by Nalini Singh
Nalini Singh belongs to a group of writers who create intricate, world-building paranormal romances with many alpha couples and political upheaval…with steamy scenes. (See also Kresley Cole, Ilona Andrews etc.) I tried one of her first novels many years ago and wasn’t drawn in.
This is the start of a later trilogy. Singh does a good job of balancing references to prior couples whilst not confusing people like me who didn’t read those books. In this book, a powerful Psy named Silver Mercant and a bear changeling Alpha name Valentin are the main characters.
And while there is political intrigue, and poisoning, and interrogations, and heartbreak…really its about Valentin wooing Silver with his bear clan. In a way its reminiscent of Bollywood movies where the romance is really centered within the context of family gatherings and loyalty. This is true here, as well, with the Psy and the Bear changelings being the two families. There’s lots of interaction between Silver and the extended clan (especially the cubs) that almost is a stand in for Valentin wooing her.
But it was comfy and cozy and restful to read about a group of loving, rambunctious, mischevious folks basically just loving each other and being open about that. The problem here, of course, is that Silver has a reason she is Silent (the anti-emotion discipline the Psy adopted to control themselves) so as she melts toward Valentin and his Russian bear clan problems ensue.
There’s some fun sexy times, but Singh’s strength isn’t there per se, but in the emotional context of the Silver falling in love with the bears. There’s a lot of repetitive references to bears and how tough/silly they are, alot of people telling Silver when she speaks sharply that she “knows how to handle an alpha bear” etc. But it’s a comforting, trope-heavy read with no real surprises. I would be tempted to read on to the other two books, possibly in between emotionally difficult novels of other genres– as a refreshing amuse bouche perhaps.