It's no mistake that Tiffany Reisz's third book, The Prince shares its title with Machiavelli's political treatise. Working on the assumption that this is intentional on Ms. Reisz's part, it may explain the mixed reaction I'm seeing in reviews in the near-month since I read the book and have been contemplating my review.When Machiavelli released his work, it was considered a direct contrast to how the Catholic Church viewed morality and ethics. Reisz has taken her erotic series to a new area with her third book -- suspense -- which is a near 180-degree turnaround from the sweet romance of the previous book.Again, I assume this is intentional.Where The Angel was, for the most part, romantic and sexy, The Prince alternates between three story lines: that of Søren and Kingsley back when they were students together, Søren and Kingsley in the present day, and Nora and Wesley in Kentucky -- a continuation of where we left off with them at the end of The Angel.It's an entirely different structure than the previous two books, as well as a different genre. Some readers may balk at the differences. In addition, there are moments when the characters do things that may seem out of character or at least out of character as readers have come to understand them. Scenes from the previous books are peeled back like layers of an onion to reveal deeper layers. Things accepted as fact are revealed to be anything but, in more than one instance.In the world of sadistic mindfucks, Ms. Reisz shows she knows how to write them beautifully, and across multiple novels. Nearly one month after my first read of the novel, I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. I've had to rethink characters. I've had to re-evaluate my thoughts and feelings about the previous two books. I've read at least ten other books in the interim and I still find myself going ack and thinking about The Prince and wondering how all the pieces will fall into place when Reisz releases the fourth book.Unlike The Angel, it wasn't the book I wanted it to be. But when a book has me thinking that much (and searching my basement for my well-worn copy of Machiavelli's treatise from college to look things up) that's the mark of something more, something bigger. Assigning a star rating to this book feels disingenuous, because I can't say that I loved it or that I would put it on my favorites list, where I could easily say that about The Angel and other books I've given five-star ratings to. As a standalone book, I'd be hard-pressed to rate it at all, but I have no way of experiencing the book without having read the other two (and if I start dragging Lacan and Derrida into this review, shoot me now), nor without having studied Machiavelli's text extensively as an undergrad.But in its place in the series, I feel it does exactly what Reisz intends for it to do: keep the reader guessing. Keep us off-balance and unsure. And set up a finale that promises to be full of surprises. In a genre that is rapidly filling with copycat books, Reisz appears unafraid to take risks, to alienate loyal readers, to stay true to her vision of the story even when it deviates from what fans most likely want to see. In light of that, I really have no other possible way to rate and review other than to ramble on for a bit about my befuddlement, attempt my best guesses at intentions, and assign a somewhat arbitrary star rating based on my assumption of accomplishment of goals.