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review 2018-08-26 23:25
Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter #11) by Nalini Singh
Archangel's Viper - Nalini Singh

Holly Chang was terribly victimised by the Archangel Uram. It left her with a lot of trauma, a lot of healing to do - and some supernatural abilities no-one really understands but could be very dangerous

 

She’s done a lot ot put herself back together, made a place for herself in the angelic hierarchy and built a life for herself beyond her trauma - when someone puts a price on her head. Now working with Venom, one of the Archangel Raphael’s chief lieutenants, she needs to fins who put the contract on her head… and perhaps more importantly, discover what she is, what her powers mean and what she is actually becoming




I really like the romance in this book - and yes this is me saying this who is normally not a great fan of romances. I think Nalini Singh has generally done a very excellent job with the Guild Hunter series by working well with many of the tropes that make me despair so in romance - but this book, i think takes it to an extra level

 

I think because Holly and Venom could be SOOO TROPEY. She is wounded and vulnerable and hurting after suffering terrible abuse and *gasp* he may even have to kill her if she turns out to be dangerous *angstangstangst woe!* and he is so much older and more powerful than her. And she doesn’t have clearance but wants to be involved and he is protective and sheltering and there would be Spunky Agency as she does, just, ALL the stupid things and he will lock her up for their own protection and every scene will be full of them hating each other while spending entire paragraphs commenting on each other’s arms/muscles/breasts/eyebrows/belly buttons.

 

And none of this happens! Yes, Holly has had a deeply traumatic past, yes it still haunts her and yes she has flashbacks and nightmares. But that doesn’t mean anyone - not Dimitri, not Venom, no-one - is putting her in a little box to keep her safe nor does it render her incapable of being a valued member of the team. Yes Venom is much older and more powerful than Holly, but he easily recognises the unique power and abilities she has, respects her as a force to be reckoned with, helps work with her to develop those powers (though, even better, Dimitri is the one who assumes the role of mentor and their ENTIRELY NON ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP is paternal) without in any way regarding her as anything but an equal. Young, but an equal - and age is something she can acquire. And yes, her unexpected powers means she may be unpredictable and dangerous which both are wary about - but also mature and sensible and recognise why it this is the case and don’t dwell on it. And while Venom comes to love her not once, not one time, does he decide to put her in a small box and protect her. He will recognise when his skills are more appropriate but he is happy to work with her on operations and doesn’t spend time angsting that ZOMG SHE IS IN DANGER. And he even recognises there are times when she even has skills and contacts and abilities that he doesn’t have.

 

And while they do both acknowledge the attractiveness of the other they spend far far far far more time on banter and sarcastic insults than ever they do on drooling. And it’s so much fun.

 

I can’t stress enough how much this relationship flies in the face of so many established tropes - laying the foundation for all of these and then not running down the same very very very very very very tired paths


Another element I love is Holly’s family - she has one. And not in a “terrible liability I will angst over” sense - but they’re a vital part in her life. She has a sister she loves, two little brothers she cares a lot about and, above all, two living parents (I KNOW! I was shocked too!). They love her, they’re involved in her life and she thinks about them a lot. She calls them often, she spends time with them, she cares about them. They matter and it’s warm and wonderful and I love it. Similarly the digging into Venom’s backstory, though angsty, isn’t used to dump a truck load of angst everywhere in exchange for characterisation but actually gives a surprising depth to a character who could, very easily, have been the silent sexy snake guy

 

We also have some nice moments looking at vampires - and angels - who aren’t super awesome and beautiful and powerful and amazing which is a nice twist considering the super powered awesomeness we’ve seen in the last nine books. It also looks at angel society in a more in depth way, reminding us there is a vampiric underclass: we get to see both the very understandable judgement of those with immense power and potential doing absolutely nothing with all their advantages and life - but also seeing the really brutal cruelty that grinds up and destroys good people who certainly deserve a lot better. Venom’s attitude contrasts very nicely with Holly to both give her experiences outside his but also to show how much the cruelty of society is less “some people abuse the system” and more an accepted part of the system itself.

 

From that I also really love that the moment when Holly starts to melt to Venom seem less after especially witty banter, or his extreme hotness or him saving her - but when he shows kindness to people who are weak, vulnerable and, by their society, completely beneath him.

 

 

Read More

 

 

 

Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/07/archangels-viper-guild-hunter-11-by.html
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review 2018-07-21 15:00
No bullshit romance
Silver Silence - Nalini Singh

Big thanks to Ceridwen and her guidance, because I really liked this one.

 

The world is rich but understandable enough, and the author does not go for info-dumping to ensure it. So, from my point of view, extra kudos for being self-contained.

 

I don't know how the romance works in other volumes, but there were a lot of positives for me in this one:

 

- There is a very alpha male. He's very protective, sure. But he's respectful. And he wants his mate to be his equal. Everyone equates capacity for being alpha with capacity for love.

 

- Consent is a huge thing in-world. At some point, the main male character says consent once does not imply consent again. Like wow, how come we don't see that often. So sexy.

 

- Main female character is BAMF. Actually, everyone is BAMF, even the grandmother. World of BAMF. But what I like is that it is in a quiet way. We don't see her engage in any huge display of power here, but it's always there, in the dialogue, her hyper-competence, the way she attends to her looks and literally calls it armor, the no-bullshit directness.

 

- Directly related to that one, the way the romance progresses in a no-bullshit way. Given the uber-praticality of anyone in Silence, and Valentin's commitment it makes sense. It translates into fast paced and big on communication. There are hurdles, but it's more an external, plot related thing. Little to do with hysterical angsty push and pull. Like I said, no bullshit. Such a relief.

 

I don't know that I will love all of the books in this series, but what I see I like, and will certainly read more Singh soon

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review 2018-07-09 22:06
Ocean Light
Ocean Light - Nalini Singh

If I believed in such a thing, the Psy-Changeling series would be a "guilty pleasure." While I don't believe in guilt-reading -- that's ridiculous -- there are aspects of the series that make me me feel kinda embarrassed. Any romance involving one of the changelings -- and they are always predatory changelings -- is so hopelessly mired in kinky Victorian notions of biological determinism and dominance and submission. I mean, that's usually what you find in animal shifter narratives, so Singh isn't outside the norm, but I know I'm going to have to grit my teeth through that stuff to get to the extremely cool mythology she's been spinning for almost 20 novels now. (I don't have the same problem with the Psy, who are Vulcan-like psychics, because their romances tend to center around recovery from severe abuse and personal sexual awakening, which I find much more interesting than YOU MAH WOMAN GRARR.)

 

Technically, Psy-Changeling wrapped up with Allegiance of Honor, which was a sort of clip show, where we checked back in with literally everyone who had ever been mentioned in the previous 14 books. I get why it was written that way, but romance epilogues make my teeth ache, and this was more than a dozen of them all piled up. It was also a letdown because the previous three novels, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, and Shards of Hope, are hands down the best novels in the series. Singh brings all of her complicated mythology to full flower in those novels, and in ways that make the romance plot absolutely integral to the narrative. Heart of Obsidian especially. That they're a dozen novels deep in a series makes them even more impressive; Singh had the opposite of burnout. 

 

Silver Silence, the novel directly previous to Ocean Light, was the first of the novels in Psy-Changeling Trinity, which details life after the fall of Silence (a form of widespread social conditioning practiced by the Psy designed to repress all emotion.) Like Ocean Light, it follows a character seen on the periphery for most of the series: Silver Mercant, personal assistant to all-around badass Kaleb Krychek. She falls in with a bear pack outside of Moscow, which was interesting because we've never seen bear changelings in action before. Bear changelings end up being annoying, but then they're not as drearily serious as either the cats or the wolves, so on the balance more fun to read about.

 

Like Silver Silence, Ocean Light centers on a peripheral group, one that has heretofore been shrouded in mystery: the BlackSea pack, the changeling clan that encompasses the entirety of the earth's oceans. Even the land-bound changelings think of them as out there. While we've encountered some of the BlackSea characters in Psy-Changeling novels, specifically Miane, the alpha, and her security guy, the pack itself has been secretive. BlackSea takes in Bowen Knight, head of the Human Alliance, in order for BlackSea scientists to remove a degrading chip in Knight's head. We've met Bowen many times before. As the head of the Human Alliance, he's tangled with both the Psy and changelings (both of whom tend to treat humans like butt monkeys).

 

The romance largely consists of Bowen and the BlackSea chef, Kaia, making eyes at one another while agonizing about how Bowen might die from a medical procedure. It's not particularly compelling. The non-romance plot has to do with ongoing kidnappings of BlackSea members, kidnappings that seem to be perpetrated by the Human Alliance. Knight and Miane's security guy work towards figuring out who the traitors in their organizations must be, but mostly through phone calls and data searches, so that plot-line isn't particularly compelling either. There is some movement at the very end, but reading about a grueling transatlantic flight isn't exactly action either. 

 

BlackSea itself, though, was interesting to read about. There’s still a fair amount we don’t know about the pack – pack members tend to be especially secretive about what their animal is – but the underwater city was beautifully rendered. While shifter narratives almost never address bestiality – and I am not suggesting they should – there was an ongoing tentacle-sex gag going on here that surprised a laugh out of me. All considered, Ocean Light was fine, but I felt like more could have been done with both BlackSea and Bowen Knight, alas.  

 

 

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review 2018-07-07 01:41
Sliver Silence - Nalini Singh

I generally don't care for the changeling parings as too many fight the bond (and if the heroine is psy, the hero's first thought seems to be "kill her").  Valentin however, saw his mate, and is making her notice him one way or the other.  She, when she thought about it, realized her Silence was failing as she didn't send him packing.

 

Naturally, there must be some kink in this - hero happy to have found The One, heroine realizing there's something about him, and accepting him makes for a short story.  She's a telepath...and she hears everything.  Being Silent allowed her to block that aspect of her classification.  By not being Silent, her barriers started failing fast.  Surgery was elected.  Her grandmother pointed out to him that he could have suggested options - I imagine if she'd pulled from the Psy-net, the noise would have been more bearable.

 

In any case, the surgery made her emotionless.  The bond refused to be denied, and the H making himself present sped things along.

 

At the end of the book - Bo is in a coma, having gotten between a sniper and his sister, and not expected to survive.  Since the latest book is about him...

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review 2018-07-02 16:58
Audio Book Review: Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity #1) By Nalini Singh
Silver Silence - Nalini Singh

 

I can't say that this book was worth 16 hours of my time. The sad truth is that the first 8 hours or so started off amazingly well. The writing style wasn't a favorite of mine and helped this story drag along in certain moments. At times it was unnecessarily descriptive and other times it skimmed certain details that had me feeling left out. That was my fault and only got exacerbated by my brilliant idea of starting this series off as what feels like a crucial point that I didn't have enough of a backstory to fully grasp.

 

Silver started off as a very interesting character but proved to be predictable and a carbon copy of her "alpha" grandmother. I disliked how she started referring to herself as Silver insert f-bomb here Mercant after Valentin said it. I also didn't like how people would praise her for standing up for herself where her mate was concerned. What was she supposed to do? Cower in a corner and ask him to maybe hold her hand? I'd also like to mention how almost everything went back to her being a "Mercant". I didn't understand why she and other characters would bring it up randomly throughout the story in a few high-stakes situations.

 

Valentin was an interesting character, but his arrogance and "dominance" (AKA pushy-ness) were annoying and overpowering. The only thing that saved him from being hated was the way he respected Silver enough to let her stand up to him without having his ego bruised.

 

The world of paranormal creatures and technology that this author created is incredible! This story didn't do it justice. I suspect if I read this series in chronological order I would have understood everything in more detail, but after this experience and the length of this audio book I'm somewhat skeptical of it all. This story could have been cut down into a 10 to 12 hour audio book easily considering how the last 4 hours dragged because barely anything was happening. In conclusion, I was overwhelmed with how much was going on in the background (plotwise) and that ended up affecting the overall story for me.

 

Please Note: I started reading this book last year and finished it because I had already invested 9+ hours of my life to it so the least I could do was get it over with. With that being said the story building was completely lost on me because I took such a long "break" from this story when it started to go downhill. Also, to say I was overwhelmed with the sheer number of characters and Russian names is putting it mildly!

 

The Audio Book:

 

The narrator had an amazing range of believable male, female and child voices with and without foreign accents! This is probably the second or third narrator I've come across that can do all that so well and not become grating in the long term.

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