Even several days after finishing this book, I still have a hard time coming up with a leading argument about Tiffany Reisz’s “The Angel”, the second book in her “Original Sinners” series. I suppose the best way to frame my thoughts of the book is that I don’t think “The Angel” was as strong cohesively as the first book – “The Siren.” Not by a long shot. This narrative felt like it jumped all over the place without really a central focus on who the main character was supposed to be. In the previous novel – the central focus was on Nora and Zach. I liked – with some reservations – following Nora and Zach’s perspective points, and was fascinated by the web of characters that were strongly asserted in their motivations, yet still with enough intrigue under wraps to keep me following, in the previous novel.
The first complaint I had in retrospect with this novel was the lack of an identified leading character to carry the central focus. True, this is a multi-perspective novel, just like the former. But who was supposed to be the center of this? You would think it would be Michael, the underaged submissive who lost his virginity to Nora in the first book when he was “offered” to Nora by Soren. It would also make sense considering he’s the “angel” that the title namesake derives from. Michael didn’t really feel like the central character here, though. He was connected to many of the events, from the investigation into Soren’s church for abuse allegations to grappling with matters pertaining to his home life and sexuality, as well as his training to become a submissive since – in this novel – he’s deemed “of age.” Yet his perspective point was at an odd distance in this novel, even when the narrative focuses on his training with Nora and Griffin. Mostly, this still felt like a narrative centered around Nora and Soren (with some deference to the investigative reporter who tails them). Soren’s a candidate for higher promotion within the Church, Nora’s rekindling her relationship with Soren, and Wesley (whom we see very little of in this narrative) still pines for Nora, even knowing Nora’s submerged in that lifestyle.
There were very little moral repercussions to some of the things that Soren, Nora, and some of the other members of the collective cast do in here. It’s already enough that my moral buttons were probably pushed beyond belief in this novel. My moral elevator stopped on every floor from that button pushing – I had every opportunity to jump off (especially when there was cutting in places where I would have rather not known people could be cut for some sense of masochistic pleasure – yikes!). But I wanted to see where it went and if it had many meaningful revelations in pushing those buttons. So, I put up a filter just as I had in the previous novel and decided to truck my way through it.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it amounted to much. This novel wanted to be shocking just for the sake of being shocking. It succeeded in that measure where the former novel didn’t. Yet I think it was to the novel’s detriment because it felt like it glorified all these different things – from Michael just being able to up and go to the sub retreat, to Soren seducing the reporter investigating him and noting his tragic history, to Nora just being…Nora, I guess. I hesitate to say it was “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Priest Transgressions Edition” but goodness, it was just…how can you not give moral consideration to some of the things that happened in this novel? I just didn’t understand how none of the characters engaging in these behaviors couldn’t give a lick about what they meant or what they were potentially facing from a moral standpoint. It was like they didn’t have any worries at all, not getting caught or not having it affect their futures or anything. With Michael, his stakes were a little more clear, but the other characters – especially Nora and Soren – nope. Not at all. And for that reason, they weren’t as compelling to follow here because there seemed to be no motivation, weight or focus to keep things moving along. It was more of just the sex and shock factor.
For what it’s worth, I did like following the perspective points of Michael, Griffin, Kingsley, Wesley and the reporter, for what the narrative presented. Nora I still found worth following; she did get on my nerves in this book in some places, but not as much as Soren. He’s still the creepy, twisted, domineering Dominant that was in the last novel, only I think there are characteristics here that try to make him more identifiable, but just didn’t give him any dimension, in my opinion, because he’s just this figure who never really questions his actions or morality – he’s a domineering presence who doesn’t seem to have many layers other than the tragic past from which he comes, but even that felt like more of a numbing shock factor than anything else. He has regrets concerning Nora (which we see in a rather tense scene between him and Wesley at one point), but it’s hard to know what he’s thinking or aspects that make him less…wooden.
Nonetheless, I’m taking the plunge and continuing with this series. Again, I would say this is not a novel/series I would recommend to those who are offended with overt displays and boundary pushing sex or for the religiously sensitive. If you can read it through a mental filter and go through the story (like I did), then I would say you can try it if you liked the first novel, but I don’t think it was as strong in its consideration. I just hope that the next narrative has more dimension and focus than this did. At the very least, I can say that Reisz continues to prove her prowess as a fine writer in skill, I just wish this had more to it than the shock factor and had the level of intrigue that I saw, in spurts, in the former novel.
Overall score: 1.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Harlequin MIRA.