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Book Critique – Play of Passion (Psy-Changeling #9)

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

Stars: 3 / 5

My Recommendation: An exciting continuation into a series 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 there is romance, passion, war, friendship, loyalties and betrayals along the line. 

Play of Passion is the ninth book in the long running Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh, published in November of 2010. The primary plot revolves around Andrew "Drew" Liam Kincaid - Brenna Kincaid's brother and a SnowDancer Wolf Soldier - and Indigo "Indy" Riviere - a SnowDancer Wolf Lieutenant. The plot is still set in 2081.

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 when I picked it's spin-off, Psy-Changeling Trinity Series, here is my take on the ninth book in the parent series. Nalini brings her focus back on to the SnowDancer Wolf Changelings. I was wondering why she had put them on a low key for so long. We have been given only a partial glimpse of the clan that makes the larger part of the series.  It's about time she focus on them now. 

We have met both Andrew Kincaid and Indigo Riviere in the very first book and slowly they have been evolving. And in Branded by Fire, we also see that Mercy Smith, the DarkRiver Leopard Sentinel, sends her friend, Hamilton, a sentinel from SilverBlade Leopard Changeling, towards Indigo in the hopes that they would mate. But to my surprise, Nalini had Indigo paired with Andrew instead. Guess Andrew spoke to her more than Hamilton.

Andrew "Drew" Kincaid, an easy-go lucky kind of wolf changeling, but is the critical soldier for their alpha, Hawke. Indigo Riviere is Senior Lieutenant for Hawke. So when sparks start flying between them, though Drew want to act up on it, Indigo does not want anything to do with it. More because Drew's brother, Riley, is her colleague and good friend, and above all Drew is four years younger to her. And now Hawke assigns them both to handle the juveniles and almost-going rogue wolfs, try to get them back into the pack. Being in such close proximity with Drew, will Indigo take the leap and fall?

Just like the title suggests, the plot is indeed a play of passion, focused on passion of every kind - towards their mates, their family, their pack and above all towards the betterment of people. Surprisingly Nalini had similar tales for both the Kincaid brothers. With Riley in Branded by Fire and with Andrew in this, both have extensively physical and sexual scenes with their mates compared to the other heroes or heroines she had. Eye candy type lush stories we get.

Nalini gives a treat to the readers with this book. She lists out the main cast of characters that we have been seeing since the beginning. Helps a lot for readers who come in first time or repeat readers who might have forgotten what few characters were since she floats a lo of them in her plots.

Also she gives the true capacity of SnowDancer Changelings with this plot. Which means we will expect to see more stories focusing on them for sure. She continues to sneak in various eco-friendly concepts and futuristic things in her plots. 

This is the second book I am reading of Nalini where she has heroine older than her hero. First one I read was the Cherish Hard, the first book in the Hard Play series. An interesting spin to see between two dominant people when the age difference is added to the mix. 

What I like about Nalini's books is that although the primary story revolves around the hero and heroine, she has sub-plots with other characters that are equally important. She doesn’t leave them astray, as opposed to some other authors I have read. The other element that she explored with this plot is the deep bonds between the male counterparts, be it SnowDancer or DarkRiver Clans. We had seen a bit of it in earlier books, but in this she gives it a prominent place. 

With the past two books, Nalini has been taking the readers on a wave that is rising higher and higher as the series is progressing. As she put, something is brewing and it is begging to come out. Pretty soon that wave may reach it's crescendo, I believe. And with this plot it does feel like we are reaching the high note in the first wave of this powerful sea of tales.

Like her other series (GuildHunter, Rock Kiss or Hard Play), there is romance and more in the plot with hidden humor that lightens the plot, taking the sting of the darkness away. She has some repeat paraphrasing along with considerable number of editorial errors. And definitely some of the futuristic concepts and technical jargon are beyond imaginable that I am able to get a grasp on. She does leave a lot of inconsequential details and new characters introduced, which would most definitely form meat for future plots.

A good continuation to a long running series in a fantasy word filled with Psy, Changeling and Humans, where Changelings and Humans starting to stake their claim to level the playfield that otherwise was owned by Psy. Nalini has a lot of open-ended sub-plots in here that is definitely making me to look forward to read the next book as soon as possible.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Indigo's family includes - her mother Tarah; father Abel; sister Evangeline; her aunt Adria.

b. Adria has a lover Martin.

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. With introduction of Bowen, the Human Alliance Security Chief in Branded by Fire, I am not sure whose story I want to see next - Kaleb Krycheck, the Psy Cardinal or Hawke, the SnowDancer Alpha or Bowen. All three of them have captured my mind. Cant wait to read their stories.

c. Psy terms:

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

ii. NetMind - the central governing factor of PsyNet. It's twin DarkMind houses everything negative.

iii. Web of Stars - the network that Sascha forms with Lucas', 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. 

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

i. Psy Council: Nikita Duncan, mother of Sascha Duncan, runs from California; Tatiana Rika-Smythe, runs from Australia; Ming LeBon runs from France; Shoshanna and Henry Scott, only Psy couple, run from London; Kaleb Krychek, head of the PsyClan NightStart begetting F-Psy, runs from Mosco; Anthony Kyriakus runs from California.

ii. Other Psy: 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); Samuel Rain (a robotics expert); Keisha Bale (An M-Psy); Tanique Gray (Faith's brother, an Ps-Psy);

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 by their own psy network LaurenNet. Sienna is now a trainee soldier, bonds with Kit, a DarkRiver soldier..

iv. Anchors: Though essential to the PsyNet, yet they could go rogue and turn into serial killers as seen from the first book, Slave to Sensation. At least 50 of them so far identified of which three have been taken care of.

v. In Visions of Heat, we see:

1) Faith Night Star has a cousin Sahara, but only mentioned. Somehow I think she will surface soon.

2) There are unexplained reasons as to why Faith's sister Marine was targeted by the Psy Serial Killer.

vi. Kaleb has a vision for the square beneath his official buildings. Wonder where Nalini will bring this up again. He is also searching for the owner of a star-shaped platinum charm. Someone was trying to hack into Kaleb's mind in Bonds of Justice. As the series is progressing he is growing more and more, increasing the reader's craving for his story.

vii. In Caressed by Ice, Psy Council is faced with a new enemy called Ghost, infiltering the Psy. We continue to see him. I have a distinct feeling it is Kaleb Krychek, but we have to wait and see. A few pointers Nalini throws in Blaze of Memory did point to my guess.

e. Arrow Squad - First introduced in Visions of Heat. Give allegiance to Kaleb Krychek in Bonds of Justice.

i. Aden - Unofficial Leader. First introduced in Blaze of Memory. Medic-in-charge.

ii. Members: Vasic (First introduced in Hostage to Pleasure).

iii. In Blaze of Memory, Katya shoots Ming LeBon and the Arrows put him in a sealed chamber. However, in Bonds of Justice we see Ming attending Council meetings on the Psychic plane. 

f. Forgotten Psy - First mentioned in Caressed by Ice; left PsyNet forming their own ShadowNet post-Silence.

i. Their descendant are mostly gifted human children with newer abilities; their ancestors having mated with Changelings and Humans.

ii. Devraj "Dev" Santos is their official leader. He marries Ekaterina "Katya" Haas, an M-Psy. Story told in Blaze of Memory.

iii. Other members: Rangi (Guardian); Dr. Glen Herriford; Jonquil "Jon" Alexi Duchslaya, a fourteen year old rescued from Psy Anchors from experimentation; Noor Hassan, rescued along with Jon. Keenan, Ashaya's son want to marry her one day; Aubry (Vice-Director); Aryan (Guardian); Tag & Tiara (telepaths and a couple); Cruz (a child telepath); Maggie (Dev's secretary); Connor (a doctor); Eva (the manager); 

iv. Jon and Noor are adopted by DarkRiver.

g. 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. Bowen "Bo" - First introduced in Branded by Fire. Human Alliance Security Chief; takes over the Alliance after the Chairman is killed to lead the Human Alliance for a better and stronger species along-side Psy and Changelings; 9 other men and women support him. I have a feeling we will see more of him soon.

iii. Alice Eldridge - First mentioned in Branded by Fire. Presumed killed. Had researched extensively on E-Psy and X-Psy. 

iv. Max Shannon - assigned as Security Chief for Council Nikita Duncan, married to Sophia Russo, a J-Psy also assigned as Advisor to Nikita. Story told in Bonds of Justice.

v. Other members: Sara, a human intern with the DarkRiver; Lily (Bowen's adopted sister).

h. 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 - Alpha, a black panther. Mated to Sascha Duncan, an E-Psy. Story told in Slave to Sensation. Sascha is pregnant as of Branded by Fire.

2) Other packmates - Kit and his sister Rina Monaghan; Zara (a wildcat); Ria, a human mated to Emmet, is pregnant as of this plot; Tara; Nico, Cory, Jason, Nicki, Aaron, Mia and Sarah (juveniles); Lysa; Cian; Jamie; Desiree and her mother Meenakshi; Barker; Joe (owner of Joe's Bar); Keely (Pack historian); Owen; Monroe; Nicki (apprentice historian); Sage "Herb", Bastien "Bas" and Grey (Mercy's brothers)

3) Lucas's Sentinels (second-in commands) - Nathan "Nate" Ryder (mated to Tamsyn "Tammy" Mahaire 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 (mated to Ashaya Aliene, an M-Psy. Story told in Hostage to Pleasure); Mercy Smith (mated to SnowDancer Lieutenant Riley Aedan Kincaid. Story told in Branded by Fire).

4) In Stroke of Enticement, Annie, Zach's mate, was rescued by a very young Cardinal Psy boy. The description reminded me of Kaleb Krychek. Is that who he would become?

ii. SnowDancer Wolves with their territory in California

1) Hawke - Alpha. Sienna and Hawke have serious attraction that keeps increasing since they were introduced.

2) Other packmates - Dalton (librarian); Tai; Lucy; Elias & his mate Yuki; Greg; D'Arn & his human mate Sing-Lui; Ben (a wolf pup wanting to mate with Marlee); Kieran (a human); Adria (Indigo's aunt); Joshua; Brace; Sylvia

3) Hawke's Lieutenants - Indigo; Riley Aedan Kincaid (Mated to Mercy Smith, a DarkRiver Sentinel, Story told in Branded by Fire); Judd Lauren (an Arrow Squad Psy, mated to Brenna Shane Kincaid. Story told in Caressed by Ice); Garnet "Jem"; Riaz; Kenji; Alexei; Mathias; Cooper "Coop"; Tomas; 

4) Hawke has Ten Lieutenants. So far we have seen or heard of only 4. Remaining we see them in this plot, with a lot of pairing going on alluding to more plots.

a) Walker Lauren and Lara, the healer, seem to have a romantic angle going on between them. 

b) Kenji and Jem seem to have a romantic angle going on as well; while Cooper is courting a submissive female wolf; And Riaz's mate is human and already married to a good man.

iii. BlackEdge Wolves with their territory in Moscow. First mentioned in Caressed by Ice. Selenka Durev is their alpha. 

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 (Alpha); Suyi; 

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

viii. Lynx Changelings. First introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Baker Family - Iain and Enid and their son Nash and daughter Willow.

ix. SilverBlade Leopard Changelings. First introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Hamilton (A Sentinel)

x. AzureSun Leopard Changelings in Brazil. First introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Isabella (Alpha. Grandmother of Mercy); Eduardo and Joaquin (Sentinels)

xi. WindHaven Falcon Changelings. First introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Adam (Wing Leader); Naia(healer); Jacques (second to Adam)

xii. RainFire Leopard Changelings in the Smokies. First mentioned in Beat of Temptation. Members: Remington "Remi" (Alpha); Finn (Healer)

xiii. WinterFire Leopard Changelings in North Dakota. First mentioned in this plot.

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