My Rating: 3.5 stars: Liked it - recommend (B+)
Much to my delight, for the third straight book, Ms. Singh focuses attention on the SnowDancer pack, a wolf-changeling pack that is one of the two powerhouses of the western US (the other is the DarkRiver Leopard pack). Tangle of Need opens a short time after the explosive (literally) conclusion of the previous book, Kiss of Snow. Two wolves that have been in the peripheral are now thrust into the spotlight. Riaz is a lone wolf, who has recently returned to the home den. Likewise, Adria has also recently return home after a failed relationship left her a bit broken. The two are both dominate wolves and have a tough time getting along. However, their fiery attraction cannot be denied!
Overall, Riaz and Adria have a wonderful Changeling courtship. Their volatile nature leaves them alternating between lust and frustration, desire and denial. Right from early on, their exchanges are smart and sensual, and always full of passion. At times there is so much sexual tension and simultaneously anger between them that I could feel the tension internally. I actually wanted to cower from the display of dominance. Ms. Singh understands these feelings so well and is a master at conveying it on the page.
Even with the excitement and fervor, I had a tough time connecting with Riaz and Adria and the story in general. There is a lot that is going on in this book. First - major sections of the story are focused on newly mated SnowDancer leader, Hawke and his dangerous X-Psy, Sienna. I enjoyed their story immensely (Kiss of Snow), but their "intrusion" into this book fell flat for me. I felt that there was too much attention on this couple that just had a whole book. And while some of the passages are interesting or sexy, several are not necessary for moving the overall plot forward, and reading them drained me. And while it is good "slice of life" story telling, I just didn't feel the heat between them like I did in the previous book. Several times I almost wanted to skip their sections and get on with the story.
Another factor that I felt kept me from connecting was the introduction (or re-introduction) of MANY new characters. There are so many new names and it was overwhelming trying to keep track of who is who (there is a handy glossary in the front of the book, though). Not only does the reader need to focus on several new SnowDancers, there is a new Changeling pack introduced, the Human Alliance rears its head again, and of course there are all of the Psy the reader must keep straight. In addition, there are a few times when the Changelings go over logistics for training, security, etc. and I felt completely lost.
I question the introduction of the water-based Changeling pack, BlackSea. They contacted SnowDancer to form an alliance. Meetings are conducted, and the reader is only mildly informed of the on-going situation. What really frustrated me is that in the end (of the negotiations), we are told the SnowDancers discovered the reasons why BlackSea reached out (after being secluded for a long time), but the reasons are never made clear to the reader. I felt this side-story wasn't well developed and gave the book almost a "transition" feel to it.
Although I had a difficult time connecting to the story, there are many gems within Tangle of Need. One side storyline involves my favorite couple, Mercy and Riley. Another is a short dialogue between the Psy twin sisters, Amara and Ashaya in which Amara questions her own mental stability. The scenes with Psy counselor Kaleb Krychek and the Psy Arrow squad are interesting, slightly revealing and leave you wanting to know so much more.
As the book progressed and Riaz and Adria move forward in their relationship, I did become more attached to the couple and story. But it did take over two-thirds of the book to get there. And even after you think that they are going to make it, both have to confront their past in order to move forward. I will admit, I was dreading that part of the book, but Ms. Singh's handling was nothing cliche or contrived.
After it was all said and done, I struggled a bit with the rating for this book. In the end, I liked it. Adria and Riaz are a great couple, and I love how hard he fights for her and them. I love the moment when she realizes her future is in her own hands. But it took a long time to get there. The book is filled with new characters, or peripheral ones that now have more book time. It is filled with a lot of political maneuvering. It is filled with a lot about Sienna and Hawke. There was a lot of jumping around, and I just couldn't focus and develop an attachment to the primary couple and story for a long time.
In the end I am giving Tangle of Need a B+. It is a good story and there is a lot of development in the Psy wars. I am excited to see what will happen next (especially with how the book ended!) Maybe in time, with a reread, I may bump to an A-, because after all, it is Psy/Changeling... I adore this series and really, there is never a bad story. The passion found in the wolf pack is sensual and although it took a while to find me, it was still there.