THE MISTRESS is the final book in the Red Years Quartet and what a journey it has been! Over the course of these four books (and the novellas) I have fallen in love with every single one of the characters in this series. One of the many talents of Tiffany Reisz is that she is able to breathe life to each of her characters. Beneath all the character kinks and their troubled pasts, there is a soul there and I feel it every time I read their POVs. However, I can say that I felt it even more in this latest book.
There are so many moving threads in this book that I thought I’d do something different and talk about each character as I did in my THE SIREN review and bring it back to basics.
First off, I have to discuss The Queen herself, Nora. Like caulk around a tile, like binding in a book, Nora Sutherlin keeps everything together. Reisz further explores the Soren and Kingsley dynamic in a way that puts Nora right in the center of it. In a series of stories, Nora recounts her memories of her time with the two. As I said, this time you get a far more deeper understanding of Nora’s feelings for Soren and also Kingsley. I like the way Reisz told these stories because it not only solidified their bond to one another, but it brought to the surface emotions that we haven’t seen from Nora before this. As a Dominant, we see her strong and powerful. As a sub, we see her willing and ready. But now, we see her as a woman head over heels in love, fighting for the people she cares about the most.
Which leads me to Soren. I have always been intrigued by the Priest. He is intimidating, but with this character, I think Reisz may have created one of the most enigmatic personalities I will ever read. Though he inflicts pain for pleasure, he really is a selfless creature. He forgives those who have shunned him, he cares for those who has hurt him and he won’t allow anyone else to deal with the problem that arise because of him. I realized he really is a softy at the core.
Grace, whom we know as Zachary’s wife in the series comes back into the picture and while I could guess what was going to happen, I found it very interesting to watch it all unfold. Grace is very content in her marriage and she and Zach are very open with one another, telling each other secrets that most married couples wouldn’t share with each other. When Grace finds herself in the folds of this mess, she is drawn to the lifestyle that Soren, Nora and Kingsley all share. I find it quite fascinating how Reisz can create so much chemistry between one couple and then later on, create just as much combustible energy between another, when you switch and split them up. I don’t know how she does it, but I’m floored each time she does!
Since the book does start off where the last leaves off, you know that Wesley is going to have a big part in the story. I’ve been a fan of him, but in this book, I think I really began to understand him. He has never understood the need for pain to get off. And he never will. But after the events of this book, I think he’s come to accept that having a kink doesn’t make you deranged. It just makes it different from him. I think the books ends in a good place for Wesley but I wonder if we will ever see him again?
A new character is introduced. She is Soren’s niece, Laila. At first I wondered what was the purpose of her involvement in this book, but it all works out in the end. I liked her presence and her POV gave further insight into Nora and Soren’s relationship from a more personal, familial standpoint. I liked what her presence brought to the series and one character in particular.
And last but not least, my favorite character of them all – Kingsley. There is just something about this guy that does it for me. He’s so strong and so in control of himself on the outside, but when you add pain into the mix, he is a completely different person. The fascination between him and Soren lives on. If there was one thing I could have, I would want Soren and Kingsley together again. I get the feeling that he is genuinely happy with Juliette, but there’s still that ember burning for Soren that will never, ever burn out.
I’m excited for what the White Years will bring. These characters and their stories continue to enchant me. Even though this is the end of one quartet, it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s over for these characters yet.
*ARC provided by publisher