Friday, June 27, 2014

REVIEW: "Shield of Winter" by Nalini Singh

Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling, #13)
Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh
For Ages 18+ (Violence, Language, Sensuality)
Paranormal Romance

Berkeley -- Published on June 3, 2014
Hardcover, 431 pages
Read in June 2014
Purchased from Amazon

Alpha Hero, Virgin Hero, Tortured Hero, Tormented Heroine, Shifters

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she'll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

"There was nothing left of the man he'd been."

Warning!  This review contains minor spoilers for earlier books in the Psy-Changeling series.

The world of the Psy changed forever at the conclusion of Heart of Obsidian with Kaleb Krychek putting an end to the Silence that has been the norm for decades.  Now, this unique species is forced to figure out how to live with their emotions and battle the rapidly increasing infection that is oozing through the Psy Net.  One way that they believe they can fight the disease is by utilizing the powers of the E-Psy or empaths who are in hiding due to the former mistrust of them during the years of Silence.  In order to increase the success off this experiment, Kaleb reaches out to the Arrows, a military-like order, to keep the empaths safe and help them learn how to use their powers.

Vasic is one of the heads of the Arrows and is the most powerful teleporter in the Net.  He and his fellow soldiers have been trained to be completely unfeeling in order to properly protect Psy interests.  Now that Silence has fallen, the Arrows have decided that they will devote their lives to helping the Psy population adjust to their new world and keep the innocent safe.  Vasic is assigned to Ivy Jane, an empath who lives in seclusion with her parents after she was tortured when it was revealed that her Silence was flawed.  Shield of Winter tells the story of Vasic and Ivy as they figure out this new world and how to trust one another enough to help save it.

Anybody who reads my blog on a regular basis knows that I have a soft spot for stoic heroes.  There is something that I find so attractive about their stubbornness plus they are usually tortured for one reason or another which is another draw for me.  Vasic is one of the sexiest and heartbreaking heroes I've read this year.  He was put into intense Arrow education from an early age with his trainers' goal being that he become an unfeeling assassin.  Unfortunately, while Vasic is programmed to associate feelings with pain, he obviously retains a heart and, it turns out, feels guilt over all that he did in the name of protecting the Psy under the former leader.  One of the best things about this series is the way that Nalini Singh slowly develops her characters and allows them to undergo realistic transformations.  This book allows him to slowly break out of his shell and understand that he deserves to be happy which was a joy to read about.

The catalyst for Vasic's change is the introduction of Ivy to his life.  She is an empath that survived an unsuccessful Silence rehabilitation attempt and is, understandably, wary of opening up again.  But, her inner strength and emotional sensitivity forces her to step into the line of fire and try to do everything she can to help heal the Psy Net.  I enjoyed her character and thought she was a great match for Vasic.  There were a few moments where I wanted to know more about her past and how it shaped her personality, but I understand why the author left it a little mysterious.  Ivy is a character who is determined to not think about the past, but live in the present which is shown in her character development.  While she is not my favorite of the Psy heroines (my heart will always belong to Sascha), she is admirable and intelligent enough to rank her pretty high on my list.

The relationship between Vasic and Ivy is very interesting and takes a bit of patience on the part of the reader.  Because of each of their own issues, neither person is comfortable with physical intimacy, but their chemistry is obvious from their first meeting.  I loved the slow and deliberate way that their relationship developed from casual friendship to lovers.  By the end, I was rooting for them to be happy which is something I always look for in a good romance.

While the romance is central to the Psy-Changeling books, the series also benefits from one of the most creative settings and overall plot in paranormal romance.  I mentioned above that Silence has finally ended for the Psy and they are at a turning point as they try to adjust to a new life.  I love this development and am excited to see how the story moves forward with such a change.  Readers see hints of it in this book and I know more is coming in the future.  I also liked the infection storyline which forced the Psy to see the type of damage the Net is facing as well as making the Psy, changelings, and humans all work together for a goal.

Vasic and Ivy are the main focus of Shield of Winter, but, as one would expect from a series as lengthy as this, there are plenty of background characters popping in and out.  In particular, I enjoyed getting to know more about Vasic's Arrow partner, Aden, who is taking center stage in the next book.  It was also great to see the return of some favorites like Sascha, Lucas, Kaleb, Ashaya, and (my favorite) Judd Lauren.  Judd has had my heart since the beginning of the series and his attempt at providing Vasic with sex advice was absolutely priceless.

All in all, I thought Shield of Winter was a great installment in the Psy-Changeling series.  The main couple was wonderful while the rest of the cast continued to develop in interesting ways.  This world remains highly original and it seems like the plot is just picking up speed again.  I highly recommend this series for anyone who wants creative and thought-provoking paranormal romance though make sure you start at the beginning to get the full impact.


Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.

"He has a heart so huge, it’s kept pumping, kept going long past endurance—even though life has bruised it to a pulp."

0.5. Beat of Temptation
0.6. Whisper of Sin
1. Slave to Sensation
2. Visions of Heat
3. Caressed by Ice
3.5. Stroke of Enticement
4. Mine to Possess
5. Hostage to Pleasure
6. Branded by Fire
7. Blaze of Memory
8. Bonds of Justice
9. Play of Passion
9.5. Declaration of Courtship
10. Kiss of Snow
10.5. Texture of Intimacy
11. Tangle of Need
12. Heart of Obsidian
13. Shield of Winter
13.5. Secrets at Midnight (Coming November 2014)


Thursday, June 26, 2014


Happy Thursday, everyone! This is a new feature hosted by Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.  Since Tin and Mary C. are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, they've decided to focus on this beloved genre.

Here are the rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 2008.


Devil in Winter (Wallflowers, #3) 
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Originally Published in February 2006

Four young ladies enter London society and band together to each find a husband. Has the third "Wallflower" now met her match?

A Devil's Bargain...Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!

Sebastian's reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden's good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared, unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse.

But Evie's proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine's callously discarded broken hearts --- which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions ... or perhaps surrender his own heart for the very first time in the name of true love.

A great example of how a talented writer can turn a former villain into a hero.  Sebastian St. Vincent is definitely a rake who gets his comeuppance when the shy Evie proposes marriage in order to escape her abusive family.  St. Vincent needs the money so he takes her up on her offer, but his life turns upside down through his interactions with Evie.  His transformation from selfish bad boy to doting husband is realistic while Evie's growth into a strong woman is poignant and beautiful.  If you want to see Sebastian at his worst, I recommend Kleypas's It Happened One Autumn which is the direct prequel to this book. 

"Ah, Evie,” she heard him say softly, “I must have a heart, after all…because right now it aches like the devil.”
“Only your heart?” she asked ingenuously, making him laugh.
He lowered her to the bed, his eyes sparkling wickedly. “Also a few other things,” he conceded. “And as my wife, it’s your duty to ease all my aches."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Book Cover Trends

Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

~Top Ten Book Cover Trends I Like~

1. Pretty Dresses
I know it is overdone, but I love fashion and have a soft spot for gorgeous dresses especially in historical romance.
Lord of Wicked Intentions (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #3) Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6) A Study in Seduction (Daring Hearts, #1) The Selection (The Selection, #1)

2. Hot Guys
Another often-overdone trend that I still love.  I am very particular about the styling with these types of covers.
The Perfect Play (Play by Play, #1) The Darkest Passion (Lords of the Underworld, #5) Demon from the Dark (Immortals After Dark, #10) Rapture Untamed (Feral Warriors, #4)

3. Staircases
I'm not sure why I am attracted to these on covers, but there is something statuesque and mysterious about them.  I just wonder where the cover models are going.
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (The Rules of Scoundrels, #3) The Captive Maiden Cruel Beauty A Bloom in Winter (Summerset Abbey, #2)

4. Masks
I love mystery and masks are just downright beautiful.
Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #1) Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1) Incarnate (Newsoul, #1) When the Duke Returns (Desperate Duchesses, #4)

5. Shoes
Another personal preference since I'm a shoe fanatic.
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1) Bet Me Chasing Harry Winston

6. Castles
Classic architecture will always grab my attention.
Seraphina (Seraphina, #1) Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) Keeping the Castle Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After, #1)

7. Ocean
These covers just make feel refreshed and cool which is ideal for summer reading.
Across a Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #2) Starcrossed (Starcrossed, #1) Summer Is for Lovers Wake (Watersong #1)

8. Weapons
This is a very popular nowadays so I am always excited to see a unique spin off it like with the bow or the double blades.
Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3) Croak (Croak, #1) Fire (Graceling Realm, #2) Wings of the Wicked (Angelfire, #2)

9. Umbrellas/Parasols
These always give me a gothic feel.
Entwined (Darkest London, #3.5) Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1) Lady of Ashes (Lady of Ashes, #1) Dearly, Departed (Gone With the Respiration, #1)

10. Reflections
It can be badly done, but these are great examples of how reflections can grab a future readers' attention.
 Glimmerglass (Faeriewalker, #1) School Spirits (School Spirits, #1) Dark Mirror (Dark Mirror, #1) Notes from Ghost Town