"Play of Passion," Nalini Singh

Pros: Lovely characters; unusual world; interesting ongoing plot; stands alone well; sizzling-hot sex
Cons: Helps if you keep up with the series; Indigo’s stubbornness gets a tad frustrating, even if it is understandable
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Drew Kincaid is the tracker for the SnowDancer pack, outside the traditional pack structure. Despite his charming and playful exterior, he’s the one wolf tough enough to track down changelings who have lost control to their animals, and kill them if necessary. He’s used to facing tough problems—but when he finds himself fighting for the love of one lieutenant Indigo Riviere, he has no idea where to even start. Somehow he keeps doing the wrong things, pushing her away instead of drawing her close.

Indigo is the highest-ranking female in the pack, a dominant alpha who needs an equal to challenge her. Unfortunately, Drew doesn’t exactly have a status that’s easy to pin down, and she’s seen what happens when someone like her ends up with a dominant male of slightly lower stature. There’s no way she’s going to let that happen, particularly if it would mean destroying the friendship she and Drew share. But no matter how hard she tries, she keeps being drawn to the sweet, handsome, fiery man.

Indigo and Drew won’t be given a nice, quiet time in which to figure things out, either. The Council is up to no good as usual, planning something that intrudes upon pack territory; it’s going to take the combined resources of the cats and the wolves to figure it out and hopefully keep everyone safe.


 

Nalini Singh’s Play of Passion is every bit as passionate as advertised! Indigo and Drew have lovely chemistry, and their passion sears the pages. Singh does a fantastic job with her characters, imbuing them with plenty of personality and individuality. I did eventually get a bit frustrated with Indigo’s hard-headedness. It was developed well, with plenty of background to it, but the romance staple of characters who insist on believing that they’re doing the right thing by making themselves and their mate miserable has gotten pretty old. It’s also gotten harder and harder to buy into.

On series novels standing alone: I do hold the viewpoint that any series that goes beyond about three books and that doesn’t have “Book X of the Y series” on the covers should have novels that are capable of standing alone. These days there are just too many series to keep track of. And since many series last much longer than mere trilogies, and print runs are smaller than they used to be, it’s entirely possible for the early books in a series to be out of print by the time later books come out. Either way, it’s much easier for an author to pick up new readers if the books at least make sense when read individually. The Psy-Changeling novels fall roughly in the middle here. The ongoing difficulties with the Council, the relationships between the different types of changelings, and the large cast of characters can make it difficult to keep up without reading every book. That said, Ms. Singh does a remarkable job of including enough information that you’re likely to be able to get the gist of things even if you haven’t managed to keep up with the entire series. It’s certainly best to read the whole series in order, but you should be able to get the idea of whether you’d enjoy the world from a later book.

I enjoy Ms. Singh’s take on changelings (shapeshifters) and on psychics. It’s different enough from the vast number of others out there that the books retain a distinct feel of their own, despite so much competition. In particularly I love seeing the different sorts of relationships that develop between members of the pack with different statuses. The relationship between Indigo and Drew is definitely the main focus of the book, but the ongoing problems with the Council add some nice suspense and tension to things. You’ll also get to see glimpses of plenty of characters from previous books. I loved Play of Passion and read it pretty much in one sitting!

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