Book Critique – Secrets at Midnight (Psy-Changeling #12.5)

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 there is romance, passion, war, friendship, loyalties and betrayals along the line. 

Secrets of Midnight is the sixth novella in the long running Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh, published in November of 2014 in the anthology Night Shift. Nalini co-authored with three other authors - Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin and Milla Vane. The primary plot revolves around Bastien Michael Smith - a DarkRiver Leopard Changeling - and Kirby Rosario - a Lynx Changeling.

Psy-Changeling series focuses on three races living side-by-side on Earth - The icy Psy who rule the world struggling with fall of Silence; the Changelings with natural mental barriers to fight the Psy invasion; and the Humans considered the weakest have decided to level the playing field. The series takes the readers through 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 next novella in the parent series. Nalini brings back the focus to DarkRiver Leopard Changelings with this plot which is set right after the events in Heart of Obsidian.

We first met Bastien Smith in the sixth book Branded By Fire. He is one of the three brothers of Mercy Smith, a DarkRiver Leopard Sentinel. When Nalini introduced more about Mercy's brothers in that plot, I had a feeling we would see them again. It was a toss up as to whom she would have picked. Well, we get Bastien's story in this.

I had written review of this novella three years ago, but writing it again since I am re-reading it as part of the whole series. 

When Bastien's mother forced him to be part of her book club luncheon ruse turned to matchmaking in the guise of making him help her, he didn’t know he would find the very person whom he had been looking for weeks, whose smell had eluded him oh so subtly. Yet, when he finally finds Kirby Rosario, there are more questions than answers for him. Together they travel the path of finding themselves, each other and eventually lost in depths of love towards each other.

Different from her other plots, Nalini centered the plot purely around Bastien and Kirby, although she has shades of other characters included at key places; a bit more focused than how her plots go traditionally. She also gave us the taste of finding one's roots and ancestry in this, almost like charting a family tree.

A shy yet strong person with a side of humor is what we see in Kirby when she moves through the lines. Dominant and protective yet sensitive to his partner is what Bastien comes out as. They complement each other perfectly creating less tremors while they are going through the dance of mating. Nalini, however, brings out the core strength and powerful love between them as well.

She continues to sneak in various eco-friendly concepts and futuristic things in her plots. In this we see: jetcycle (perhaps a high-powered motorcycle).

Another sweet little tale that gives the readers more insight into of this fantastic series. A good novella that would give the readers a glimpse into the Psy-Changeling world, luring them to pick up the series immediately. 

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Bastien deals with DarkRiver's financial assets, while Kirby is a kindergarten teacher at a school with changelings and human.

b. Kirby finds that she belongs to a Lynx Changeling pack in Calgary, Canada.

2. Sub-Plots: 

a. Several Psy Designations are mentioned in the series which this fandom detailed here.

b. Psy terms:

i. NetMind - the central governing factor of PsyNet. It's twin DarkMind collects all negative. Obsidian Archive, a backup to PsyNet.

ii. Web of Stars - the network that Sascha forms with Lucas, his sentinels' and their mates' minds. With Talin, a human, joining makes it a true triumvirate. 

iii. SnowDancer Web - the network formed with Hawke and Sienna's mating bond, pulling the Lauren family in and extends to his Lieutenants and their mates. Walker acts as valve for Sienna's X power.

iv. Ruling Coalition: Nikita Duncan; Kaleb Krychek (mated to Sahara Kyriakus, an F-Psy, in Heart of Obsidian); Anthony Kyriakus; President of Empathic Collective

v. Honeycomb Protocol - The colorful new PsyNet connected by Empaths to all Psy across the world, guarded by the Arrows.

vi. Empathic Collective - formed by 5 empaths including Sascha Duncan from across the world, Ivy Jane is President; Sahara Kyriakus as specialist; Alice Elridge as Consultant.

c. Various Psy:

i. Ex-Councilors: Ming LeBon; Shoshanna Scott

ii. Other Psy: Latham; Sione; Juniper; Gia Khan; Silver Mercant (Kaleb's sr. personal assistant, introduced in Caressed by Ice); Lenik (Kaleb's admin assistant); Samuel Rain; Keisha Bale; Tanique Gray (Faith's brother); Clara Alvarez; Chang; Concetta; Teri; Dechen; Isaiah; Brigitte; Gwen Jane & Carter Hirsch (Ivy Jane's parents); Zie Zen (Vasic's great-grandfather)

iii. Kaleb has a vision for the square beneath his official buildings. A short story perhaps. 

iv. Amara, Ashaya's twin, gets distracted by one of the males working in her lab in Tangle of Need.

v. In Heart of Obsidian:

1) To avenge Sahara, Kaleb imprisons and tortures ex-Councilor Tatiana Rika-Smythe.

2) Sahara feels she owes Judd and Xavier for keeping Kaleb sane. A short story perhaps.

3) Nalini connected every knick-knack in Kaleb's home to a shared memory between him and Sahara except for one single piece of twisted metal. A short story for it?

vi. In Shield of Winter:

1) Isaiah and Concetta seemed to bond, although Isaiah is injured in that plot.

2) Silver Mercant sets up the worldwide rapid-response network, Arrows work directly with her to be sent to critical situation locations.

d. Arrow Squad:

i. Aden Kai - Leader. Introduced in Blaze of Memory.

ii. Members & Defected Arrows who settled in Venice: Vasic Zen (mated to Ivy Jane, an E-Psy, in Shield of Winter); Gutierrez; Suhana; Abbot (Bonds with Jaya, an E-Psy in Shield of Winter); Alejandro; Zaira; Sione; Stefan; Amin; Ella; 

e. Forgotten Psy - Introduced in Caressed by Ice; Defected Psy with their own ShadowNet post-Silence.

i. Devraj "Dev" Santos is their leader, marries Ekaterina "Katya" Haas, an M-Psy, in Blaze of Memory.

ii. Members: Rangi; Dr. Glen Herriford; Jonquil "Jon" Alexi Duchslaya (a 14 year old rescued from Psy Anchors imprisonment); Noor Hassan (rescued along with Jon. Keenan, Ashaya's son want to marry her); Aubry; Aryan; Tag & Tiara; Cruz; Maggie; Dr. Connor; Eva;

iii. In Heart of Obsidian, one of the female Forgotten assists in the catastrophe by Vasquez; who is mated to a DarkRiver male. Who is she?

f. Humans:

i. 18th Century Territorial (Changeling) Wars - Adrian Kenner had help draft laws that ended the war.

ii. Bowen "Bo" - Introduced in Branded by Fire. Human Alliance Security Chief; striving to make the Alliance a strong and powerful one along-side Psy and Changelings; 9 other men and women support him.

iii. Alice Eldridge - Introduced in Branded by Fire. Rescued by Kaleb from a century of cryogenic suspension and handed to SnowDancers in Kiss of Snow; Consultant to Empathic Coalition.

iv. Max Shannon - Security Chief for Nikita Duncan, married to Sophia Russo in Bonds of Justice, a J-Psy.

v. Sara; Lily (Bowen's adopted sister); Father Xavier Perez (introduced in Caressed by Ice, yet to meet his Nina); Lisette & Emil.

g. Various Changelings:

i. DarkRiver Leopards (Territory: San Francisco)

1) Lucas Hunter - Alpha. Mated to Sascha Duncan, an E-Psy, in Slave to Sensation. In Kiss of Snow, they have a girl, Nadia "Naya" Shayla Hunter.

2) Packmates - Kit & Rina Monaghan; Zara; Tara; Nico; Cory; Jason; Nicki; Aaron; Mia; Sarah; Lysa; Cian; Jamie; Desiree & her mother Meenakshi; Barker; Joe; Keely; Owen; Monroe; Nicki; Sage "Herb" and Grey (Remaining Mercy's brothers)

3) Sentinels- Nathan "Nate" Ryder (mated to Tamsyn "Tammy" Mahaire, healer, have twin sons Roman and Julian, Story in Beat of Temptation); Vaughn D'Angelo (mated to Faith NightStar, an F-Psy, in Visions of Heat); Clay Bennett (mated to Talin "Tally" McKade, a human, in Mine to Possess); Dorian (mated to Ashaya Aliene, an M-Psy,  in Hostage to Pleasure); Mercy Smith (mated to SnowDancer Lieutenant Riley Aedan Kincaid, in Branded by Fire), pregnant with multiples in Tangle of Need).

4) Other Couples:

a) Emmet, mated to Ria Wembley, a human, in Whisper of Sin; pregnant in Play of Passion.

b) Zachary "Zach" Quinn, mated to Angelica "Anne" Kildaire, a human, in Stroke of Enticement, pregnant in Texture of Intimacy.

ii. SnowDancer Wolves (Territory: California)

1) Hawke - Alpha. Mated to Sienna Lauren, an X-Psy, in Kiss of Snow.

2) Packmates - Dalton; Lucy; Kieran (a human); Joshua; Brace; Sylvia; Maria & Lake; Riordan; Simran; Ines; Mariska; Sam Baker (a human); Mack; Nell; Shawnelle; Ivy; Becca; Pierce; Felix; Vivienne & Todd (Twins); Daniel; Margo; Vitoria; Sebastian; Paul; Elizabeth; Diego; Revel & Pia  (siblings)

3) Lieutenants - Judd Lauren (an Arrow Squad Psy, mated to Brenna Shane Kincaid, in Caressed by Ice); Riley Aedan Kincaid; Indigo Riviere (mated to Andrew "Drew" Liam Kincaid, a SnowDancer Tracker, in Play of Passion); Riaz Delgado (mated to Adria Morgan, a SnowDancer Sr. Soldier, in Tangle of Need); Cooper "Coop" Shaw (mated to Grace Burke in Declaration of Courtship); Garnet "Jem"; Kenji Tanaka; Alexei; Mathias; Tomas; 

4) More Stories:

a) Kenji and Jem are fighting sparks.

b) Drew and Indigo are set to take over Alexei's sector in a month while Alexei to come back to the den as of Tangle of Need. 

5) Other Couples:

a) Tai, dating Evangeline, Indigo's sister, since Kiss of Snow.

b) Elias, his mate Yuki & daughter Sakura

c) Greg; D'Arn & his human mate Sing-Lui

d) Spencer & Ava Stone, their son Ben (wanting to mate with Marlee)

e) Shamus Lopez & his mate Emma

f) Tarah & Abel - Indigo and Evie's parents

g) Melina and James - Grace's adopted parents

h) Aisha & Mack - Lara's parents

6) In Declaration of Courtship, Nalini leaves the accidental death of Cooper's parents unsolved.

7) In Texture of Intimacy:

a) Judd hands over a data crystal to Walker containing details about children who are still in the Arrow Squad's training program.

b) Riordan, is interested in Noelle, sister of Zach Quinn, a DarkRiver leopard changeling.

c) Lara and her assistant Lucy are looking for a dedicated admin person.

8) In Shield of Winter, Hawke and Sienna's plan to eliminate Ming takes a little detour in the wake of fallen Silence.

iii. BlackEdge Wolves in Moscow. First mentioned in Caressed by Ice. Selenka Durev (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. Introduced in Mine to Possess. Members - Teijan (Alpha); Suyi; Zane;

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

viii. Lynx Changelings. Introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Baker Family - Iain & Enid; son Nash; daughter Willow.

ix. SilverBlade Leopards. Introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Hamilton (A Sentinel)

x. AzureSun Leopards in Brazil. Introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Isabella (Alpha. Grandmother of Mercy); Eduardo and Joaquin (Sentinels).

xi. WindHaven Falcons. Introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Adam Garrett (Wing Leader); Naia (healer); Jacques (second to Adam)

xii. RainFire Leopards in Smokies. Introduced in Beat of Temptation. Remington "Remi" (Alpha); Finn (Healer)

xiii. WinterFire Leopards in North Dakota. First mentioned in Play of Passion.

xiv. BlackSea Changeling Coalition aka Conclave - First mentioned in Kiss of Snow. Members: Miane Leveque (Leader, introduced in Tangle of Need); Emani Berg; Malachi;

xv. StoneWater Bears - First mentioned in Kiss of Snow.

xvi. WhiteSteppe Wolves in Siberia. First mentioned in Tangle of Need.

xvii. WaterSky Eagles in New York. Introduced in Shield of Winter.


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