Author: Nalini Singh
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publication date: 6th July 2010
Paperback: 368 pages
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…
Stand alone or series: 8th book in the excellent Psy/Changeling series
How did I get this book: An arc from the author
Why did I read this book: I love, love, LOVE this series!
The Psy/Changeling series is one of the two ongoing PNR series that I still faithfully follow (the other being Meljean Brook’s Guardian series) . Bonds of Justice is the 8th book in the series and it has not only a great romance between a human and a Psy but also proceeds with the ongoing arc with both threads being woven together seamlessly with the rest of the series – which is why I love these so much.
Each book in the series follows a theme (or at least I read them as such) and this time around it is the concept of Justice and its many forms that grounds the characters and the plotlines. Starting with the protagonists of the piece: Max Shannon, a human cop whose impenetrable shield makes him the perfect person to work alongside the Psy; and Sophia Russo, a Justice-Psy, whose ability to retrieve memories from criminals is both gift and curse. The former because it allows for hardened criminals to be put away and present an integral part of the Justice system; the latter for every J-Psy comes with a use-by date as the psychic result of immersing oneself in these memories invariably results in madness and mental collapse. Sophia’s mind is close to that final stage and she will be due in for comprehensive rehabilitation – in which her mind, memory and personality will all be but erased –very, very soon.
When these two are chosen to work together on a serial killer case and later for Psy Councillor Nikita investigating some of the deaths that have occurred in the past books of the series, they have an immediate connection. Max understands and recognises Sophia’s plight and his protective instinct kicks in almost immediately. Sophia on the other hand, at the breaking point, desperate for someone who will remember her when she is gone, responds to this by wanting to really connect with someone for the first time. Their story is beautiful and unique in the series: Max is less alpha than the other heroes and has a nurturing side that really appealed to me. Sophia is another Psy facing the abysm but the abysm she faces is slightly different than for example the one faced by Sascha or Faith. Both are also distinct n their physical representation. Max is part-Asian (Nalini Singh is great with adding diversity to the series ) and Sophia is scarred – truly deeply so: her face is full of scars which are the result from a horrible experience in childhood.
As much as I liked the romance (whoa: HOT), my favourite part of this book was truly the exploration of the idea of Justice and all that it involves and how it all fits with the overall story arc; from equity (not all Psy are created equal, what does that mean?) to ethics and the difference between Justice and Punishment (a very thin line that all J-Psy walk on) ; to the ideal of peace between races but also peace for all Psy who are starting to realise that Silence is actually an impossible dream ripe with unfairness and injustice. I loved seeing how the Councillors are siding with or against each other and I can’t wait to see the outcome of this. This is actually one of the reasons why I loved the resolution of the novel. It presented me with a HUGE surprise because so far, all of the Psy wanting out of the Silence also had to get out of the Psy-net. This is an impossibility for Sophia because her mind turned out to be essential for the Psy-net to even exist. I believe the solution is part of a larger plan that definitely involves Councillor Nikita and I admired Nalini Singh for going there and attempting something new. It fits with the rest of the series even if departs from the usual resolution for the Psy-cases. I think it provides hope for the Psy as a race that is not all made of villainy and this is definitely something I want to see.
The rest of the grand finale was slightly too perfect for my ever changing tastes, I felt like a pony would ride into the room at some point and poop rainbows all over Max, Sophia and someone else who shall remain unnamed. I also would love, given the high stakes and the ever present sense of danger, to see something truly horrendous to happen to make it even more REAL. In that sense, I wished that in one particular sequence, a couple we all love and care for had in fact suffered the attack they were under. It would have killed me to see them hurt (mind you, key word here is “hurt”, not killed because I am NOT THAT CRAZY) but I think it would make the series even greater.
In any case, another great book in one of my favourite series. I am glad there is another one coming out this year!
It was as she was sitting staring into the face of a sociopath that Sophia Russo realized three irrefutable truths.
One: In all likelihood, she had less than a year left before she was sentenced to comprehensive rehabilitation. Unlike normal rehabilitation, the process wouldn’t only wipe out her personality, leave her a drooling vegetable. Comprehensives had ninety-nine percent of their psychic senses fried as well. All for their own good of course.
Two: Not a single individual on this earth would remember her name after she disappeared from active duty.
Three: If she wasn’t careful, she would soon end up as empty and as inhuman as the man on the other side of the table…because the otherness in her wanted to squeeze his mind until he whimpered, until he bled, until he begged for mercy.
“Evil is hard to define, but it’s sitting in that room.”
Verdict: Max and Sophia are a great addition to the Psy/changeling canon and overall, Bonds of Justice is a great read that adds a necessary turn of events to the overall story arc.
Rating: 7 – Very Good leaning towards a 8
Reading next: Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock
We have TWO copies of Bonds of Justice to giveaway to two lucky winners. To enter, leave a comment here telling us which is your favourite book in the series so far. The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada ONLY, and will run until Saturday July 10th at 11:59pm (pacific). One comment per person, please! Multiple entries will be disqualified. Good luck!