Wednesday, July 4

Review: Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh

Happy Independence Day! Today, I'll be reviewing  Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh and joining me is Brie from Romance Around the Corner. Hmmmm, thinking about it, this review is very à propos as our characters fight for their world and no matter what happens, in the end, they are heading for some changes :) Perhaps not independence, but for sure more equality between the Psy-Changelings-Humans and a better balance of power :P

So read on to find out how much we liked Tangle of Need!

Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in May 2012
Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past--one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.

For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Their coming together is an inferno...and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Psy-Changelings series, Book #11

The Story: I really wonder how these people come up with the blurbs ^_^; For Tangle of Need, it's not that it's wrong, but it's so overly dramatic. Desperate woman?!? Really?! Anyway, by now, you probably know the story, but just in case you don't, here we go :)

Riaz and Adria are both characters Ms Singh has introduced in prior books, both with a lot of emotional baggage. In the case of Riaz, the woman destined to be his mate is human, but unfortunately for him, he has found her too late as she is already married to another man. As for Adria, she was in a long-term relationship with a wolf less dominant than she was and it really didn't end well. So for Riaz, being attracted to another woman feels like betrayal to his mate and Adria, she's just wary of males and doesn't want to start a new relationship... Except both are attracted to each other. Is there any future to such a relationship?

In the meantime, the SnowDancer pack is recovering from the showdown in Kiss of Snow and everyone is getting ready for the next attack, for the next move. However, this attack might come sooner than expected... and perhaps nothing can be done as the Pure Psy leader is not dead yet and he's determined to show the Psy a new path by attacking the Psy Net itself.

Nath: So Brie, what did you think of Tangle of Need?

Brie: I have mixed feelings. The romance wasn’t satisfying. They were almost secondary characters in a book that was more about setting up what’s to come than the main couple. Riaz and Adria didn’t get enough page time and they were second to Hawke and Sienna. So in a way, this book felt like a wink to the fans and a continuation to Kiss of Snow. Since I was never a fan of that couple, I wasn’t happy and the silliness and waste of time bothered me a lot (the part where they bake cookies made me so angry). The problem is that in a series this long, we become attached to recurrent characters that have been there since the beginning, and by giving new characters their own books before the others get their chance, the author breaks the organic feel of the series. I wasn’t as invested in Adria and Riaz as I am in other characters. And then there’s the fact that I hate when the hero is a widower and Riaz was the Changeling version of one.

Having said that, I loved the Psy machinations and how the book sets up what’s to come. I loved reading about the Arrows and I hope the next book doesn’t happen in Changeling ground. I’m ready for some action and I think it’s time for the Psy to take over the series.

Nath: Oh, I’m with you Brie! I loved the psy machinations in Tangle of Need. Actually, everything related to the Psy was great, even learning more about the A designation! I wished Ms Singh had expanded that part. Is this the first time she mentions the A designation? My favorite part though was the Arrows! I feel we really got to know them better in this book, more than the few glimpses we got previously. It’s exciting to know how long the Arrows have been plotting for their freedom!! And I hope Aden or Vasic gets their book soon! I’m so ready for a Psy book, preferably a Psy-Psy :)

I also totally get your mixed feelings about Tangle of Need, because that’s how I feel as well. If there’s ever been a transitional book in a series, Tangle of Need was it. In addition of wrapping and setting up some of the story thread, it was also a big “fan service,” meaning a lot of the material of this book was there to please the audience. In itself, these two things are not bad in my opinion, but they rely heavily on the execution... and I think that’s where Ms Singh failed here. Wow, I never expected I would be saying those words ^_^;

Before everyone starts throwing tomatoes at me, let me explain what I mean LOL. Basically, I think Ms Singh got the balance wrong for Tangle of Need. It was marketed as Riaz and Adria’s book, but it clearly wasn’t. For me Tangle of Need was a SnowDancer book, because the Pack features so extensively. It’s not just Hawke and Sienna - although they do take up most of the pages, but every characters from previous books from the Snow Dancer pack make a big-ish apparition... Actually, if you take a good look at the book, almost every freaking character from all past books in the series is found/mentioned. In my opinion, that made the book overwhelming and obviously, left little time to the romance between Riaz and Adria.

As usual, it does feel like Ms Singh had a plan coming into Tangle of Need and knew the challenge she had ahead of her. I think Ms Singh was hoping to circumvent it by having characters she’s already introduced in previous books as “main” characters. The problem is I think Ms Singh rushed things a little and didn’t set the characters properly. I wished she had revisited them and their background a little, before throwing them together. That first intimate scene was really too fast and the anger that it generated, ugh. Also, as a result, it felt like most of the book was spent playing catch-up with Riaz and Adria’s feelings.

Brie: I’ll help you dodge the tomatoes because I agree with everything you said. This was a “bridge” book, its function was to set up the next book in terms of overall story-arc and to establish the conflict. The rest was just a huge wink to the fans, the parts featuring Sienna and Hawke read more like the extras authors usually post on their websites, I felt like I was reading fan fiction *dodges eggs*.

I also think you’re spot on when you say this was a Snow Dancer book. It was interesting to see more about the pack’s dynamics but it was overwhelming and it took away the spotlight from the lead couple.

Nath: Hey, I like to read about my favorite characters as much as everyone else and I was happy to get updates! Although I really wished we’ve seen more of Lara and Walker!! And Marlee! Oh and that bit where Ben was playing with Julian and Roman? Adorable!! LOL. The thing is, I had a problem with the execution of these scenes. Actually, not just with the fan service scenes, but with how the whole book unfolded. To me, it felt like every scene of the book was too short and always cut at a critical moment. I think Ms Singh was trying to build up the suspense, but she did it at the expense of the pacing. It seemed to me, every time the momentum or rhythm of the book was building up - cut and change to another scene. It made the book very choppy and not as enjoyable for me.

Something else I had difficulty with is the whole feeling that Tangle of Need was the aftermath of an epic battle. I think this is more a criticism towards Kiss of Snow, but it directly affects Tangle of Need because is supposed to be the down-time. Unfortunately, because the romance took precedence in Kiss of Snow, the battle was relegated to the background and it still doesn’t register in my head how important that battle was. As a result, I kept hoping Tangle of Need would have more action, be more exciting. I think this expectation did not help the way I feel about the pacing of the book.

Brie: Yes to all you just said. I didn’t feel the epicness of the battle and it made no sense that they needed to recover from it. Tangle of Need had many things going on, and nothing at all. As you said, it was choppy and all over the place, it lacked focus because not even the main couple felt important enough.

It’s a shame, really, because regardless of how I feel about the introduction of new characters as leads, I thought the conflict these two were dealing with was interesting and original. First time I see a shifter book that deals with what happens when the love interest isn’t the fated mate. I was happy with how it was resolved, it felt authentic and not a cop out like other books *cough* Kiss of Snow *cough*. But I wanted more time to develop that particular plot line, which should have been the main plot, but it wasn’t.

How did you feel about the romance and the resolution?

Nath: Quite frankly, by the end of the book, I wasn’t really invested in Riaz and Adria’s romance. I mean, I’m happy they got the HEA ending, but is that really surprising? Also, I don’t think it was necessary for Lisette to make an appearance, especially when the reason for her separation with her husband was so far-fetched ^_^;

What I did like though is that Ms Singh challenged her own “mating” system. Seriously, the whole “soulmate” thing is always flawed, but what Ms Singh chose to do is acknowledged it and let us know there are some possibilities out there. That the changelings did not necessarily need the mating bond to live and be happy, they could find happiness elsewhere. That was interesting, refreshing and very cool :) And as you said, I did not feel cheated about it either :)

Brie: You didn’t like Lisette showing up? I loved that part, I’m a sucker for that type of drama.
When the ex comes back and the heroine feels all insecure and doubts his love and steps back so he can be happy! Also, that’s exactly when the story cranks up the pace, so she marks the part of the book when the story became more interesting, at least for me.

Nath: LOL, I’m not a fan of drama ^_^; I’m all for self-sacrifice though, but two things in scenarios like the one we encountered in Tangle of Need. First, I feel it demonstrates a lack of confidence on the heroine’s part and a lack of trust in her lover. Don’t you believe you can make him happy? Don’t you think he loves you, that your relationship should be cherished? Also, I don’t get why the two parties never discuss about it! It’s their future right? If Adria is ready to step aside, why doesn’t she make sure that’s what Riaz wants?!? Instead of assuming and making the decision on her own and at the end, you get 3 unhappy people instead of 1? Okay, I know it doesn’t work that way...but why not? LOL.

Brie: You feel very strongly about this! Intellectually, I agree with all you say, but in my heart I just love the cheesy drama!

Nath: Yeah, I guess so ^_^; I think it’s because this type of drama has been overdone. You find it in a lot of romance books and it always end the same way. It almost feels like a cope-out for authors because you get conflict, drama and resolution all at once, allowing the authors to wrap things up quickly, sigh.

Brie: What do you think will come next? Any theories for the future?

I think Kaleb’s book will be next, or at least soon-ish (I hope so!). I think coma-lady (Alice?) will get a book and her hero will be Aden making it the first human/psy pairing. And finally, I’m ready for a Psy/Psy couple which I think will be Kaleb’s book.

Nath: I have no idea what will come next :) Predicting stuff is not my forte. Also, I have not followed any of the discussions and theories or paid any attention to all the clues Ms Singh has given away. I’ll leave that for you! However, do you think Ms Singh introduced the BlackSea pack in preparation to her spin-off series? I think that pack is really interesting and I’m curious about them, but it’s a bit late to add such an important player to the game, don’t you think? That’s why I’m thinking she’s laying the path for her future series.

Brie: I’ve read different interview with Ms. Singh (because I’m obsessed with The Ghost but let’s not go there) and she says that once this main story arc is done, she plans on writing more books with different characters we haven’t seen so far, maybe explore the world and its potential. So I think the BlackSea pack will play a role in that but I also wonder if there’s a reason why we’re just hearing from them. They didn’t have any reason to be in this book, but maybe in the next one? It’s just weird that she’s introducing this random pack not to use it again soon.

Nath: Well, Ms Singh made up a reason for them to be in the book, but yes, their introduction wasn’t crucial. I guess she is really laying the blocks for the future - it’s like the other wolf pack that Alexei is dealing with.

Brie: She’s probably expanding the world to let us see just how big it is, so far it seems the conflict pertains only to California and if we’re getting a huge showdown between the Psy and everyone else, it must be clear that this is a global thing, not just regional.

Nath: Yes that’s true. Despite how Ms Singh’s books always feel multi-ethnic and international, the story has predominantly happened in California. See, that’s why I love Ms Singh so much - such a smart author :) In any case, I’m glad she has plans to write more books in this world. It’s such a great one, I’m not ready to let go of it!!

To come back to your earlier comment, a Psy/Psy couple would be really interesting and I’m hoping for one! As for Alice, you really think she’ll have her own book? That’d also be interesting... To hear about her knowledge and see how she adapts to the new world. Perhaps she’d get Vasic though... two damaged persons, re-building their lives. However, from what we got from the series so far, there’s definitively a link between Alice and the founder of the Arrows, Zaid Adeleja. I wonder if he’s alive or if he has descendants. Although now that I think about it, it’d probably be a bit icky for Alice to fall in love with the descendant of someone whom she had feeling for ^_^;

Brie: Heh! Alice is being groomed as a heroine, I have a feeling about it. The Adeleja connection fuels my theory that she’s going to fall for an arrow. Maybe Vasic and Aden were trained by him? How old is he? I need to keep better track of the history behind the series.

Also, If Aden doesn’t end with Alice, then he’s probably in love with Vasic. Didn’t you notice the homoerotic undercurrent surrounding those two? LOL!

Nath: LOL, yes, I did detect the undercurrent, but I’m hoping Ms Singh doesn’t go there!! I mean, look at what Ms Ward did to V and Butch! I don’t want it to happen to the Psy-Changelings series!!!

As for Zaid, well if Alice has been in cryogenic suspension for 100 years (right?)... He’d be 120 years old. Well I’m assuming Zaid was about the same age as Alice. I know the people in the Psy-Changelings world has a longer lifespan, but yeah... I think that rules him out as hero material LOL. Unless he’s been in cryogenic suspension too. Which, hmmm, two people trying to recover? Not sure it’d made a good story.

So, at the end of the day, what’s your grade for Tangle of Need?

Brie: It gets a 3 (C) from me. In terms of worldbuilding and story-arc it deserves a higher grading, but I wasn’t feeling the romance and all the background noise that came from Hawke, Sienna, etc. got in the middle of my enjoyment. Ms. Singh can do better than this.

Oh! And one last warning -- this book doesn’t stand alone at all, you have to read the previous books in order to appreciate this one, in fact, this whole series should be read in order.

Nath: At this point, I don’t think there’s any subsequent book that could stand-alone. Each story and romance are woven too tightly into the overall story-arc, but that’s why the series is so strong :)

For me, Tangle of Need gets a B- (3.5/5). As we’ve discussed, the world building and story-arc are good :) Plus, I think I enjoyed all those winks more than you did, Brie, and I love the changelings and the SnowDancer pack. It’s just too bad the romance was not better - I think Riaz and Adria deserved more focus.


Hilcia said...

Great review, ladies!

I agree with a lot of what you both have to say in your review about this book. Definitely a transitional installment in the series where the main couple deserved more focus that they received. :)

Of course, I'm still looking forward to the rest of this series. I'm on pin and needles as to the overall story arc and can't wait for the next book. :D

Leslie said...

I have a feeling I'll be reading this for the pack and overall story arc and not for the romance. But, it's good to know going in right?

Wonderful review!

Brie said...

Hilcia: I'm also on pins and needles! Do you think Kaleb's book will be next? It has to be, right? Right?!?

Leslie: thank you! I think you're going to like it a lot, especially if you are a fan of Sienna and Hawke. I know we didn't give it a high grade, bu an average Nalini Singh book is awesome by any other standards ;-)

Hilcia said...

Brie, I hope so! Kaleb's story was a focus at the end of this story. She left that hanging... and I just don't see who else Singh would feature next -- unless she decides to go with one of the Arrows and Alice, but frankly I think Alice will have lots of the necessary answers to "fix" the net, so she may be left for later? What do you think?

Brie said...

I'm sure Alice will be paired with one of the arrows and theirs will be the Psy/Human pairing we're missing. But I agree with you, that's a book for later, especially because Alice needs to heal a bit, she just came out of the coma and she's pissed! LOL But if that's the next book I won't be that mad.

But yes, the way the book ended, if that's not a huge hint as to what's next, then she's the worst tease in the world. I also have a feeling his book is next because Nalini's been even more secretive about the next book. It's never taken her so long to announce it, right?

I'll leave before I write the word "next" again!

OMG!!! I'm so excited!!! If you have more theories feel free to comment again or go to my blog since I forget to visit this one! You can also email me!!!! (Can you tell I'm obsessed?) LOLOL

Who do you think is Kaleb's heroine? Have you heard the theory about Sahara Nightstar?

Hilcia said...

Oh, my next question for you is who do you think the Ghost might be? I don't think it's Kaleb. That's the reason I think his might be the next book (besides the ending of the book). I'm thinking Vasic at this point. :)

Sahara Nightstar makes absolute sense to me! Particularly after the end we saw on Tangle of Need. If that's not a clue, I don't know WHAT is! Do you have someone else in mind?

Brie said...

Sorry it took me so long to get back!

I think it’s Kaleb and here’s why: all those clues she leaves in ToN to make us think it’s Vasic (like when Jude think Vasic is losing himself or something like that, and then when talking about the Ghost he says the exact same thing about him), that’s all to throw us off the scent. I know everyone thinks Kaleb is too obvious but I have a feeling it’s him. However, I always assumed that his book (and the Ghost’s) would be the last one of the series, yet the way ToN ended makes me think his book will be next (she’s also being so secretive about the next book). So now I don’t know what to think because the last book has to be amazing and I can’t think of any other hero better suited for it. So maybe you’re right and Kaleb isn’t the Ghost. Now I’m all confused!

nath said...

LOL, I'm totally late to the party, but still...

Hilcia - Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the reviews.

I really think there's nothing wrong with transitional books, but I don't know. Perhaps this was not the best way to do it, you know.

I'm not stressing for the next book. Ms Singh will lead us where she wants and I'll just follow LOL.

Leslie - In this case, I think it's a good thing to know what you're heading in. So you can re-adjust your expectations and enjoy this book more :)

nath said...

And Brie!! Thanks for buddy reviewing this book with me! :P

Sheena said...

I never got emotionally invested in Riaz and Adria. But I absolutely adore all things Hawke and Sienna so I was thrilled anytime the story drifted back to them :p I think Kiss of Snow is one of my favorites in the series