Book Critique – Kiss of Snow (Psy-Changeling #10)

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

Stars: 3.5 / 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.

Kiss of Snow is the tenth book in the long running Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh, published in May of 2011. The primary plot revolves around Hawke Snow - Alpha of SnowDancer Wolf Changeling - and Sienna Lauren - a Psy defected to the wolf pack.

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 tenth book in the parent series. Nalini continues to keep her focus on the SnowDancer Wolf Changelings with this much awaited story of Hawke and Sienna. It is set still in 2081 two months after the events in the previous book Play of Passion.

We have met both Hawke Snow and Sienna Lauren in the very first book, Slave to Sensation. Serious attraction brews between them and keeps increasing as each book progressed in the series. Along with them the anticipation of what is happening with the dynamics between the Psy and the Changelings kept on increasing for the readers, and in the previous book Play of Passion, it did reach a high note in the powerful sea of tales that Nalini has spun for us so far. And now we reach crescendo in the form of this much awaited story of Hawke and Sienna.

While Hawke and Sienna finally face their attraction and decide to act on it, the enemy that has been threatening the Changeling packs comes to a Mexican stand-off with them. Now it's up to Hawke and Sienna and the two Changeling packs to face their enemy and come out as the winning team, lest the world goes into a chaos.

A powerful dominant and an alpha would definitely have a strong woman destined for him by the author. And true to that Nalini gives Sienna such a strong personality even though she is a mere nineteen years old. She has a spine of steel with a heart as soft, and can go toe to toe with a certain alpha who has the gall to fight the attraction between them. 

We had seen a blazing flame between Lara, the pack healer and Walker Lauren, the defected Psy, Sienna's uncle. Nalini continues to fan the flames in this plot. What surprised me was the way she parallels the Hawke-Sienna story with Lara-Walker plot. Both romances are so similar and yet so very different.

One thing about the mating bond that Nalini shows in her series I like is the way the male and female can feel each other's feelings and pains so they can help each other and bond better in their life. The part especially I liked is the way the male acknowledges and appreciates the pregnancy pains that a female goes through. Not many men in this world understand that and they take women for granted,

Nalini has been giving her readers a treat since the previous book Play of Passion. She lists out the main cast of characters that we have been seeing since the beginning. She continues to sneak in various eco-friendly concepts and futuristic things in her plots. In this we see: fused patches of skin and plas (something similar to bandages but blend with skin tones); green system using natural power of water to supply power.

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. 

One thing I did miss in her Psy-Changeling series are the battle scenes and actual fights the protagonists and antagonists face. She had described a lot of strategies but when it came to the fights, her scenes were minimal. But in this book she has a full-on battle between the Changelings and the rogue Psy, and the scenes were alive in front of the reader's eyes. 

I couldn’t stand biting my nails and wait for the next day to finish the book, when I almost reached the end; and ended up reading super fast. And then I had to go back and read the last 25% of the book again to get to see all the grooves and deep ridges of the plot.

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. And definitely some of the concepts are beyond imaginable. She does leave a lot of inconsequential details and new characters introduced, which we know will form meat for future plots.

A good continuation to a long running series in a fantasy world 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. Alice Eldridge was first mentioned in Branded by Fire and for some reason I did think she would come back again. True to my guess, we see that Kaleb finds her in a cryonic suspension and hands her to Judd who brings her to SnowDancer Den. At the end we see that she briefly wakes up but goes back into a deep coma.

b. We saw Cooper, a Sr. Lieutenant, courting another wolf in Play of Passion. In this plot, Nalini has him mated to her, Grace. A story  we will perhaps see soon.

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. Obsidian archive, a backup to PsyNet.

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. 

iv. SnowDancer Web - LaurenNet, Lauren family's Psy network, disintegrates and with Hawke and Sienna's mating bond, all the Lauren family get pulled into Hawke and his bond with his Lieutenants forming this new web. Walker acts as valve for Sienna's X power.

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, runs from Moscow; Anthony Kyriakus, head of the PsyClan NightStart begetting F-Psy, 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); Vasquez (Henry Scott's aide)

iii. Remaining Lauren Family - Introduced first in Slave to Sensation. Walker; Toby (Sienna's brother, their dead sister Kristine's kids); Marlee, Walker's daughter. Defectors into the SnowDancer territory. Yelene was biological mother to Marlee

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.

v. In Visions of Heat, we see:

1) Faith NightStar is mentioned to have a cousin, Sahara. 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. A few pointers Nalini throws in Blaze of Memory pointing to my guess.

e. Arrow Squad - First introduced in Visions of Heat. Pledge 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); Gutierrez; Suhana; Abbot

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; form 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 get 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. 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. Sara, a human intern with the DarkRiver; Lily (Bowen's adopted sister); Father Xavier Perez (human, first introduced in Caressed by Ice, searching for a woman)

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. They have a girl, Nadia "Naya" Shayla Hunter, in this plot. 

2) Other packmates - Kit and his sister Rina Monaghan; Zara (a wildcat); Ria, a human mated to Emmet (she is pregnant as of  Play of Passion); 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, pack 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 (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. 

2) Other packmates - Dalton (librarian); Tai (dating Evangeline, Indigo's sister, in this plot); Lucy (assistant to Lara); Elias, his mate Yuki & daughter Sakura; Greg; D'Arn & his human mate Sing-Lui; Ben (a wolf pup wanting to mate with Marlee); Kieran (a human); Adria (Indigo's aunt, has a lover Martin); Joshua; Brace; Sylvia; Maria & Lake (a couple); Riordan; Simran; Ines; Mariska; Sam;

3) Hawke's Lieutenants - Indigo Riviere (mated to Andrew "Drew" Liam Kincaid, Story told in Play of Passion); 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" (mated to Grace); Tomas; 

4) All of Hawke's Lieutenants are introduced in Play of Passion with a few romance angles.

a) Walker Lauren and Lara mate in this plot. Lara's family is brought to light as well - mother Aisha and father Mack. But a few unanswered questions about Walker makes me think that Nalini will have a story for them again perhaps.

b) Kenji and Jem are fighting sparks; 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 introduced in Mine to Possess. Members - Teijan (Alpha); Suyi; Zane;

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 introduced in Beat of Temptation. Remington "Remi" (Alpha); Finn (Healer)

xiii. WinterFire Leopard Changelings in North Dakota. First mentioned in Play of Passion.

xiv. BlackSea Changeling Coalition - First mentioned in this plot; coalition of all water-based changelings across the world.

xv. StoneWater Changelings - First mentioned in this plot.

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

a. On Pg. 344, Line 6, it should be "…going to be able…"


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