Alpha wolf Selenka Durev’s devotion to her pack is equaled only by her anger at anyone who would harm those under her care. That currently includes the empaths who’ve flowed into her city for a symposium that is a security nightmare, a powder keg just waiting for a match.
Ethan Night is an Arrow who isn’t an Arrow. Numb and disengaged from the world, he’s loyal only to himself. Assigned as part of the security force at a world-first symposium, he carries a dark agenda tied to the power-hungry and murderous Consortium. Then violence erupts and Ethan finds himself crashing into the heart and soul of an alpha wolf.
Mating at first sight is a myth, a fairytale. Yet Selenka’s wolf is resolute: Ethan Night, broken Arrow and a man capable of obsessive devotion, is the mate it has chosen. Even if the mating bond is full of static and not quite as it should be. Because Selenka’s new mate has a terrible secret, his mind surging with a power that is a creature of madness and death…
Nineteen full-length novels into this series and Nalini Singh continues to hit it out of the park. She makes this fascinating world, with characters I care about come to vivid life.
I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book. You probably could: Nalini Singh tells you everything that’s absolutely essential to understand this story. But you’re going to miss a wealth of history, world-building, and excellent stories.
I’ve always really enjoyed that the mating bond was never immediate or even necessary. Yes, it’s a an uncontrollable force or indicator of the possibilities between a couple; but it’s not just some mystical force pulling two strangers together, who then had to learn to love each other. It also wouldn’t tear a committed couple apart. So even though it is mystical and magical, it still requires choice on behalf of both parties.
I’m not saying that the “fated mates” trope is bad. It’s not. I enjoy it immensely. But I like variety, too. And here, with this mating-at-first-sight, Nalini Singh gives me more variety. The mating bond snaps into place before they have the chance to exchange a few words; but it doesn’t mean that it’s smooth sailing from there.
Both Selenka and Ethan have deep wounds and baggage. They have to navigate getting to know each other while also dealing with threats to Selenka’s pack. Neither is easy. What I loved about them is that they both went into the mating with open eyes and open hearts. They learned each other naturally, in the things they did, the conversations had, and the choices made.
I think that’s what I enjoy most about this series: yes, there’s a mating bond, but there’s also a sense of relationship built. When we get to the end of each of these books, I’m confident in their relationship. Not because of the “magic,” but because they know who each other are. They respect, care about, and love that person – precisely because of who they are.
My heart broke for Ethan. The things that some Psy put people through, it’s horrific. The absolute devotion that he shows to Selenka, the one who’d tried to save him, alongside the absolute lack of trust in most people was heartbreaking. Seeing him build relationships, beyond the one with his mate, was like cool rain on heated skin.
I don’t think we knew much more than the bare essentials of Selenka before we got to this book, but I loved seeing more another female Alpha. She’s strong, secure, and confident. Even when she’s being pulled in a million different directions, some of them the most painful possible, she still has it all under control.
I won’t say much about the plot, because it’s a long-running arc at this point, but I will say that the PsyNet is in even worse trouble than before. I’ve got some thoughts on who the Architect may be, but regardless who it is, they’re incredibly dangerous.
I can’t wait to see what happens next, especially after that ending! Nalini Singh continues to offer up amazing paranormal romances, filled with heat, humor, drama, and – most of all – heart.