Hawke became alpha of the SnowDancer wolf pack when he was only fifteen, following the deaths of both his parents and the previous alpha as part of a coordinated attack by the Psy. He has every reason in the world to hate all Psy, but when the Lauren family defected from the PsyNet and sought refuge among the wolves, he accepted them as part of the pack. From the start, Sienna Lauren has gotten under his skin, but given that she was merely a teenager when her family came to SnowDancer for help, he's kept his interest in check. However, now that she's of age, Hawke finds himself more and more intrigued by her, especially since she's the only female who has ever dared challenge him. Years ago, though, Hawke lost the female who his wolf had chosen as his mate, and since wolves mate for life, he doesn't believe he has anything more to offer Sienna beyond a physical relationship. As he slowly begins to let her into his heart and their romance starts to deepen, it gradually becomes clearer to him that he may be the only thing standing between Sienna and her full-blown self-destruction that just might unintentionally take him and half of SnowDancer with her.
Sienna Lauren is a powerful and rare X-Psy, made all the more unique because she is the only cardinal of that designation ever known to have existed. No X-Psy has ever lived to adulthood, and when they implode, they can do so with the power of a nuclear blast. For many years, she trained in military precision within the PsyNet and ever since her family's defection, she's continued her training with SnowDancer. She's been using her skills to help protect the pack and also to try to keep her abilities in check. However, her power has been building as an exponential rate, and she knows that one day soon, she'll probably explode and may well take all the people she loves with her. Among those people is Hawke, who she's been in love with since they met, but he keeps her at arm's length because of her age. After all she's been through, though, Sienna is mature beyond her years, and eventually her patience pays off when Hawke begins to let her in. Although frustrated by his assertion that he cannot give her the mating bond, she's willing to take whatever part of him she can have. But even if they can find a miracle to stop her impending demise, the Pure Psy faction is prepping for all out war and has SnowDancer, as well as DarkRiver and San Francisco, squarely in their sights, leaving all of their lives hanging in the balance.
Kiss of Snow is the tenth full-length book in Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series. It pairs SnowDancer alpha Hawke with powerful X-Psy Sienna. Hawke gave refuge to Sienna and her family a few years earlier when they defected from the PsyNet, and in the time since, they've all become valued members of the wolf pack. There's been an attraction between Hawke and Sienna almost from the beginning, but because of her youth, Hawke has put a strict lid on any feelings he might be having for her. He also lost his mate years ago, and doesn't believe he has anything to offer her beyond a physical relationship. Lucky for him Sienna is mature beyond her years and just as stubborn as he is, challenging him in ways no one else would dare stand up to the alpha of their pack, which intrigues both man and wolf. But despite her managing to get under his skin, Sienna's time on Earth may be limited. No X-Psy has ever been known to live to full adulthood, and she's already nineteen. Her power is building at an exponential rate, and she's having an increasingly difficult time controlling it. If she reaches the critical point, she could set off the equivalent of a nuclear blast that would obliterate everyone and everything she loves for miles around. Hawke is determined not to let that happen, but he may not have a say if they can't find the information they need to stop it. Elsewhere, the Pure Psy faction is prepping for all-out war and have, not only the SnowDancer den, but also DarkRiver and San Francisco in their sights, leaving the lives of all their citizens hanging in the balance.
Hawke became alpha of the SnowDancer pack at the tender age of fifteen after the death of his father and the previous pack alpha from a Psy attack. His mother died shortly thereafter, leaving him with a huge responsibility for one so young. During those years, he relied a lot on the black and white logic of his wolf side to hold the pack together, and today he's extremely well-respected by all the pack members. I believe it was back in the first book of the series that he welcomed the Laurens into the den, and since then, all the members of the Psy family have become valued pack mates. Sienna was a mere teenager when they came to live in the den, and although Hawke has been aware of her attraction to him for some time, he's ruthlessly shut it down because of her age. While Hawke's age isn't specified, I got the feeling that he's probably in his thirties or at the very least, significantly older than Sienna. He also found his mate when he was a mere child, but she tragically died a few years later. He's been grieving her loss ever since, and with wolves mating only once in a lifetime, he feels he has nothing to give Sienna. However, her challenges keep pricking both man and wolf until he can't seem to resist her anymore. Eventually he grants her skin privileges and gradually their relationship deepens, but despite caring for her, he insists he cannot offer her the mating bond, which leaves her frustrated. However, it doesn't stop him from doing everything in his power to save her when he learns that her power is reaching a critical level. At the same time, he must strategize how best to protect his pack when it becomes apparent that Pure Psy is mobilizing an army to attack.
As I've mentioned before, I'm really picky about my alpha heroes, but lately I've been getting lucky and finding some great ones of which Hawke is one. He always seemed so gruff in the previous books that I wasn't too sure about him, but boy was I wrong. He turned out to be an awesome hero who I absolutely adored. Once he starts letting Sienna in, he warms up very nicely, and while he can be a little bossy, he ultimately respects her as his equal. He's deliciously protective and possessive without being a jerk, and when the time comes, he's all about taking his woman to the heights of ecstasy and making her first time perfect. He's also a powerful warrior and strong leader who needed someone equally powerful by his side, guiding the pack. In fact, he's so powerful that even the wild wolves in their territory recognize him as their alpha and will fight for him, which I thought was cute. I love how he would do anything to try to save Sienna from the fate they believe she's destined for. There wasn't a thing about him not to love, which earned him a spot as, not only one of my favorite heroes of the series, but of all time.
Sienna was ripped away from her family when she was a child by Councilor Ming LeBon who forced military-style training on her at that young age. As a rare X-Psy and the only cardinal ever known to exist, he wanted to use her as a weapon. Eventually her two uncles, Walker and Judd, were able to rescue her from that life, and all of them, including her little brother and cousin, defected from the PsyNet and took refuge with the SnowDancer pack. She's put her military training to good use, and continued it with SnowDancer lieutenant Indigo, wanting to use her skills to protect the pack that has done so much for her and her family. Even as a younger teenager, Sienna was deeply attracted to Hawke, but he's kept her at arm's length because of her age. Although she doesn't really want anyone else, she's been testing the waters a little with the younger males in both her pack and DarkRiver, which gets under Hawke's skin. Under guidance from Sascha and a few of her other pack mates who want to see her and Hawke happy, Sienna continues to push his buttons until he starts to give in. Slowly things begin to heat up between them, but they're often interrupted by pack business and the increasing danger from Pure Psy. Although Hawke is adamant that he can't give Sienna the mating bond, he does eventually give her all that he has to offer. But if they can't find a way to reign in her increasing power and she reaches synergy, she may not be with him much longer and could pose a serious threat to the pack and everyone else for miles around. Sienna may be only nineteen, but she's very mature for her age after all that she's been through. I like that she was able to go toe-to-toe with Hawke and challenge him in ways no one else has. Her power and confidence basically make her an alpha female, but she's one with a softer side that I could relate to. She loves her family and her pack, and gives her all to Hawke when he finally accepts her. She's also very protective of him and everyone else, trying her best to mitigate the danger she poses to them all, even if it means taking herself out of the equation. She's just a very selfless person who is always looking out for others.
Of course, Kiss of Snow has tons of great supporting characters, too, most prominent of which are undoubtedly Walker and pack healer Lara, who have a full secondary romance going on the side. These two have been dancing around each other for a while. Initially it looks like Walker is going to nix any deeper relationship, but he quickly realizes that he can't bear to see Lara with any other male. The quiet, soft-spoken Psy teacher turns out to have a touch of dominance in him, and I loved seeing these two gradually come together. They'll also get a story of their own in Texture of Intimacy, the next novella of the series. DarkRiver alpha Lucas and his mate, Sascha (Slave to Sensation), are eagerly awaiting the birth of the first Psy-Changeling baby. I loved their part of the story and how DarkRiver has become a strong ally with SnowDancer, also fighting the war against Pure Psy. Judd and Brenna (Caressed by Ice) are strong supporting characters as well. Since Judd is Sienna's uncle and a powerful cardinal Psy in his own right and Brenna is one of SnowDancer's top tech people, both are important to the war effort. Lieutenants Riley and Mercy (Branded by Fire) liaise between their two packs to keep things running smoothly. Indigo (Play of Passion) continues to be one of Hawke right-hand people, while her mate, Drew, helps solidify alliances with other nearby packs. Riaz is one of SnowDancer's strongest fighters, and his story will be up next in Tangle of Need. The Arrows appear to be breaking away from the Psy Council and making their own decisions about alliances. Two of them, Vasic and Aden, will become the heroes of Shield of Winter and Shards of Hope respectively. Most of the heroes and heroines of the previous books, along with a couple of other future heroes, play smaller roles as well, while Psy Councilors Nikita and Anthony ally themselves with the two changeling packs for reasons of their own.
Honestly I couldn't have asked for a better read from Kiss of Snow. It has everything I look for in a great romance and then some. Hawke and Sienna are amazing characters who complement each other perfectly and their characterizations are extremely well done. Their relationship is a delicious slow burn as Hawke gradually lets Sienna in and their connection grows in unexpected ways. Because of frequent interruptions and Hawke's desire to make Sienna's first time magical, they don't fully consummate their union until very late in the story, but it was more than worth the wait. There are lots of romantic and sensual moments leading up to the main event and when it happens, the author doesn't skimp on details, making it a delectable treat. I adored the secondary romance between Walker and Lara that was oh, so sweet. Then there's the overarching storylines of Sienna's power reaching synergy soon and Pure Psy declaring war on everyone else that was masterfully plotted. How Ms. Singh resolved Sienna's problem was pure genius and the way things heated up with the Pure Psy faction kept me on the edge of my seat. The first battle may have been won but the war is far from over, and I can't wait to see what happens next. I loved everything about Kiss of Snow and thought it was one of the best books of the series so far that has left me eager to continue very soon.
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