Desert Isle Keeper
Slave to Sensation (#58 on AAR's Top 100 Romances)
An AAR Top 100 Romance
originally published on September 30, 2006
This is the first book I’ve read by Nalini Singh, but it won’t be my last. I kept wishing that work would stop interrupting my reading time…isn’t a three hour lunch acceptable these days? The author created an all-around terrific alternate reality; the world building here was nicely done. Earth is the setting, but it’s different than the earth we know.
The Psy, Changelings, and Humans coexist on Earth in an uneasy yet peaceful fashion. However, the incredible mind gifts in the Psy population also resulted in an alarming amount of insanity and serial killers. In 1969, the Psy instituted a program called Silence in order to teach young Psys not to feel rage. As isolating one emotion was impossible, ten years later they began to condition young Psy to feel nothing at all. A century later, no one remembers the Psy being any different than unfeeling and analytical, characteristics that make them well-suited to be leaders in business. Because of the Silence, any Psy that shows signs of “abnormalities” on their mind web – which links all Psy together – are sent away for “reprogramming”, which basically turns them into mindless vegetables. Since they no longer feel emotions, many Psy, such as Sascha Duncan’s mother Nikita, choose artificial reproduction methods.
Sascha has lived most of her life in fear. She learned how to build incredibly strong walls in her mind to keep her secret safe, so no one in the Psy Net can sense her differences. She is a Cardinal Psy, one of the elite and strongest mentally, demonstrated by their black eyes, with pinpricks of white. She is supposed to take her place on the ruling Council alongside her mother. Sascha’s powers have not developed however, or rather, they are not any powers the Psy will recognize. For Sascha has feelings, and can sense what others are feeling, which in the case of her fellow Psy, is nothing. Sascha’s mental shields are beginning to fail, and she fears that she will be sent in for reprogramming. A business deal with the changelings may give her some breathing room away from her mother.
Lucas Hunter is a panther changeling and the alpha of the DarkRiver leopards. His real estate negotiations with the Psy are about much more than business. A Psy has been butchering changeling women. When the changelings went to the Psy with the evidence, it was swept under the rug. DarkRiver has made an alliance with the Snow Dancer wolves to infiltrate the Psy as best they can to hunt the killer. If nothing can be found, then all out war will be declared.
Sascha is the answer to Lucas’s prayers, in more ways than one. He can sense that she is different from the other Psy and he seeks to keep her separate in order to find out her secrets, and hopefully find the killer. Sascha reacts to Lucas on a fundamental level and her emotional control is all but swept away. As they work through the details of their business deal, Sascha finds herself dreaming very realistic, sensual dreams about Lucas. Of course they are more than just dreams, as Lucas and Sascha have connected on levels neither one could have expected, and once Sascha knows of the killings, she is determined to help her new found friends (which is an entirely foreign word for a Psy).
I loved everything about this book. All the characters, from the DarkRiver leopards to the alpha of the Snow Dancer wolf pack, are compelling, and I can’t wait to read their stories. They all have issues to work through, which is where Sascha’s unique talents will lead her. Sascha and Lucas are both incredible. Sasha has kept herself tightly controlled in order to preserve her life, and Lucas has a terrible event in his past which has led him to his leadership role. The two sizzle together, and once Lucas knows Sascha is his mate, nothing holds him back.
The hunt for the killer places everyone at risk, and ends in a way that none of them expected. They team with unexpected allies who also have an interesting perspective, and I hope one of them will get her own story also. I was so sad when I finished this book because I didn’t have another in this series to follow it! Paranormal fans sit up and take notice, this author is one to watch. I will be pre-ordering the next book in this series so I can read it the minute it’s published. Enjoy!