Published July 18, 2023
This is the latest instalment in the Psy-Changeling paranormal romance series, about an alternate future world where various animal shapeshifters coexist with, and often fall madly in love with, the previously emotionless Psy race, who look human, but have various special mental powers. Each book follows the same formula for the romance, with at least one character believing themselves irreparably damaged by past trauma, only to be cured by the power of lurve. I don’t think these work as stand-alones – I’ve read them all in order, but you probably can start with the “Trinity” second season, beginning with “Silver Silence.”
Theodora Marshall is a low-gradient Psy who was separated from her powerful twin Pax (who has appeared as a shady not-quite-villain in previous books) as a child, and tortured into becoming an accomplice to murder by her evil, megalomaniac, but now dead grandfather, Marshall Hyde. Sent to Russia to investigate a decommissioned Psy treatment centre, she is to be escorted by local bear changeling Yacov Stepynev – who recognises her as the woman who has haunted his dreams for years – but now they are nightmares where he is powerless to prevent her murder.
While normally I hate Romance as a genre, and periodically think that I should just give up on this series, but then Nalini captures my interest again with whatever’s going on in the Psy-Net.The appeal here is the ongoing saga of competing factions, mysterious killers, family politics, and the incredibly developed unique world she has created. This one felt longer than usual, perhaps because the pace was rather slow – there’s a lot less action, and a lot more talking. Ironically some reviewers have been disappointed by the reduction in number and spice of the sex scenes, whereas this was a big plus for me. Conversely, I’m disappointed to see some reviewers one-star this simply because it features a same sex (male) pairing as the secondary couple, which was actually very sweet and has been coming for a while, and one very tame love scene between them. It’s shocking to me that in 2023, people complain that they should’ve been warned that a book features a man who loves a man!
A big improvement was the dialling down of the usual flowery repetitive descriptions of each main character’s eyes, hair and scent – it’s still there, but nowhere near as much as in previous books. There is a lot of repetition about bear natures and habits, and about Theo’s broken psyche – and uncomfortably frequent references to the physical and emotional abuse she suffered as a child. As ever, I enjoyed the cameo appearances by characters from the previous books, and the backstory of Yacov’s ancestor, and the murder mystery were well done – I didn’t guess the identity of the killer. I didn’t like the title which bears no relation to anything in the story whatsoever.
Overall, if you already like this series, this is a solid instalment, but not one of the best. While I like the bears, and the scenes of den life, I’m bored with them as romantic heroes, and hope she either goes back to one of the older characters for her next pairing, or at least sorts out poor Pax.