Published by Berkley on July 25, 2023
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Where are the broken? A propulsive question that unleashes a world of secrets in New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s Resonance Surge . . .
StoneWater bears Pavel and Yakov Stepyrev have been a unit since birth, but now Pavel’s life is veering in a new direction, his heart held in the hands of Arwen Mercant, a Psy empath—and the only man who has ever brought Pavel to his knees.
This is it. A point of irrevocable change. For Pavel . . . for Arwen . . . for Yakov . . . and for another pair of twins whose bond has a far darker history.
A low-gradient Psy, Theodora Marshall is considered worthless by everyone but her violently powerful twin, Pax. She is the sole person he trusts in their venomous family to investigate a hidden and terrible part of their family history—an unregistered rehabilitation center established by their grandfather.
Places of unimaginable pain designed to psychically wipe minds, leaving the victims shells of their former selves, the Centers are an ugly vestige of the Psy race’s Silent past. But this Center was worse. Far, far worse. And now Theo must uncover the awful truth—in the company of a scowling bear named Yakov who isn’t about to take a Marshall at face value . . . especially a Marshall who has turned his dreams into chilling nightmares.
Because Yakov is the great-grandson of a foreseer . . . and he has seen Theo die in an unstoppable surge of blood. Night after night after night . . .
Twin. Bears. I don’t think she can ever beat this one. Series over. Good night. *drops mike*
The main story features Theodora Marshall, granddaughter of Marshall Hyde, former evil overlord and member of the Psy Counsel who someone had the sweet pleasure of blowing into tiny bits three years ago. Theo is the twin sister of Pax Marshall, now head of the family and who suffers from Scarab Syndrome, and who was actually the villain in prior stories. The Scarab Syndrome is eroding his mental stability and it encourages him to try to destabilize the already failing psy-net. I mention this because I was conflicted about his part in the story. Whenever we discuss Pax and Theo, there is a strong, protective bond between them and we could see the love and devotion of these two to each other. But I have a hard time overlooking what Pax was doing in the prior stories. Okay, yes it is a mental disorder but his direct actions lead to people dying and he is still not stable. Our main character is devoted to him but he is dangerous.
The Marshalls are a family of vipers but Pax is trying to steer his family into the light (except for that whole mental devolution part) and this is not something anyone else in the family is interested in. Pax has asked the only person in his family that he can trust, Theo, to go to one of their grandfather’s “rehabilitation centers” in Russia to find out why the defunct center is still drawing money from the family accounts. To show that the Marshalls are done sweeping their family’s evil deeds under the rug, they enlist the StoneWater bears to accompany Theo and help in the investigation. A task that Valentin assigns to Yakov.
Twins Yakov and Pavel have some psy in their DNA as their great-grandfather was a foreseer. Yakov first dreamed of his mate when he was a teenager and only recently have those visions returned, only this time his love is coated in blood and in those visions Yakov can’t do anything to save her. Of course, it is no surprise to him to meet his dream mate at the airport when he picks up Theo. At first, he can’t grasp that the cold woman in front of him is actually the same bright-eyed woman from his dreams but as they work together they quickly build a trust and a strong attraction.
Theo knows as a lowly 2.7 gradient TK, her grandfather would have happily had her “disappear” from the family lineage but her bond with Pax has always been freakishly strong and any harm he cause Theo was also felt by Pax. Knowing Theo’s death could also kill the heir he has been molding, Marshall Hyde had to come up with other ways of making sure Theo knew his displeasure with her. Theo has only ever known the love and support of her twin. She blossoms under the care and attention of Yakov and his bear family. Theo was never truly Silent and it doesn’t take much for her to grasp for at least a few moments of joy with the attractive bear.
When Yakov and Theo arrive at the compound and Theo breaks down in a panic attack at the sight of the front gate, they know there is more to the mystery than what might still be going on at this remote center. They also need to figure out if her grandfather would have actually sent Theo there and what experiments might he have done to her that she can’t remember.
Resonance Surge features the love story of both bear twins, Yakov and Pavel Stepyrev. I don’t know about you but I have loved watching the courtship of Pavel and Arwen Mercant over the last six books. Pavel would overtly flirt with Arwen, as only a bear could, and the unflappable psy would make up excuses why he was too busy to go out with Pavel, while not-so-secretly enjoying their game. Arwen, being an E psy and the heart of the Mercant family, wears his very vulnerable heart on his sleeve and initially thought Pavel was just looking for a good time. Pavel, a laid-back bear who’s idea of dressing up is a new T-shirt, is the polar opposite to Arwen’s reserved, and fashionably dress psy, yet they make the perfect couple. Pavel and Arwen are so adorable now that they are an actual couple, and while the story is only 20 percent Pavel/Arwen and 80 percent Yakov/Theo, I thought those Pavel and Arwen moments stole the spotlight.
Not only did this story take us back to the StoneWater bears, but it focused on the sexy and fun twins. I think Nalini brought their story out too soon because I don’t think she is going to be able to top this one.
“My can-do-everything handyman kit. I’m here to rearrange your spoons, forks and knives, and build a treadmill for your fish so it can walk itself. Then I’m going to oil your cuticles, and oh yeah, climb into your nonexistent attic to get rid of the infestation of vampire bats. So, what do you think?”
“That you’re a very persistent bear.”
“Oh, and I brought you flowers. A bouquet of edelweiss. According to the internet, they can represent a lot of things, chief among them the deepest love and devotion.”
“You’re getting ahead of yourself.”
“No, gorgeous, I’m talking about your devotion to those who are your own, your ability to love full throttle, no matter what the obstacle. I see that every time you’re with Silver–she wouldn’t be Valya’s Starlight if you hadn’t laid the foundation with your devotion and affection. Fierce heart, stubborn courage, and the most sophisticated death stare I’ve ever seen, my bear never had a chance against you.”
—The Courtship of Arwen Mercant: A Story of Death Stares, Irresistible Charm, and a Romantic Night in Jail” as told by Pavel Stepyrev.
Arwen enjoyed walking alongside his bear as the lights of Moscow turned the river into a midnight rainbow, the air crisp but not too cold–not with Pavel’s body heat next to his and Pavel’s arm around his waist.
Arwen was taller by a few inches; it would’ve made more logical sense for him to hook his arm over Pavel’s shoulders. But this was what felt natural. Because Arwen’s lover was a bear with a protective streak a mile wide and Arwen was an empath who liked being in his bear’s warm embrace.
He smiled as he fixed a cuff link on his shirt.
“What’s so funny?” Pavel’s fingers played over Arwen’s hip as he took another lick of his ice cream cone. He’d offered Arwen as many licks as he wanted, at the reasonable price of a kiss for a lick.
“Oh, my cuff links remind me of that day you turned up to take care of my vampire bat infestation.” The links were in the shape of edelweiss blooms, a gift from Pavel. Because his brash bear lover knew how to take care of his person.
Pavel’s dimples flashed. “I laughed for a good ten minutes after I got that message.”
“I had washing my shoelaces and color-coding the weeds in the garden in reserve.” Because at some point, coming up with progressively more preposterous excuses to decline Pavel’s invitations to go out had turned into a flirtation that made his stomach flutter and his toes curl.
He’d become glued to his phone, waiting for his bear’s next message.
“Those are good.” Pavel chuckled. “Too bad you never got to use them.”
Arwen hadn’t had that chance because after the words Pavel had given him–fierce heart, stubborn courage, ability to love full throttle–he’d been a mess with no defenses left.
He was an E. He knew his Pasha bear had meant every single word and that he saw Arwen in a way that was far beyond skin and bone and lust. Not just that, but he valued who Arwen was as a person and as an E, Pavel’s admiration and respect for him a caress of lush fur over his empathic senses.
Arwen’s world had shifted on its axis, as an emotion potent and passionate took the place of their playful flirtation. Used to the sly machinations of the PsyNet, he’d been afraid it was a mirage, a pretty game. He hadn’t understood his bear then. Blunt, honest, wild, Pavel Stepyrev had never treated Arwen’s heart with anything but tender care.
All soft and happy inside as they turned around to start making their way back to their borrowed residence, he took out his phone.