Title: Slave to Sensation
Author: Nalini Singh
Review number: 38
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Stand Alone/ Series: Book 1 of the Psy/Changeling series.
Summary: In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of “rehabilitation”— the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was….
Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion—and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities—or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation…
Why did I read the book: In my pursue of all things paranormal I came across glowing reviews of this series.
In Slave to Sensation, Nalini Singh has created an alternative Earth where there are other races living alongside humans.
Meet the Psy, the most powerful and rich race and therefore the dominant one. The Psy are cold, emotionless people who have psychic power. Back in the 20th century they realized that to control the levels of insanity and serial killing amongst their race they needed something to change. A program called Silence was institutionalized, a program where Psy were conditioned from birth not to feel anything. The reasoning being that: no bad feelings – no killings. From that point onwards, Psy feel nothing: negative or positive. By wiping out rage and hate, jealousy and envy, they ended up wiping happiness and love as well.
All Psy minds are connected to each other over the PsyNet: it would be something like the Internet, where everyone has to access to it but mentally. Psy can talk to each other over the PsyNet which also means that all of them are somewhat monitored by the Council, who are very conveniently, above the Law. Any rare signs of mental breakdown, any rare signs of emotions and they are either sent to re-conditioning or in case they are considered “broken” , sent to be lobotomized. Psy also have differences in the way their minds behave – some are Telekinetic and their denomination is Tk-Psy. There are also Telepathic Psy (Tp- Psy), Medical(M –Psy), Foresight (F-Psy) and the never seen, never heard of in many many years, E-Psy. What the E stands for, no one knows. No one cares. It would be a terrible, fearful way of living, except that the Psy feel no fear, fear no evil. They do not touch each other, their children are bred artificially, their family ties are usually money related.
One thing is clear though: no Psy can live without his or her mind connected to the PsyNet. Or can they?
Meet the Changelings: both human and animal with the ability to change whenever they want to into animal form. There are Leopards, Jaguars, Wolves. They usually live in packs and the leader is the alpha male. No one is above the law and in order to make certain that even the Alpha Male is controlled if necessary, there are Sentinels. They are the very opposite of the Psy. They thrive in their emotions, good or bad. They accept the beast within; they have a close contact with nature. They live for love, they love sex, and they show they care for each other by touching other members of the Pack constantly (skin privileges).
Changelings mate for life and when they find their mates they will not let go.
Psy and Changeling do not get along. Psy look down at any race controlled by its own emotions and the Changeling abhor what the Psy have made to their own minds.
Now meet our protagonists:
Sascha Duncan is a Psy. A Cardinal Psy which means she is more powerful than normal Psy. Except that her powers are dormant and she still doesn’t have a proper designation. Beyond that, Sascha is starting to break down – she has been feeling. More and more. She tries to hide the feelings from the PsyNet but she knows it is only a matter of time before she is found out and her mind wiped out. She is terrified. But she can not show it. Lucas Hunter is the alpha of the DarkRiver Leopard’s Pack. They are doing business together.
Sascha’s family has realized the potential in investing into building houses for the changelings, a project that is to be developed by Lucas’ pack. It is good business opportunity for Sascha but it is an amazing opportunity for Lucas to be able to be near a Psy. Because you see, someone is killing Changelings, the last one killed was a female of his own pack and now the killer has taken one of the Wolves’ pack as well (their business associates who eventually become blood bound with the Leopards) and the changelings are convinced that the serial killer is a Psy.
Except that this is impossible. The Psy do not kill. But the impossible has happened and it is down to Sacha to figure out why once she is convinced by Lucas that there is something fishy. And in the way of doing so, she finds out a lot about life and love, about the very feelings she has been taught to fear and to destroy. She also finds out what the enigmatic E-Psy are and how come she is one of them. And she realizes that the Council will go at terrible lengths in order to maintain the status quo.
You must have figured out by now that Sascha and Lucas are also very much a thing – it turns out they are mated. And Lucas will do anything to keep her with him, even if it kills him.
This book has everything going for it. The world is interesting, the dichotomy between the Psy and Changeling intriguing, the pack interactions with each other were sweet, Lucas and Sascha’s relationship hot and heartwarming. And yet I find myself in the same predicament as Thea with her recent review of Scent of Shadows
.This book has all of the elements I enjoy in a novel: strong protagonists, an interesting premise and a different world , the mate for life thing which I happen to LOVE but I was left cold and cold is this review. It just didn’t capture my heart and my attention as I would have hoped.
I can’t really explain why – maybe it was the fact that some things kept being repeated ad nauseum? Like for example how Sascha’s inner dialogue would go on and on about how she was broken and how they would get her? Or maybe it was the repetitive man/beast dialogue inside Lucas mind: “The man liked it, but the beast loved”; or “the man wasn’t prepared for it, but the beast was” or something to that effect. Or maybe I just read it in the wrong time of the month.
Things got a little better half-way through the book though, I got a bit more involved in the romance but to be honest, my emotions weren’t all there. It was hot, interesting, but there was something missing. I think the best way to explain exactly how I felt is: reading this book, to me, was like eating dark chocolate. I have a passion for all things chocolate but I find that the dark chocolate is not as fulfilling as plain, milky chocolate. Simple as that. It is still chocolate, I will eat it, still get a kick out of it, just not that satisfying feel that makes me sigh.
To sum up: good, not excellent. I very much preferred Visions of Heat, book two in the series. More on that next.
Notable quotes/parts: I liked the leopard’s pack. The interactions between them , how they like to play and pet each other even in human form. Love the mate for life thing going on, love the pups. I specially like all of the males in the pack and how they are strong and intriguing and very much lining up for a book each. I am pretty sure I will be reading every single of one them.
I also found Sascha’s incursions into the PsyNet very well done. The description of the connections between the minds, the ability to block or open other minds or archives. Very very interesting.
Additional Thoughts: I live in England and being a history buff, one of my favorite hobbies is to go around the country visiting English Heritage properties: Castles, Abbeys, Cathedrals , old Country Estates. About two weeks ago I was visiting Kirby Hall , one of those estates, which was built from 1570 onwards. Anyways, I was there and there was this immense room with amazing bay windows facing the fields and I could not it : I took my book our of my bag – Slave to Sensation – and sat there reading. Dead Partner took a picture:
Can’t you just imagine yourself sitting in a very comfortable couch lounging the whole day, reading and sipping copious amounts of tea? Lovely.
Verdict: This first book didn’t work for me as I would have expected. I can not say this is a bad book though because it isn’t – so it is all down to personal preferences. As always. If you like paranormal romance you should give it a go.
Rating: 6. Good.
Reading next: Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh