Wednesday 23 July 2008

Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh


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?"
..."I broke."
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.

(Giveaway Closed)

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Wicked Deeds on a Winters Night by Kresley Cole

Number 4 in the Immortals After Dark series published in 2007. WDOAWN got stuck on my TBR pile because I never seemed to get around to reading book 2.

WDOAWN is Bowen and Mariketa's story and partly takes place at the same time as NRFTW (Are you following these acronyms?) during the Talisman's Hie, so I think it would be helpful if you're familiar with that book. Bowen if you remember was after the prize so he could go back in time and save his mate. During the Hie he trapped Mariketa and several other supernaturals. Unfortunately this has upset (to put it mildly) their supernatural races and is threatening to start a major interspecies incident. So it falls to Bowen to go and rescue Mariketa. But that's just the beginning.

With every book in this series I'm hooked more. They just seem to keep getting better and better, which is great if a little worrying.

The glue that holds this whole story together is Bowen and Mariketa's relationship. There's quite a bit of other external stuff going on - The Talisman's Hie, interfering Valkyries, lots more intriguing hints dropped about other characters - mainly the proper introduction of Rydstrom and Cade (they have a younger sister) and who exactly is stalking Regin? (Aside - so glad that Cade has got his own book.)

Their relationship basically starts off as a confrontation and though they have a chemistry between them Bowen is far too caught up in the need to win the Hie and save his mate. So he betrays Mariketa and traps her to prevent her continuing with the Hie. Not the best way to start a courtship. It's only after he goes back to rescue her and they have to work together to escape the jungle that the spark between them becomes something more. But the course of their love isn't going to run smoothly, just when it seems everything has come into place for them the past rises up to bite Bowen on the ass, and he has to decide who and what he really wants.

So let's start with the hero. I like Bowen (more than Mariketa). I liked him in the previous books and I like him here. He's one of those characters who doesn't really have a filter between his brain and his mouth. Maybe this is a Lykae trait as I seem to remember Lachlain from AHLNO being similar. When he feels it is deeply and completely. Even when he loses the Hie, he still asks Wroth if he used the key both times. He never gives up. And he also knows himself very well.
Today he'd learned that she didn't proffer blood sacrifices at an altar - always a gratifying detail to learn about a potential mate.
Mariketa, she's young and in some ways immature. She lies to Bowen about how often she's using her powers even though it's dangerous for her to do so. Some of her behaviour is understandable. He wants her to contain an essential part of herself - akin to her asking him to give up his animal instinct. But sometimes in romances you feel like shouting at the protagonists - just talk to one another damnit!
"Just give me five minutes to get dressed...Five goddamned minutes, Mariketa!"
"Toxic goddamned relationship, Bowen!"
Yep, Bowen makes perhaps one of the biggest mistakes it's possible for a man to make. Despite all the confrontations in their relationship, there's something warm and fuzzy about it too.

But eventually (as with Lachlain) Bowen comes to a realisation of what he has in Mariketa. Though it takes nearly losing her to open his eyes and his heart. Certain scenes Kresley Cole writes so well, she puts you through the wringer. Then just when you think they've finally got it together she takes it away from you, and makes the protagonists work even harder for their happy ending.

And she never lets her protagonists say I love you before time. Even though there are confusions, eventually her characters talk to one another and when they finally open up it feels real and it works.

This is one of my favourite series and even though the next one has a ghost for a heroine :sigh: (I don't really do ghost stories). I'm cautiously looking forward to it.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Twilight Fall by Lynn Viehl


Phew! Haven't done one of those in a while. For anyone new to my blog, that's just a little warning that I'm not quite as objective as usual.

Twilight Fall is the sixth and penultimate book in the Darkyn series. For anyone looking to get into the Darkyn books I can't recommend that you start here, you really need to go back to the beginning with If Angels Burn.

Twilight Fall is Valentin Jaus's story. He has popped up a couple of times, but his first major appearance was in Bk 2 Private Demon, when he lost the woman he loved and had his arm chopped off. TF finds him in a kind of holding pattern, but all of that is about to change as he meets Liling Harper a woman with extraordinary talents of her own. Unbeknownst to the two of them, their enemies are closing in and are determined to see them dead.

As always in the Darkyn books this is a multi-plotline story. Michael and Alex's story continues, Val and Lilings relationship blooms, John Keller's story reaches breaking point (HAH! to all those readers who thought he was insignificant and wished him out of the storyline).We find out more about what the Brethren have been up to and none of it's pretty. We also catch up with Jayr & Byrne (from Evermore), Luisa, the woman who was horrifically scarred at the beginning of the series, and we're starting to learn how fire is a significant thing for both the Brethren and the Darkyn. I think when all seven books are available it will be well worth reading back over the series and finding out how all the clues fit together.

We also have the introduction of a new 'species' for want of a better word. I think of them as elementals as they have power over fire or water. Initially I did have a problem with this and wondered if it was getting a little fantastical for me. But at the end of the story I think it works. Some people may question how much coincidence plays in the plotline, but here I'm not sure how far the influence of the Brethren extends, it's not clear how much they know. So it may be less coincidence and more good planning, LOL - or it could be coincidence.

As you can tell from the above there is a lot packed into this book. Most of it leading back to previous books and starting to bring plot threads together.

Like Evermore this book has a much more sexual feel to it. Valentin is dominant which I think is something he repressed during his time with Jema. However it is this dominant side of him that attracts Liling. There are no whips or chains, its very much played out mentally rather than physically. And all these Darkyn men are so like Michael.
"You are my sygkenis. You belong to me now, Liling..."
Liling has a quiet strentgh, and even though she chooses to submit to Valentin sexually. Everyone else would do well to treat her with caution. She may appear fragile, but at her core she's steel.

One of the best things about this series (for me) is Michael and Alex, they have been the major arc holding the series together.
"I could tie you to the bed, you know."
"No, you can't. It's round and you don't have any rope."
And they prove that a love story written after the first happy ending is just as enthralling as the initial get together. They are one of my favourite UF couples and have some brilliant scenes here. It's also interesting to read about Alex's relationship with her brother - when is she going to look at him and truly see him?

John Keller's storyline as I mentioned before takes a huge leap forward. I think once all seven books are out and I re-read the entire series, his will be one of the most interesting arcs to rediscover. And I couldn't end this review without mentioning Rain and Farlae. Over at her Paperback Writer blog, Lynn Viehl has said she's been e-mailed by fans hoping for a short story featuring them, and I definitely add myself to that number. They have two short scenes in Twilight Fall and steal the show in both of them.

A quick mention for Melanie and Kyan. Just beause they have some wonderful exchanges.
...He offered her the bottle again, but she turned her head. "You are thirsty. Drink."
"You are an asshole. Fuck off."
I find myself wondering if it's significant that the Methodist preacher uses the same Einstein quote that Melanie was supposedly writing an essay on - "We must learn to see the world anew,"

The Darkyn series is dark, real and intense. Some readers I think, find it too non linear and not neat enough. But I'm going to miss this series. If I could have a wishlist for Book 7 - the final book :sob:. It would be that as well as Robin's story, we'd have some closure for John and Luisa. Their plotlines have been there since the beginning and I can't wait to find out how Lynn Viehl's going to tie it all together.