Desert Isle Keeper
Every time I read a new book by Nalini Singh, I think she’s reached her peak. Few authors who have a backlist as long as hers would get such unequivocal praise from me, but after years of enjoying Ms. Singh’s world building and character building (across two series, no less!) I expect nothing less than a DIK book from this author. Silver Silence did not disappoint.
This story takes place in the Psy-Changeling Trinity series. It is the same Psy-Changeling world as in the Psy-Changeling series but takes place after the introduction of the Trinity Accord, which binds all the races to work together in a new way.
Silver Mercant has an active role in this, as she is now head of the worldwide Emergency Network, or EmNet. Although based in Moscow, Silver and her team train others to respond to disasters all over the world through this new network made up of emergency response teams.
Silver is a Psy unlike any other we’ve ever read about. As a Mercant, Silver belongs to one of the most powerful Psy families in the world. The Mercants are known for taking care of their own, so while she grew up in Silence (the emotion dampening protocol that protects psychic minds), she has more experience with familial bonds than most other Psy. At the same time, her abilities as an audio telepath (Tp-A) link audio input and emotion in her brain in such a way that the more emotion she experiences, the more she hears. Most Tp-A Psy die at a young age as the noise overwhelms them, but Silence has protected Silver up until now, when Valentin Nikolaev barges into her life.
Valentin is the Alpha of Moscow’s bear clan, StoneWater, and he’s been poking at Silver since the day they met. In spite of her many refusals to go out with him, he keeps turning up – which is how he happens to be at her apartment the morning Silver is poisoned. Silver collapses in the middle of their conversation, and Valentin’s quick responses in catching her and calling for help save her life. Later, while Silver is still recovering from the poison, Valentin and Silver’s grandmother, Ena, agree that Silver should stay with StoneWater for some time while Ena puts all her efforts into finding Silver’s poisoner. Valentin is the only person they can be sure of right now, and he is more than happy to offer his hospitality.
As one might expect, prolonged exposure to Valentin and his clan soon erodes Silver’s defenses. She falls in love, not only with Valentin but with his family as well. This poses a problem for Silver’s audio telepathy, which grows steadily worse, but I won’t go into detail on how the pair tackles that situation. Suffice it to say that they handle it, but with a twist I wasn’t expecting.
The thing that amazed me most about this book was how much I liked both characters. I usually find myself drawn more toward one or the other, but here Valentin and Silver proved equally compelling. Silver shows a hard exterior of rational efficiency, but it doesn’t take much to reach the loving, protective aspects of her character which come from being a Mercant. Those aspects make her the perfect mate for Valentin, whose gruff demeanor also masks some vulnerabilities stemming from the way his clan split when he became Alpha, with some members choosing not to follow him. The two truly do complement each other, and that chemistry makes the book a delight to read.
Beyond that, Ms. Singh continues to do an impeccable job with her world-building, developing an overall story arc while still focusing on Silver and Valentin. This can definitely be read as a standalone, but I’d recommend anyone considering the Psy-Changeling series to just start at the beginning. There are so many good books to enjoy, and Silver Silence will be that much better when you understand what’s come before.