REVIEW: Play of Passion by Nalini Singh
Dear Ms. Singh,
I have a terrible time keeping up with series, even those I’m heavily invested in. Off the top of my head, I can think of half a dozen series by different authors that I initially loved but can’t find the energy or wherewithal to continue reading. That I’m anxious for the 10th book in your Psy/Changeling series minutes after having finished Play of Passion says two things: 1. holy fucking hell, I’ve read nine books in this series (along with various short stories and free things on your website, and 2. the last installment was good enough to have me pissed off that I read the last page of the book.
With Play of Passion, the action has moved firmly back into Changeling territory, our H/H are Indigo Riverie and Andrew Kincaid, both members of the SnowDancer wolf pack. This is the first book in the series that brings together a Changeling H/H from the same species, but don’t think that it’s a snore. Both Indigo and Drew have appeared in previous installments, with Drew’s siblings getting their own books (Caressed by Ice and Branded by Fire). Indigo is a Lieutenant and the highest-ranking female member of SnowDancer. Yep, Indigo is a dominant female and for her the pickin’s are slim, since only Hawke (the pack leader) and a handful of other lieutenants are as dominant as she. Drew is SnowDancer’s tracker, which includes being responsible for hunting down rogue wolves. Due to the nature of his job, Drew operates out of the normal pack hierarchy, appearing laid back and harmless so that all pack members will trust him even though one day he may be called upon to hunt and kill them.
The story begins with Indigo and Drew out in a storm hunting for a juvenile that they’re trying to prevent from going rogue. During the adrenaline rush after the hunt, Drew shifts and is on Indigo in a hot (and I mean hot) second, and Indigo is shocked by her reaction to the younger, less dominant, and totally unsuitable Drew. Afraid you’ve heard this before? I can’t completely argue against that: generally dominant Changeling women don’t want a more submissive man. However, the devil is in the details, and the characters, histories and emotional makeup are different enough that you are not reading the same story twice. Drew’s interest in Indigo started in adolescence as admiration. It has since coalesced into something much more intense, and very difficult to deal with because Indigo refuses to see Drew as anything but a platonic companion.
I loved reading about the relationship dance between these two characters. Drew is desperate to have Indigo, and all rationality, along with his easy-going personality, fly out the window when he realizes that he may have…er…screwed the pooch by first jumping all over her, and then by acting like a dominant overprotective schmuck toward a woman that needs absolutely no protection. To make up for lost ground Drew does flattery and groveling on a level superior to anything I’ve ever witnessed, and wish I could experience first hand!
Strong, likable female characters are abundant in this series, and Indigo is no exception. She’s the cool, collected lieutenant that everyone in the pack can depend upon for a logical decision. Indigo’s no cold automaton though; she provides affection, attention, and instruction to all the pack members (including the delicious and irascible Hawke) in equal measure. But when it comes to her interaction with Drew, he isn’t the only one that is smacked by the crazy stick. Indigo’s usually calm and controlled demeanor is shot to hell when she realizes that Drew wants her and both her body and her emotions go haywire when he’s around. Her wolf can’t make sense of Drew’s position, actions or level of dominance which scares her. And for good reason Indigo fears any sort of long term involvement with a less dominant male. She tries to rationalize away her feelings, but it just ain’t happening. When the two of them manage to come together, it’s a true union of heads, hearts and souls.
The overarching story of the Psy/Changeling world is worked seamlessly into Play of Passion. The fracturing of the Psy Council, along with appearances by the ‘Ghost’ fit easily into the book, and the main focus thankfully does not leave Indigo and Drew. Because they are some seriously hot stuff. While I still haven’t figured out who the Ghost is, I have a few ideas, but could be totally off base, so I’m not going to bring them up here or in the comments, but feel free to air it out. The diversity of personalities, and Ms. Singh’s ability to maintain their individuality across nine books while bringing the Psy/Changeling world story to an even higher level of tension shouldn’t keep surprising me, but I can’t help myself. I’m chomping at the bit for Kiss of Snow. A.