Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh
Published by Penguin (part of Berkley) 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 each other 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.
Wow!! That was my reaction when I finished the last page of Tangle of Need late last night. I should have known better than to start this book in the evening--the books in the Psy/Changling world have proven time and again to be un-put-downable and Tangle of Need was no exception. I have to be honest--I was very hesitant going into this book. The idea of Riaz already having a mate, who he would have chosen to be with if she were not already married, just screamed "other woman/love triangle" story line which I am not usually a fan of. Shame, shame on me for doubting Nalini Singh. Yes, when Riaz met his mate it tore something out of his very soul to know that she belonged to another. Being a lone wolf anyway, he really isolated himself by hiding his pain even when back in the heart of the SnowDancer den. Knowing that she was out there but could not be his did not change the fact that she was his mate and Riaz held himself away from the pack, especially the females because to do otherwise would be a betrayal of his mating bond.
Adria is equally emotionally damaged. She has ended a relationship that turned toxic but that had, once upon a time, been beautiful, supportive, and nurturing. Adria, from the very start, proved to be a caring, but dominant woman who knew her worth and demanded respect, while still knowing her own responsibility and culpability in the relationship that had taken so much out of her. Adria was a wonderful combination of level-headed and emotionally driven. There were times when her emotions ruled her actions, but when she cooled off she would take the necessary steps to make amends where they were needed. Other times, she would hold her emotions in, even when they threatened to overwhelm her. It all depended on the circumstances surrounding her; Adria is very aware of her responsibilities to the pack as a senior soldier and a trainer of the younger submissives. When "on-duty" she held it together and did what needed doing until she was in a safe place to deal with her emotions.
The first few encounters between these two strong characters are pretty rough as they are both overcoming a lot of emotional baggage. There are missteps on the part of both Riaz and Adria as they try to navigate the rocky path to a relationship in which they can both find some level of fulfillment. Over time, they open up more and more finding in each other a true partner...however, always on the periphery is Lisette, Riaz's true mate. When events pull her into Riaz and Adria's sphere, events and emotions come to a head. Nalini Singh's strength (or at least one of them) is that she never short changes her characters. It would be so easy to fall back on a stereotype, but she doesn't. Lisette is a nice woman, smart and accomplished, who loves her husband but who is also pulled to Riaz due to the mating bond. She doesn't know what it is or why it is, but she knows that something is there. The way this is handled by all of the characters felt natural and true to both who they are and how they have been changed by their experiences. I was definitely satisfied with the way this was resolved for all of those involved.
As with all of the books, the main relationship is playing out concurrently with events in the larger Psy/Changling/Human world. In this book, Hawke and Sienna have an extensive amount of time "on-screen" and I really enjoyed seeing these two continuing to evolve within their relationship. The Human Alliance and Pure-Psy are both working to forward their respective agendas and we get page time with most of the Counselors in the fracturing Psy-Net. I also am very much enjoying the increased time spent with Kaleb Krychek as well as the Arrows, Aden and Vasic. The little threads that Nalini Singh weaves in here and there about the arrows are slowing forming into a very intriguing history and I just want more and more and more! I would highly recommend that anyone who has not read this yet, do so right away, but only if they have read the rest of the series. This is not a stand alone title as events are too dependent upon earlier books for clarity, but that is okay because the entire series is FANTASTIC.
This book rates a 4.5/5.