May 29 2014 8:30am

First Look: Nalini Singh’s Shield of Winter (June 3, 2014)

Shield of Winter by Nalini SinghNalini Singh
Shield of Winter
Berkley / June 3, 2014 / $25.95 print, $12.99 digital

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she'll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

Hundreds of years ago, the Psy decided the only way for their race to survive was to silence their emotions—by whatever means necessary. Throughout Nalini Singh's series (Shield of Winter is the thirteenth full-length Psy-Changeling book), we have watched as this decision has come back to haunt them with horrific results. Severing their emotions only served to breed sociopaths within their race, sociopaths who were allowed to prey on one another as well as other races. As evil began to taint the race, infecting and spreading its lethal contagion, we learn that Silence has completely fallen and now the Psy must disregard everything they ever learned if they are to survive.

The Silence Protocol has been the defining aspect of the Psy race for over a hundred years. Conditioned not to feel emotion from childhood, members of the Psy are known for their icy practicality, acute mental abilities, and adherence to strict codes of behavior. It is all they know and all they’ve been since the inception of the Protocol . . . until now.

Fans have begged for Vasic’s story since his introduction and Singh more than delivers here. Vasic is a Psy Arrow who was brutally taught from childhood to bury every single emotion he had through pain and torture.

To be an Arrow is to be an island, devoid of attachments that create vulnerability.

He is winter. Cold, forbidding, and unstoppable. One of the more powerful Psys in existence, he is the crowning glory of his race. But he is tired. He has struggled for so long; his conscience has been constantly at war with his orders. With the fall of Silence, Vasic knows he will stand on the front lines, once again giving his all to save his people. But if he survives, he may finally be free of the constraints holding him.

“...knew exactly how close Vasic was to the edge, that the destruction of, or damage to one more innocent life could snap the razor-fine thread that bound him to the world.”

Ivy Jane is an Psy empath, a very strong empath. As a child, when her shields began to fail and her emotions all but destroyed her, she was brutally rehabilitated and almost made a vegetable. Her parents, seeing what was done to her, quietly disappeared, erasing any and all information that could lead the Arrows or their deadly masters to them.

No one would ever again strap her down and attempt to break her.

She knows when the cold and deadly Arrow shows up that her breach of protocol has been noticed. But instead of dragging her in for a reconditioning, Vasic offers her employment. A chance to stand with other empaths to work to stop the deadly infection that is spreading and killing their race.

“An innocent could not be here, could not attempt to do what you must. For this, the Net needs a warrior.”

Singh’s Psy/Changeling series is one of my top ten favorite paranormal romance series. I absolutely adore the world Singh has created and foften reread this series in its entirety. This glorious alternative world of shifters, humans, and the Psy is ever expanding and evolving with nonstop action, suspense and mystery yet balanced nicely with deliciously steamy romance and light-hearted moments. Its perfect blending and consistency is what makes Nalini Singh a best-selling author.

Shield of Winter, the thirteenth installment in the series, is as intoxicating and engaging as the first. More so, in fact, because in Shield of Winter, Singh is able to impart heartfelt emotion into a love story centering around two people who,  for all intents and purposes, have surrendered their emotions long ago to appease a race that deemed them unacceptable.

Singh does a fantastic job blending the suspense of the story with the sweet and sensual awakening of Vasic and Ivy. The plot was remarkable, but while there is a lot going on, Singh’s clear and concise writing style leaves little confusion. With each scene we watch Vasic and Ivy learn to open themselves up to the unknown.

Now it was too late, his soul pitted and shredded, his hands instruments of death. Still, he could do one thing, he thought, his eyes dropping to the gauntlet that was an outward reminder of his inhumanity.

They face their fears and overcome obstacles while dealing with external factors that might stop them. Neither plot nor romance is sacrificed. They balance and complement each other through the entire arc.

He’d watched her as if she was the only thing in the entire universe... As if he wanted to devour her whole.

He was so beautiful, she thought. All hard lines and strength and a strange, unexpected vulnerability. Of the latter she had no evidence, and yet her instincts insisted.

The supporting characters are intense, well developed, and intertwine with our protagonists to give us a rich, full bodied story. Complex and convoluted, we see good and bad characters are merely defined by degrees of separation and much that has played out behind the scenes comes into the light. Everyone here has an agenda and does not always play by the rules. I found each one to be a satisfying addition to the story. Alliances are made as enemies come out of the woodwork, threatening the well being of all involved.

Their brethren deserved the same happiness, the same steep learning curve anchored in pleasure rather than pain.

Once again, Singh leaves me both satisfied and wanting. Shield of Winter builds a seemingly impossible relationship and gives readers a romance for the ages while continuing to entice readers to join her in her paranormal world. Fans of Singh’s will definitely be adding a new book boyfriend to their already overflowing lists.

Learn more or pre-order a copy of Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh, available June 3, 2014:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Tori Benson can be found at Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
So I jumped out of order to read Heart of Obsidian (even though that usually makes me cringe), and yet, I find Singh's world-building to be so comprehensive the thought of reading this instead of returning to where I left off in the series doesn't freak me out. I can't wait to dive into this one.
2. Torifl
MFrampton-I think that is part of Singh's gift. You can jump out of order without sacrificing too much of arc comprehension. And frankly, this one is SO GOOD!! I
3. Deborah McNemar
I absolutely adore this series and, like you, re-read it often. I'm so very looking forward to this one, to a return to the empaths like Sacha who started it all.
4. Leah227
I am sooooo excited for this book! Thanks for the great review, it's got me even more anxious for Tuesday to hurry up and get here!
5. Lucy D
I loved Vasic and Ivy. After Heart of Obsidian, I wasn't sure where she would go, but this story was definitely the next step and I loved how Vasic and Ivy's story just blended so well with the storyline.
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