Posted in: AztecLady Reviews, Nalini Singh
Tags:Caressed by Ice, Psy/Changeling
Caressed by Ice is the third installment in the Psy/Changeling series. While I certainly recommend reading the first two books before starting this one, it is still early enough in the series, and Ms Singh gives enough background detail in this novel, that a reader shouldn’t get too lost starting here.
Here’s the back cover blurb:
As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now he is a defector, and his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins—cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna…
Brenna Shane Kinkaid was an innocent before she was abducted—and had her mind violated—by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives…
The blurb… meh.
But oh, the many lovely things about this novel!
The main conflict in Caressed by Ice stems both from events that happened in Slave to Sensation—such as Brenna’s abduction and torture at the hands of a high ranking Psy—and from the historical linking of Psy abilities to violence and madness. The first killer is dead, so who killed Brenna’s packmate, and why is she having dream/visions of violence? And why is Judd convinced that Brenna is still in danger, even though there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason for it?
Beyond this, there is also a running storyline that links the series, involving the changing politics between the three human groups.
First, though, for those joining the ranks, a quick intro to the Psy/Changeling universe. There are three subspecies (often called races in the novels) of humans. Humans, changelings and psy. Changelings are humans with the ability to shift into an animal form, who retain some of that animal’s characteristics in their human form—such as the ability to withstand pain, accelerated healing, sharper senses and increased stamina. Psy have psychic abilities, such as psychometry, telepathy or telekinesis.
The Silence Protocol is a conditioning that all Psy children undergo, the theory being that by suppressing emotion, most of the negative side effects of uncontrolled psychic abilities, set off by fear or rage or even carelessness, would also be suppressed. Quite a bit of the series deals with the ripples this has caused, both within Psy society and in the world they share with humans and changelings.
It is so good to see the world building continuing to hold as well in this book as it did in the first two! This novel changes the focus from the DarkRiver leopard pack to the SnowDancer wolves—and the Psy they hide. In fact, Brenna and Judd, the two central characters, were introduced briefly to the reader in the first book, Slave to Sensation, and Judd has a small yet pivotal part in the second, Visions of Heat.
While many a romance reader is familiar with the cold, arrogant, dangerous hero, Judd has an unexpected (and oh so very welcome!) twist.
Stifling the need for touch is one of the most evident side effects of Silence. Changelings, on the other hand, revel in touch. It’s both a need and an outlet for the deepest of feelings. Following this reasoning, it shouldn’t be surprising that Judd is actually the virgin in this couple. Yet another romantic trope set on its ear. Kudos, Ms Singh!
As with any series working a multi-book plot arc, there are some elements in this novel that seem to have little to do with the main storyline—namely, Brenna and Judd’s individual growth and the forging of their relationship. However, in point of fact these are not extraneous bits, since they also build into what happened to Brenna and into what makes Judd tick.
It is always a treat seeing an arrogant, capable, strong man, struggle with himself because of love—in this case, it’s much more so, because Judd’s struggle doesn’t hinge on fear of commitment or another such usual excuse. Erm… reason. Judd has been told that if he gives in to emotion—love, possessiveness, anger—his control over his Psy ability, which is deathly, will be compromised. In fact, in the time before Silence, Psy such as him often killed the ones they loved first while in the throes of uncontrolled emotion.
Once again, the fact that evil and good are not the exclusive purview of any human group is shown. Yes, the main apparent villains are the members of the Psy Council, who are perfectly willing to kill—as long as it is in cold blood, either for the greater good (read: it benefits Psy as a group) or to gain individual power or for financial benefit. In this book though, Ms Singh explores the pervasiveness of weakness and of malice in humanity as a whole, and does so in a way that doesn’t preach.
This one is my favorite so far.
8.5 out of 10