Nalini Singh is the kind of writer who needs no introduction. But since I love gushing about her, you’re getting one anyway. Because no one writes dark, paranormal romance quite like Singh.
I first read a Singh novel around 10 years ago, when I picked up Slave to Sensation on a whim at a bookstore. Holy crap, I thought while reading it. This woman can write. Singh had a style I’d never seen before: a cross between traditional romance novels and the more complex urban-paranormals that were becoming popular at the time. Her voice was — and still is — quick but deep, heartfelt but sexy, and filled with complex heroes and heroines who make rational, human decisions. If you’re looking for a light read with easy characters, Singh is not the writer for you. But if you want to read a story that feels realistic despite all the changelings, archangels and mind-reading going on, then Singh is the best there is.
Since then, I’ve read most of Singh’s insanely popular Psy-Changeling series (15 books and counting!) and ALL of her Guild Hunter series, which might be even better than the changeling books she’s most known for (more on both below!). Singh continues to surprise me with her depth of characters, her realistic and passionate romances, and the detailed worlds she builds. At this point, I’m a lifelong Singh-devotee, which is why she’s my official Author Crush for September.
If you’re new to Singh’s writing, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are my five favorite Singh books, and why I can’t get enough of the imaginative romance author:
Kiss of Snow: Psy-Changeling, Book 10 (Berkley, 2011)
I waited years for this book to come out, desperate to finally get the story of Sienna and Hawke. The Psy-Changeling series is a huge world, involving several shape-shifting clans and a race called the Psy, who have special cognitive abilities but don’t believe in emotions. The Changelings and the Psy have a very tenuous relationship; one that’s always hovering just on the edge of war. Kiss of Snow is Hawke’s story, the alpha of the SnowDancer wolf pack. When he was only a kid Hawke lost his mate, and now he’s convinced that he’ll never truly love again. Sienna Lauren left the PsyNet as a child, her mind a powerful weapon that could explode at any moment. Her family is desperate to protect her, though it seems like an early demise is inevitable. Even as a girl who was way too young for the alpha, Sienna loved Hawke. But now she’s a woman, determined to make Hawke admit his feelings for her. The two butt heads like crazy, which makes their eventual hookup that much hotter. As soon as I saw Hawke and Sienna together in previous books, I knew they were destined for each other. And when we finally, finally got their story it was everything I could have hoped for.
Archangel’s Kiss: Guild Hunter, Book 2 (Berkley, 2010)
The Guild Hunter series follows guild hunter Elena Deveraux as she transitions from a human with a dark past and special vampire-hunting abilities, to a newly formed angel who’s mated to the most powerful Archangel in the world. While the first book of the series is awesome — telling the story of how Raphael and Elena meet and fall in love — it’s book two that made me truly fall for the series. Elena has just recently been turned into an angel, and she’s still trying to adjust to her new life, including learning how to fly, how deal with other angels and how to fight with newly-formed wings. This book is as dark and gritty as the others (don’t read these on an empty stomach, trust me), but it’s the relationship between Raphael and Elena that’s the heart of the story. In the first book, you’re never quite sure if the powerful angel is going to kill the hunter or rip her clothes off. But in Archangel’s Kiss, Raphael’s endless love and devotion is official, and the two make a strong team that supports each other no matter what. Look out for the latest in this awesome series, Archangel’s Heart, out November 1.
Caressed by Ice: Psy-Changeling, Book 3 (Berkley, 2007)
In a lot of the Psy-Changeling books, the heroes are the passionate shapeshifters while the women are the emotionally cut off Psy who have to learn how to deal with their feelings. But Caressed by Ice is the opposite, telling the story of Judd Lauren, a Psy who was once an elite soldier called an Arrow. Judd learned long ago to bury his emotions, killing with a cold, calculating determination. But when his Psy family finds shelter with the SnowDancer clan, Judd has a difficult time reintegrating to life outside the PsyNet. Shapeshifter Brenna Shane Kincaid was kidnapped by the Psy and mentally tortured, so she should hate Judd on sight. But something about the cold warrior draws her in, despite how hard he pushes her away. When the changeling is once again in danger, Judd can no longer deny his feelings. I love a cold, but secretly passionate hero, and Judd is one of the best. Because of their simmering feelings and private passion, Brenna and Judd are still one of my favorite Singh couples.
Rock Hard: Rock Kiss, Book 2 (TKA Distribution, 2015)
While Singh is the queen of paranormal, she’s also awesome at writing contemporary romance. I adore her Rock Kiss series, about sexy alpha men and the strong women they fall for. All of the books are worth picking up (including her latest, Rock Wedding, which came out July 19!), but my favorite is definitely Rock Hard. Charlotte Baird is mousey and unassuming, desperately trying to fly under the radar after being emotionally scarred in the past. Former rugby star Gabriel Bishop is a successful businessman who’s used to getting what he wants. And he wants Charlotte. The book could easily fall into a boss/subordinate romance cliché, but trust Singh to write a novel that upends the familiar tropes. Sure, Gabriel is a sexy alpha, but Charlotte is just as strong, and the two end up saving each other by novel’s end.
Mine to Possess: Psy-Changeling, Book 4 (Berkley, 2008)
Book 4 in the Psy-Changeling series is definitely one of the best, especially if you love a good soulmate-returns-from-the-past story (and who doesn’t??). Clay Bennet is a DarkRiver leopard, though he was raised outside of the pack, encouraged to repress his animal side. That went predictably terrible, but not before he connected with Talin McKade, a young girl from his neighborhood. Their family trauma brought the two together until an act of violence made Talin turn her back on Clay. Forever, she thinks, until she has to reach out to the shapeshifter after the kids she mentors go missing. Now that Talin is back in Clay’s life, he’s determined to make her his mate. The two have so much passion and history between them; this is the ultimate reconnecting romance.
Main image credit: Deborah Hillman