ARC REVIEW: Kiss of Snow

Nalini Singh
Kiss of Snow (Psy/Changeling #10)
Berkley Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0425242099
ISBN-13: 978-0425242094
Paranormal romance
May 31, 2011

Blurb via Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s exhilarating world of shapeshifters and psychics is “paranormal romance at its best” (Publishers Weekly). Now comes the story of an alpha wolf named Hawke used to getting exactly what he wants–and of the only woman who dares tangle with him.

Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.

Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would’ve been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.

Then Sienna changes the rules and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other’s secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight…

A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna’s darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home…and the alpha who is its heartbeat…

Hello, awesome book. I love you. It’s been a couple of many, many weeks since I read you and you’re still on my mind. While this series is never far from my reader’s heart, you, Kiss of Snow, reaffirmed my belief that you and your siblings are awesome. I loved your taboo romance, I loved the pack’s dynamics and I enjoyed the escalation in the Psy/Changeling conflict. I adored Sienna — and Hawke? Well, let’s just say he makes steam look like child’s play. Thanks for being a great book.

Now that I’ve waxed about as poetical as I can get, lemme make it clear: I really, really enjoyed this book.

The last two or so Psy/Changeling books were good reads for me. Not favorites, necessarily, but still good. I knew I was still “with” the series. Hawke’s book was going to be special, though. We all knew this. Well, what I mean is you knew this if you read the series, and I’m betting you have if you’re reading this review. But, yes, Hawke’s book is special, in part because this marks Singh’s rise to hardcover status. I think that not only does she have her dedication and hard work to thank for that, but possibly because we’ve all slavered over Hawke’s book for years. We’ve pined for his and Sienna’s romance while at the same time not being one hundred percent assured one would be possible, given the age difference between them.

I want to address the book’s hardcover format first because I believe this is a solid crossover to the format. I’ve followed a small few favorite authors over to hardback, and rarely has it been that I felt the transition was worth the money. I do think it’s worth it with Kiss of Snow. Now, this is my opinion only, and as someone who really does not like hardcover (and also, yes, received a copy from the publisher for review), I can understand if readers don’t want to buy it. I totally get that. There’s all kinds of issues associated with them. I’ve not trying to convince anyone to buy this hardcover book, even. But. I do think Singh stepped up her game in this book. Often I’ve crossed to hardback for another author, and I didn’t see an improvement in the writing, or, frankly, anything that spoke of “more for my money”. As a reader, if I’m going to have to spend more, I do expect that something improved with the book in question, not that previous success was merely rode on. In this book, I think the move to hardback came with a much better developed romance of the main couple. We also get a very nice, engaging secondary romance that’s dealt with in this installment, not just used for sequel baiting. I felt like this was an added bonus.

But enough about the fact that the book is in hardback for now. Let’s get on with the fact that I loved it to pieces.

We’ve been growing increasingly restless for this particular story for quite some time now. I’m personally a big fan of the older hero vs. younger heroine (or vice versa) trope. But it’s hard to pull off, let’s face it, without the older person coming off as some kind of creep. For me, what kept that kind of thing from sneaking in is the fact that Sienna is infinitely old. Her experiences as a young Psy at the mercy of another seriously malicious Psy has warped her years beyond her actual age. While I don’t necessarily think this justifies, hey, go out and have some hot explosive SEX with a much older man, well hold up cuz I’m not done yet. Wink.

Hawke has been denying his inner wolf’s urge to claim Sienna. And he’s doing it for all the right reasons. Frankly, Sienna is still at an age where to many it feels criminal were he to go after her. Sure, his pack understands that this goes beyond even that level of thinking, and they support him, but he still struggles with the fact that age-wise, he does have an advantage over her. And that is the heart of these older vs. younger trope romances. Can a balance be struck between the two, without the older being seen as having a distinct advantage over the younger person? Can Sienna and Hawke meet on equal footing power-wise? I think this needed to be established in order for their pairing to ever work, not just for them, but readers, too.

And I think it does work out in the long run. This is no easy courtship, even though we’re finally at their book’s doorstep. Hawke never once merely let’s his wolf have its way. He’s always thinking about Sienna’s age and worrying that he’s still rushing things even though she’s now 19. Now, yeah – 19. Um. I know I’d probably question that, given he’s in his late thirties, early forties? Someone help me out if you want to, I can’t exactly remember. But yeah, we are talking a noticeably big enough age difference. Singh managed to pull it off for me, though, because she shows that Sienna, while still needing people of course, is very much a mature young woman, self-assured and therefore not afraid of what she wants. And that’s Hawke. Readers may or may not get frustrated that their courtship runs the entire book, with Hake’s wolf sort of “chasing” her, but I appreciated that this wasn’t something that had to be consummated early on in the book. As much as we’ve scented their growing attraction in previous books, we still needed to get to know them and how they could be together, so I was happy with their romance growing in tension over the course of most of the book. It is at times smokin’ hot, others intensely sweet and it was very satisfying given the fact that we’re finally getting to see them together in their own book.

Now, that’s not to say that Sienna never does anything immature. Yes, she has colossal, enormous powers. They’re the stuff of legend. She is, literally, like some kind of perfect weapon, albeit one that needs to learn more control. It’s this reason that she’s terrified of hurting those she loves. But she does do some things in the book that very much speak to the fact that she’s 19 years old. She’s still young enough to make mistakes, and some silly ones at that. But hey, some she does in the name of love, and we all know how love makes fools of us sometimes. It even makes one of Hawke, so maybe that’s an ageless thing, really. The point is – no, I never felt their romance was creepy, and I appreciated each and every nuance coaxing their relationship into one of consuming passion. They really compliment one another very well. Plus? Hawke is the perfect alpha male, as are most of Singh’s alphas.

As mentioned before, there was a wonderful secondary romance between Lara, the Snowdancer’s pack healer, and Walker Lauren, one of the escaped Psy members living with them. While not of the steamy variety, it’s more sweet. This was actually a welcome respite from the intensity of Sienna and Hawke’s relationship. There were times when it would’ve been feasible to knock Sienna and Hawke’s heads together, so Walker and Lara worked well at cooling things down. Even better, Singh melds in the romance subplot in a way that felt natural. For me, there was no ARG, why’d she interrupt Hawke’s prowling NOW?! feelings. Together, the two romances really made this book for me.

Psy-wise, and despite that we have a psy heroine again, I felt the war and psy invasions weren’t as attention getting. But when you factor in Hawke, it’s almost little wonder. Still, we do see a sufficient amount of time given to the psy agenda in the form of letters at the beginning of some chapters, between a researcher studying the X psy designation and the researcher’s father. Like a few of the other psy designations, there isn’t a lot known about X psy, and so there’s a lot of room for potential error with Sienna. And since the last thing she wants to do is hurt the pack that took her in and adopted her, she’s doing her best to learn as she goes while also trying to lay low and not let the psy know she and her family is still alive. Meanwhile, the psy are also doing their best to tear Snowdancer apart, advancing to the next stage in their plans to dominate all races.

While I love Singh’s worldbuilding, I’m not as sure that anything advanced a whole lot on that front. Again, I fully admit that it was hard to look past Hawke and Sienna, the romance was just that good. It’s also probably a lot to do with the fact that the scenes detailing the machinations of the psy read a little subdued next to the vitality and richness of pack life. On a lighter and brighter note, characters from past books figure in as nicely as they always have, and I think readers are in for a particular treat this time as a result. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s got to do with a certain leopard alpha and his psy mate. Wink.

I don’t know what else to say other than I loved it. This is another great Singh example of wonderful, fulfilling and sensual paranormal romance, in a long-arcing series that never gets old. I can’t wait for the next one, and how many series, after ten books, can continue to hold that kind of excitement and fervor? Not many, my fellow reading friends. Not many.

Rating: Five Scoops

Series order:

  • Slave to Sensation
  • Visions of Heat
  • Caressed by Ice
  • Mine to Possess
  • Hostage to Pleasure
  • Branded by Fire
  • Blaze of Memory
  • Play of Passion
  • Kiss of Snow
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  1. Ohh lucky you Kenda to have read it before the rest of us and to have been carried away with the story!

    I was just doodling through my regular blogs putting off going to bed and now I can go happily to sleep glad to hear that this isn’t an average story. I have been half-afraid because of the build up in all our hearts as we have looked forward to Hawke’s and Siena’s story. Now I just have to steel myself to buying a hardcover.

    • For me, she definitely did. This is making me want to reread the book now lol. I’d better place my order for the book, because I sent the ARC off to another reviewer.

  2. Loved it! I haven’t enjoyed a book in this series this much since Mercy and Reiley in Branded by Fire and Slave to Sensation before that. Thank you Kenda! :D

  3. I’m not sure, but I think Hawke is 33 or something like that. I think his age was mentioned in Play of Passion during a conversation he has with Riley, I need to check it out. Anyway, I didn’t need more reasons to read this book but your review has made me even more anxious!

  4. Hawke is 32 in Caressed By Ice. I am not bothered by age differences in books either. I think the key to their romance is that Sienna and Hawke must act as equals in order for it to work. I hope that Sienna tames the alpha in this book.

    By the tenth of book of a series, I either have stopped reading or am completely bored. Singh’s incredible and world-building leaves me anything but bored. She deserves being published in hardback!

    Thank you for an early review of this book. I’m
    so glad that you enjoyed it. I look forward to reading it on my Kindle at 3am Eastern time on May 31!

    • I love older heroes and younger heroines, and I agree totally with you that they have to act as equals. I think you’ll enjoy how Sienna affects him! :D

      I was just talking to a Kindle owner this morning about how a lot of you stay up late to get your newly downloaded books lol. I don’t think I could do that. ;D

  5. Kmont- thanks for the review. And I believe Hawke is nearly 34 so there is a 15yr difference. So glad you liked the book. For me, the lack of movement in the Psy-Changeling war doesn’t faze me as I’m more interested in the development of Hawke + Sienna’s relationship. Hilcia, can’t wait for your review. Good to see former Phaders with wonderful blogs!

  6. Thanks for your help with his age! I felt the same way about this book, that Hawke and Sienna’s relationship was more important. She does tie into the war, though, so we do get some movement, but I do feel the relationship took main stage.

  7. I’ve only read Slave to Sensation, but I think Hawke is the character I really loved in that book. Was he in the first book? If so, I’m not sure I’ll be able to read all of the books I need to in order to get to Kiss of Snow.

    • Karen, I honestly can’t remember if he was in book 1, but if you’re more interested in his and Sienna’s romance, I think you could read Kiss of Snow without the others.

  8. “Hello, awesome book. I love you. “

    That’s all I needed to hear. :)
    But hey–it’s Nalini Singh. I truly expected nothing less.

    • Thanks, Tabitha. ;) I’d have had no clue which book to look in, so I appreciate everyone taking the time to either look or reach into your awesome memories.

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