Long time geek, fangirl, mother, and reader. I've got a lot to say, you might not like it all, but it will be honest and hopefully helpful.
Cross-posted on the Perv Pack Smut Shack's Sexy Reads.
In the Enchanted Kingdom Adulthood love takes many shapes. While they aren't the shapes we see highlighted in mainstream media they are none the less powerful and beautiful in their intensity.
The final installment in the Red Years of the Original Sinners series deals with consequences, unpaid debts as the seeds planted throughout the series finally blossom in blood and roses. Tiffany Reisz weaves a bewitching tale of betrayal, sin and the heavy toll that comes with holding on to what you love. It is a dark, but delightful, adult fairy tale that is a closer cousin to the Brothers Grimm than anything Walt Disney ever imagined.
After my first whirlwind trip with Nora and her gang of sinners in The Siren, I’ve approached these books like a sexy, and emotional carnival ride. I didn’t bother to worry about where we were going or how I thought it should end, because I accepted that I could never out think the brilliant mind behind the curtain. So, with each book, I buckled up, held on tight and enjoyed the ride. The Mistress is the most unpredictable, shocking and rewarding of them all.
The twists and turns of the story wouldn’t be half was harrowing and joyful if it were for these complex, and deeply sympathetic characters. From the naive, but well-meaning prince, Wesley, and the soulful, sadist priest, Søren to the equally ruthless, but loving Master, Kingsley, and of course the Mistress herself, Nora. They are the story. This diverse group of quirky, unique and mesmerizing people who are irrevocably intertwined with each other, are the reason I keep coming back for more. With each new book I fall deeper in love with every one of them. Their story never fails to make me cry, flail and swoon. Don’t believe me, check my status updates on GoodReads.
Venturing into The Mistress, knowing it was the end, was not easy. Yet if there is one thing I’ve learned from this series is when we face our fears the rewards are all the sweeter and it is no less true in this case. ‘Twists and turns’ does not even do justice to the trials and catharsis experienced by characters and reader alike. Hearts are broken, faith is tested, blood is shed and sacrifices are made. Not a single soul escapes the far reaching effects of the choices made, and by the end of the story every single one of them are forever changed.
A great story, not unlike a BDSM scene, isn't always about giving you what you want (or think you want), but rather what you need. It’s sometimes painful, and hard, but by the end, through a haze of sweat, blood and tears you realize you wouldn't have wanted it any other way. This is how I feel about The Mistress.
It was the ending the series needed. It isn’t what you would expect, not one of those tidy happily-everafters you get in a cookie-cutter romances, or like any ending you’ve ever seen. Which is fitting because the Original Sinners series isn’t like anything we have ever seen before.
Erotic literature is a genre that I hope will be defined by this series and other's like it. These bold new books that slip the noose of the erotica and romance genres, and even mainstream expectations of how love, sex and relationships should be portrayed in fiction. Not to mention faith and female sexuality. Two things which traditionally (in Western society at least) sit at opposite ends of the literary table. That is until Tiffany Reisz decided to throw convention out the window and put them in bed together...naked...with a flopper and handcuffs.
This mingling of faith and unfettered female sexual power is a potent combination, giving way to one of the most uplifted and healthy perspectives of love and sex I have ever seen in fiction, of any genre. I have to admit even I got swept in it’s spell.
To believe in a love that is unconditional and unwavering takes faith. Something I think few people have, but through the magic of this story the improbable not only looks possible, but inevitable. We are shown true love can not only be unselfish and everlasting, but founded on respect and trust. And that we are flawed creatures, but we are not in need of change, because we are as god mad us, beautiful in our imperfections and are still worthy of love. But most of all that it takes an extreme egotist to think they have the right and authority to fix that which was never broken in the first place.
Don’t misunderstand me, reading The Mistress hasn’t magically given me faith in a higher power. Don't worry kids, I’m still a devout atheist. It has, however, restored my faith in erotic fiction. That it can have substance, sexuality and still be entertaining to read, opposed to the shallow sales gimmicks or the sexist cliches being sold under the guise of erotica.
Instead we have a strong, sexually liberated woman in the lead role of her own story. Her sexuality is not only celebrated, but a crucial part of the story. Where she is sexy, smart and funny all at the same time, but most of all she is human. She makes mistakes and learns from them, grows and become a better person because of them. Where the supporting characters grow along with her, and she even forms strong relationships with other women. All these things we rarely see in female dominated genres like erotica and romance (and even mainstream literature), but The Mistress (and all the Original Sinner series) makes up for the shortcomings of the industry and then some.
The Original Sinners series and Tiffany Reisz has proven that erotica is the realm of women. Where we can be powerful, respected and should be feared. We are the gods (or goddesses) of this genre whose sexuality should be celebrated. Whether the rest of the world likes it or not.
John Green once said that art is making a gift for other people [paraphrasing]. Tiffany Reisz has made a very special, and badly needed gift in the Original Sinners series.
I wish I could go back in time and give it to my fifteen year old self, who was not that unlike Nora at that age. An angry young woman, who thought she was wrong and weird. I'd reassure her she’s not a freak, and explain that her sexuality is complex. but beautiful. I’d tell her she’s not alone as I give her these books, saying "here’s a story, about people like us. It’s twisted, funny, sexy, dark, and beautiful. Just like you.”
Nora is the role model and heroine I’ve waited twenty-three years to meet, and I can assure you she was absolutely worth the wait.