As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of Nalini Singh’s phenomenal Psy-Changling SFR series. I love her sensual, shape-shifting Changlings, her cool, emotionally-repressed Psy and the alternate, politically cutthroat Earth that brings them together in all sorts of creative and intricate ways.
That said, BLAZE OF MEMORY, the latest in the series, is not an easy book to love. Singh has set the bar high for herself in this seventh novel. Because she’s a writer of talent and imagination, Singh rises to the challenge for the most part, but the result is not the seemingly effortless triumph of earlier titles in the series.
A large part of the series’ appeal has always been the “attraction of opposites”. Fireworks can be expected when icy Psy empath (female) meets hot Changling alpha (male), cold Psy assassin (male) meets irresistible Changling abductee (female), or even hot Changling wolf meets hotter Changling leopard.
The emotional chemistry is not as predictable when you pair a Psy who has already been stripped of the strict mental conditioning that controls her emotions and a member of “the Forgotten”, a man with same genetic coding for psychic talent as the Psy, but none of the emotional repression of enforced “Silence.” Conveying emotional intensity between these two characters is much more difficult because it’s harder to make the reader understand what is at stake for them. What is it they’re risking for each other? And why?
Throw in the plot device that our heroine, Katya, has been programmed to kill our hero, Dev, and it would seem unlikely that they would get together at all. I’m usually willing to go along with these things—this is romance, after all—but I did feel this was a stretch. The heat quotient just never reached the point between them that I felt Dev couldn’t have found a way to leave Katya in someone else’s care for a minute, especially given that Dev is director of an organization protecting the Forgotten and KNOWS this is a trap. Again, there’s that question: why?
Love should always be the answer, but I just wasn’t feeling it in this volume of Singh’s generally excellent series. Of course, the lovers find their way to a satisfying ending, though the political plot threads that wind their way through the book must await the next novel for resolution. When that volume comes out, I’ll be right there in the bookstore with my money in hand, undeterred. Nalini Singh is just that good.
ERRATA: I said in my earlier post on Nalini Singh that the Psy-Changling series had eight volumes. It is SEVEN, including BLAZE OF MEMORY. Sorry, I'm math challenged.
P.S. Interesting to note that one of the leading ladies of paranormal romance, Sherrilyn Kenyon, has recently begun an SFR series with her novels BORN OF NIGHT and BORN OF FIRE. Sherrilyn says in the Author’s Note to BORN OF NIGHT that it was written in 1986-87, sold in 1992, and first published in 1996. My copy of FANTASY LOVER, the first in her DARK HUNTER series, lists a publishing date of 2002. So I guess that means she was a Skiffy Rommer BEFORE she was a paranormal phenom! So, welcome aboard again, Sherrilyn, and let’s hope you bring a lot of folks along with you for the ride!