Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh

Why I read it:  I was fortunate enough to score a review copy on behalf of ARRA (the Australian Romance Readers Association) which only meant that I read it a bit early as I'm a fan of the series and I would have been reading it anyway.

What's about:  It's Hawke's book people!  :)    Seriously though, this is Book 10 in Singh's wonderful Psy-Changeling series.  While it is mainly Hawke and Sienna's book, there is also a nice secondary romance between Lara, the SnowDancer healer and  Psy/SnowDancer Walker Lauren.  And, it's all set against the background of a coming battle with Pure Psy directed against DarkRiver, SnowDancer and Nikita Duncan and Anthony Kyriakus (members of the Psy Council who understand Silence has failed).

What worked for me: I had wondered if the age difference between Hawke & Sienna would bother me but really, it didn't. Sienna, while only aged chronologically 19, had to grow up very quickly - she was taken from her family by Ming LeBon when she was only 5 and, given the nature of her powers (she's a Cardinal X-Psy), was forced to learn iron control at a very young age.   Hawke is 35 (or maybe 34) so there is a significant age difference - it is one of the factors which Hawke uses to try and keep Sienna at a distance.  Of the barriers in their way, this was the one that was the most believable to me.  The other Pack members and DarkRiver leopards all accept the Hawke and Sienna pairing long before Hawke does and the book does a great job of showing the intense chemistry between the two so, it's just obvious that they belong together.
What didn't:Which brings me to the other main barrier to their HEA - Hawke's childhood love for Rissa, who died at age 5.  Hawke knew that Rissa would be his mate and when she died, he believed he could never share the mating bond with any other - because wolves mate for life and there is only one.  I always had a bit of a problem with this - Hawke wasn't actually mated to Rissa, so where's the problem?  Also, in other books, the mating dance seems to occur without any conscious initiation from either party, so how could Hawke be so sure it would not start with Sienna?  It felt a bit like Singh had painted herself into a plot corner and the getting out of it, was for me, not as successful as I had hoped.
This was a lengthy book for the Psy-Changeling series, coming in at just over 400 pages and a lot happened in it - the secondary romance was given a reasonable amount of page time (I think I could have happily read a whole book of Lara and Walker actually) and there was the whole battle thing which the previous book (Play of Passion) in particular had led up to.  Toward the end, I think Singh ran out of room. Finding the Pure Psy weapons cache, for example,   and what could have been a quite interesting part about an assassination attempt on a couple of Psy Council members were dealt with in one or two sentences only and in the context of the book and the series as a whole, these things would usually have been given more page time.

What else: The chemistry between Sienna and Hawke was palpable and the love scenes were sizzling.  Hawke starts off trying (and failing miserably) to stay away from Sienna and there was a frustrating push/pull until they decided to embark on a relationship.  The next part of the book was the most enjoyable for me because I was fascinated by the how of their relationship - I knew, had known for a very long time, that they would be together and so I didn't want to spend a lot of time getting there - in many respects, I had spent the previous 9 books getting there (!).  How Sienna was going to handle the Alpha Wolf was the part I was most looking forward to and the scenes where they "play" (and no, I'm not being euphemistic here) were, for me, some of the best in the book.  Any, may I say - Walker Lauren - who'd have thought he was a sex god?!
How Singh resolved the Cardinal X factor was, I thought, very cleverly done even though to some extent I'm still trying to put it all together (science-y type things not being entirely my thing).  Singh has created such a fascinating world in this series and it's one I really enjoy visiting.  I'm still trying to work out who the Ghost is and what part Kaleb Krychek will play - will he get his own book do you think? and I can hardly wait until Ming LeBon gets his full comeuppance.

There was one other very special thing in this book - Sascha and Lucas had their baby!  Awww!  If you want to know gender/name etc - Read the Book!! :)

Grade: - B/B+

*please note a slightly cut down (due to a word limit)  version of this review was posted on the ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) blog on 22/06/2011 here

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