Adria and Riaz are both very dominant wolves who have newly returned to the Snow Dancer lands after some time away. Time in which both have been badly burned by their romantic lives
It is not a smooth reunion between the pair – this is going to be a rocky relationship to say the least
While Sienna is finding her relationship with the wolf Alpha Hawke much smoother than anticipated – but preparing to be Alpha’s mate is much more complicated with some heavy responsibilities.
The Psy war rages unabated, flaring into open civil war – and the desperate Pure Psy are restoring to unthinkable tactics that the Snow Dancers cannot ignore and cannot be neutral in the face of.
I do like how we’re calling back to a lot of the previous characters and partners in this book. One of the main issues I have with these kind of Paranormal Romance series with different characters each book is that the previous characters seem to drift away. We get nice cameo appearances of Sasha, but for several books we seem to have completely forgotten that Faith, the uber-powerful F-Psy is out of there. The Leopards in general have been very sidelined in the last few books which is such a shame because they were the first characters that have been kind of lost
This book ended up feeling far more of an ensemble book – drawing on the Council, with Hawke and Sienna very much being present and powerfully involved. We have predictions from Faith, we have Sasha and Ashaya, we have Judd all taking part. Not in a huge way, in all cases – though I wold say Hawke and Sienna are virtually co-protagonists with Riaz and Adria – but definitely taking up a powerful part of this book. We also have a really fascinating side plot coming with the Arrows and Kaleb
And I really like this side plot, because they’re both deeply immersed in the consequences of the Psy Civil War (which, to the Changelings, is still somewhat peripheral to their lives. But I still respect the conundrum they’re faced, their duty to step up because others are relying on them and whether they could possible be still in the face of such utter atrocities) but also because they represent that missing question over Silence that is not really analysed in the Changeling packs: the idea that Silence is necessary for some Psy. The conditioning that makes them safe, how the Arrows have relief on it or even how, if it starts breaking, the Arrows can begin to feel the brutal lives they’ve lived and consider whether they want to live at all.
In general there’s a widening of the plot in this book beyond the central romance which allows us to explore much wider and deeper. Like there’s Sienna realising she needs to step up as the Alpha’s mate means she is studying more about the pack so she can step up to discuss matters with Hawke. I love that she is considered to be integral to the Pack leadership structure and that having the deathly power is not enough to do that: her explorations allow us to explore as well just as Kaleb and the Arrows let us see more of the Psynet.
(Though I do want to know more about the “Maternal Females” which seems to be set up as a third class from both Dominants and Submissives. Which sounds nicely interesting and complex but the fact it’s gender specific makes me think it’s created for the sake of having “powerful women” but not having them as warriors. Which is fine and even right – but why is it women only who need the less-aggressive dominant role?)
Adria and Riaz both bring different elements as well: Adria with her take on dominance and Riaz being a lone wolf and the way that relates to the world wide influence of the Snow Dancers (again another element of this series we haven’t really developed)
Their romance is also interestingly different. For a start they’re both dominant and Adria makes it clear over and over and over to Riaz that she isn’t going to be meekly submit to his authority. I also really like that this relationship takes on the whole concept of the Mating Bond: And how it can be resisted and isn’t the final word in the romance. I like this because I hate mating bonds. I hate the removal of romance, of developing affections or actually choosing a relationship which mating bonds impose. By having this we not only develop this relationship but by simply framing this relationship as a rejection of the mating bond raises the possibility for the previous relationships. It adds an element of consent that is otherwise missing from the previous depictions.
Sienna, powerful Psy defector and Hawke, SnowDancer Changeling Alpha have struck sparks since she first arrived in their land. Rebellion, anger, defiance – but under it all attraction which Hawke is desperate to avoid. His mate died when he was a child – he knows he will always be alone and he cannot offer Sienna the life she deserves
While Sienna has her own fear – she’s an X Psy, incredibly rare and even more dangerous. She’s already lived longer than any other of her designation. She knows her days are numbered – but who will she take down in the inevitable end.
There is an issue sometimes, especially with long series, where you have a long running complaint and then a book kind of deals with the issue and you celebrate but part of your brain realises that you’re not so much celebrating a good thing so much as the reduction of a bad thing. So we have with this book:
Squee!Brain: a relationship with a female Psy who has an actual active, destructive power!
Cynical!Brain: And they have to pair her with literally the most ALPHA DOMINANT changeling ever so she would still be the submissive one in the relationship
Squee!Brain: But she challenges him!
Cynical!Brain: They ALWAYS do. But they’re always the underling fighting to be treated as an equal from the man who still largely gets his own was. Also we have a creepy age-gap “let’s wait until she’s juuuuuust of age” issues along with virginal heroin + no man may touch her issues.
Squee!Brain: But she isn’t a delicate Silenced Psy who has collywobbles if someone so much as touches her
Cynical!Brain: But she is facing super death because of her powers and being saved by his looooove (no this doesn’t count as a spoiler. If you’ve reached this book in the series you know exactly how this relationship is going to end and don’t pretend you don’t).
So, I’m conflicted. This relationship does address some of the main issues I’ve had about the previous books in this series. Sienna makes it clear that she is the one who knows her own powers and she will make her decisions about them. I like that she establishes her own authority when it comes to her powers, limits et al which is so vital when we’ve had so many Changelings decide they know their Psy lovers better than those Psy do. Equally, unlike the previous books I like that Hawke is somewhat respectful of Sienna’s boundaries – at least in terms of her bodily integrity. He doesn’t touch her or pursue her – the opposite in fact
Of course this is a little toxic when we consider his possessiveness. Hawke both runs from a relationship with Sienna but also lays his claim and violently threaten men who may enter a relationship with her. Yes he’s not pushing her into a relationship, but he is pushing her to be his pedestalled virgin. But, again, to be fair she does challenge this vehemently. Equally while she’s saved by his love, she’s just as much saved by her fellow Psy relatives. I would also quite like her to be able to actually use her Psy powers more but it is nice to see a woman who is this must dangerous and who does show the other side of Silence so well.
Really, it is a vast improvement on the previous relationships which have annoyed me so much in this series. There’s still some tropes that are a problem but it’s nothing like the ones before
Excellently Sienna also have female friends who support her, work with her and recognise the gaps Sienna has in her emotional development due to the years she spent in Silence. I like that a lot, that Sienna has women in her life, women backing her up, women valuing her; even if they don’t play a huge role it’s still an important part of Sienna’s life.
I’m also more intrigued by the relationship between Walker and Lara. This is a relationship where no-one is willing aggressively pressing the other, no-one is emotionally fragile and falling apart, no-one freaks out if someone touches them, no-one has to epicly change their entire life to suit the other. It’s nice for it to be more low key relationship and not rely on so much emotional damage and fragility and broken boundaries. It’s built on respect and kindness and love and caring and people literally not having to choose between tying themselves mystically together FOREVER or DYING (hate hate hate that trope). Which is wonderful – and all the more annoying when Walker decides to play “ugh, man in same place of my woman! Ugh. Bad man! Ugh. I crush your flowers, MY WO-MAN”.
This was reread for me and the second time around was just a amazing as the first. This series is just the ultimate. Revisiting Sasha and Lucas's story gave me so much joy. This time, I listened to it and Angela Dawe did a great job with the narration.
I fell in love with the original, interesting, and completely captivating series, so I may just have to read them all over again. Now on to book two.
Review originally featured at Angel's Guilty Pleasures
Angels’ Pawn introduces readers to a world of beauty and danger where angels and vampires coexist. The novella is the prequel to Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. In Atlanta, a vampire hunter is caught between two rival factions and the angel who is manipulating them both. Her only assistance comes from a vampire who may have his own reasons for helping her...
** Read as part of Angels’ Flight
I would suggest buying this as part of the Angels’ Flight instead of individual due to the price of the single title. It seams high for such a short novella only.
This one we get a closer look at Ashwini, Elena’s Guild Hunter colleague and Janvier. It’s a little moment in time with these two; before they get their full Novel Archangel’s Shadows.
In Archangel’s Shadow they mentioned this moment this assignment briefly and it made me want to find out more on the backstory of Ash and Janvier’s relationship.
Ash is smart, tough, and can kick ass. She also has some “talent” or a curse, depending on who looks at it. Janvier is the ban in her existence. She’s hunted him in the past, but here he stands by her side for a Guild assignment. He has a talent for making friends with anybody.
Angels’ Pawn focuses on the action rather then the romance. The chemistry is their and we Sigh does a wonderful job giving us a taste of, Ash and Janvier’s, budding teasing flirtatious relationship. As for the world it’s terrifying and riveting.
I loved Angels’ Pawn.
Rated: 5 Stars
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