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Play of Passion by Nalini Singh

November 8, 2010

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: November 2, 2010

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Status: Ninth in the Psy-Changeling Series.

Source: Purchased by self

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Other Info: This edition contains an excerpt from the next book in the Guild Hunter Series, Archangel’s Consort. It also marks a return to the Changeling world.

Description: (From Amazon):

In his position as Tracker for the SnowDancer pack, Drew Kincaid must rein in rogue changelings who’ve lost control of their animal halves- even if it means killing those who’ve gone too far. But nothing in his life has prepared him for the battle he must now wage-to win the heart of a woman who makes his body ignite…and who threatens to enslave his wolf.

I have a confession to make. I wasn’t going to read this book. If anything, I thought I’d skim through it for any relevant Hawke/Sienna tidbits. But I couldn’t resist it when I was at the bookstore last weekend. And I’m glad I didn’t. Play of Passion is a return to the things that I loved about the earlier books in the Psy-Changeling series. I loved the first six books, but my interest flamed out around Blaze of Memory. Without a changeling as a protagonist, the books seemed flat. I felt so blah about Dev and Katya’s story that I didn’t bother with Max and Sophia’s (Bonds of Justice).

As I said, though, Play of Passion was a pleasant surprise. There were a number of reasons that I was hesitant to read this book, beginning with yet another of my personal quibbles. I’m not so much a fan of younger heroes. By younger, I mean younger than the heroine. I like the heroes to be older or the same age. I know it’s lame. It’s stupid and shallow–but I can’t change my feelings. Or, at least, I haven’t been able to to yet. I was also hesitant about the idea of a heroine who was more alpha than the hero–though for those you who’ve read Play of Passion through to the end, you know that I needn’t have worried. I like strong female characters and I like alpha heroes. I think I may have mentioned that once or twice. But I want the hero to be a smidge alpha-ier than the heroine. I just do. Just a teeny, tiny bit. Likethismuch.

Of course, I should have known that Nalini Singh was just the author to pull it off. I should have known because one of my absolute favorite novels in the Psy-Changeling series is Riley and Mercy’s story (Branded by Fire). And, by the way, I loved catching up with them a little bit in PoP. Actually, I loved catching up with all the changeling characters. Mm, especially Hawke. I guess I missed the changelings more than I even realized.

Play of Passion is Indigo and Drew’s story. Both are SnowDancer wolves. Indigo is a lieutenant–a right hand woman to Hawke, the alpha. Drew, brother to Riley and Brenna, is a sort of spy/liaison. His role in the pack is unclear–he’s largely outside the pack hierarchy. However, Indigo is both older and has been given a clear position. She’s a dominant female. In fact, she’s more dominant than her own father, which must make for some interesting family dynamics.

Singh begins PoP with her usual flare. Indigo and Drew have known each other a long time. Indigo trained Drew before he was assigned to his current position. It’s Drew who makes the first move–and it’s quite a move. His feelings for Indigo are never unclear. He’s had romantic feelings for her for quite some time. It’s Indigo who is caught off guard. Her reaction is a mix of lust, irritation and disbelief. She is also miffed at Drew for risking a long time friendship for the sake of a quick tumble. What Indigo doesn’t realize is that Drew’s intentions are serious. The seriousest. Drew is definitely the pursuer here. It takes a lot for Indigo to feel comfortable with the idea of Drew as a lover–for the same reasons I resisted this book. Indigo has first-hand knowledge of the danger of being with a male who is less alpha than the female. And it isn’t pretty. Also, Drew doesn’t fit in with Indigo’s idea of what kind of mate she’d end up with. Lucky for us, she figures out how wrong she was before it’s too late.

I liked that Singh didn’t shy away from the issues of dominance and age. She faced them head-on and it was a tactic that worked particularly well for this uncertain reader. I also found myself enjoying both Indigo and Drew as individual characters. I sometimes have a hard time with heroines who are supposed to be “dominant.” I see them as domineering, which is altogether different. But Indigo isn’t domineering. She’s powerful in her own right, she knows who she is and what she’s capable of, but none of that self-confidence translates into a person I wouldn’t like to know. Except, of course, that she’s about eight inches taller than me. And fictional.

The most fun I had with this book was, as I mentioned above, catching up the other changelings. We get to see Mercy and Riley, and plenty to SnowDancers. There are even a few new characters that have plenty of promise as heroes and heroines in their own books. I speculate that Riaz and Evie will have their own books–or book maybe? The best part, though, was that Play of Passion put to rest all of my concerns that anyone except Sienna would be Hawke’s heroine. They are both tortured and they have plenty of scenes together that qualify for Olympic grade sexual tension. I’m swooning already. I don’t think I can wait until May 31. I might have to go on a night raid in New Zealand.

Whether you are a general fan of the Psy-Changeling books, or, like me, you’re salivating in anticipation of the release of Kiss of Snow (you can preorder your copy already), Play of Passion is a delightful, enjoyable read. I highly recommend it.

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