DNF REVIEW: Tangle of Need

Nalini Singh
Tangle of Need (Psy/Changeling #11)
Berkley Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0425247562
ISBN-13: 978-0425247563
Paranormal romance
May 29, 2012

blurb via Amazon:

Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past–one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.

For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Their coming together is an inferno…and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.

I hate to do this, but I’m going to anyway. I was asked if I wanted to review this book and I did not hesitate to pass Go and collect a copy as soon as humanly possible. The book arrived in my mailbox, and maybe I was under the Influence of Tired because I could’ve sworn the public relations sheet that came with it said the release date was at the beginning of July. So I put it aside for a bit to try to finish a book I’d already started, thinking I’d have plenty of time. Then the actual early June release date came and I was pretty embarrassed to have missed it even though I technically didn’t receive the hardbound finished copy from the publisher till a little less than two weeks before release. I’d also forgotten that dayum, this series now initially comes in the upper echelons of book piety, the hardback form. I really can’t do those. I’m often reading flat on my back in bed, close to bedtime and I’ve whacked myself in the face with one enough times, thank you muchly, as I inadvertently dosed off for, apparently, much needed sleepsies. It’s not the books, it’s my inability to stick to a restful schedule.

The thing I’m going to do that I hate to do is confess that I couldn’t finish a book in one of my most favorite series. After realizing the hardback lying in wait was actually overdue for a review (and way much more so by the point of writing this), I quickly and unhesitatingly bought a Kindle version for Honey Child and started immediately. And I was almost immediately turned off by the hero. Riaz wastes no time in getting under the heroine’s skin – and mine – by giving her the stereotypical Ice Queen role simply because she’s not melted butter at his feet and banging his Gong of Awesome that lets everyone know how spectacular he is. I totally get that this is setting up their major conflict on the road to love, being a seasoned romance reader I know all the signs, but it’s still not a favorite tactic of mine. And it’s one thing if this is some initial deal and the hero realizes his mistake and rectifies, but Riaz continues to figuratively bash at Adria’s shields for quite some time, as well as push aggressively in a physical manner due to their obvious attraction. He lambasts himself mentally for doing so, yet continues to do it. Both have been hurt greatly by loving someone, yet Riaz doesn;t really seem to feel this in any way justifies Adria’s feelings towards him, while at the same time holding his past hurts as a shield as well. I felt like he was this one way street and Adria could like it or not, but if she disliked it, that made her a cold, frigid bitch. This attitude of Riaz persisted just long enough for me to feel not so receptive to him overall. I got 40% into the book on my K Fire and never really felt able to connect to the main couple as a result.

Another thing that stuck with me was how fragmented the book felt in terms of main romance, subplot romance and the overall series arc. This is an aspect I’ve always felt was done well in past books. I have enjoyed how Singh keeps us connected to past characters through little cameos. I’ve all-out loved some of the subplot romances as much as the featured main ones. And the series arc has been one of the most interesting in all of PNR-dom, especially given how long the series is. But you know what? It tears me up, but I feel like the series has gotten too long. I personally, after getting almost halfway through Tangle of Need, don’t understand why a whole book for Riaz and Adria was necessary. Maybe it would be more clear were I to push on through, but it wasn’t beginning to make sense at the point I got to. This time it felt like there was way too many characters to revisit. At eleven books in, plus some room allotted for short stories, there’s just going to be a lot of good characters to revisit. But it felt like every single one of them was on a checklist, and down it we were going. I kept waiting for such niceties to finish up so we could focus on Riaz and Adria.

But then came Hawke and Sienna. Again. Who made it feel as though Tangle of Need was really Kiss of Snow 2.0. KoS featuring, finally, Hawke and Sienna, was hot. The tension building up to their explosive book via past books was well done. But their post-mating bliss in Tangle of Need felt over the top to me. Blissfully happy Hawke and Sienna felt cloyingly sweet instead. Maybe if they hadn’t featured so heavily in that first 40% I wouldn’t feel that way, but they did. In fact, they seemed to take up most of that 40%. I won’t say why because I want to avoid spoilers. On one hand, it made sense, but again, this was not supposed to be their book. I felt like their situation could have been furthered better had it actually played out as a subplot and not such a major part of what was supposed to be another couple’s book.

And as for the series arc, I’m, frankly, just about as uninterested as I can get anymore in it. It was hard to maintain interested in the Council’s machinations or care who Ming wants to control, let alone the mystery behind the Ghost, the NetMind, DarkMind and…just all of it. I think one reason is it feels like it’s been moving at a snail’s pace the last book or two and there’s not much exciting as a result. Not only do beloved past characters begin to feel rehashed when they seem like they’re on a checklist, but that and the series arc feels a little same old same old. Like I’ve read the same kind of character conflicts (talking mostly about Riaz and Adria’s instant hate-lust mostly right now) one time too many, and when it was already done much better, as well as the same Council chapters over and over. The series, while younger and therefore still fresh, felt pretty exciting plot-wise with each successive book. Now it’s as if I’m reading the same issues again and again. It feels like a favorite series put itself on auto redial.

These things, they made the book feel like all major parts were fighting with one another to gain the most attention, instead of this smooth, flowing river the books have always felt like. This was probably the biggest distracting factor to me, as if it could not be decided which issue needed to take center stage. Personally, I was reading this in anticipation of an excellent main romance, with the rest complimenting it. I didn’t feel that happening here.

I tried hard to find some incentive to keep going, but the fact is that, this time, none of what I loved before was doing it for me this time because it just wasn’t present and accounted for. I think there’s only so many times you can read something, feel like you’ve read it before and be okay with it. I guess I’ve reached that point in this series. I’m honestly not sure I’ll continue, but, having grown bored with this one I skipped to the end. If the next picks up where it seems it might, I might give the series one more go. But as much as it tears me up in my sensitive reading heart to type this – this could be the end for me with the Psy/Changing books. One thing’s for sure, though, I’ll have plenty of fond alpha-yet-not-douchy-male/equally-strong-female/sexiness-oh-my/tear-jerking/blissful-sighing moments to keep me company. For that, I will always be grateful.

Rating: DNF

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  1. I am very sorry you feel that way. But I still have to read this book, as I am waiting for the paperback version. I also dislike hardcovers as being to heavy and they require too much space on my overcrowded shelves.

    I really do hope you will love the next one again.

    • Well, it happens sometimes. I came to realize long ago that even favorite series might not always keep giving the satisfaction. I do hope you enjoy it, though when you get your paperback!

  2. It really did feel like Kiss of Snow part 2.

    Buttttt….I kind of liked that. LOL. I’m a hussy for Hawke.

    Interested to see how she handles the next book though!

    • I really wish then that the book had been blurbed as KoS Part 2, it would have probably just been better that way. Cuz Hawke *is* hot. If he’s going to feature in any major way, and he did here, it might as well be all about him. ;)

  3. Aww… sorry you DNFd this one, KMont. I totally agree on the KoS 2 commentary. I wasn’t necessarily happy about that aspect of the book myself since it took the focus away from the main couple so much that it was tough to really connect with them. I’m still hooked on the overall story arc though, and will definitely continue to read the series particularly since its almost at the end.

    • Hils, I was just thinking about you the other day, that I needed to see how you were doing. I hope you’re doing well! For you, I present *internet hugs*. :D

      Thanks for chiming in, it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one disappointed in how this book went (though I don’t wish dissatisfaction on anyone). I have been thinking since I wrote this review and I might give the next book another go, if only to see how the series arc goes. Maybe the next set of characters will sweep me away again.

      • Oh, sorry it took me so long to come back. :(

        I’m doing great! Enjoying the Summer heat and a few days off here and there. ((Hugs)) back to you. :D

        RE: This book. It was definitely a transitional book with lots of filler information. It moved forward the overall story arc by closing up some threads and prepping for the end of this story arc. The characters were relatively unknown to most fans, so there was no real investment there for most readers… and Singh didn’t make us care for them by focusing on other characters instead. But, I did like that she challenged the “mating bond” in this romance, and I don’t mean the way she did with Hawke and Sienna.

        After having read Lover Reborn (Tohr’s story) by Ward, (yes, I read it), and seeing the issue of “mating bond vs. love” in that world fail, well… this was refreshing indeed.

        • Hils, thanks for coming back with some positives on the book! Never know, I might decide to go back and give it another shot one day. ;)

          As for Ward’s work – say no more lol. I haven’t read that series in years and I still know what you mean.

          Glad you’re enjoying summer! If it’s ever not hot enough up there for you just come down here for all the heat lol!

  4. I’m sorry but I totally laughed at the part about being smacked in the face by books because I’m right there with you. It also doesn’t help I’m pretty much blind without my glasses so reading in bed with hardback is always a painful experience.

    Nalini is a great writer, but totally agree with you. Even though Hawke and Sienna are supposed to be awesome and I love reading about the previous couples, but it’s like putting too much into a single book and something has to suffer (in this case, the romance/characters).

    Thanks for this review!

    • I have accidentally whacked myself in the face with a book so many times while in bed! The paperbacks don’t really hurt any less than the hardbacks either. And I wear glasses, too, so now I worry about those expensive things getting damaged.

      Yep, the book did seem to suffer because of the heavy Hawke/Sienna emphasis. It felts more like something that would go in a supporting short story.

  5. Oh, drag, I hate when a beloved author misses the mark. I’m waiting for mass market on this title (although I might break down and borrow it from the library).

    I kind of agree with you on the series arc though. There’s only so many books where I can stay poised on the brink of Armageddon.

    • *There’s only so many books where I can stay poised on the brink of Armageddon.*

      That needs to be on a t-shirt for book conferences. :D

  6. I did finish it and have reread it since, but I do feel that the title was more apropos than it was probably intended: it was a tangle of plot threads, and more than Adria and Riaz’ story, it seemed to me to be a vehicle to move forward all the concurrent stories in the world.

    Which, to me, is still fascinating–I have no problem keeping track of who, what, why and to whom :grin:

    • Well then, give me your brain so I can try it again and enjoy it! :D Mmm, braaaains.

      I did keep wincing at the title. Tangle indeed.

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