Book Critique – Stroke of Enticement (Psy-Changeling #3.5)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

My Recommendation: Another good novella that would give the readers a glimpse into the Psy-Changeling world, filled with Psy, Changeling and Humans, who are living together, ruled by Psy but the other two races making the playing field even. Of course we get to see more of those smaller characters who do add more to the tapestry.

Stroke of Enticement is the second novella in the long-running Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh, first published in the anthology The Magical Christmas Cat in October of 2008 and later published as part of Wild Invitation anthology in March of 2013. The primary plot revolves around Angelica "Annie" Kildaire - a Human teacher for the Changelings - and Zachary "Zach" Quinn - a DarkRiver Leopard ranger. 

Psy-Changeling series focuses on three races living side-by-side on Earth - The icy Psy who rule the world but are facing the fall of Silence; the Changelings of varied kind with natural mental barriers to fight the unwanted entry of any Psy into their brains; and the Humans considered the weaker of the three but have decided to level the playing field. The series shows the readers to the downfall of Psy, their drawbacks, why all three races are needed for survival of each other, and above all finding mates across races thus disintegrating the walls further.

In continuing with the series that intrigued me when I picked it's spin-off, Psy-Changeling Trinity Series, here is my take on the second novella in the parent series. The plot time is set sometime during the plot of Mine to Possess in 2080.

In Mine to Possess, we see that Clay and Talin attend a DarkRiver Changeling party welcoming Zach's mate. I was curious to see who was Zach, his mate and also how does such a party look like. True to my curiosity, Nalini gives us Zach's story here along with the welcoming party to Zach's mate.

Annie Kildare, a Human teacher for the Changelings, never once imagined her to be the center of attention for anyone, and not in the least for a very rugged and very handsome DarkRiver Leopard Ranger. But that is exactly what she becomes to Zachary "Zach" Quinn. For she is his mate. And Zach would do anything to keep her to himself for life, forever, and always.

I found this plot a bit unbelievable, mostly on the fact that in a day Zach and Annie fall in love and look forward to live together. Perhaps the bond of mating works like that, or perhaps it is what we call humans as "love at first sight". But, it was a bit unbelievable plot for me.

Despite that there is considerable amount of playfulness to the love story between Zach and Annie that makes you laugh and cry at the same time. Since this plot is set after a good many books have been published, some of the characters that were young in the previous novella, have their stories completed or are full-grown in this plot.

In the two books I had read so far in the spin-off series, Nalini Singh had introduced far more advanced scientific technology that some are more cutting edge and some are very very futuristic. We see beginnings of that advancement in this plot, where Nalini brings technology that is unheard of into her narration.

Again the novella is definitely geared towards hot passion and soul-binding romance all through. This is purely a story of love, romance, family dynamics and all about courting one's mate. A cute little novella that keeps you smiling, sighing and rooting for Zach and Annie till the end. 

Another good novella that would give the readers a glimpse into the Psy-Changeling world, luring them to pick up the series immediately. Cant wait to continue with the next book in the series soon.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Zach Quinn's family includes - his grandmother Cerise; his first younger sister Jesse, brother-in-law Joe and nephews Bryan and Liam; and second younger sister Poppy; his baby twin sisters Lissa and Noelle; Bryan has a crush on his classmate, Katie.

b. Annie Kildaire's family includes her mother Kimberly and father Erik; her cousin Caroline "Caro".

c. When Annie was a child, she was rescued from an accident by a very young Psy boy with Cardinal eyes. The description reminded me of Kaleb Krychek. Is that who he would become? Definitely need to see Kaleb's story fast, if I may say so. 

2. Sub-Plots: 

a. There are several Psy Designations that are thrown around by the author Nalini Singh. I wondered if there was a list of all of them some where. And true to that, some fan had posted about them here.

b. Psy terms:

i. Silence Protocol - Introduced first in 1969, conditions Psy to not feel any emotions so they can perform better. 

ii. Enforcement - similar to the Law Enforcement.

iii. PsyNet - Psychic Network that the Psy are connected to through minds.

iv. NetMind - the central controlling factor of PsyNet, the policeman and librarian encompassed together. It's twin DarkMind houses everything negative.

v. Web of Stars - the network that Sascha forms with Lucas's minds, his sentinels and their mates minds. With Talin, a human, joining in Mine to Possess, it becomes a true triumvirate with all three species joined together. 

vi. Cassandra Spiral - The ultimate cascade of a Psy who was breaking from Silence and being unsuccessful.

c. Various Psy we would see as the series progresses:

i. Psy Council (a panel of Psy that ruled the world with an iron fist) - Nikita Duncan, mother of Sascha Duncan; Tatiana Rika-Smythe, youngest to become a Councilor; Ming LeBon; Shoshanna and Henry Scott, only Psy couple on the council; Kaleb Krychek; Anthony Kyriakus.

ii. Latham; Sione (an F-Psy from PsyClan Pacific Rose); Juniper (8yr old F-Psy); Gia Khan (an M-Psy); Silver Mercant (Kaleb's sr. personal assistant, introduced in Caressed by Ice, tasked by Kaleb to connect with Pure Psy and spy on); Lenik (Kaleb's admin assistant); Ekaterina (presumed dead).

iii. Remaining Lauren Family - Introduced first in Slave to Sensation. Walker; Sienna and Toby, their dead sister's kids; Marlee, Walker's daughter. Defectors into the SnowDancer territory, interlinked to their own psy network LaurenNet. Sienna and Hawke have a strong attraction since their introduction. Indigo is assigned to train Sienna in Visions of Heat.

iv. In Slave to Sensation, we see that Shoshanna and Henry Scott, the Psy Council couple, are looking for some kind of markers in Sascha's family. They have concern on one of the youngest Psy male. Who is that?

v. Anchors: In the very first book, Slave to Sensation, Nalini alludes to at least 50 Psy serial killers who are protected by the Council as their psychic connection is needed in the PsyNet. So far three of them have been taken care of.

vi. In Visions of Heat, we see:

1) Faith NightStar's father Anthony Kyriakus is the governing force of the PsyClan NightStar- the clan of Psy that begets atleast one F-Psy in every generation. He is also the leader of a quiet revolution in the Psy. She has a brother Tanique Gray and a cousin Sahara.

2) Faith's sister Marine is killed by the Psy Serial Killer. However, there are still unexplained reasons as to why she was targeted as of that plot.

vii. With more of Kaleb Krychek we see as the series progresses, he sounds more and more like an antagonist as opposed to a protagonist, especially now that we know that he can talk to DarkMind and NetMind. He is searching for the owner of a star-shaped platinum charm. Now I am craving for a story of Kaleb as well while I wait for Hawke's story to come out.

viii. In Caressed by Ice, we see that the Psy Council is faced with a new enemy who calls himself Ghost, who is infiltering the Psy to destroy them systematically. I have a distinct feeling it is Kaleb Krychek, but we have to wait and see.

ix. Kaleb runs the Moscow region and he has a vision for the square beneath his official buildings. Wonder where Nalini will bring this up again.

x. Solias King, a Psy, is apparently trying to encroach into the DarkRiver territory, with his aide and son Kinshasa in the novella Beat of Temptation. Will he surface again?

xi. In Hostage to Pleasure, a Tk-Psy and a surgeon Psy aids the DarkRiver Changelings and Ashaya. Who are these new ones?

d. Arrow Squad - First introduced in Visions of Heat. 

i. Vasic - First introduced in this plot. 

e. Forgotten Psy - Psy who never had linked to the PsyNet when Silence Protocol was implemented over a century ago. First mentioned in Caressed by Ice.

i. The descendants of these Forgotten Psy are gifted human with newer abilities. Their ancestors having mated with Changelings and Humans surviving in their own network, ShadowNet.

ii. Jonquil "Johnny D" Alexi Duchslaya, a fourteen year old ex-gang member, is one of the direct descendants of Duchslaya Yurev, a cardinal telepath. He is rescued from the facility where he was held by Psy Anchors for experimentation in Hostage to Pleasure.

iii. Noor Hassan, another child rescued from the same facility. Keenan, Ashaya's son want to marry Noor one day.

iv. Devraj Santos - Director of the Shine Foundation that helps kids get off street, trained and educated. Rangi was the Guardian of San Francisco Shine Branch. The Foundation is gathering these descendants, training and educating them and keeping them safe.

f. Humans that we see along the course of the series:

i. 18th Century Territorial Wars - Adrian Kenner, a human, had been the one to help draft laws that ended he Changeling wars. 

ii. The Human Alliance - Human Conglomeration representing the supposed weaker species of the three. Based in Venice. And proves to be as lethal as Psy and Changeling in their own way in Hostage to Pleasure. However, will Nalini show their positive side as well like the other two species?

iii. Max Shannon - a Human police detective with strong mental shields, introduced first in Mine to Possess. After a brutal attack on him, last we know is he is recuperating in a secured Changeling facility.

g. Various Changelings we see during the course of the series are

i. DarkRiver Leopards with their territory in San Francisco and surrounding areas.

1) Lucas Hunter their alpha, a black panther. Mated to Sascha Duncan, an E-Psy. Story told in Slave to Sensation.

2) Other Leopards and pack mates - Kit and his sister Rina Monaghan; Zara (a wildcat, distant cousin); Ria, a human mated to DarkRiver leopard; Tara; Nico, Cory, Jason "Jase", Nicki, Aaron, Mia and Sarah (juveniles); Lysa; Cian; Jamie; Desiree "Dezi" and her mother Meenakshi "Meena"; Barker; Joe (owner of Joe's Bar that Changelings and Humans frequent); Cian; Jonquil and Noor (adopted Forgotten Psy descendants).

3) Lucas's Sentinels (second-in commands) - Nathan "Nate" mated to Tamsyn "Tammy" their healer and have twin sons Roman and Julian, Story told in Beat of Temptation; Vaughn D'Angelo (mated to Faith NightStar, an F-Psy, Story told in Visions of Heat); Clay Bennett (mated to Talin "Tally" McKade, a human. Story told in Mine to Possess); Dorian Christensen (mated to Ashaya Aliene, an M-Psy. Story told in Hostage to Pleasure); Mercy

4) In Mine to Possess, Mercy is assigned as liaison with the SnowDarncer Wolves representative, Riley. And she seems to be poked at by Riley in this plot. A definite segue that the next plot would be between Mercy and Riley.

ii. SnowDancer Wolves with their territory in California

1) Hawke is their alpha. He has captured my interest more than the actual hero and heroines of any plot he appears in. I cant wait to read his story.

2) Other Wolves and packmates we see - Andrew "Drew" Liam Kincaid - Brenna's brother; Lara (their healer); Dalton (librarian); Tai; Lucy; Elias (a soldier); Greg; D'Arn & his human mate Sing-Lui; Ben (a wolf pup with designs to mate with Marlee when he grows up); 

3) Hawke's lieutenants - Indigo; Riley (Brenna's brother); Judd Lauren (an Arrow Squad Psy, mated to Brenna Shane Kincaid. Story told in Caressed by Ice)

iii. BlackEdge Wolves with their territory in Moscow. First mentioned in Caressed by Ice.

iv. DawnSky Deer - First mentioned in Caressed by Ice.

v. PineWood Hyenas - First mentioned in Caressed by Ice. Members: Kevin; Mahal; Lou-Ann;

vi. Rats Changelings. First mentioned in Mine to Possess. Members: Teijan (their alpha); Suyi; 

vii. Snake Changelings. First mentioned in Mine to Possess plot.

3. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 95, in a conversation between Zach and Annie, she has Zach ask Annie, "Still hurts?". But on Pg. 101, when Annie thinks back to the conversation, the question changes to "Does it hurt?"

b. On Pg. 120, Line 11, shouldn’t it be "…Odds are, he has…"


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