Psy-Changeling: Branded by Fire

Branded by Fire

Branded by Fire

Though DarkRiver sentinel Mercy is feeling the pressure to mate, she savagely resists when Riley Kincaid, a lieutenant from the SnowDancer pack, tries to possess her. The problem is not simply that he pushes her buttons;  the problem is that he’s a wolf, she’s a cat, and they’re both used to being on top.

But when a brilliant changeling researcher is kidnapped from DarkRiver territory, Mercy and Riley must work together–before his shadowy captors decide he’s no longer useful. Along the way, the two dominants may find that submitting to one another uncovers not just a deadly conspiracy, but a passion so raw that it will leave them both branded by fire…

 I have fallen in love with this series. I’d really, really, really enjoyed it before, but this book totally clinched it for me: Nalini Singh is a paranormal romance writing goddess. I adored everything about this book. Singh manages to write these hot romances while keeping up with her absolutely riveting world building. Honestly, I’m fangirling right now.

Branded by Fire is Mercy and Riley’s story. I wasn’t sure what to expect from these two since they’ve both been peripheral characters in the past books. But Singh did not disappoint. Branded by Fire is another one of those “opposites attract” scenarios. We start off with Riley and Mercy not particularly liking each other very much. They respect each other on a professional level, each acknowledging that the other is a badass, but not having much time for one another beyond that. Until one day… bang! Pun intended. In a moment of sexually frustrated weakness, Mercy takes Riley on after he propositions her. And, man, talk about fireworks. Riley, of course, is happy to go there again, but Mercy is horrified that she went there with a wolf with no discernible personality. Mercy is of the opinion that Riley makes the chilly Psy seem bubbly, and Riley sort of sees Mercy as a bit of a lose cannon. Mercy thinks that Riley thinks too much, while Riley thinks that Mercy doesn’t think enough. Mercy is a free spirit, and Riley is always in control. Clearly, they’re as different as two people can be in terms of temperament, never mind the fact that one’s a leopard and the other is a wolf.

I enjoyed the romance and how they gradually softened towards one another. Riley hasn’t been the same since Brenna (our heroine from Caressed by Ice) was kidnapped and tortured by a deranged Psy. He’s hardened himself, and everyone in his pack has noticed. But when he starts spending time with Mercy, he lightens up a little. Mercy’s been having some problems that her pack’s picked up on too. As a dominant female, she’s been worried about her prospects of finding a male who can handle her. Thing is, she needs someone even more dominant than her in order for her leopard to accept him. Thankfully, Riley seems to fit the bill.

I’m not going to go into too much detail with the romance because, although I enjoyed it, it wasn’t my favourite part of the book. No, my favourite bits were the more peripheral stuff. I was far more focused on  issues like, what’s happening with the Psy Council? And who exactly is the Ghost? And what is Kaleb Krychek’s story? And why are there so many books on my to-be-read pile between me and Sienna and Hawke’s book?!?! Just to go off on a quick tangent here, but I cannot–CANNOT— wait to read that book! It’s going to be EPIC!!! Ahem… anyhow. I actually find that Singh’s attention to detail is my favourite part of her books. I mean, most romance novels follow the same general patterns and she’s no exception to that. But what she does do, better than almost any author I can think of, is focus on the little things. Her world building is just phenomenal. With each installment of this series, things just get more and more intricate.

In short, I can’t get enough of this series. The attention to detail in the world building is breathtaking, the romances are hot and sweet, and everything is just so well-written that I think this series is going to go down as one of my favourites. Nalini Singh can honestly do no wrong in my eyes, and I am dying to see what’s going to happen next.

 

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Psy-Changeling Series: Hostage to Pleasure

Hostage to Pleasure

Hostage to Pleasure

Separated from her son and forced to create a neural implant that will mean the effective enslavement of her psychically gifted race, Ashaya Aleine is the perfect Psy–cool, calm and emotionless… at least on the surface. Inside, she’s fighting a desperate battle to save her son and escape the vicious cold of the PsyNet. Yet when escape comes, it leads not to safety, but to the lethal danger of a sniper’s embrace.

DarkRiver sniper Dorian Christensen lost his sister to a Psy killer. Though he lacks the changeling ability to shift into animal form, his leopard lives within. And that leopard’s rage at the brutal loss is a clawing darkness that hungers for vengeance. Falling for a Psy has never been on Dorian’s agenda. But charged with protecting Ashaya and her son, he discovers that passion has a way of changing the rules…

I had mixed feelings about this book. The world building and the overall story line was as brilliant as ever, but I just didn’t feel it in the romance department. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t a really good book, just that I felt that there was something missing.

We met Ashaya Aleine in Mine to Possess. She’s a Psy scientist who’s been assigned to the Implact Protocol by the Psy Council. The idea behind the Protocol is to sort of unify all the Psy minds under one big umbrella. Individual thought will be impossible for the vast majority of the Psy. The Council would be in the position to monitor the entire population’s thoughts at will. No individuality, no dissent. And to make sure Ashaya cooperates, they are holding her son prisoner. Even though Ashaya can’t show it, she adores her son and will do anything to save him. So she makes a deal with the DarkRiver pack. She did them a favour, and she wants them to repay her by getting her son away from the Council. This is where Dorian comes in. He’s not keen on helping a Psy, even one he’s inexplicably attracted to. But after losing his sister to a member of the Psy Council, Dorian is happy to do anything to screw the Psy over, so he agrees to Ashaya’s terms.

Once Ashaya is assured of her son’s safety, she puts her own escape plan into action. Everything goes according to plan. Except for one thing: she inadvertently lands smack bang in the middle of DarkRiver territory. No prizes for guessing who finds her. Clinging desperately to the Psy control she’s all but managed to perfect, Ashaya tries to ignore how much Dorian is affecting her. But Dorian isn’t having any of that. If he has to sit with this infuriating attraction to a Psy, a race he pretty much regards as the enemy, then she can damn well own up to what’s going on between them too. Now, for the most interesting part of this book: what the hell is going on with the Psy Council? Everything is going all topsy turvy and no one on the Council is what they appear. I love the intrigue!

Like I said, the romance didn’t especially do it for me. I think it’s probably because I couldn’t connect with the characters. I didn’t really like Dorian very much. He had a tendency to stretch the whole “alpha” thing into the realm of asshole. Ashaya was okay, but I probably won’t remember her in the long run. That being said, the situation with the Council is getting so good! There actually isn’t much of the Council in each book, just these little tidbits that are slowly making me die with curiosity. I want to know.

Ms Singh is killing it with this series. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next! Check it out over at Sony’s ebook store.

The Psy-Changeling Series: Mine to Possess

Mine to Possess

Mine to Possess

Clay Bennett is a powerful DarkRiver sentinel, but he grew up in the slums with his human mother, never knowing his changeling father. As a young boy without the bonds of Pack he tried to stifle his animal nature. He failed… and committed the most extreme act of violence, killing a man and losing his best friend, Talin, in the bloody aftermath. Everything good in him died the day he was told that she, too, was dead.

Talin McCade barely survived a childhood drenched in bloodshed and terror. Now a new nightmare is stalking her life-the street children she works to protect are disappearing and turning up dead. Determined to keep them safe, she unlocks the deepest secret in her heart, and steels herself to ask the help of the strongest man she knows…

Clay lost Talin once. He will not let her go again, his hunger to possess her is a clawing need born of the leopard within. As they race to save the innocent, Clay and Talin must face the violent truths of their past, or risk losing everything that ever mattered.

I am quite a big fan of Ms Singh’s so I couldn’t wait to start in on Mine to Possess. It’s been sitting on my to-be-read pile for what feels like forever, but it was well worth the wait. The world Singh has created is absolutely fascinating. It just gets more and more detailed and complex as the series progresses.

Clay is a high-ranking member of DarkRiver, a sentinel charged with protecting his pack. However, despite his position, Clay is a bit of a loner. He’s got this anger building inside him and he’s on the verge of just giving up on his humanity and going leopard full time. He wasn’t always like this, though. While he’s always had this darkness inside him, there was a time where he was a little more lighthearted. Talin, his childhood best friend, accepted him without question. They were once inseparable. Until the day Clay became aware of the abuse Talin was suffering at the hands of her foster father. In a fury, he killed the bastard right in front of Talin and Clay was later taken to a juvenile detention centre. Clay accepted it, believing that once he’d served his time he would be able to see Talin again. He was devastated upon hearing that Talin was dead, and for a long time he seemed to be lost in that darkness inside himself. So you can understand his shock when Talin suddenly shows up in his life, alive and well. Talin is damaged. The things her foster father did to her, coupled with losing Clay left her in a bad place. When she finally felt like she was moving forward, she found out that Clay was being released from his prison. She knew Clay would come for her, so she made the decision to have the authorities tell him that she had died. But now she needs Clay’s help. The street children she’s responsible are being killed and the enforcement agency is making no effort to catch the killer.

My love for this series is actually stemming more from the universe that Singh has created than from a real passion for the characters. Don’t get me wrong, the characters are awesome. We got to see Talin transform from a scared little girl into a strong woman; we got to see a softer side to Clay that you would never have suspected was there. All of that was great. But those snippets into the inner workings of the Psy Council and how the whole system is being shaken up is… riveting. Singh manages to make important changes to the universe her series is set in with every book and I am so excited to see what’s going to happen next!

If you’re keen on reading Mine to Possess-and you really should be-you can head on over to Foyles.