A review by Evie Kendal
Format: paperback, 432 pages
Tangle of Need focuses on the SnowDancer wolf-changeling pack and its two new additions: lone wolf Riaz, recently returned from Europe after being rejected by his mate, and Adria, a dominant female wolf with significant past-relationship baggage.
Phrases like “the orgasm was a naked blade” appearing within the first 10 pages was initially cause for alarm, as was the dubious consent procedure used before achieving the aforementioned *cough* naked blade. However, the romance plot between these two characters quickly becomes more engaging. In addition to the demands of falling in love and overcoming former heartbreak, Riaz and Adria are warriors responsible for protecting their home Den from various enemies.
Riaz sees his attraction to Adria as a betrayal of his destined mate Lisette even though she is married to someone else and never engaged in a relationship with him. Adria sees her attraction to Riaz as a threat to her independence and a potential source of awkwardness since Riaz had a “friends-with-benefits” arrangement in the past with Adria’s niece-but-more-like-a-sister, Indigo. Both consider a romantic relationship a distraction from their duties.
Although sadly rare in the paranormal genre, this love story is focused on both the mind and the body being ready for a physical relationship. As Riaz and Adria are both humans and wolves, they have a powerful animal attraction, but one that can be reined in by their rational sides. A good example can be seen when Riaz is trying to be intimate with Adria despite telling her he doesn’t like her as a person, to which Adria responds:
“I’m worth more… Affection, respect, tenderness, I’m worth all of that, so don’t you dare come near me again until you’re ready to offer it” (p.98).
Both of them had been red-hot with “touch-hunger” at the time, but Adria managed to maintain her self-respect in a move Riaz later describes as completely justifiable. The need to seduce not only the wolf but also the human is a lesson imparted to the lust-crazed juvenile wolves of the pack throughout the course of the novel as well. Seeking gender equality and negotiating physical intimacy in a respectful manner are major preoccupations of this text.
Another subplot within Tangle of Need is an infection travelling through the PsyNet, a psychic network that is the lifeblood of the race known as the Psy. The Psy have many categories, each with different psychic powers, controlled by a powerful Council. The Pure Psy are currently at war with the SnowDancer wolves and DarkRiver Leopards, whose territories are adjacent.
The Psy are trained as children to eliminate their emotions through Silence (a process reminiscent of the Vulcan ritual of kolinahr from Star Trek), but the new disease is causing sufferers to lose emotional control. Rotting away the brains of its victims, this infection first causes insanity and then death. At the beginning of the novel a new variant of the incurable disease is being observed, with the unsuspecting Patient 0 (Subject 8-91) demonstrating significant resilience despite his advanced infection. This storyline, along with the Silence arc in general, is continued in books 12-14 of the series, after which Singh has stated she intends to begin a new overarching series narrative.
Besides their hostilities, the major point of intersection between the changelings and the Psy in Tangle of Need is the mating ceremony of Hawke, the alpha male of the SnowDancer pack, and Sienna, an X-designation Psy with extraordinary power. Previously trapped in a mental prison by the Council member Ming, Sienna is now establishing her position in the SnowDancer pack hierarchy. Her destruction of a Pure Psy army with X-fire in the previous instalment of the series has left the pack members both impressed with her loyalty and wary of her power.
Meanwhile Ming dedicates himself to recapturing Sienna, planning to trap her in another psychic prison or control her mind and emotions through advanced technology.
Fortunately, uncovering the dastardly plots of their enemies requires our two love interests to travel to Venice together. Unfortunately, this city is also where Riaz’s mate Lisette lives. However, even when dealing with two lovers determined to have a “no ties” relationship, the value of a Venetian seduction should not be underestimated. Throw in a woman waking from 100 years in cryonic suspension with vital information about the Psy, a growing Alliance of power-hungry humans and a number of forbidden cross-species relationships, and Tangle of Need has everything a good paranormal romance needs.
There are a number of additional subplots present in this novel, but unless you are already a fan of the series many of them are likely to feel like filler. Understanding the fictional world of the Psy-Changeling universe depends on some prior knowledge of the series, but as long as you know it is set in a futuristic alternate Earth in which three species (changeling, Psy and human) are engaged in a constant struggle for power, the rest is a bonus.
The characters are well-written and the love interests seem to have genuinely good communication skills, thereby avoiding some of the more cringe-worthy misunderstandings so common in the genre. The writing is easy to understand and, while there are 71 chapters in Tangle of Need, some are barely 2 pages long so it feels like you are progressing very quickly through this relatively long novel. Recommended for fans of paranormal romance, particularly those who prefer more dialogue and less violence in the surrounding plot.