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Bookpushers Joint Review – Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling # 14) by Nalini Singh

cover_shards-of-hopePublisher: Berkley
Publish Date: Out now
Reviewed by: E, MinnChica, Has, Lou, Marlene
How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.
Blurb came from Goodreads.

Thoughts on the Hero

Has: I have been waiting for Aden’s book for awhile, and Shards of Hope was not a disappointment! I loved that there were a few surprises and secrets which Aden had and that really heightened his character for me because I really didn’t expect those twists and turns. I also loved how he shone as a leader and the reasons why the Arrows turned to him for guidance especially with the fall of Silence and the chaotic aftermath. But I really loved his relationship with Zaira which was full of nuance that ranged from protector to lover. I adored their romance because I am a fan of Psy/Psy pairings and I was curious to see how two Arrows will play out. I really liked how their romance developed especially with Aden being the instigator but also how patient and gentle with Zaira.

E: Ever since I realized Singh was going to expand her romantic pairings to more of the Psy I have been hoping for Aden’s story. When the last story, SHIELD OF WINTER, ended up being Vasic’s. I wished even harder for Aden to have his own story. The bond he had with Vasic was so deep to me the thought of him being left on the sidelines was heartwrenching. I loved Aden as the hero. Getting to know what made him tick, the special twist on his abilities, how much he depended on others, and how passionate he was about saving his Arrows and any child with potentially lethal powers was so moving. As much as he cared, his journey out of Silence and learning how to be complete leader was a slow one. His interactions with Zaira, the Changelings, humans, and other Psy were complicated and nuanced. He didn’t have all the answers but he was willing to listen, learn, adapt, and never give up. He put those traits to use in so many different aspects professional and personal **shivers** something about all of that intensity focused on a single thing. I loved seeing his relationships grow and develop and had to reach for tissues more than once. Aden so lived up to his potential.

Marlene: I also loved Aden as the hero. He’s been such a rock for all of the other Arrows, he absolutely deserved his own HEA. There were so many reveals about Aden’s background, his past, and his powers. It was marvelous that the Arrows chose a leader who they knew was not perfectly Silent, which in some ways proves that neither are they. I also liked the way that Aden showed his vulnerabilities. Not just that he loved Zaira, but that he cared deeply for all of his teammates and wanted to make a better life, and a better world for them. Even if he had to admit his own lack of knowledge to outsiders. He learns trust, and by example, so do the rest of the Arrows.

MinnChica: I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for Aden’s story for what seems like FOREVER! I couldn’t wait to find out more about the leader of the Arrow’s, and Singh doesn’t disappoint. I loved everything about Aden, I loved learning more about his power, his history, and his bond with his fellow teammates. Aden made me melty in ways that few heroes do. He was alpha to the core, while still being so considerate and kind and loving toward everyone around him. Ohhh, love love love!!!

Lou: Aden, Aden, Aden. How I freaking ADORE you. I was so excited to finally get your story, and like Minn said above, Singh does not disappoint. Aden was so loyal, protective and loving not only towards Zaira but to everyone he thought of as family, including the Arrow family and the little ones. He and Zaira have known each other for almost a life-time and his need and love for her never abated and he never gave up hope on Zaira battling the rage inside her after her monstrous childhood. Aden is everything the Arrows need. A more than capable leader with decency and honour. Go Aden!

Thoughts on the Heroine

Has: When I first learned that Zaira would be paired off with Aden, I wasn’t too sure, but within a few pages of this book she won me over. In fact, I think she has become one of my favourite Nalini Singh’s heroines because she was fantastic! I loved that she was badass but at the same time vulnerabilities with her fear of unleashing psychotic violence onto others. Her struggles and development with believing in herself along with Aden’s ardent support and love was wonderful to see and I really enjoyed how she started to open herself to new possibilities and hope. Another thing I really adored was the role reversal between Aden and Zaira because in a lot of ways I felt that she had the position of the alpha possessive protector while he was the nurturer/carer. I really liked their dynamics because Nalini Singh explored those roles in the plot with people taken by surprised by Zaira.

E: So not only can Singh make me think a psychopathic man is an awesome hero she also did the same with her latest heroine. I remembered glimpses of Zaira from earlier stories but my heart broke for the child she was, who she became, and what she had to overcome as an adult. This was certainly a graphic example of how the Arrows saved useful lives. Seeing her vulnerable in a sense yet still extremely dangerous and concerned about what she would/could do to others was very telling. And then seeing how she reacted to the most vulnerable of all, children regardless of affiliation really made my heart melt. Her determination in the face of so many odds against her was very impressive and I could see why she was perfect for Aden. Zaira had so much emotional depth hidden by bone chilling anger that seeing the softer side come out not just in private with Aden but in public said so much.

Marlene: I love Zaira’s slow acceptance of herself, which allows her to reintegrate her personality and lets her love Aden back. Or lets her admit to herself that she has loved Aden all along. Discovering Zaira’s background makes the reader’s heart absolutely bleed for her. It is a weird twist that Zaira and Aden were both born for what they could do, not for themselves or because their parents loved them or any other purpose. They were bred to be used. Aden’s childhood in the Arrows was slightly less abusive, but isn’t that saying something? Silence was better for Zaira than where she came from, which just gives the reader even more insight into just how much abuse was concealed or abetted by Silence.

Zaira’s openness and desire to protect the children – all the children, comes so clearly out of a need to protect her younger self, and it is touching and heartbreaking at the same time.

MinnChica: I adored Zaira. Normally I’m a little gun-shy about Singh’s Psy heroines. Other than Sasha and Sienna, I’ve struggled to connect with most of the others, especially when they are paired with non-changeling heroes. But Zaira was wonderful. She was so caring and sweet and protective. She wanted the very best for her fellow Arrow’s, young and old. Despite her self-doubt in her ability to truly care for Aden without destroying him, she was such a sweetheart heroine that I adored from the first page to the very last.

Lou: I also wasn’t sure about Zaira. She hadn’t been seen much and I wanted Aden’s heroine to be perfect for him. And Zaira was perfect for Aden! Zaira had her own battles inside her after an abusive childhood so horrendous that left her with what she called her madness. Zaira’s mind doesn’t work quite like others, but like Aden, she is loyal and would kill anyone who dared hurt hers, especially Aden who she is very, very posessive over. It was a role-reversal in a way. Zaira looked after Aden and she was so fucking kick-ass. One of Nalini’s most memorable heroines.

Favorite Scene

Has: Oh like all Nalini’s books, there were several standout scenes but I think the scenes that really stood out for me was in the beginning when Zaira and Aden’s psychic abilities were blocked due to them being captured previously. I loved their scene in the Changeling aerie where they both tentatively bonded by recognising their deeper feelings for each other. I really felt that was a turning point for Zaira’s character especially. Another scene is at the end when Aden was attacked and she went into full on badass mode to get the perpetrator.

E: So many fabulous scenes. My first favorite did take place in the Changeling aerie when Zaira decides she is going to keep the jacket Aden loaned her. He mentions she will need to hem the sleeves because they are too long for her and she said she will just fold them because she might lend it to him sometimes. “Then it would smell like him again.” Complete melt of my heart. The second is later in the book when Aden and Zaira are about to take out a target and she notices that Aden doesn’t appear to be completely in control. “He shot her a look that made her burn, made her realize just how much he kept contained beneath his calm, stable skin.” Together those two scenes really made it evident the intense attraction was on both sides and each had been hiding their feelings from the other for quite some time. Besides, I really enjoyed seeing the emotion in this pairing of two Psy who did not have the E designation.

Marlene: My favorite scene starts on page one and ends on page 496.

MinnChica: Like Marlene, I think those whole book was my favorite scene. 🙂 BUT, if I had to pick just one, I think the entire time that Aden and Zaira were with the small shifter pack was probably my favorite. I loved the way Aden bonded and got the chance to talk with another alpha about the best ways to care for a pack. And the bond that Zaira started with the young changeling was adorable!!

Lou: My favourite scene was Aden and Zaira special moments together. There’s not a lot of sex scenes in this book but I adored the closeness Aden and Zaira instilled in making their family-base. The scene with Aden hugging a child was so damn heart-breaking and powerful.

Dislike about book

Has: I really don’t have any dislikes with this book, because it was full of action, and a great romance and it pushed forward the series in a new and exciting direction.

E: Nothing.

Marlene: The next book in the series won’t be available until next year, and we don’t know who the hero and heroine will be. And I still like the UK covers for the series MUCH better than the US covers.

MinnChica: Absolutely nothing. I loved every scene, every chapter, every word!

Lou:: No dislike.

Any other misc. thoughts along with grade

Has: This book is a turning point for not only the main couple in this book but also the series. I loved that Nalini Singh has introduced new characters, such as the new Changeling packs as well a new story arc that sets up new enemies that threatens the new coalition. But overall, I loooooved the romance between Zaira and Aden which developed beautifully throughout the story. I loved the intense undercurrent which started out subtle but grew into sizzling tension.

I give Shards of Hope an A-

E: As long as I had to wait for this story I can say thankfully when Singh delivers a story she delivers a story. I think this is one of my top reads by her which is really saying a lot. There were so many things I enjoyed with this story and so many questions answered or partially answered. In an attempt to keep this mostly spoiler free I won’t say exactly which ones. Aden and Zaira were an incredible couple. Aden’s twist to his power was WOW and I loved the reaction it had on Kaleb. I could also really see the momentum towards saving all of the Arrows, except for those who were unable to control their need to kill, make huge strides. Each time I have finished this reading Shards of Hope I have indeed come away with a sense of hope and anticipation. I can’t wait for the next one.

I give Shards of Hope an A

Marlene: I can feel the big, overarching story start reaching for its conclusion. And I’m a little sad about it, because I’ll miss this series. At the same time, I’m already anticipating the next book and want it here yesterday.

The worldbuilding in this series is incredibly complex but fits together perfectly. Every piece locks into every other piece, and there aren’t any points where one loses that willing suspension of disbelief. This may not be our world, but it is totally internally consistent – and consistently well done. Each couple seems to work harder than the last to reach their HEA, and it’s always terrific when they do. Aden and Zaira were perfect for each other, and perfect to showcase the changes in the Psy at this point in the overall story.

I also give Shards of Hope an A

MinnChica: All in all, Singh really knocked this one out of the park. The last few books seemed to really wrap up the previous series arc, and give a bit of foreshadowing to what was coming next. However, this book really started a new plot arc with a BANG, and I am so excited to see where it goes. The introduction of new packs, new characters, and new villains makes me all tingly and happy! Singh has made a way to keep this long running series fresh and unique and incredibly addicting.
I give Shards of Hope an A+

Lou: Shards of Hope was a wonderful and exciting installment in the Psy/Changelling series. Not only is the story moving forward with a new story arc expanding, there are also new characters which means more stories to come. Nalini has managed to keep this world fresh and I was a little worried that the series would become stale. Hah. How wrong was I!

I also give Shards of Hope an A+

By MinnChica

MinnChica can usually be found with her nose in a book (or nook), and can ALWAYS find a few minutes to read: stuck at a red light, sitting in the doctors office, on her lunch break. She's so addicted to reading that her family frequently threatens to host an intervention. Currently MinnChica is devouring every romance book she can get her hands on, especially ones that feature 'friends to lovers' stories. Some of her favorite authors currently are Ilona Andrews, Jill Myles, Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh and Susan Mallery.

2 replies on “Bookpushers Joint Review – Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling # 14) by Nalini Singh”

I can’t wait to read this one! I’m glad to hear we get to see some of the Changeling packs because they really are my favourites, I love the huge-extended-family feel of the pack, and while the Psy are interesting they never quite give me the same enjoyment to read. That said, I’m looking forward to another Psy/Psy pairing 🙂

~Ailsa

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