After following it for so long, there’s something comforting and familiar about each book in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changling Trinity series. The stories do begin to feel a bit alike, but all the characters are sweet people – brooding when something goes wrong, yet fun-loving and good-natured the rest of the time. Storm Echo fits the mold – an enjoyable book, great for some escapism or for longtime fans, but not a standout in the series.
Ivan Mercant is a classic Psy hero – brooding, certain he’s damaged and doesn’t want or need love for himself. He’s deeply attached and loyal to the Mercant clan, but doesn’t seek out anything for himself. When he goes away to Texas to train in a changeling wilderness training course, he expects nothing more than to return home with some new skills to offer in protection for his family.
Shockingly, Ivan leaves Texas emotionally devastated, though he won’t admit it to anyone. While in the wilderness he met a beautiful changeling woman and started to court her, only to have her disappear on him. Concerned for her safety, Ivan frantically searches for the woman he knows only as “Lei”. It takes fifteen months before a chance meeting on the streets of San Francisco brings them back together, and when they do reunite he’s stunned to discover Lei doesn’t know him.
Soleil Bijoux is an ocelot changeling who has been badly treated by the world. Orphaned as a child, she was never truly welcome in the ocelot pack that took her in after her parents’ deaths. Although she made friends, she didn’t have a home there – but nonetheless it was devastating for her when her pack was slaughtered. Soleil was among the few survivors, but was nonetheless cast out by the hateful alpha, who blamed her, as a healer, for not being able to save more of the group. Heartsick, injured, and coping with amnesia around the weeks prior to the attack (including when she met Ivan), Soleil spends months in a fog before she ends up in San Francisco looking for information about where the other survivors have gone.
On the spectrum from character-driven to plot-driven stories, Storm Echo is firmly of the latter type. While both Soleil and Ivan have some trauma and issues to deal with, they fall in love easily and move forward in their romance without question. It’s hard to complain about this – no one wants to read a book about unlikeable characters – but I will say that I kept turning pages here to see what happened next, not necessarily because I needed to spend more time with Soleil and Ivan themselves. And the plot is well designed to keep things interesting, as there is all the drama of lost love, amnesia, a reunion between the lovers, a reunion between Soleil and the friends she has lost, the spectre of darkness as Ivan’s Psy condition worsens… Singh pulls out all the stops to keep you hooked.
Unfortunately, all the interesting twists in the story can’t hide the fact that the central romance is a little bland. I really wanted to love Storm Echo because I’m such a fan of Singh’s work and hate to see a series I’ve long enjoyed become routine. But while I can give this book solid marks as a beach read, it unfortunately doesn’t come near my DIK shelf or my list of other favorites by the author.