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[Book Review] The Original Sinners Series Part I: The Red Years

So… hello there.

If you know me, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of The Original Sinners Series—an eight book erotic saga written by the super talented Tiffany Reisz. In honor of the release of the latest novella set in this world, The Confessions, I’ve decided to do two master posts in which I review ALL the books. (It’s going to get spoilery and fangirl-y around here.)

This series is divided in two parts: The Red Years, which is set in the present time where we start the story, and The White Years, that feature the past of the characters as well as some bits of continuation to where we ended in The Red Years.

We’re starting in the order is meant to be read: The Red Years.

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In this first book, we get to know Nora Sutherlin, a famous erotica writer and an even more famous dominatrix. She wants to write a new book that has important, personal meaning to her. So to make the best work she can, she teams up with Zach Easton as her editor, who’s not really a fan of hers and who’s nursing a bit of a broken heart after separating from his wife. While the story revolves around the reluctant resolve of their differences to work together, and their undeniable sexual chemistry, this book introduces us to other characters that play an important role in Nora’s life. There’s Søren, Nora’s “ex” sadistic dominant and one true love; Wesley, her 19 year old virgin live-in assistant who’s in love with her; and the very half-french Kingsley, the ruler of the S&M club The 8th Circle, Nora’s boss for all intents and purposes as well as her client/lover. It feels important to me to highlight the fact that I loved Søren from the moment Nora started describing their relationship. It was clear to me that their love was something bigger than life.

The best part about The Siren was jumping in, thinking this was going to be a typical erotica book with some good sex-scenes and getting much more than what I bargained for. The writing in the book is amazing, the characters are people you start loving as soon as they open their mouths. Rooting for the relationships to happen, evolve, and survive becomes second-nature to the reader, and the complexity of all of the relationships in the book was a delight to read. The S&M aspects of the book are so well done and learning how big of a part religion plays in the storyline and why was just amazing. It was the perfect first book to set a saga that was going to keep giving me great things. Buy the book here.

At the end of The Siren, Zach has gone back to his wife and Nora has gone back to Søren, which all seems like a happy ending, right? However, in this book we’re introduced to Suzanne, a reporter who’s been tipped off that Søren, the priest of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, has something to hide. In The Angel, Søren orders Nora away to spend fun times with Master Griffin, who we met briefly in The Siren, and Michael, the troubled teenage boy that loses his virginity to Nora in the previous book. The reporter starts fluttering around Søren, determined to expose him as something. While I, a Søren lover from book one, hated that Suzanne was so set on acting against my favorite character, her presence in the book gave us readers the opportunity to learn about Søren’s very perturbed past. Plus, it was the perfect excuse to put Michael and Griffin together, who become one of the most loved couples of the series. Søren, know-it-all that he is, was behind this but we only find out that he knew this would happen at the end of the book.

The writing in the book continues to be good, the dialogue continues to be on point, and the sex-scenes continue to be amazing. I loved getting to know more of Søren and how the Catholic Church continued to be a huge part of the series. We learn that Kingsley used to be Søren’s submissive lover when they were teenagers and that later on, Søren married Kingsley’s sister so that she could stay in the United States. (She and Søren never consummated their marriage and she killed herself after seeing Søren and Kingsley kissing.)  However, marrying her gave Søren access to his trust fund, a money he later on gave to Kingsley. In the end, it is also revealed that Søren was the person who tipped Suzanne, because he knew that if he was being investigated, the Church wouldn’t nominate him to become a bishop, something that would’ve made his relationship with Nora much harder. (God, I love how his mind works.) To my dismay, in the end of The Angel, Søren presents Nora with Wesley, because he’s an arrogant bastard who’s 100% sure that Nora will end up with him regardless of how much time she spends with Wesley or anyone else. Buy the book here.

Now this book… I remember when I first read this book, I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, because I wasn’t a fan of reading about Nora being with Wesley. But I was a fool then, blinded by my love for Nora and Søren together. The truth is, in hindsight, this is probably the best book out of The Red Years part of the series. The writing is fucking superb and the way Tiffany decided to divide the chapters in South and North to tell Nora’s and Kingsley’s respective sides of the story was brilliant.

Nora is with Wesley, and, while I wasn’t a fan of them together, reading about Nora talk to Wesley about Søren gave me life, because it continued to prove that Søren and Nora’s love was amazing. Plus, it kind of kept Søren in the scene, even if he wasn’t there, something we also saw in book one. And then we have Kingsley, who used to be Søren’s lover when they met in school and his side of the story. Because of recent events that have threatened the safety of Kingsley’s and his loved ones, he and Søren take a trip back to their high school to find out some things about who might be behind the danger brewing. In this part of the story, we get to both re-live Kingsley and Søren’s past as lovers, as well as see where they stand in the present. Kingsley has been a scene-stealer since book one, so spending this much time with him in this book was amazing. The chemistry and history he and Søren share made this book the great thing that it is. And the writing… this book was an example that practice does makes perfect, because the writing in this book was too good to be true. Buy the book here.

The final book of The Red Years had a lot of things to do for us readers. It had to give us closure, epic sex-scenes, a happy ending, and some answers. I think it delivered. In the previous book, the story ends with Nora accepting Wesley’s marriage proposal in a rush, because she saw something coming for them and wanted him to shut up so they could run. It didn’t work and she ends up getting kidnapped by Kingsley’s thought-dead sister, Marie-Laure. The setting for this book was that of a chess game and each chapter is titled with the piece a particular character is playing in the game, so that we can see what’s going on in their side of the story. We have The Queen, Nora; The King, Kingsley; The Knight, Wesley; The Rook, Grace (Yes, Zach’s wife Grace.); and The Pawn, Laila, Søren’s niece. Each one of these characters plays an important part in the rescue of Nora and conclusion of this part of the series. (The reason why this works is because these novels are written in third person, by the way.)

In this book, Marie-Laure uses Nora as a bait to lure Søren to her, so that she can “talk” with him and get her overdue revenge on him for not loving her. While kidnapped, Nora continues to be her witty, irreverent self and her dialogues with Marie-Laure are one of the best parts of this book. She tells her crazy kidnapper tale after tale of her life with Søren and Kingsley. We get an in-your-face confirmation that Nora’s always had a taste for the mix of pain with pleasure, regardless of the role Søren has played in her life since she was 15 years old. Eventually, Søren makes his way to Marie-Laure, ready to die and sacrifice himself to save Nora (and Kingsley), but Kingsley steps in and kills his sister, ending this mess of a revenge. The best part about this book was seeing Søren’s vulnerability and absolute determination to sacrifice himself for the ones he love. The book also got us rid of Wesley for good, who manages to find what he’s looking for in Laila. The ending of the book gave us a lot to talk about with Grace’s well-earned night with Søren and the result of it. In my case, it was all positive talk, because I always understood Søren was the God-like character of the series so everything that happened made sense to me. I loved how Tiffany gave me four consistently good books about the most interesting, sexy, funny, and intelligent set of characters I’ve ever read. Buy the book here.

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Wow. Long reviews. This is all for now. Stick around if you want to read my thoughts on the second part of the series, The White Years.

If you’ve read and enjoyed these books, let’s talk about it! Tell me in the comments who’s your favorite character and why.

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