Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

Ocean Light (Psy-Changeling Trinity Book 2) by Nalini Singh
Paranormal romance released by Berkley on June 12, 2018

Ocean Light by Nalini SinghNew York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh dives beneath the surface of her Psy-Changeling world into a story of passionate devotion and selfless love…

Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there’s a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment–taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he’s at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling…

Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won’t hide the facts of Bo’s condition from him or herself. She’s suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret Bo could never imagine…

But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back–even if it means striking a devil’s bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy…

I always know I want to read Nalini Singh’s books, but when I learned Ocean Light was Bowen Knight’s book … I kicked it into high gear to get my greedy little hands on a copy. I have no shame in telling you I shed a few tears when I thought we lost Bowen (in a previous book). Then also there’s the fact that Nalini Singh’s writing is so beautiful. It’s emotional, warm, evocative, the flow and cadence … it’s like a hug from an old friend. You feel comforted and cared for and know you’re in for a good time. I’ve been reading the Psy-Changeling series from the start, I’m on board for this spin off “trinity” series, and I will read every vignette. … Especially if it has Kaleb, Hawke, or Bowen. Ideally, all three. (Can we please make this happen?!?!)

Kaia Luna is so wonderful. I don’t think you even notice how Nalini writes such a layered and complex character – beyond the norm. Kaia’s got a host of mental health issues – and they’re part of who she is. You aren’t hit over the head with it, but they’re there, and she works through them in such a subtle way but it’s present and honestly in another book this might be the entire focus, but it isn’t in Ocean Light – it’s just another piece of the wonderful puzzle that is Kaia. (I’m trying to say this is a good thing  – how utterly dynamic and intricate and special yet normal Kaia is, in a way we don’t really see but I wish we would in romances.) She’s so warm and loving and stubborn. Generally the word “sassy” makes me balk but … she is. And it’s good. I think you need the larger than life attitude; one who is mischievous and bratty and moody. She needs to be a lot to be a match for Bowen. She feels the attraction from the first, but Bowen is taken out at the knees. I loved that Kaia also had such a network. While she lost her parents at a very young age, she has aunts, uncles, cousins who are more like siblings, and a great (who knows how many times) grandmother. Plus clan.

So, speaking of Bowen … he’s one of my favorites in this entire large – large – cast of characters in the Psy-Changeling world. I love that he’s human but so fucking amazing. A girl (or guy!) would be so lucky as to have their own Bowen. He’s hard. He’s made mistakes, and he owns them, and he’s almost crushed by all the responsibility he carries, and at the same time he isn’t – because he’s that steady. That special. Bowen can carry the weight and do what nobody else can. (I also love his history, being a descendent of Adrian Knight.) In Ocean Light it’s possible his closest friends wouldn’t even really “recognize” him because … this book is pretty much all about him falling in love and courting. Which is excellent – he deserves a beautiful glittering romance, and then there’s the fact that he might die at any moment. There’s a lot going on. Even taking full responsibility when he doesn’t have to, Bowen puts Kaia first. He puts others first. He’s willing to sacrifice himself for his sister, his friends, for humanity. That’s not an exaggeration. For Bowen it’s literally what he does and is doing. He’s willing to risk himself for the good of the whole.

Some people might say it was a bit too pat or perfect how Kaia’s phobia is resolved, but it actually worked for me. In fact, the first ~part of the book is what I didn’t connect to, because it’s a Psy-Changeling book you know it’s a romance, you know there’s a happily ever after, so the repetitive “he only has a 5% chance to live” was of course stressful but not a definite for me – because in fact you know he’ll live and survive the experiment. I did want to know more of the how and why of it, so I wish there had been a bit more of that. I actually expected a little bit of the mating bond/psychic connection to come into play … but it didn’t! I have to confess at times I haven’t been as invested in the Trinity books – which might be my mood (likely is my mood and current state?) … but from the successful injections on … I was all in. I know I’ll be re-reading Ocean Light. I think when I started my happy freak out was chapter 63. (Thank you, occasional book live tweeting! We had a lot of “😍😍😍❤❤❤” going on. As well as excited hand waving and chair dancing.) Basically the last 10% of the book is constant action and you’re sucked into the vortex of everything and just grab hold and enjoy the ride. (There were so many plot twists that I wasn’t expecting and I loved, even as I was all 😱😱😱.)

I’m normally team heroine – but in this case I felt that Kaia was sometimes a bit extra. It works for their relationship though, and didn’t make me dislike her. In fact, it just made me like Bowen even more for being able to handle so much with such grace. (I feel like this is important to note because generally something like that is a turn off that makes me grumpy. So not the case here. It all works, and it’s necessary.) Then of course there’s the fact that Kaia admits her mistakes and apologizes for them … and that she’s so contrite about it. I liked that they make mistakes, and Ms. Singh showed us some of the growing pains of their relationship. That utter fear and potential devastation of the countdown does really get to you though – and that both are fighting the attraction and connection – which Bowen does for Kaia’s sake. Just thinking about the moment the mating bond snaps into place still puts a smile on my face. That Kaia. She’s something. I definitely think I’ll be finding more about each character and the story with each re-read. (I also feel I have to note the utter torture Kaia puts herself through just to be by Bowen’s side near when they go off to [spoiler] – you kind of miss it in the flurry of activity, but she’s handling a phobia to do what’s necessary right.)

I think you’ll really enjoy this book if you’re a fan of the Psy-Changeling series. In fact, it might be one of my favorites. Of course I love Lucas and so many others – but I really love Hawke, Kaleb and Sahara … and Bowen. I adored the ending. I have really high hopes of future scenes we might see in upcoming books. We all know various characters often have cameo appearances, and I think to show the progression of the Alliance they’ll have to make appearances, and it’s going to be great. Kaia and Bowen are just so perfect for each other. Each makes the other grow  and heal in unexpected but necessary ways, each can be themselves with the other, without burden or the faces (or masks) and expectations others ask of them, and that they can play together.

Oh! And! I love how it was such a game/secret of what the BlackSea Changeling forms were. I can’t wait to see what the others animals are … and I have to say I knew – knew! – what Kaia’s was. 😀

I haven’t been reading much this year – I’ve been in the dreaded reading slump, but after reading Ocean Light … I’m excited to dive into other books, and that’s a gift.

Grade: B+

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

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