A violent new gang has moved into DarkRiver territory in San Francisco, but the leopard pack has no intention of letting them win. When Ria, a young human woman whose family is being leaned on for protection money, is brutally attacked one evening, Emmett, a DarkRiver soldier, takes it personally. He's not about to let a lady being harmed on his watch pass without exacting vengeance. He also takes it upon himself to lend his personal protection to both her and her family. Being so close to the curvy, spirited Ria is a temptation that tests both man and beast.
Ria Wembley is being pressured by her family to enter into what amounts to an arranged marriage, but she has no interest in the man they've been pushing toward her. Emmett, however, presents an exciting enticement. The barely leashed beast inside him pushes her to her limits, and Ria has never been one to walk away from a challenge. But word on the streets is that the leopards are a very insular group who won't accept a human within their ranks. Will Emmett's pack prove them wrong, and will Ria's overprotective family ever accept him either?
Whisper of Sin is a Psy/Changeling novella that falls between the prequel novella "Beat of Temptation" and the first full-length novel, Slave to Sensation, in the series chronology. It's the story of Emmett and Ria, who my foggy memory seems to recall may have been in Slave to Sensation. Emmett is a soldier for the DarkRiver pack and an engineer for DarkRiver Construction. Ria is just finishing up college classes and looking for her first real job outside of her family's store, and eventually finds employment as Lucas's administrative assistant at DarkRiver Construction. Ria's family is being shaken down for protection money by a gang that's moved into DarkRiver territory in San Francisco. On her way home one night, she's brutally attacked by their goons who assault and nearly rape her before Emmett and other pack members come to her aid. Feeling guilty that a lady was harmed on his watch, Emmett sets up a protection detail for Ria and her family, and assigns himself the task of being her personal bodyguard. Although Ria's overprotective family is trying to steer her into an arranged marriage, she has no interest in the guy they're pushing on her, while Emmett holds all kinds of attraction for her. While Emmett and the pack investigate and work to eliminate the gang, things heat up between him and Ria.
For its short length, Whisper of Sin was a pretty good novella. I generally liked both Emmett and Ria. I like the way Emmett comforts Ria following the attack and can't seem to let her go. With their inner beast in play, the male Changelings in this series tend to be pretty intensely alpha, which doesn't always work well for me. I thought that maybe Emmett came on just a tad too strong, too soon, given that Ria was so recently attacked, but otherwise, I liked him and felt that he found a decent balance between being protective and possessive of his woman and having gentler moments, too. Ria is a little spitfire, who can be rather temperamental at times, but not to the point that she was irritating. She still lives at home with her family, which I think is mainly a product of her Asian heritage. But that doesn't stop her from standing up for herself and seeking her independence. Due to the shortness of the story, Emmett and Ria's relationship does develop very quickly, almost a little too quickly to be entirely believable even with Emmett's animal mating nature in play. I struggled a bit to put my finger on exactly what drew them to each other and made them fall in love, although I'll admit that I felt a connection between them during the intimate scenes.
There are several common Changeling characters who pop up during the story including Lucas (Slave to Sensation), Tamsyn and Nate ("Beat of Temptation"), Dorian (Hostage to Pleasure), and Clay (Mine to Possess). I also enjoyed Ria's family, particularly her grandmother, who despite their overprotectiveness are good people who really care about her. The writing was generally good with my only small issue being that the author has a penchant for using short phrases in place of full sentences (eg. "A small wicked smile." instead of He gave her a small wicked smile. Or "Another kiss before he straightened." instead of He kissed her again before he straightened.) These are peppered throughout the narrative. I can't recall if Nalini Singh commonly did this in her other stories I read or not, but it kind of annoyed me here because IMHO, writing this way both makes the narrative passive rather than active and it feels lazy, as though the author couldn't be bothered to form complete sentences. Also while Emmett does use his cat senses to investigate, he never shifts, which was just a tad disappointing. Otherwise, though, I didn't have any major problems with the story, so overall this was a good novella and a nice addition to the series. Whisper of Sin was originally published in the multi-author anthology Burning Up and was later reprinted as a stand-alone ebook.
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