tl;dr: from Eleanor to Nora, a young woman finds her own power
Readers know from the very first book in this series that Nora Sutherlin, then Eleanor Schreiber, left the man that owned her body and soul because of something. We get bits and pieces of it throughout the other books, but in The Virgin, we get the full picture. Of course, Reisz makes us wait until the very end to see how he ends up losing control, and the fragments of bone in the locker she leaves for Kingsley to find spur Søren’s other love to leave, too.
Eleanor, referred to as Elle for most of the book, escapes to her mother’s convent in upper New York state, since no men, not even priests, are allowed entry. It’s a safe haven where she is able to get herself back together from the crushing blow she was dealt that caused her to leave. The reunion between mother and daughter was so poignant and beautiful, that I full on sobbed.
Her mother cupped her face and looked her in the eyes. “Every morning for the past three years I’ve woken up and prayed the same prayer. Do you want to know what that prayer is?”
“What?” Elle asked, even though she was certain she didn’t want to know.
“Dear God, please don’t let today be the day he finally kills her.”
Elle meets a novice nun there and they have a bit of an affair, and Kyrie encourages her to write an erotic retelling of Apollo and Daphne from mythology. She ends up sending the handwritten pages to her late sister’s agent, and from there, Elle finally has something she can do with her life that doesn’t involve Søren.
Meanwhile, Kingsley travels the world, searching for something but he doesn’t quite know what. He finds Juliette, a woman that shares all of his kinks, is beautiful, and French. She is basically a sex slave to the French ambassador of Haiti, and he wants to rescue her, maybe even kill him so that she can be free, but Juliette insists that he needs to go, that her life isn’t that bad. So he leaves, feeling completely broken-hearted.
Of course, fans of the the series will know that Juliette does come to live with him at his townhouse, and Kingsley’s gesture towards her is incredibly moving and wonderful.
It was not a surprise that this novel uses another framing device to set up the main story. The final chapter reveals that they are in Scotland for Michael and Griffin’s wedding, which I definitely figured out early on, although the grooms are kept a secret until then. Reisz drops hints throughout the present-day segments over who the wedding is not for, and since it was in Scotland and there were kilts, I figured it out.
Søren wants to hear from Kingsley and Nora about what that year they were all separated was like. We don’t really find out much of what Søren experienced, only that he ‘suffered’. But both Nora and Kingsley’s stories switch back and forth, following a similar timeline, but it wasn’t confusing at all.
So far, all of the books in the Original Sinners series have these wonderful self-contained stories that build on each other. The final story, The Queen, is likely going to be about Nora’s time as a Dominatrix and I can’t wait! I wish there were infinite books about these characters, because I adore them and I’m going to be sad to be finished.
Find it at your local library!
I recommend starting with The Siren. It’s so great!