When I won an ARC of Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh, I went into squee mode because Singh’s first book, Slave to Sensation, blew me away. I don’t say that lightly. I devoured the book. And then I pimped it out to Wandergurl, who loved it so much she went and bought her own copy. And then I asked for my copy back so I could reread it. So winning the ARC of the sequel? Squee!
I was supposed to post this review a few weeks ago, but for various reasons didn’t get around to it. It’s probably just as well that I didn’t review the ARC as I meant to. Because the first time I read it? I wasn’t overly impressed. Don’t get me wrong–it’s a great read. But I’d reread Slave to Sensation first and the sequel just didn’t seem as compelling. I was bummed!
When I got the *real* book last weekend, I decided to reread it on its own. And … I really enjoyed it. I still don’t think it’s as compelling as Slave to Sensation, but I think I understand the characters a little better now.
I’m not going to do a summary because I suck at it. Plus, you can go read the blurb.
What I loved about Visions of Heat…
- Vaughn (the hero)–he was totally hot! *lol* Singh renders her alpha heroes (not just this one but also the ones you just know will have their own stories) so deliciously, demonstrating not only their strengths but also their vulnerabilities. Hands down, I think she writes some of the best alpha heroes in paranormal romance (as if I’m such an expert–ha!). I loved the way Vaughn struggles to contain his animal side so as not to push Faith too far. I loved the way he pushes her to be more than she thinks she could be. *swoon*
- The author’s voice. Singh switches POV within scenes, and while this might bother some people, it wasn’t an issue for me. In fact, it makesfor some enjoyable scenes when Vaughn and Faith spar mentally. Singh manages to avoid excessive italicisation, which I greatly appreciated. She also uses “bloody” as an intensifier a few times which is always bloody fantastic. It totally suited the changelings, I thought.
- The Psy world. Singh paints a really vivid world for Faith–from her lack of privacy to what motivated the Psy Council to act as it does. Even the minutiae of health checks were interesting to me. I had a more vivid mental image of Faith’s surroundings than I did of Sascha’s (in the first book). I was also a lot more intrigued by the Councillors this time around–I’m looking forward to discovering what their individual motives are.
- Ambiguous Psy. The last scene with Faith’s father? I really loved that. I thought Singh handles the scene deftly–she doesn’t give us too much, but enough to show that there are definitely shades of grey in the Psy world. I’m looking forward to seeing more humanity in the Psy without necessarily seeing them lose their innate strengths as Psy within the Psy community … if that makes sense.
- The love scenes. Oh, come on, it wouldn’t be a decent romance if the bedroom scenes weren’t hot. Not only were they hot, they were sensual. The push and pull of hunger, restraint and abandon drove me crazy in a good way. I loved, loved, loved the psychic foreplay. That gave me all sorts of tingles!
What I felt could have worked better in different circumstances…
- Faith (the heroine)–not that I didn’t like her or feel for her, it was just that sometimes I didn’t feel like I fully understood what was driving her to make the choices she was making. At other times, I felt she was dithering too much.
- The romance. Eek! It seems weird to say that and still enjoy the book as a romance. What I mean is that the romantic drivers for the Vaugh and Faith could have been more convincing. I think in part this is because they don’t get enough pages as a couple. Vaugh and Faith are drawn to each other … but why? So they’re in lust … how does it turn into love? I got that Vaughn mats with her–again, why? What is so compelling and different about Faith? I got that Faith needs Vaughn as an anchor–but beyond that, why does she want to be with him? Their relationship felt a little too co-dependent for me.
- Too much info dumping on the PsyNet, the NetMind and the Web of Stars. I just didn’t feel the information was well integrated into the novel. In some places, it felt like overkill and in others, it felt vague. I also didn’t like this: ??? What was that?!? *sigh* This might just be me being a buzzkill, however. I’m not sure if the information is there as a set up for the next book; if so, I would have preferred that Singh left it for the next book rather than dumping it all in this one.
- The villain. Since this was the biggest weakness I found in the previous book, the villain in Visions of Heat is actually an improvement. But there was an aspect that really wasn’t fully explained for me (the dark cloud) and since a big deal is made of it in the book, I wasn’t totally satisfied. Or maybe it’s explained and I’m just dense. That’s a very real possibility.
- The continuity from the first book. This is a general gripe with paranormal romance series, but I did feel that a prologue summarising the relevant bits from the first novel could have been included. This would have avoided the need to recap stuff in the main story. Generally, recapping within the story rarely works well for me–if I’ve read the previous book/s, I feel like I’m being anvilled, and if I haven’t I’m just bemused because, really, you can’t fit that information in a couple of sentences here and there. (Unless there’s an acknowledgment that the book isn’t standalone–then there would be no need to recap at all.)
What distracted me from my enjoyment…
- Too many scenes without Vaugh or Faith. Not only did this affect the romance for me, I also felt it made the pacing a little sluggish. There are scenes with Sascha and Lucas (from Slave to Sensation) that I thought could have been replaced with scenes involving either Faith or Vaughn or both (for example, Sascha riding on Lucas’s back–later in the novel, Faith also rides Vaughn).
- Too much exposition. This was especially noticeable at the end of the novel, but it seemed to happen a lot when explaining Faith’s Psy issues. Usually, it’s done as a conversation with Sascha, either with Faith or with the Pack. I would have much preferred to have Faith and/or Vaughn gaining these insights based on their interactions with one another. Exposition through dialogue can sometimes work, but I thought it was done a few too many times and for far too long.
- The ending felt slightly … disorganised. I don’t know if it’s because there are so many scene cuts that kind of went all over the place (for example, I felt that the Psy Council scene could have been arranged so it didn’t interrupt the scenes with Faith and Vaughn) or that the denoument just goes on for too long (the scene where Faith foresees the tunnel collapsing, while I understand why it was there, seemed very short and out of place–it might have worked a lot better if it had happened earlier in the novel).
All in all, Visions of Heat was a really good read. I didn’t race through it like I did with its predecessor–I think Visions of Heat is slower in pace–but I enjoyed it well enough. If I didn’t have the first book to compare it with, I’d probably have fewer nitpicks. The slower pace allowed me to think through the story a lot more–and that was probably for the best because the world building was more intricate in this book.
Singh has a list of other reader-blogger reviews here (many of which have thorough plot summaries, unlike this one). While some enjoyed it more than others, I think most (all?) of us agree that Visions of Heat is pretty damn good. I can’t wait for the next novel in the series. It’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about it. Click here to read excerpts from Visions of Heat.
Note: This post was originally published on March 13, 2007.
Where you can buy this book
AUSTRALIA: Dymocks | Ever After | Galaxy | Intrigue | Rendezvous | Romance Direct | Romantic Reflections | Siren | More (no online catalogue) Psst … where are these stores?
DIGITAL BOOKS: Dymocks | Amazon Kindle
WORLDWIDE: Amazon US | Amazon UK