Reviewed by Sheena and Mandi
Blurb: Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.
For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…
Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…
Mandi: Silence has fallen, emotion is no longer a crime and while the Psy must deal with this new reality, there is something else more pressing. A black, oily disease is attacking the Psy and no one know show to stop it.
The disease, the infection, was spreading at a phenomenal pace no one could’ve predicted. Rooted in the psychic fabric that connected every Psy on the planet but for the renegades, it had the potential to devastate their race…because to be Psy was to need the biofeedback provided by a psychic network. Now that same link could well be pumping poison directly into their brains.
This ‘disease’ hits Psy fast and makes them extremely violent and out of control. Mass casualties are happening and fear and chaos are becoming part of daily life. Kaleb Krycheck along with the Arrows think the Psy with the ‘E’ designation, the empaths, can have an extremely important effect on this infection, but first they must put them to the test. Which brings us to our hero and heroine, Vasic and Ivy Jane.
Let’s start with Vasic. An Arrow – “To be an Arrow is to be an island, devoid of attachments that create vulnerability.”
Mandi: Vasic has lived his entire life this way, broken and tortured at a very young age, he now feels nothing. He has killed many, and to say he is damaged is an understatement. Sheena, what are your thoughts on Vasic? He starts out so depressed and broken beyond repair, did you believe that Ivy (or something else) gave him a reason to live? Was the ‘curing’ of his depression believable to you?
Sheena: I think that Vasic’s journey was one of the best “awakenings” I’ve had the pleasure to read. He begins the story broken and resolute in his depression. The detached attitude he had regarding his own survival was rather staggering. What struck me most was Vasic’s bone deep belief that he could exist for no other purpose than to kill or protect- hope, was certainly not a part of his belief system. When quiet parts of him began to awaken in response to his burgeoning feelings for Ivy, Vasic remained solemnly content to orbit her life- not daring to believe he could be a real part of it. I think his curing was believable because Ivy and her scene stealing pet, were exactly what Vasic needed to step out of the shadows. Ivy was open and full of light and her dog, Rabbit (I know!), provided a necessary conduit for Vasic to express his new, budding emotions. Those first tentative steps with Rabbit, set a foundation for how he came to show Ivy his heart. But, even as Vasic slowly came to discover he could love and be loved- he would not give himself to Ivy fully until he was sure he would be there to protect her always. Vasic remained Vasic till the end ready to sacrifice to protect what had become HIS.
Mandi: I agree. For me, Vasic was ‘broken’ because he never had a reason to be any other way AND he had extreme guilt over all the people he killed. I think he will always carry around that guilt and I think he will still have very difficult days in the future – but he has a reason to be something else now. And he wants to live for that. I think it was more loneliness than depression that he had to conquer. He has had to live with darkness and death and guilt his entire life – that is not new to him, so dragging that guilt forward to the future, isn’t a monumental task.
Ivy Jane – was her journey believable or was there enough emphasis on her character?
Sheena: I do think there was a little lack in emphasis with Ivy’s journey. Nalini gave the requisite back story and enough details so I understood who Ivy was and who she wanted to become. The novel worked so well because Ivy was ready to live. She recognized her desire for Vasic and with a little help from Sascha, took the reins in their courtship. It would not have worked if she were still fractured.
Mandi: I loved Ivy, but I agree there was something lacking a bit about her overall story. I expected her to struggle more with being taken from her farm and just all of the new sights and situations she was placed into. But having Vasic there as her ‘project’ so to say, helped her focus I think. But I would have liked to go a little deeper with her. This is probably my biggest complaint of the book. I think her journey was too easy.
The romance between Vasic and Ivy.
Sheena: – Ivy is hands down my favorite Psy heroine. She cinched her #1 spot by initiating her shy but flirtatious telepathic “sext” to Vasic. Psy-sexting is the most exciting telepathic communication technique- ever…Vasic thought so- after all, he found himself kneeling in the snow about to short circuit after Ivy’s little sexy texty “surprise!” The romance in Shield of Winter was a real slow burn. This usually frustrates me, I usually want my hero and heroine fighting the passion for about 50 pages and then igniting the bed and making babies pronto! You don’t get that with Vasic & Ivy but what you do get is so intimate and engaging that by the time they do end up steaming up the place you are primed and ready for release! Case in point: Vasic’s naughty challenge/warning when Ivy teased of her possible sensual boredom…major squee!
Mandi: Vasic first of all is just overall awkward in the romance department and I’m a sucker for that. But he read numerous manuals about sex and consulted Judd for advice. If that is not the sexiest thing ever!! It doesn’t hurt that he is built, with those eyes staring at Ivy so intense. When you start a romance like this:
“Do you truly feel nothing?” she whispered. “Are you without fractures?”
“It’s better this way.” His eyes kissed her with frost. “The day I feel is the day I die.”
Love was a concept of which Vasic had no comprehension, though he knew how to recognize the signs of it in others. Learning the subtle physical cues that betrayed emotional bonds had been part of his training, intended to give him tools he could use to exploit targets from emotional races. He didn’t, however, actually understand what it was any more than a trained animal understood the words spoken to it.
And it ends up going to places like this…
Making a quintessentially feminine move, Ivy shrugged the cardigan off over her shoulders to drop it on top of the jacket. The white top was a thin thermal knit, shaped her curves with gentle precision. When she crossed her arms in front of her, hands going to the bottom of the top, he had to close his eyes, his chest screaming for air. His lashed flicked up the next instant.
He didn’t want to miss even a millisecond of this.
Ivy bit down on her lower lip, released the swollen flesh…and tugged the top off over her head. Raising one hand to pull back strands of her hair that had curled over her face, she didn’t attempt to hide herself from him, the plump mounds of her breasts cupped by a confection of ivory satin and lace. “That’s not Psy issue,” he said, fighting every single cell in his body not to push the delicate fabric aside to look his fill.
It’s a fun, intense, transformation.
Judd giving sex advice
Sheena: Judd giving sex advice was hilarious! I loved when Vasic asks him how to channel his power. Judd’s ascension and growth into the wonderful world of touch was amazing! Vasic still described intimacy in very sterile terms but Judd gave his brother arrow some naughty little tips (well, naughty for a formerly semi-silenced Arrow anyway). Hawt!
Mandi: I adore Judd, and letting him have page time where he gives Vasic romance advice made me squeee from my chair.
“I need to ask you some highly personal questions.”
Judd reached down to pack the snow into a ball. “I’ve been hoping for a long time that someone else in the squad would get to the point where a discussion like this would be necessary.” Rising, he threw the snowball with a fast arm. “Ask.”
An adorable conversation follows.
Overall I enjoyed this book. As mentioned, I wish we could have gotten a little deeper with Ivy Jane and not have her transition so glossed over – but I found the romance to be done well and the overall story a nice addition to this world. Bring on Aden! (he is a virgin right? *swoons*)
Mandi’s Rating: B
Sheena’s Rating: A