Four of these shorts are included in the Wild Invitation anthology. Others are found in anthologies done with other authors or as free shorts on Nalini Singh’s website.
Beat of Temptation – Tamsyn has known Nate was her mate since she was 15 years-old. But he was 25 and he knew she was too young for them to be together. He insisted that they wait. Now it’s been four years and Tammy is at the end of her rope. She is beginning to feel like Nate will never truly want her and it breaks her heart.
Of course, Nate does want her, but he is convinced he is doing the right thing by giving her time. He is too wrapped up in his own ideas to see how he is hurting the young woman who he is supposed to love. It was bittersweet reading in places, because Tammy is such a good person that I hated to see her question her worth. In fact, I wanted to toss a bucket of water on Nate more than once. But these two have a great HEA ahead and I liked learning their origin story. Plus, Nate did redeem himself a bit when he showed Tammy she was an “orchid kind of girl.” (*Originally published in An Enchanted Season. Also published in Wild Invitation)
The Cannibal Princess – This one is super short. Kind of a snapshot in the lives of Lucas & Sascha shortly after their mating. The two are babysitting Tammy & Nate’s twins and kind of reveling in domestic bliss. It’s not really long enough for me to have much of an opinion on. But I enjoyed what little of it there was. (*free online*)
Stroke of Enticement – This is the first human – changeling couple combination I’ve read and I liked the change in dynamic. Annie is human and has never completely physically recovered from an accident in her childhood. Her leg was mangled and her flaw has left her a bit cut off from those around her. She never expects to find the kind of connection she makes with Zach, the changeling uncle of one of her students. He recognizes her as his mate right away and works to woo her into his life.
The love was pretty instant here, which for Zach, I could write off as a bonding thing. But it was little harder to swallow from Annie. The sex was really hot, though, and the romance was sweet. (*Originally published in The Magical Christmas Cat. Also published in Wild Invitation.)
Movie Night – Another quickie… this one of Judd and Brenna, a few months after their mating. They are staying home to watch a movie and it’s an opportunity for Judd to learn what he really likes. (*free online*)
A Gift for Kit – The length of this one didn’t stop it from tugging on my heartstrings. Here, Rina plans a special surprise for younger brother, Kit, to help celebrate his new rank of soldier — a gift from their late parents. We get a little glimpse into their home life and backstory. Sweet. (*free online*)
The Conversation – This short gives us a peek inside the rat culture. Teijan is coming to realize that the deal he made with Dark River is working out better than he ever imagined. He only hoped to be left alone, but now the cats are sending him money from deals he helped foster. (*free online*)
Whisper of Sin – When I first read this one, I had no idea it was a prequel, so it took me a bit of reading before I could place it in the timeline. This is Emmett and Ria’s story. If you’ve read any of the novels, you probably know Ria as one of the humans of the Dark River pack –and as Lucas’ human assistance. Here we find out that she was first exposed to the pack when she was attacked and nearly raped by the member of a human gang, hoping to score “protection money” from her family. Emmett and Dorian save her from disaster and an instant connection is born.
Emmett becomes her bodyguard and things heat up between them pretty quickly. It amazes me how fast Nalini Singh can build sexual tension between her characters. She definitely delivered here and reminded me once again why I love those leopards so much. (*Originally published in Burning Up.)
Wolf School – A deleted piece from Play of Passion. It’s just a very quick scene of Drew teaching young Ben to howl. (*free online*)
Declaration of Courtship – This story was so, so good! It features two Snow Dancer wolves who live in a different den than Hawke and those in the pack we already know. Cooper is a lieutenant and is the dominant of the group. And he’s set his sights on Grace, one of the most submissive wolves in the pack. He knows he’ll have to go very slow with her, but she is worth the effort. Grace can’t believe Cooper is interested in her and her wolf is thrown by its need to submit. She and Cooper have to work the dance just right to teach her wolf that it’s safe to stand up to a man so powerful.
I loved that despite their status in the pack, it’s really Grace who hold all the cards here. Despite how hard it is, Coop forces himself to hold back until she is ready. –It’s totally worth the wait, by the way.– The sexual tension is hot and the romance is sweet. (And the D/s elements of their relationship stay completely out of the bedroom.) Loved it. (*Originally published in Wild Invitation)
Texture of Intimacy – I was so disappointed when Lara & Walker’s mating happened as a side plot in Kiss of Snow! I really wanted to see these two get undivided attention. And now they have it, thanks to this novella. It picks up the very night of their mating and follows them over the course of weeks as their relationship solidifies.
You might think because these two are mated at the beginning of the story that there is not much tension, and in some ways that is true. We saw those first tentative steps of their mating dance already. But there is still a lot of ground to cover as Walker learns to let down his guard and let Laura in. This one may not have been as exciting as a new love story, but it was very gratifying since we already have a connection to the couple. I am so glad we got to witness the next phase of their love story. (*Originally published in Wild Invitation)
A few additional shorts were published in Nalini Singh’s free newsletter, including Christmas in the Kitchen, Poker Night, and Stalking Hawke. All are short vignettes of life inside the Dark River and/or Snow Dancer packs.)