The Book Gourmet

Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.



Professional Reader Reviews Published

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

— feeling amazing
Silver Silence - Nalini Singh

Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bear clan, has found Silver Mercant fascinating since their first meeting. She’s also his mate, so is it any wonder man and bear has been trying to get a proverbial foot in the door for months...To no avail. Until, one day, he finally steps foot into her apartment, but not under auspicious circumstances, since the woman is convulsing in his arms. Reason: fast-acting poison.

With the help of the famous Mercant Grandmother, Valentin finally gets Silver under his own roof (the next best thing for a bear wanting to court his mate, the best being kidnapping), and he’s determined to pull out all the stops to claim the woman who holds his heart.

Surprisingly, after a few initial hurdles, Silver is more than willing to experiment life beyond her Silence, but she does have her reasons. Her time is running out, her brain a ticking bomb. But Valentin is willing to do anything to save his Starlight. He’s willing to bear it all if only she remains breathing. Even if it means that saving her life might destroy them both.

There are books that make you reevaluate your opinion of a certain author (in a good or a bad way) and there are books that simply reiterate the talent of the author in creating memorable characters and stories while never letting down their “guard” when it comes to world-building. This book falls in the latter category.

Silver Silence is the first installment in the so-called second season (I’ll just call it chapter) of the Psy-Changeling series, and, like the first installment in the first chapter, Slave to Sensation it’s more of an introduction in future story arcs and villains as far as the suspense plotlines go, but, as the aforementioned book, it packed quite a punch in the terms of romance and romance-related drama and angst.

But, as soon as we came accustomed to the formula or template Ms Singh uses to write her romances (loads of drama and angst before the requisite HEA), she went and turned it all around, putting the drama and heartache after it all looked to be going nicely. Of course, the main couple found happiness too soon in the story and leaving it at it would’ve ended up in cheese and sap, the complete opposite of what we’ve come to expect from this masterful author. So, she dangled the carrot and promptly snatched it away.
And this what I love most about her writing. She keeps us on our toes. We know everything will turn out fine (it’s a romance, after all), but she succeeds in spreading little seeds of doubt with all those, sometimes seemingly insurmountable, obstacles she throws into her characters’s paths.
This story was no different. Predictable (in the sense of it being a romance with the requisite HEA in the end), while not being predictable at all.

The romance between Valentin and Silver was absolutely beautiful. I hoped, I laughed, I cried, and I suffered right alongside them. Their “star-crossed” romance was right alongside that of Hawke and Sienna in Kiss of Snow (with the latter still being my favorite, because, you know, Hawke), both in beauty and in the suffering.

Valentin was your typical NS Changeling alpha, but unlike his “predecessors”, Lucas and Hawke (cat and wolf) this bear was, despite his huge body, a true teddy bear, a romantic, love-struck and love-sick, lovable idiot carrying his heart on his sleeve for the whole world to see. He took his punches like a man, refusing to back down or crumble when his heart got bruised by his clan, his mother or the woman who was his other half. And I loved him for it. Here he was, an alpha with a heart of gold, unabashedly unembarrassed about showing it. He was who he was, completely comfortable in his skin and in his emotions. And don’t get me started on his stubborn refusal to back down (twice in one single book) in front of the majestic obstacle that was Silver Fucking Mercant and her Silence. The way he figured was, if he’s worn her down once, he’d do it the second time...Or die trying.
What to say about Silver, but the fact she paled a little in contrast with her bear. I’m sure that wasn’t Ms Singh’s intention, I’m betting these two were paired especially for the contrasts between their personas, both inside and out. And although I found her interesting from the first book she appeared in, she didn’t strike me as heroine material. I was proved wrong in her book, once we actually got to know the real Silver, what made her tick, why she was the way she was, but still, put side by side with her bear, said bear wins every time. Maybe because he had the more “tragic” role in their star-crossed love story, because he endured much more during the later chapters...I don’t know. However, she was a force to be reckoned with, especially when she went into full-on mama bear mode.
But yes, they were the perfect together, equals no matter their background or race, a perfect pairing to bring us into the future of the Trinity Accord and the future of all three races.

As in all “first books”, the world-building is key. But since we already know this particular world, this aspect of story-telling could’ve lagged behind. Yet it didn’t. There’s much about this futuristic “alternative reality” we’re not yet privy to, and Ms Singh decided to expand on some aspect of it we’ve only heard of in passing—the bear society offers a completely new part of this universe, similar yet different from the cat and wolf packs we’ve come to know and love. They’re also a unit, but with a different “personality” and “feel”, deceptively laid-back, their mostly good-natured behavior hiding cunningly sharp intelligence. Compared to the other two predatory changeling “species”, the bears don’t flaunt their superior strength, obviously using their bonhomie to lull their opponent into a false sense of security.
Which is just what Valentin did when it came to Silver. The girl never knew what hit her. And yes, once more, I loved them to bits.

You know what else the “first books” don’t have in spades? Suspense or sense of imminent danger. This one had its share of villain-y, but it had more of an ominous feel to it, despite some of it being pretty darn close to the center of all the action. It felt as if true danger is still lurking in the background, waiting in the sidelines for the optimum time of attack, which is the perfect way to go while writing a series. You don’t show all your cards at once, building the suspense, maintaining the intensity, keeping the reader (and the characters) guessing.
It worked in the “first season”, it should work in the second.

This book, for me, had it all. Old (some only in mention) and new characters, old (some only in mention) and new parts and aspects of the Psy-Changeling universe, a stunningly beautiful romance with the right amount of heartbreak thrown in to keep us on our toes, unpredictable predictability, drama, action, suspense, and the promise of danger to whet our appetites for more.

For the next installment, can we maybe have another human-Psy pairing? Maybe a cardinal M-Psy capable of repairing both damage from a gunshot wound and human brain? *hint hint*