It’s raining wolves! Hallelujah!
Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling world began with Slave to Sensation, and then transitioned into the Psy-Changeling Trinity world with the book Silver Silence. This is the third book in the Trinity half of the series and, due to the sequential nature of the series, is a spoiler for basically everything that came before it. This review contains a few spoilers for previous books, so read ahead with caution if you aren’t up-to-date. (Actually, if you aren’t up-to-date, why are you reading this review? You have books to read!)
Memory Aden-Rose was trapped for over a decade by a warped Psy for whom her psychic ability is like a drug. Rescued by SnowDancer wolf Alexei, she is taken to study with empaths – but while she might have an empathy-linked power, she’s nothing like the gentle healers currently in designation E. In fact, she might be more like the monster who kidnapped her. I’m always excited to return to the world of the Psy-Changeling Trinity, and while Wolf Rain isn’t going to be my favorite of Singh’s books (a very tough challenge!), it was still an enjoyable read.
I tend to like Singh’s tough-girl heroines more than her gentle ones, and Memory is no exception. She’s a survivor with grit and an intriguing new ability, and my only critique of her is that she seems implausibly well-adjusted for the amount of time she’d spent locked underground. She pokes and teases Alexei without ever crossing the line into meanness (and Alexei clearly relishes it, with his changeling love for a relationship with both metaphorical and literal bite). By now, of course, all of us readers know what it means when a wolf starts bringing food, and a highlight of the book is a courtship power struggle in which Alexei keeps bringing Memory food and she needles him by publicly distributing it to others. I enjoyed the slow growth of skin privileges between the two of them, which created a delicious slow-burn. Their first kiss and first sex scene are lovely in an intimate way that shines with their emotional connection.
If the ‘predatory changeling male’ is what you tune in for, then tune in for Alexei, who is sexy, fit, protective, fond of babies, and adoring of his woman. However, because he’s such an archetype, he doesn’t stand out to me within Singh’s series. His defining trait is a family history of going rogue, which leads him to believe he must never mate. Knowing what genre I’m reading, I always anticipated a wave-of-the-wand resolution to this problem, and lo, that’s what I got.
And of course there are cameos from our old friends which Singh is deft at making relevant to the plot. Particularly moving are scenes between Memory and the heroine of Hostage to Pleasure, Ashaya Aleine, whose life is intertwined with her sociopathic twin Amara. I also liked seeing Sascha come into her own as a senior E figure with vital, relevant teaching skills. On the negative side, facial-lock teleporters introduced in previous books have to be inconveniently busy whenever someone goes missing (a staple plot element in this series) so as not to ruin the rescue. A secondary plot features a returning character sliding into fugue states to commit violence, but the fact that I didn’t remember this character made the big reveal anticlimactic. Also, the resolution of this fugue state problem is weirdly easy.
I’m still waiting for a book in the Trinity (the current, second phase of the series) that blows me away the way my favorites in the Psy-Changeling half did. But I really enjoyed reading Wolf Rain while I wait.