Monday, November 09, 2009

Branded By Fire by Nalini Singh

Title: Branded By Fire
Author: Nalini Singh

Type: Paranormal
Series: Psy-Changeling
Published: 2009

Blurb: Though DarkRiver sentinel Mercy is feeling the pressure to mate, she savagely resists when Riley Kincaid, a lieutenant from the SnowDancer pack, tries to possess her. The problem is not simply that he pushes her buttons; the problem is that he’s a wolf, she’s a cat, and they’re both used to being on top.

But when a brilliant changeling researcher is kidnapped from DarkRiver territory, Mercy and Riley must work together to track the young man—before his shadowy captors decide he’s no longer useful. Along the way, the two dominants may find that submitting to one another uncovers not just a deadly conspiracy, but a passion so raw that it’ll leave them both branded by fire…

Why: Singh is an auto-read.

Thoughts: Singh's Psy-Changeling series is a sure thing for me. No matter my reading mood, I know I'll fall in love and sigh in contentment every time I enter this world. Unfortunately, in Branded By Fire, that love and contentment was disturbed--slightly--by annoyance. Eight books into the series now, Singh is compelled to clue new-to-the-series readers in now and again. The background, while necessary and not overdone at all, annoyed me a bit only because I already know all that stuff. Conversely, as the conflict deepens and the number of factions grows, Singh's world is reaching a point of complexity I'm not sure I want. It's a lot to follow, a lot to remember.

What absolutely worked: True to form, Singh keeps the focus primarily on the H/H. In this, I was hooked. Almost right from the first page, something else Singh manages every time out. Riley and Mercy are familiar characters, but watching them turn their aggression on each other was startling (in a very good way). These were two very powerful characters and Singh balanced their need for dominance beautifully--right along a knife's edge. There was nothing lacking in their story. Nothing at all. And maybe, even more breath-hitching moments than usual. All fabulous.

What didn't: The backdrop however, fell slightly flat for me. Like I said, it was hard to keep up with the who, what, when and where intrinsic to the external conflict(s). And there were inconsistencies or loose ends (to my mind) uncharacteristic of Singh's previous Psy-Changeling installments. One example was the kidnap victim's refusal to clue Pack leaders into his work--the reason behind the kidnapping. It didn't fit for me. Seemed to me that Pack leaders would have followed that thread more closely and more quickly to the bad-guy source. In another example, the Pack(s) allowed a rebel group, split off from the core of the enemy (on their word), to go on back to hiding while they sorted it all out. That too felt atypical. There was also the murder of a key underground figure that went virtually untouched.

These all felt like loose or unanswered ends to me. Events that Singh will surely bring back and tie up in future installments. But I swear in all of her previous books, the events and outcomes were more tightly woven. Maybe even to the degree that a new reader could enjoy any one of those books as a standalone. Branded By Fire, by comparison, lacked that symmetry.

Still a sure thing for me, as romance trumps world-building on my preference scale. However, I will go into Blaze Of Memory a bit more hesistantly--wondering if I need a primer to sort out all of the threats to Silence, potential repercussions if it breaks, and to figure out who is behind the mad-scientist stuff.


  1. I think that Ms Singh has reached a level of complexity where she can no longer tie everything in a neat bow.

    Personally, I don't enjoy the Council's scenes very much, but at least, not as bad as the lessers in the BDB by J.R. Ward. As for the murder at the end, they didn't know. I mean, nobody knows that the guy was "possessed" right? but I think it'll re-surface in the future. There is so much that she is now building the future stories.

    but yeah, at least the romance was great :D

    Blaze of Memory was actually better, politically and faction-wise.

  2. I don't mind the Council scenes Nath is talking about because I think they give balance to the books and also can create intrigue with who's scheming and for what...

    OTOH, I think I'd call this one of my least favorites of the series. Mercy and Riley seem to actually dislike each other at times and I don't mean in a flirty sexual tension way.

    But, you know, not enough to make me stop reading the series.

  3. Hmmm, I think it was the Alliance and all of its parts that confused me most. And admittedly, that could have been my fault. You know how sometimes you read with one eye on the book and the other on your kid/spouse/spaghetti sauce? Might have missed something key.

    I never got the sense that they didn't like each other. Glad of that.

    Agree, not enough to make me stop reading the series. No way.

  4. No, actually, I thought it was done in a flirty, I'm attracted to you but don't want to dislike way.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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