Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her extraordinary Psy-Changeling world with a story of wild passion and darkest betrayal...

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater Bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious… and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed...

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Book 1
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Laughing at the cubs’ antics, Valentin jogged down the slight incline and waded into what had to be ice-cold water after kicking off his boots and socks. He splashed the cubs, laughed when they splashed him back. Running so they could chase him, he turned abruptly and chased them back, to their unhidden joy.

Silver took a seat on the grass. When the female bear looked her way, she inclined her head in a silent greeting. The bear did the same, then they both watched an alpha bear play with two energetic cubs, his hands holding rough care for their small bodies.

By the time Valentin made his way back to her, he was drenched and his eyes weren’t human in any way. When he spoke, his already deep voice was so low it felt like thunder against her skin. “Couldn’t resist,” he said, pushing back his wet hair with one big hand. “If you weren’t in recovery and if I wasn’t in terror of Nova’s wrath, I’d have invited you. The small monsters wanted to play with you.”

Silver didn’t get to her feet. “Can we stay here a little longer?” It was patent that Valentin had an extremely high tolerance for the cold, but he might want to dry off.

“Sure,” he said, and, moving away several feet, shook off the wet.

Fine droplets settled on the skin of her cheek, but she didn’t flinch at the unintentional tactile contact. She also controlled her urge to reach up and touch the water where it lay against her skin. There was no reason to do that, and Silver was alive because she only did things that were rational.

Settling beside her, Valentin waved at the cubs as their guardian led their tired forms toward a path in the trees that was at the same level as the stream. “Gentler climb,” Valentin told her.

“They seem too exhausted to make it to Denhome.”

“It’s all an act—they’re hoping for a ride on their aunt’s back.” His tone held the same fond affection she’d heard when he spoke of Dima. “It’d take more than a few minutes’ play in the water to wipe out those two.”

The cubs had played with Valentin for almost a half hour. “They’re hyperactive?”

“They’re baby bears.”

Silver watched as those baby bears turned toward her and rose up on their back paws, as if in challenge. A stern sound from their caretaker, and they dropped down and scrambled to catch up with her. Their bodies disappeared into the trees as dusk began to turn from orange to shadowy gray.

Beside her, Valentin sprawled out, bracing himself on his elbows. His drenched T-shirt clung to the ridged muscles of his abdomen, pulled tight across his pectoral muscles, shaped itself over his shoulders. His jeans weren’t much better, outlining the raw muscle of his thighs.

Valentin Nikolaev was a man of violent physical strength even in human form. Yet he clearly had iron control over it; when he’d played with the children, they’d displayed zero fear of their alpha.

“You thought about where you’re going to live when you escape the bears who’ve kidnapped you?”

When she raised an eyebrow at him, he grinned. “Fringe netter with his own Internet channel sent out a breaking report last night. Pasha—who obviously needs more work duties—made up a fake account and posted a comment swearing to have seen you being pulled into a black van by six burly bears in bear form.”

“You don’t seem too concerned.” Amber eyes and deep voice, he remained very much a bear in human form.

“Well, according to this ‘eyewitness,’ the getaway driver was in bear form, too. Must’ve been tough for him to steer with one paw since he was drinking a beer at the same time.”

Bears,” Silver said, making Valentin throw his head back and laugh that huge laugh that wrapped around her.

Posted by arrangement with Berkley, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Nalini Singh, 2017.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Mary Jo☆☆☆☆
This book builds on the world that Nalini Singh created with her epic Psy-Changeling series and expands it beautifully.

I had wondered how the three sectors of the population – humans, changelings, and Psy – would co-exist after the corruption of the Psy was exposed and the Psy-net stabilized, and this book shows the after effects – both its glory and devastation.

Radicals from all over the world are attempting to subvert the good that Psy are now doing by terrorizing their own people in an effort to eradicate the Psy population. However, the Changelings are also caught in the crossfire and they refuse to let the radicals win.

Caught in the middle are Silver Mercant – former assistant to Kaleb Krycheck and now head of a worldwide relief organization – and Valentin Nikolaev, leader of a Bear clan just outside of Moscow. When Silver's life is endangered, Val saves her life and offers her refuge with his clan. What Val doesn't know is that Silver not only faces danger from the outside world, but from her own mind.

When a choice has to be made between the Silver he knows now and one that may never love him, Val encourages her to take the chance knowing that she may never love him after the surgery that will save her life.

As the Radicals wreak havoc on the world around them, Val knows the thing that truly matters is Silver's life.

Oh. My. Gawd. The bears! All of Nalini Singh’s shifters are special but the bears are something else. Playful, affectionate, and easygoing, this is the happiest shifter group in the entire series. The bears’ violent thuggish reputations are slightly undermined by their Pooh-like love of food. They love beer, parties, and practical jokes but they are also controlled and calculating political players. I absolutely loved them all. In this story, the bears’ gentle warmth and humour provides a backdrop for the global political upheaval and resulting violence that Silver must manage in her role as Kaleb’s assistant.

As the bear Alpha, Valentin is persistent, clever, and loyal. He has a wicked sense of humour that is the perfect foil for Silver – possibly the most silent Psy character yet. Valentin pursues Silver against all odds. Valentin and Silver are both powerful and dominant but it is Valentin’s playful, persistent affection that gains Silver’s attention. Valentin’s huge personality compensates for Silver’s very robotic, cold persona for much of this story. Fully entrenched in Silence, I found it very difficult to like or even know Silver at times. Because of Silver’s reserve, the heat level is lower than in other stories in this series.

The Moscow setting is wonderful and I loved the use of the Russian language in the story. There is layer after layer of plot in this book. Series fans will be familiar with the global political struggle between human, Psy, and Changeling groups. The power struggles continue here but I most enjoyed the simple search for those who poisoned Silver at the start of the novel. This far into the series, I’m finding the politics more than a little bit tedious and I could feel myself glazing over each time Silver and Valentin’s story was interrupted by global politics.

As the sixteenth full length book in the Psy-Changeling series, this is definitely not a standalone novel. It may be the start to a new story arc, but readers are expected to know the Psy-Changeling world intimately and the author doesn’t offer a great deal of world building or recapping in this book. There are also regular references to characters from earlier books. Having missed the last few books, I was able to catch up without issue but new readers will want to start at the very beginning of the series.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Valentin is one of my absolute favourite men in this series. Silver is a perfect match for him even if she isn’t the easiest woman to love. I really hope to see more of the bears soon.

Note: Even though this is listed as the first in a new series, I strongly advise against reading Silver Silence if you have not previously read the entirety of the Psy-Changeling series, as this is definitely the 16th installment, not the first in a new series. Not all readers visit Goodreads to notice that this is connected to another series – they buy, thinking this will be new for all readers, and end up confused and frustrated. This has happened to me many times, tainting the story and the author – don't let this happen to you too. I will explain further.

Silver Silence picks up where Allegiance of Honor ended, which is an ensemble book. To read this book after never reading a word of Psy-Changeling series would make for the ultimate of confusion and frustration for the reader. The politics, the world-building, and the entire cast of characters belongs to the series with 15 previous books. While the arc has changed, nothing else has. There isn't a rehash for new readers, as that would take books to explain, and there isn't an in-depth explanation of the world-building either. In fact, there are close to 100 characters name-dropped with their past experiences (storyline plots) brought up on every page – I truly have no idea how a new reader would get heads or tails, as I've read and reread previous books and I was still confused.

As a huge fan of Nalini Singh, I've been anticipating Silver Silence for months. As soon as I got my hands on it, I started reading. Now I need to be honest. I put it down and read another book, then I worked, and then I tried again, then I read another book. For the past week or so, I've concentrated on Silver Silence, until I finished it moments ago. I also need to state, I can read an upwards of 700 pages per day, so a week+ to finish 450 is an anomaly.

Added with the mass amount of information contained within the book, with many storylines brought back up, with countless old characters, there were also just as many new characters. But added on top of having to remember such a large cast of characters, these new Russian characters had up to three or four names EACH (nicknames and such), which added to the confusion. This stalled my reading, jarring me from the story, trying to deduce who was who. Valentin's entire history felt as if it should have been in another book with him as the narrator, so it was glossed over as if the reader would just roll with it and understand that which they've never read (it's not in the main series either)

There are long books which read quickly, making it feel as if a hundred pages instead of four-hundred. Then there are short books which feel like a tome. This was an issue I had with Silver Silence – all that information, the names, and the prompts to remember past plots, they slowed the pacing down considerably and buried this new story beneath. It was a struggle to remain connected, in the same way Silver struggled while being bombarded by sound. So a long book felt even longer – tedious.

I was hooked from page one, then my interest waned off by the influx of information. Silver Mercant is a major character from the Psy-Changeling universe. She's the head of Emnet, the new alliance between Psy, humans, and changelings. A human group begins targeting Silver and key locations to bring an end to the alliance. This propels the silenced Silver into a den of bears for protection, whose alpha has had the hots for Silver for months.

Silver F'n Mercant (while awesome to read that a handful of times, 25 was overkill and I started groaning when I'd read it again and again) was an interesting character, but I truthfully had a difficult time connecting to her as a reader. Obviously being Silenced makes it difficult to empathize with a character who has no emotions, but Silver did feel. Outside of feeling, and being Silver F'n Mercant, she felt like a side character in her own story, without any traits or emotions, no likes/interests/dislikes/hobbies. Silver was a blank slate of nothingness. She went from Silenced to feeling in the blink of an eye, and back to silenced, and back to feeling. She was Valentin's mate, instead of an empowered woman with her own set of character traits.

Valentin, my sweetest teddy bear, I loved being inside his head. Valentin was why I kept reading. The alpha was the perfect hero. Strong. Compassionate. Loving. Protective yet giving freedom to grow. Sexy and loyal. Valentin made the book.

Instead of rehashing the entire plot, because truthfully, not much happened, I'll point out the highlights and my favorite characters. Because, plot-wise, there was too much going on with no direction, too many characters on scene, too much from previous books being rehashed, and the enemy had one to two page narratives every chapter or so, taking all mystery away. What's a who-done-it, when the who is saying he's doing it?

The cubs – bear cubs. This was the highlight of the entire book, and I was thrilled when they were on scene. Nothing is cuter than changeling children, especially baby bear cubs. They never failed to give me a grin. Seriously so sweet, giving me the warm and fuzzies.

The groaning about bear traits. Bears are awesome. I loved how closely the changelings acted like real bears in some instances. Grumpy yet charming, hungry and thirsty, rowdy partiers, lazy but strong – Valentin complaining about wolves never failed to tear a chuckle out of me.

Silver's grandmother. The strong head of the Mercant family – an empowered, caring, and empathetic woman.

Silver's brother, whom I hope we get a book from his perspective, because I just wanted to read his book instead. I feel horrible saying that, but I wanted to see the empath with the bear from their perspectives. That would be a decadent guilty pleasure.

I apologize for this disjointed review, but the book itself reads in a similar fashion. It was in no way the first in a brand-new series, yet was so bogged down, it didn't read like a continuation either.

I enjoy this universe and its character and world-building. I don't believe new readers would enjoy Silver Silence, so I suggest going back and reading Slave to Sensation and onward, as this will bridge a connection and remove any and all confusion. I enjoy this author and do look forward to the next in the series, as I do care about this cast of characters. This book just didn't work for me – not the romance or the main plot, even though I wanted to know what happened to said characters.

Nalini Singh is passionate about writing. Though she’s traveled as far afield as the deserts of China and the temples of Japan, it is the journey of the imagination that fascinates her the most. She’s beyond delighted to be able to follow her dream as a writer.

Nalini lives and works in beautiful New Zealand.

Connect with Nalini

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity #1, Psy-Changeling #16) by Nalini Singh to read and review.

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