As I'm a Nalini Singh fangirl, this will be an ungraded review. :)
Mine to Possess is book 4 in the Changeling/Psy series. For the best reading of this book you really do need to have read the first three books in the series. As well as Clay and Talin's story which I think it's perfectly possible to enjoy as a standalone, there is also a major arc being played out over the course of the series, which you really need to have read from the beginning.
Clay Bennett is the half human/half Changeling sentinel of the DarkRiver leopard clan. Growing up he had to repress his animal nature, but one day it erupted in an act of violence which ended with him in jail and his best friend Talin deciding it would be better off if he thought she were dead. The years go by and now Talin is in trouble, and needs Clays help. But he's still walking the fine edge of violence, so as well as making a future together, they also have to resolve the troubles of their past.
I'm not sure why this has sat on my TBR pile for so long. I love the Psy/Changeling series and now I've read it, I love Mine to Possess. Maybe I just needed the break.
Let's deal with Talin and Clay first. The thing that's different between this book and the others in the series is that Talin and Clay already have a relationship. What they are doing here is forgiving the mistakes of the past and learning to move on. But because of this the relationship at the beginning is somewhat combative. Clay pushes and Talin stands her ground, and they have a lot that they need to resolve.
"What happened to you, Tally?"Clay is a very solitary and brooding character and he knows it's possible he could turn rogue if he gives in to the violence inside of him. Faith (from Visions of Heat) is particularly protective of him, and is more than a little questioning of Talin's motives. Talin in turn can't help but feel jealous of Faith and the perceived place she has in Clay's life.
To begin with there are quite a few misunderstandings between our hero and heroine, and usually I'd be tempted to say they just need to talk. But in this case they both have so much baggage from the past and a major crisis to deal with in the present that it takes a lot for them to make it over that first barrier. But it makes it all the more worth it when they do. :)
We learn more about Changeling society. This is one of the best things about the series, the fact that Nalini Singh makes it clear that neither the Changeling, Psy or human way is perfect. For example the rats of Down Below are given the stark choice of either allying with Dark River or being made to leave the city. Each species has it's flaws and talents, which makes Sascha's conclusions at the end of the story very interesting. We also find out about more Changeling species, and some very intriguing hints are dropped about the snakes.
The major arc of the story continues. The Psy are forging ahead with their plan to create a hive mind and are coming scarily close to achieving their goal. Luckily the unknown saboteur The Ghost is continuing to be a thorn in their side. New characters I want to know more about - Devraj Santos and the rat leader Teijan. And must just mention we get a brief glimpse of a shirtless Kaleb. LOL
There are multiple points of view, but they are skillfully woven into the fabric of the story, so they neither feel intrusive or surplus to the plot. Everything here serves to push the story forward, and we have plenty of time with Talin and Clay to appreciate how their relationship develops. We also have a nice catch-up with the other Dark River couples mainly through Talin's interactions with Faith, Tamsyn and Sascha, this is beautifully organic to the plot. Highly recommend series.
One good thing about waiting so long before reading this book, is that the wait for the next one is that much shorter. :) Hostage to Pleasure is out in September.