Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Song of Howls is the second book in the Sisters of Song duology. It’s probably best enjoyed if read in order, but is still enjoyable on its own. Minor spoilers for the first book, Song of Flames, may be present in this review.

Alaiya and Venya were born to self-serving, social-climbing parents. They ignored Venya, who wasn’t beautiful in their culture, and would not make a prize wife to be sold to a wealthy man to raise their stature in society. Alaiya, by contrast, was beautiful, and lavished with education, training, and clothing that befitted the future wife of a nobleman. Unfortunately, their parents decided to sell Alaiya into a harem, which gained them lots of money and status, but doomed Alaiya to a life devoid of love. She’s not even attracted to men, and is repulsed by her treatment as a commodity by the men who seek to purchase her.

Venya worked to free Alaiya and, in doing so, encountered two bonded dragon shifters who saw their mate in Venya. Together, they freed Alaiya, but peril follows them to the sacred Firestar Mountains. In the course of establishing a new society, the dragons are visited by Talla, the female Alpha of a wolf shifter pack, and she seems to be quite taken with the shy and solemn Alaiya.

Alaiya has never been able to imagine her own life and what she wants to do with it, because she was forced into preparing to be a great wife. Now, she’s free to choose how to exist, and wants to spend her time with Venya, preparing to be an aunt. She’s really talented at design and sewing, and helps Venya with lots of projects around the crumbling castle. While Venya’s dragon mates are away, she’s also helpful with correspondence to the queen, as well as negotiating trade with the nearest port. All this time, Talla is there, helpful and curious as to how to win over the woman she sees as her true mate.

This story brings peace to the Firestar Mountains, but it’s forged in blood once again. I liked the pacing of the romance, in that it’s not up-front, but more sedate. Talla respects Alaiya’s boundaries, even if she doesn’t understand them at first. Alaiya’s never had a loving relationship, except with Venya, and that was hard fought, too. Alaiya’s been traumatized by men for many years, so undoing all that trauma requires a light touch, which Talla intuits through fits and starts into physical intimacy. The shifters of the Firestar Mountains are definitely growing in number and variety, and with this expansion comes conflict, but also increased comfort and security. I liked how Alaiya’s gentleness won the wolves to her side, even as they struggled to understand why she didn’t immediately accept Talla’s claim of mate.

I think for a fated-mate romance, this was a really nice twist, in that it allowed Alaiya time to heal from her traumas and to see that Talla wanted to love her, not use her. They had to develop a rapport before they could build intimacy, and that seemed right to me, knowing how much Alaiya was pushed around her whole life.

I definitely enjoyed this imaginative sequel, and would recommend it to readers who enjoy shifter stories and fantasy/paranormal sapphic romances.