Author: Nalini Singh
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: December 4, 2012
Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with her past—to face a devastating new challenge: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to another. For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermines everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion is a losing battle.
Their coming together is an inferno…and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.
Yes, another good installment in this, one of my favorite, series currently being published.
I admit at being a little apprehensive after reading a few of not so favorable reviews, and I must confess at first I thought that Adria and Riaz’s story would’ve worked better as a short—there was too much ‘angst’ between them, too much anger, too much frustration, too much drama, too much, well, heartbreak. And there was too much Hawke and Sienna in this story to actually be categorized as a one-couple-romance.
But once Riaz pulled his head out of his heiny and Adria defrosted a little, it all started clicking for me. They were good together despite the hindrance of the non-mating and the final resolution, though one of the reviewers stated that it didn’t mesh with everything we’ve read so far, was quite well explained toward the end (what happened during and after the Territorial Wars, the ‘disappearance’ of Libraries and texts) and on the finish line made perfect sense. The mating is a reality, but not a definitive. At least that’s how I see it, and how I understand the explanation given in this book. The mating must be accepted from both sides (male and female) and on both sides of the changeling (human and animal). I sure hope (and am confident will happen eventually) the mating bond between Adria and Riaz will develop, because they do match. There are mutual feelings that weren’t present between Riaz and his ‘intended’, their wolves are comfortable with each other, they’re friends, confidants and lovers, and they trust each other. And let’s look at Drew and Indigo. Even Hawke said it took years of them to know each other before the mating dance and mating bond emerged. So yes, there is hope.
Hawke also had two mates. Sure, one died as a child, but she would’ve become his mate once she grew up. She died and he got a second chance. And what a chance. Him and Sienna were so cute together in this story, a somewhat continuation of their book. Some reviewers mentioned something along the lines of Hawke losing his alpha edge in this one with all the cuddling, and baking he did in this book, but I don’t agree. To me, having Sienna with him, alongside him, doing domestic stuff, having her friends come over sometimes (despite having always to be their alpha), is something like him experiencing the life of a teenager he never got to have. He became alpha at 15, so he didn’t actually have a normal ‘childhood’. He had to grow up fast, but now, with Sienna (only 20), he gets to experience everything he’s missed. With her, alongside her, seeing it all through her eyes. To me, that’s a perfect mix. He keeps her grounded (though she doesn’t need it that much), and she keeps him ‘young’, so to speak. I don’t think ‘letting his hair down’ when he’s with her, baking, getting drunk etc. means he’s lost his edge, become gelded. That edge, the dangerous alpha is still there, ready to jump into action whenever needed, he’s just found someone who lets him relax, lets him be something other than the leader of the pack, the alpha, lets him be just a man in love, just a husband, a friend, and a lover. *sigh*
Okay, back to Adria and Riaz. I, personally, loved them both. They were rather similar in spirit at the beginning, both damaged, both carrying internal scars that still seeped blood sometimes. Is there any wonder they were so drawn to each other even as they resisted that pull? They needed each other to heal, they needed one another for comfort, they needed a confidante. One of the reviewers scoffed at Adria’s ‘inner turmoil’ after the end of her relationship with Martin, that she acted like she was the only one exiting a bad relationship and it wasn’t as he beat her up or raped her on a daily basis. Sometimes psychological scars (even those not purposefully inflicted) are as painful (or more) than the physical ones. And Adria was psychologically scarred. And she was mostly to blame for those scars (and deep down she knew it). She’s spent years being something she was not, downplaying herself, she changed who she was for the man she was in a relationship with, and that wasn’t enough. Is there any wonder she kept pushing Riaz away? Because this time she knew that even if she was herself, it wouldn’t be enough. That she would always be just second best.
Those fears were unfounded in the end, because her golden-eyed black wolf was stubborn, obstinate and determined to never let her get away. And who wouldn’t love such a guy? I sure wouldn’t kick him out of my bed. ;)
What I love most about this series is that single-minded determination displayed in both the DarkRiver and SnowDancer males. I love the leopards, but the wolves are my poison as far as this series is concerned (beside Judd Lauren and Kaleb Krychek, that is) and I can safely say that Riaz Delgado (I just loved the Spanish endearments and confession of feelings he started using toward the end of the book) is in the second spot on my favorite wolves list (Hawke holding the top spot safely and securely).
There was just something about Riaz that drew me in, held me, enticed me. Seems to me it was that blend of lone-wolf, stubbornness, danger, even anger, determination, tenderness, endless capability of love, and, yes, playfulness he displayed throughout the story. I adored the courtship toward the end, the gifts, the humor in them (the silly carvings, the personalized hammer—how adorable was that?!). Who could resist?
See, this is what I love most about Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series. The characters. Don’t get me wrong, the stories and main arc are great as well, keeping us guessing, introducing new characters, new packs, new dangers, new intrigue. But the heart of it all, the heart of each separate book and the main storyline, are the characters. Their personalities, their interaction, their inner workings. There are so many books out there, entire series in fact, that focus on the action, the ‘story’, without really fleshing out the characters—but if the characters are bland, the story is bland, too.
Nalini Singh accomplished and continues to accomplish the exact opposite. She starts with the characters and builds the story around them, leaving the characters, their actions, reactions and interactions drive the plot, propel the story forward. And that’s what keeps this series ‘alive and kicking’, interesting and intriguing for me. I want to know what happens next to a certain character (and I’m so glad Ms. Singh keeps bringing the previous heroes and heroines back, continuing their separate stories merging them with the main one), what the consequences and ramifications of a certain action, certain word, certain though will be in the broader and (final) picture. And I keep craving more.
(Just take Kaleb Krychek as example. He’s started off as an ambiguous character, secretive, Silent, foreboding, but slowly, throughout the series we got glimpses of unknown depths within him, seeing him as something more as another Psy, wanting to know more about him, wanting to read his story. And we got it. Yay!)
Anyway, as I mentioned, the characters in this book were the focal point for me, but the entire story, the plot was well-executed as well. There was enough romance to satisfy the romance-lovers, there was enough suspense to keep those suspense-lovers happy, there was enough action for a book that was mainly focused on the romance aspect. And there were multiple new hooks dangled to keep us interested in what happens next. The new ‘sea’ pack, the Pure Psy flexing their puny muscles, Vasic and his torment (I sure hope he gets a book in the future and a HEA he deserved while being alive!), and of course the last ‘chapter’, the last two pages focusing entirely on Kaleb Krychek and the prey he’s been hunting pretty much since he’s become a Councilor (and even before).
I can't wait to read his book.
Okay, this review looks more like a rant of a raving lunatic, but I'm not really sorry about that.
What I meant to write, before everything got a little out of hand, was that I absolutely loved this book—the characters (even secondary ones), the story, the ‘contribution’ to the main arc. No wonder Ms. Singh is one of my favorite authors and the Psy/Changeling one of my favorite series. I never get bored.