Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense
Also by this author: Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss, #1), Rock Hard (Rock Kiss #2), Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1)
Series: Psy-Changeling #8
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Source: My shelves
Max Shannon is a good cop, one of the best in New York Enforcement. Born with a natural shield that protects him against Psy mental invasions, he knows he has little chance of advancement within the Psy-dominated power structure. The last case he expects to be assigned is that of a murderer targeting a Psy Councilor’s closest advisors. And the last woman he expects to compel him in the most sensual of ways is a Psy on the verge of a catastrophic mental fracture…
Sophia Russo is a Justice-Psy, cursed with the ability to retrieve memories from men and women so twisted even veteran cops keep their distance. Appointed as Max’s liaison with the Psy, she finds herself fascinated by this human, her frozen heart threatening to thaw with forbidden emotion. But, her mind filled with other people’s nightmares, other people’s evil, she’s standing on the border between sanity and a silken darkness that urges her to take justice into her own hands, to become judge, jury…and executioner…
New to the series? Read my review of book one: Slave to Sensation.
Admittedly, I didn’t go into this one with too-high expectations. From what I remembered (when I first read this… three years ago?) this book was my least favorite of the series. But what I’d forgotten, that even Nalini Singh’s worst book (which this definitely isn’t!) is still strides ahead than anything written by anyone else!!
This book is a bit different from the other Psy-Changeling books because the hero in this one is human. Blaze of Memory has a human hero too, and these are two of the only three books in the whole series (so far) that have a human hero. I like my Changeling and Psy heroes, which explains why these tend to be my least favorite (expect Ocean Light is incredible!!). But this one has a dissimilar set-up, too, because Max and Sophia were solving a mystery. More romantic suspense than paranormal, I did enjoy the mystery and bodyguard element this one offered up.
Of course, Sophia is a J-Psy, so there were plenty of urban fantasy tropes in there to love. Justice-Psy’s are often used in the judicial system because they have the ability to comb through and extract memories. For use in the criminal system, this skill is obviously very cherished. But due to the rarity and volatility of the J-Psy’s, it’s used only in extreme cases, making Sophia and others of her ilk party to the worst and most depraved of society.
“There’s not much left inside me, Max.”
Sometimes, all she heard were echoes.”
So Sophia doesn’t have too good of a life, dealing with human and Psy filth all her life, and that’s outside the trauma she endured as a child. Also because she’s a J-Psy, she’s watched like a hawk, waiting for the inevitable self-destruct around 30. It’s Sophia’s last assignment before she will be terminated, due to her deteriorating conditioning. (Read my review on book one for more basics on how this world works.)
Sophia was such an incredibly strong character. Seeing what seeks, doing what she does, she almost has to be. But she had an innate and instant kindness in her that was surprising to me, given her background and the fact that she’s Psy. But she’s also dark and lethal, as she stares the insanity and madness of the Psy-Net in the eyes. Max Shannon, the hero, is a human cop we know from other books in the series. He’s a good cop, and due to his natural shield, he’s treasured and alienated in the department as someone who can’t be corrupted by the Psy’s mind tricks. I was worried because he wasn’t a shifter, but he was the alpha badass we get plenty outside the genre: hunky, dreamy, and flawed, but swoony and caring.
“You can drive.”
When he raised an eyebrow, she said, “I’ve had enough contact with human males to realize you seem to have a congenital inability to function while a female is at the wheel, and I’d rather your full attention be on the case.”
Max and Sophia were a great team – both as a couple and as partners. This assignment was high-stakes, which is why Sophia had her retirement date pushed back, and they worked to save Nikita (Psy Counselor) against a conspirator and run a serial killer to ground. I love that these two characters don’t just get slapped together and make things happened, instead things build, and Singh does her signature slow-burn romance that I love so much from her.
I loved the peek we got into other Psy-Changeling characters, as well as keep the suspense of the main plot smoldering into the background! This book is also the first step to my favorite book of the series… Kaleb!! I always love that Singh includes various perspectives from around the world in various political situations to further the overall story arc, but any scene with Kaleb is a green light for me, especially :)
Overall… what do you want me to say ??? 😂 This is my favorite author, after all. I (and everyone else) don’t call her the Alpha Queen of Urban Fantasy / PNR for nothing 😌 With a captivatingly fluid writing style that manages to make the book both immersive and caring, she also snags me right in. Even for my least favorite book of the series, I was pulled in from the start and read it in one sitting, managing to go through the emotional rainbow along the way. (Review of book one)
Series Reading Order
More reviews to come as I continue with my reread of the series!
Other books you may enjoy…
Have you read a book by Nalini Singh? Do you typically enjoy urban fantasy books? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!