“Secrets at Midnight” by Nalini Singh

5 Jan

This short story, set in the Psy/Changeling universe, is the first in the Night Shift anthology, and honestly, one of the blandest entries in the series. I do not recommend this as a starting point for the series or, really, Ms Singh’s writing.

Cover for Night Shift anthology showing a white woman holding her hair up, showing a tattoo of a tiger on her upper back

“Secrets at Midnight” by Nalini Singh

When this anthology was released, in 2014, I was very much into Nalini Singh’s Changeling stories, so it was a given that I would get it for this story alone. I cannot say what my impression was at the time, because I had completely forgotten everything about it. (I do know that my favorite story, by far, was “The Beast of Blackmoor”.)

At any rate, here’s the back cover blurb from the author’s website:

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh delivers a smoldering story with Secrets at Midnight, as the scent of Bastien Smith’s elusive lover ignites a possessiveness in him that’s as feral as it is ecstatic. And now that he’s found his mate, he’ll do anything to keep her.

The worldbuiding is minimal, and the story suffers from it, as too much of what’s on the page hinges on previous knowledge of the world. This is not always a net negative, especially for a short story in a one-author anthology, but it is definitely a weakness here.

The story is set well into the run of the series, sometime after the events in Heart of Obsidian, the twelfth novel. Silence has fallen, the world is holding its breath, waiting to see what will happen now that the Psy are free to fell emotion again, and life, as they say, goes on.

Bastien is one of Mercy’s friends, a leopard changeling whose talents in the world of finance make him a key player in the Dark River pack. As the story starts, he finally meets the woman whose scent has been driving him crazy, because it’s both changeling and human.

Kirby is an orphan, raised in foster care as a full human. She’s always felt out of place, and touch-starved, but knowing basically nothing about changelings, she doesn’t know what she should do about her reactions, both emotional and physical, to meeting Bastien.

What conflict is in the story revolves about Kirby’s paternity and how disconnected she is from her changeling nature, rather than anything happening, or not, between her and Bastien. There’s a bit about finding out about her family, and so on, but it’s not that interesting, and it is clear none of it matters, because this is a fated mates story, and there is no external conflict to spice it up.

Worse, however, is the utter blandness of the characters themselves, especially the female protagonist.

“Secrets at Midnight” gets a 5.00 out of 10.

2 Responses to ““Secrets at Midnight” by Nalini Singh”

  1. willaful 05/01/2022 at 3:41 PM #

    I never found her shorts very interesting.

    • azteclady 05/01/2022 at 3:49 PM #

      I used to like the little shorts she puts for free in her website, because they’re usually about couples who’ve already had their book, or even extension of scenes that’ve been edited down (or cut off entirely).

      But yeah, given the fated mates trope, her short stories tend to lack conflict for me–or the conflict is just rage-inducing (thinking about Kenji’s reasons to be an asshole in “Flirtations of Fate”, in the Wild Embrace anthology)

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