4,5 starsNo, but guys, this book is adorable.Bears are now my favorite changelings in this world.They are fun, like that friend you call when you want to have a good time out (but also possibly end up in jail).They are like giant, scary-looking lugs with claws who just want to cuddle and feed you sweets.They have ridiculous feud with wolves (I mean, they like to go out and run in the winter, instead of sleep in warm and relax? Who normal does that?!)And most importantly, there is no alpha postur 4,5 starsNo, but guys, this book is adorable.Bears are now my favorite changelings in this world.They are fun, like that friend you call when you want to have a good time out (but also possibly end up in jail).They are like giant, scary-looking lugs with claws who just want to cuddle and feed you sweets.They have ridiculous feud with wolves (I mean, they like to go out and run in the winter, instead of sleep in warm and relax? Who normal does that?!)And most importantly, there is no alpha posturing or male brooding in the woods, because bears are chill.
I'll put the rest of review under spoiler until book is released, because it's a bit spoiler-ish on some parts of book and characters without giving the story away. :)(view spoiler)[Set in Moscow, directly after main players of previous arc established Trinity Accords, the story follows the courting of Silver Mercant, Kaleb Krychek's most capable assistant by StoneWater alpha, Valentin Nikolaev.It's not by accident I put the focus on romance part- Valentin made this book for me. I was always adamant in my preference for Nalini's world-building, especially in last couple of books, but for some reason, romance just worked for me here. Basically, Valentin is head over hills for Silver right from the start (we are informed he is trying to woo her for 10 months already), when there is sudden attempt on her life. In agreement with Ena Mercant, Silver ends up being his guest in Denhome, where he can protect her until they find out who's behind it. Hence, bear pack has a lot of page time and we are getting a lot of those, every-day cute pack moments that were really charming to read because bears (see above). Let me tell you more about our hero. Valentin is fun, playful and generally high spirited fellow (he has responsibilities, challenges and problems, but he's not overwhelming with it and it's not of source of some man pain that stops him from being happy or smthng like that). Where traditional alpha hero is impressed with heroine who doesn't back off and go toe-to-toe with him, Valentine would gladly sprawl all over ground, madly grinning, and let her walk over him because he likes how strong she is. It's not that he can't, it's not that he doesn't have backbone- it's just his mo; he is manipulative like that. :)He also has PhD in psychiatry, which I thought was kind of odd at first, but when you find out more about his background, it becomes clear why he chose that field. There were small touches in building new characters that were really neat and maybe it's the fact they are new changeling species... but everything about them reads fresh, funny and exciting, like NS wanted to tell us about these awesome bears for a long time. :)Silver is a perfect Mercant which is NOT equal to the perfect Psy as we know them- they have their own set of rules. But, Silver being who she is, is also why I liked the dynamic between her and Valentin. She doesn't have to change or adjust herself to him and his Pack, she just needs to let them in her life and stay who she is. I think that's especially obvious when it comes to Silence. She doesn't break her Silence because of him like we're used to reading- she considered it already following the knowledge of what it did to her people and her own shields, Valentine just gave her means and reason to do something about it sooner. Now, if romance did work, my issues are mostly tied to the new arc, or specifically, where it is supposed to go.In first arc (books #1-#12) main characters had a purpose and story had a direction (fall of Silence). We were aware of who is the enemy (The Council) and we knew that our heroes who were of all three races (psy, changelings and humans) have to work together to accomplish their goal. Mini-arc (books #13-#15), tied some loose ends and gave a world some gravity since that big of a change couldn't be enforced without problems and issues- even opposing parties had a point and right to be scared of new age until they knew more and saw consequences. But Silver Silence told me we are still hazy on those details when it comes to second arc. Here, the good guys are trying to maintain status quo, while bad guys throw obstacles at them, but without any clear target or reason why (from hating psy-changeling hybrid child, to hating Trinity because it includes humans to hating Psy for everything they did or just because they will thrive in chaos- there were just too many reasons for attacks on innocent people in books so far after Council was demolished and it's hard to keep track). Lack of coherence can also be attributed to the fact we don't have one, definite villain- we have these bad guys with sinister names (the Architect, The Patriot), but they are not rounded and they read the same and can only be distinguished by these different causes which again, are confusing and random or they even contradict at one point. Everything regarding attacks from these sinister groups in book was so-so, and I just powered through it to come to more interesting story which for me was definitely Bear pack.More observation:- possibly interesting in next books - there is still lingering fear among humans of Psy and their psychic powers and distrust that's deeply rooted. Considering they need them, I am curious to see how will NS resolve this in the future.- Gay bear was a cute touch. (◡‿◡✿)-I want more excerpts from Wild Woman magazine (hide spoiler)]Thank you to publisher and Nalini for kindly providing me an ARC for review. more