Author: Thea Harrison
Publish Date: 2012
Series: Elder Races #4
Oracle’s Moon is book 4 in Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series. When her sister died, Grace inherited the family’s Oracle powers along with her sister’s two young children. Grace can barely afford to keep the children fed and hates having powers that constantly bring people to her door asking for something. On top of this, she has to deal with the Dijinn, Kahlil, constantly materializing in her house expecting that she’ll recognize his presence as a gift.
I was thrilled with how much I loved this one since the previous two books in the series didn’t really work for me. Grace was definitely the highlight of this story. She was strong, independent, and not bitter about the new direction her life has taken. Most of all, I loved that Grace never let Kahlil run roughshod over her. She had enough sense to recognize that his help could be beneficial, but didn’t blindly follow his wishes.
My only issue with the story was that I didn’t quite understand why Kahlil and Grace were attracted to each other. The romance evolved quickly in the last half of the novel, which threw things out of whack. The first half of the story had a slow burning attraction between Grace and Kahlil. I adored this and could’ve seen it eventually turning into love. However, at the halfway mark their relationship went into hyper-drive and suddenly they were confessing love for each other. I would’ve been happy if Harrison had left their relationship at the attraction stage with the potential for something more and just planned to explore Grace and Kahlil as a couple in a future book. This also would’ve had the bonus of letting Kahlil’s character mature a bit more to the point where it would be believable that he would pursue a relationship with Grace.
Despite this, I still really enjoyed the story. I’m hoping that eventually Thea Harrison goes back to re-vist this couple (I’m so tired of Pia and Dragos) in a future book.
Shield of Winter
Author: Nalini Singh
Publish Date: 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy/Changeling, book 13
I love Nalini Singh’s books, but lately her Psy/Changeling series just hasn’t been doing it for me. Partly its because she’s spending a lot of time focusing on the Psy characters instead of the changelings. Mostly though, it’s the over-abundance of character cameos and point-of-view switching has been dragging down the pacing on these novels. Like the 10th book in the series (Kiss of Snow), Shield of Winter has a pretty ambitious main plot, but it suffers from the inclusion of too many extraneous details that bogs the story down. This didn’t hurt my enjoyment as much in Kiss of Snow because the central characters that were focused on had been built-up over the course of the series. By the time you got to that book you were already emotionally invested and wanted to see them succeed. Shield of Winter did not have that same luxury.
In Shield of Winter, Ivy and Vasic are brought in to handle the mass outbreaks of infection among the Psy race. These outbreaks turn masses of Psy into mindless killers, with a zero percent recovery rate for the infected. This plot alone would’ve been more than enough to carry the entire book by focusing on the group who was brought in to cure the infection.
Instead of focusing primarily on these people, Singh dedicated a lot of page time to following characters from previous books and what they were up to. I think she was trying to show how those characters were affected by what was going on, but it came at the expense of tension. These characters weren’t at ground zero like everyone else, so it dragged down the momentum. Things got a little better when Singh brought Sascha (Slave to Sensation) directly into an outbreak but that didn’t last long. Honestly, I think the story would’ve been tighter and more engaging if the chapters featuring main characters from past books had been written out.
What also slowed the story down for me was the addition of a side story involving Vasic’s gauntlet. The gauntlet is a technological device grafted to his skin that is malfunctioning throughout the book. Essentially, it’s putting a time limit on his life expectancy. So, during the outbreak they were also working on how to fix the device without killing him. Typically I wouldn’t have had an issue with a side-plot like this, but the main story is so ambitious that it’s inclusion didn’t work. In fact, towards the end of the novel the outbreak story gets wrapped-up (rather anti-climatically) and the last few chapters are dedicated to trying to solve the gauntlet issue. This caused things to feel off-balance and the remaining few pages to drag as we did some clean-up on other story threads.
Overall, this was an ok addition to the series. I always enjoy Singh’s writing style, world, and characters. However, the pacing and sheer size of the plot in this book did not work for me. I would recommend this mainly to people who are huge fans of the series. If you’re new to these books, I would suggest beginning with the early titles instead.