Our Comfort Reads: Slave to Sensation

Today we’re introducing a new feature here that will appear on Saturdays.  Our Comfort Reads is our own little personal blog meme where Cait and I will trade off talking about books that we turn to when we need a break from everything else in our TBR pile, we’re having a bad day and need a vacation in a good book or we just want something familiar that we know will deliver a great story.  These are among our top-rated books and the ones we recommend to you.  We’d love it if you’d chime in and let us know what your comfort reads are too.

I’m going first with a book that I’ve read within the past week.  It’s the beginning story in the awesome Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh.  If I could (hey, I’m the boss, why shouldn’t I?), I’d do most of the series, since they’re nearly all my comfort reads.  I reread Kiss of Snow last night because I was thinking about this book.

Slave to Sensation
By Nalini Singh
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: September 5, 2006
Genre: Paranormal Romance

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 coexistence, 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…

Goodreads Summary

Psy Sascha Duncan’s been assigned to work with the Dark River leopards on a new housing development and alpha Lucas Hunter specifically wants to be the liaison with her. The entire job couldn’t come at a worse time for Sascha – Psy have had all emotion programmed out of them and operate with cold, icy precision. She’s showing signs of mental degradation though, her shields failing, emotions seeping through. Psy that are found to be defective are sent to be reprogrammed – their brains basically turned to oatmeal. Working with the hyper-observant Lucas and having members of the Psy Council breathing down her neck is only increasing the danger of her being exposed.

Lucas has noticed Sascha isn’t like other Psy. She reacts differently and even more, his cat wants her on the most basic level. The man doesn’t know how far to trust her though and his pack needs information only she can get – a wolf from the Snow Dancer pack has been kidnapped by a Psy serial killer and he needs Sascha to search the network of Psy minds to find the girl in time. If she does what he wants, there’s no chance that she can hide what’s happening to her anymore – but being with Lucas for as long as she has is worth the price.

I love other books in the series for various reasons but this is one of my favorites for a couple of reasons. It’s the first (I gave myself an eye roll for writing that so you can go ahead and give me one too), so you get to meet a lot of the Dark River leopards, learn about the pack and even meet the Snow Dancer’s alpha, Hawke. Lucas and Sascha are an integral couple for the rest of the series – I love the way Singh treats the changeling’s world and handles pack hierarchy. Even if the story doesn’t have anything to do with Lucas, as the alpha there are times when the people involved need him to step in and assert his dominance or give them pack guidance.

Sascha is a Cardinal Psy – a designation that’s mostly given to Psy who have some sort of high power gradient and are always marked with black eyes that have white sparks in them that go totally black when they expend their power. While other Cardinals have designations like M-Psy (Medical), Tk-Psy (Telekinetic), Sascha was left undesignated, told her particular power never manifested. What she finds out she is eventually becomes integral to the series – she’s important not just to the Dark River leopards but to the Snow Dancer wolves as well.

The relationship between Lucas and Sascha is sweet and fun and gives a little idea about what the changeling/Psy couples are going to look like. Lucas is definitely a predatory cat – he stalks Sascha, watches for her little expressions that give away that she’s not as Psy as she should be. He’s also playful, fun and as a man or cat, you know he’s about to pounce on her. Sascha is almost child-like – having been in an emotional void her entire life, being with Lucas is a sensory feast. There are repercussions because no one escapes the Psy that easily but they turn what they can get into some very sexy moments.

The serial killer story plays a fairly big role by the last fourth of the story and it’s actually important too, as it has repercussions for three characters that have their books later. It’s just one more reason I love this book so much – it’s the base that the whole series gets built on and the series is really worth reading.

Obviously I suggest you read them all in order because you’ll get more out of the characters and understand the ongoing stories between them all, but these are a couple of my other top recommendations from the series:

Caressed by Ice (Psy-Changeling #3): A very emotional story between Psy Judd and Snow Dancer wolf Brenna.

Branded by Fire (Psy-Changeling #6): This is the sexiest of the books in my opinion. It’s Dark River Mercy’s and Snow Dancer Riley’s story.



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