a major draw for me that I found myself skimming the parts with Nora and Wes, in order to read more about Soren and Kinsley.
As I mentioned in my previous review, M/M relationships have never really held much interest for me, but again Reisz has pulled something so unique that I was sucked right in to their story (Yeah, bad choice of words there).
The plot is really split into three distinct threads; a in-depth look at Soren and Kingsleys past and the circumstances that surrounded the death of Kingsleys sister (also Sorens wife), mentioned briefly in THE ANGEL, the stalker who appears to be targeting Soren and all of those close to him, in the present and Wes and Nora finally trying to make a go of things as a couple down in Kentucky. Out of the three plotlines, for me, the Wes/Nora plot was the weakest. It just lacked that certain sparkle that made me want to invest in their relationship and in turn, root for them to overcome the obstacles of Nora’s past and Wes’s privileged background.
Wes came off as somewhat needy in this book. His desperation at trying to break Nora’s need for kink and the hold Soren has over her, begins to get very tiring. He knew what Nora was like. This isn’t anything new. Granted, Nora is trying to change and become more “Vanilla” to suit Wes’s lifestyle, but it is part of who she is. The fact that she has to hide a part of herself began to annoy me. She lost a bit of her bite and it is only near the end do we see that the old Nora is still hiding underneath the disguise she wears around Wes and his family.
On writing this review and discussing the book with Vicki (who was reading it while I was writing this book), I’ve come to the conclusion that Nora seems to morph and adapt to suit whoever she is in a relationship with. With Soren, she throws herself into becoming a submissive; on her own she becomes a Dominatrix with Wes she tries to be what is described as “normal”. You get the feeling that she only really wants to be accepted, but never really get a feeling of the real Nora.
In a scene that still makes me chuckle even now, was when Nora and Wes finally have sex. A theme that seems to run between the two is the fact that Wes is constantly trying to compete with Soren, asking questions that I cringed at reading. Does he REALLY want to know what Soren is like as Lover? Is he a glutton for punishment? (Soren might like that! 😉 ) Does he have a secret crush on the Priest that he refuses to admit to? (Ok, that may be me and I do not have that secret of a crush…) To push for answers at a time where Nora is probably at her weakest is a low blow, but ask and ye shall receive. For the reader, it comes across as very uncomfortable, especially in the way that Nora compares Wes and Soren. This is one of the few times that I really felt my love for Nora slip. (Though this is partly Wes’s fault for asking).
Wes and Nora somehow end up embroiled in the mystery surrounding the death of one of Nora’s former clients racehorses. Again, I seemed to zone out on this plotline and was only slightly interested that this is the client that gave Nora her red Astin Martin.
By the end of the book, it looks as though Nora and Wes look to be on the road to a proper relationship. How this pans out in the next book, is yet to be seen due to a dramatic cliffhanger, which I will discuss later in the review.
For me, what really pushed this book into un-putdownable territory was Kingsley and Soren. This book really delves into the past of Kingsley and how he went from a lothario who had been forced from his previous school due to other pupils threatening his life over sleeping with their girlfriends and/or sisters, to Soren’s first real submissive.
The relationship is really dark and a comparison to the relationship between Griff and Michael in the previous book. It is not for the faint hearted and though Reisz doesn’t go into too much detail, there is just enough to let your imagination run away with you, or at least it’s a reflection on mine. 😀
This is mixed in with the mystery surrounding who broke into Kingsleys home and stole the file on Nora. By going back into the past, Reisz attempts to lead the reader to who is targeting those closest to Soren. Up to the last chapter, I was completely in the dark, but then as the pieces all fall into place, I was shocked to say the least. It was the last person I expected it to be.
The most infuriating part of the whole book was the cliffhanger at the end and it knocked half a star of the rating. Nora’s fate is left in the balance, especially as there was the ominious message “I WILL KILL THE BITCH” scrawled in blood on the wall in Nora’s bedroom. I know this might be in an effort to make you want to read the next book, but Reisz doesn’t need this gimmick.
The darkest book yet in the series, but still one of the best authors in this genre. There were a couple of things I didn’t really like about this, one being Nora herself and the other being the cliffhanger, but the Soren and Kingsley backstory and relationship more than makes up for it.
This is still a must read series for me and I can’t wait for The Mistress to see how this all concludes. Before this book, I had wanted Nora to not end up with Wes and go back to Soren, yet now I am left confused.
For really dark and thought provoking series, read these books. Reisz manages to write really spicy books while balancing very complex plots that suck you in. She really is the Queen of this genre
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER