Kiss of Snow—Nalini Singh
"I'm fine." White grooves bracketed his mouth.
"How bad," she said, "would it suck to have 'stupid moron died of shock' on your gravestone?" (167)
Thoughts on Slave to Sensation, Psy-Changeling #1
Thoughts on Visions of Heat, Psy-Changeling #2
Kiss of Snow is the tenth book in the Psy-Changeling series, focused on Hawke and Sienna, who we got a glimpse of in the first book. Sienna is (once-again) a type of psy that we haven't seen before and about which the world at large knows little to nothing. The wolves and Sienna's psy family are trying to covertly find a study that was rumored to have been done decades earlier about the X-psy, but to no avail. (Although we, as the reader, get snippets of it.) While dealing with how to contain burning up from the inside out, Sienna also has to manage the distant but still jealous stylings of Hawke, the wolf pack alpha. He thinks he can't be with her because his one "Mate" died when he was ten and she was five. (It's totally cool, guys—they didn't consummate their Mate-hood, just reveled in the fact that it was coming down the pike the second they're of age.) Of course, the day is saved! At the last minute, they save Sienna from destroying everyone with her near atomic-bomb energy and even help them evade an evil faction of Psy. Huzzah!
I somehow got myself into reading like seven Nalini Singh books in a row—I think they all happened to be available at the library at the same time—which is not necessarily a bad thing, but they do tend to have male leads who I'm not fond of, so...
Regardless, I liked this one better than the other two in this series that I read. This is actually number 10 in the series, so I skipped ahead quite a bit. Fortunately—or unfortunately—I feel like that didn't impact my comprehension of this story at all. Also, that is not the cover that was on my version of the book, but I liked it better than what I think was a naked man torso so I used it instead. Sometimes a girl likes a little mystery, boys.
Sienna was so much closer to being realistically snarky and standing up for herself against Hawke, at least compared to the other two heroines that I've experienced in this series. There's a point where he comes to basically throw her over his shoulder angrily and cart her away from the bar that she's dancing on, and he basically berates her for acting sexually with what are essentially animals. (Changelings. Same thing.) They have this exchange:
"So you knew that, and still you amped up the sexual energy in the room?"The truck was suddenly too small, too confined, Hawke's hotly masculine scent seeping into her very pores, touching parts of her no man had ever stroked. "It wasn't my responsibility."So I appreciated that she stood up for herself, especially about this particular subject.
"No." A sudden crash of anger. "I'm not accountable for everyone..." (65)
Hawke was kind of meh stereotypical possessive, changeling male for me. He did have the subplot of having lost his Mate and thinking that he wouldn't be able to offer anyone anything like that relationship. (This ends up being an erroneous conclusion.) He mentions that Sienna smells like spice twenty times in the book. (Thank you, Kindle search feature.) But there wasn't anything spectacular or particularly compelling about Hawke to me. Which was interesting, because when I read the first book, they teased Hawke and Sienna and they are the couple I most wanted to read about. I can't remember exactly why that was...
I loved that there was more going on in the book than just the drama with Sienna and Hawke's relationship. We see Lara and Walker (a changeling and psy, respectively) acknowledging their feelings for each other, we find out more about the political machinations that are happening in the psy world, we hear about some of the featured characters from other books. Overall, the worldbuilding just felt more well rounded in this one than in the two that I read before, which both focused almost exclusively on the budding relationship.
I mean, I didn't necessarily understand the conflict. Hawke had feelings for Sienna, but felt he couldn't act on them because he couldn't give her all the things that went along with being his Mate. But at some point, Sienna realizes that Hawke is thinking about his long-gone mate: "But for the first time, Sienna didn't turn away, didn't yield to a ghost—she'd listened, she'd learned, so she knew that while it was harder than in a mating, changelings could and did have children in long-term, committed relationships." (201) Like, how is that different from a Mating? Because you're not cosmically connected? Ugh.
There were also some interesting/strange language things. Like at one point, Hawke's hands tighten on the "manual steering wheel." Um, as far as I know, there's a manual transmission vehicle, but no vehicle with a manual steering wheel. Or rather, they're all manual steering wheel unless you have one of those Google cars that drives itself. There was also a moment where her boots are described as "fuck-you boots" and I've always heard of them as "fuck me boots." So that was a little weird.
I just read the first book in Singh's Guild Hunter series, Angel's Blood, and in general like that one much better at first interaction than I did this series, so I'll probably abandon this one (at least for a while) and read those books. And the million others that are on my TBR shelf. Le sigh.