Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy-Changeling, #14
Hero: Aden Kai
Heroine: Zaira Neve
Date of Publication: June 02, 2015
Started On: January 23, 2016
Finished On: January 24, 2016
Shards of Hope is the 14th book in the phenomenal Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh. The series has come such a long way since its first book was published in 2006. Nalini has managed to turn things around in a world occupied by humans, changelings and Psy; the majority trying to find their footing amidst the rapidly changing landscape of politics and power that shapes their world. Nalini Singh is a master at what she does; the world crafting, the storytelling, the romance that she pens so well and the adventure that you are guaranteed in each of these novels. I love her stories for the depth of characterization explored, the strong sense of justice and right and wrong that she explores in her stories. Of course, there are the heroes that one salivates over and the heroines who makes you wish you were as strong as them – but they are relatable in a way that makes the stories the sumptuous delights they are.
Shards of Hope begins 4 months after the fall of Silence. Silence refers to a protocol adopted by the Psy in 1979 in order to stop the madness that their race seems to prone to; the violence that strikes rendering their race to become mindless creatures that goes on a rampage of killing and blood lust. The Psy had done whatever they did back then, in order to protect the minds of a race with the enhanced abilities of the mind they are gifted with. Aden Kai is the leader of the Arrows, a sort of paramilitary group that exists to protect the Psy race. With the fall of the Silence, and even before that, the subordination that had been demanded of them for political gain had fallen apart, leaving Aden as the one whom all Arrows trust and would give up their life for.
When Aden and Zaira Neve are kidnapped and tested upon by forces unknown, thus begins a cycle of events that changes things for the Arrows as a group and for Aden and Zaira both in terms of what their relationship means to them and their future. Aden, the offspring of two Arrows who had seen nothing worthy inside of him had handed him over to the Arrow training facility while he was quite young, which was the norm back then. Zaira had been a victim of parental abuse which had nearly ended her life, not owing to them, but because she had stood up to them, which had ended in a blood bath brought upon by sheer rage. That rage that lives within her, the scars that defines her, are the very reasons why she puts up the walls she does when she is around Aden, to stop him from enticing her and convincing her that they belong together, in fact, that Zaira had belonged to him from the very moment their lives had crossed paths.
Aden is a hero inside whom the word honor echoes with every breathe he draws. It is that honor and integrity that is the selling point when it comes to him, when it comes to leading a group of lethal soldiers who could at his command, make the whole world bleed. Aden wants something entirely different for his Arrows whom he considers to be his family. With the fall of Silence, problems that they would never have anticipated comes to light, but Aden is determined that he would change the lives of Arrows from one where they exist only to fulfill their duties to a life that is filled with warmth, love and a sense of belonging. A tall order for a group of people whose conditioning from a very tender age had taught them just the opposite.
Zaira’s story is one of heartbreak, but that of immense strength as well. A lesser woman would have crumbled and gone mad long back. But Zaira withstands the onslaught of rage that threatens to make her give into her baser desires. Zaira knows that if she ever were to consider Aden as hers, her possessive nature would be the death of the man Aden has to be for his Arrows. But in Aden’s arms Zaira finds solace, comfort and desire of the kind that she would never find elsewhere in the world. With every touch, every kiss that Aden places on her forehead, lips and her subconscious mind, Aden wins her over. Aden’s patience when it comes to Zaira is one that is worthy of noting. But then again, I wouldn’t have expected anything less from the man who would walk to hell on earth and back, not only for Zaira, but each and every man and woman who serves on his team of elite soldiers.
It is a testament to Nalini Singh’s incredible talent that none of the stories appear to be cliched versions of earlier books. It is that very reason amongst a multitude of others, that would always keep me coming back for more! The unfinished thread in Shards of Hope is one that intrigues me and I can’t wait to find out what is in store for the Psy, Changelings and the humans. According to Nalini, Allegiance of Honor, the 15th book in the series which is to come out this year is going to be composed of an ensemble cast. Can’t wait for June!
Final Verdict: Nothing short of amazing; bears witness to Nalini’s splendorous talent.
Pushing off the wall without warning, she walked around the corner and into a small alcove hidden from the world by a heavy mass of overhanging vines as well as its position tucked in between two buildings.
“Zaira.” Aden followed her. “What—”
Slamming him against the wall, she pressed her lips to the strong, powerful beat of the pulse in his neck. Since she was already falling into the abyss, her control shredded, why deny herself the pleasure that was the flip side of the nightmare memories she could no longer stifle?
He shuddered, one hand sliding up to curve over the back of her neck. And then their mouths were meeting and it was wild and undisciplined, wet and hot, and she stopped thinking, the rage in her drugged into a haze of want focused on this beautiful man whose hunger for her seemed as feral as hers for him.
Chest rising and falling in harsh breaths and pupils dilated, Aden watched her mouth as if he’d devour her all over again.
Zaira was fine with being devoured. Fine. “I’m meant to be the out-of-control one,” she whispered.
He shot her a look that made her burn, made her realize just how much he kept contained beneath his calm, stable skin. It felt as if he’d shown her a secret, shown her a small madness within himself. She couldn’t stop herself. She pressed close, claimed another kiss, was claimed, that strong hand on her jaw and his body crushing her to the wall.
And Zaira realized that some prisons could equal pleasure, not pain.
“You are so beautiful.” The words came out raw.
Freezing, she looked up at him for a long, long time. “You mean it,” she whispered “You really do.”
He didn’t understand why she’d even question that, but he didn’t have time for a discussion. Not today. Bending his head, he kissed her. She opened for him immediately, one of her legs curling over his hip in a distinctively possessive act. Reaching down, he pulled up her other leg until she was locked around him, her arms wrapped around his neck as she held him to her.
“Mine,” she said on a kiss.
The single word branded him to the soul. “Yes.”
He didn’t ask again, just gripped her under the hip with one strong hand and pushed the tip of his erection into her passion-swollen entrance.
Sliding his other hand under her neck to hold it gently but with unmistakable possessiveness, he said, “This’ll hurt.”
Kissing him again in answer, she spoke to him mind to mind. I choose this pain, she said. I choose you.
“You’re already mine.” It came out instinctively, from that primal, possessive core at the heart of her nature.
He pressed his forehead to hers, not fighting her hold. “I know, but do you?” His hair fell over his forehead to brush hers. “Deep inside, do you know?”
She didn’t understand his question, and the frustration made her pull at his hair. “Stop talking in circles.”
“A psychic bond,” he said, his mind touching hers.
She wanted to open so badly to him. “If you do that, I won’t ever let you go.” If the physical connection had sealed them together, this would turn that seal into an unbreakable glue. “Even my death won’t free you.” The psychic scars would be irreparable.
“Whether we bond or not, your loss would change me forever.” A quiet voice that held so much power it vibrated with it. “You are written indelibly on my soul, Zaira. Nothing will ever alter what you are to me.”
Slamming both hands palms down on either side of her head as the sound of his name on her lips further eroded his control, Aden used the leverage to pull back as much as he could, given her grip on him, before sinking deep into her once again in another hard thrust. She was wet, tight heat around his cock and silken, lithe warmth around his body.
“My Zaira,” he said, his voice so rough the words were almost unrecognizable.
He’d intended to give her romance tonight, too, but the bond pulsed with a visceral need he had to assuage. Realizing he was still gripping the ring, he pushed it into her hand. “Put it on me.” He was hers in every way that mattered—the ceremony would be for others, for their friends and those in their care. This was for them.
Kissing his jaw, his throat, she looked down and, picking up his hand, slid on the ring. “All mine.”
“Always have been.”
Groaning, he reached between them and somehow managed to undo his jeans, shove down the denim and his briefs. It took a little more effort to kick them off, but he was highly motivated.
Naked at last, he nudged aside the gusset of her panties. A single stroke of his finger through her wetness and her back arched, the sensations that came shooting back at him through the bond threatening to make his eyes roll back in his head. Then she bit him on the jaw and it was all over.
He thrust into her wet heat in a single, demanding push.