For those fans of the amazing Psy-Changeling series, who like me, have been waiting for this book for a couple of years now... the wait is over and Hawke’s book is finally here. I am going to say right up front that this series is my absolute favorite out there, and I highly recommend to anyone that has not yet picked it up to do so. But PLEASE start at the beginning, and not with this book. This book is so special and amazing because of the emotionally investment in Ms. Singh’s characters and the time spent wrapped up in their world and events. For reading order and more information on this series, visit Nalini’s website HERE. http://www.nalinisingh.com/psy.php
Kiss of Snow begins where the previous novel, Play of Passion ends (my review HERE). http://twimom227.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-play-of-passion.html Like the previous book, the primary setting for this story are the territories and home of the Changeling wolf-pack, the SnowDancers. This story focuses on the pack alpha (leader), Hawke, and the young Psy packmate, Sienna. Sienna and her family defected from the Psynet and faked their own deaths approximately 3 years prior to timing of this story. Each member of the Lauren family has significant mental capabilities and were slated for “rehabilitation” in the Psy world. Sienna is a rare X-designation Cardinal Psy with unknown deadly potential. (You learn a LOT more about what this means in the book, but there is also a lot left open ended with respect to the X-designation and what it means for Sienna and the SnowDancers.)
Most of the readers of this series saw this pairing coming a while ago, but there were all sorts of questions and concerns raised by many fans... First there is that little age difference issue over which several people raised flags. Hawke is in his mid-30s (I think?) and Sienna is a young pup at only 19 years old. I will admit, I was one of those that felt Sienna was going to be too young for Hawke, but not because of their physical age difference, rather in the level of their maturity. She was prone to temper tantrums in earlier books. Yet I put my faith in Nalini’s phenomenal story telling skills (who began to lay good groundwork in Play of Passion), and she did not disappoint. I am now one of Sienna’s biggest fans. With each event that passed or memory relayed, we learned that Sienna is wise beyond her nineteen years. She is an amazing woman, mature yet playful and more than able to handle the dominating Hawke.
Then we have the “mating issue.” Readers of the series were told early on (book 1 maybe?) that changelings mate for life and only have one mate. We were also told that Hawke’s mate died when they were both kids. Without giving any spoilers, I will say that I am completely satisfied with they way Ms. Singh addressed the mating concerns and how the whole mating storyline played out in Kiss of Snow. In fact, I feel that her handling of these two complex characters was some of the best storytelling I have read. They were playful, sensual and serious. Each had to learn to give and bend in order to have a successful relationship. And no matter how frustrated Sienna got with Hawke’s lack of full-on commitment, she was able to look at the relationship with both her analytical Psy mind and her loving emotional wolf heart, which provided for a wonderfully emotional tale.
One aspect of the story that was a bit different than others in this series is the split focus on two couples during the story. Although the central story flowed around Sienna and Hawke, we also witnessed the blossoming romance between Sienna’s uncle, Walker Lauren, and the wolf-pack healer, Lara. The duality of the two pairs was an entertaining and interest way to demonstrate the different ways a Changeling and Psy can experience friendship, love and mating. Both males are dominant, but one a Psy and one the SnowDancer alpha - both females are strong and looking for a bond that may never exist with the male they have given their heart.
Another great thing about this book is that the story constantly moves forward. There is very little backtracking. There are no frivolous spats or unnecessary lover’s quarrels. I felt that each page contributed positively towards the whole story. In addition, we get to catch up with several other key characters in both the Snowdancer and DarkRiver packs. We witness the birth of Lucas and Sascha’s child and learn more about the Lauren family unit. All of these pieces together make for a solid reading experience that stays with the reader even when the book has been put away.
Finally, I have to mention the on-going conflict with the Psy race, specifically Henry Scott who began to attack the San Francisco based Changelings in earnest during the last book. The war with the Psys most certainly escalades Kiss of Snow, but it is in no way close to being over. There is more large-scale action in this book than any of the previous stories, but there are still no clearcut winners.
I read one time on Ms. Singh’s blog that Kiss of Snow was to be the end of one story arc and now we will jump into another one with the eleventh book. To be honest, I am not really sure what “ended.” There was progress made in the war with the Psys, but no real resolutions. We still don’t know who the Ghost is or what his ultimate goals are. We have no clue what mysteries Psy Councilor Kaleb Krychek keeps. The only thing I can think of is that maybe the series will pull away from the SnowDancer and DarkRiver packs, with the focus shifting to other Changeling communities (possibly in Kaleb’s neck of the woods?!) Regardless of where Ms. Singh takes us on her journey, I am along for the ride with a front row seat.
4.5 stars: Loved it - enthusiastically recommend (A)