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Synopsis: 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…

NWW Review: Not a new book by a long shot. This first instalment in the Phy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh has been published close to ten years ago, and even though I consider myself a great fan of the genre, I have somehow overlooked this Award-winning series and Nalini Singh as one of the key authors in this genre. But it just so happened that a few moths ago I have came across Slave to Sensation in my local second-hand bookshop. It is a true mekka for any bibliophile, with books covering any flat surface, any vertical and horizontal space short for the ceiling. The shop is located in an old shopping arcade thus the plethora of little alcoves and cubbyholes running alongside the main hallway, each with little alcoves of their own covered with books. And to quote my favourite Doctor – ‘It’s bigger on the inside’. Just like the TARDIS. And beware anyone who came in just for browsing! As you will find yourself suck into this parallel universe, were all the worries of the outside world disappear until you  re-emerge again after four hours with a hefty stack of books under your arm and no clue as to were the time went. But enough about the Bookshop. It’s suffice to say that after one of such ‘visits’ I have left the shop with Slave to Sensation, ready for adventure. When I came back home I made myself a pot of coffee, sat comfortably in my ‘reading’ armchair and I let the story transport me. I started reading in the morning, and continued reading thought the afternoon…and then the evening…and the next morning, until I finally turned the last page on Sunday evening. This is what I have found…

Slave-to-SensationThe premise of the book is The Future. Two species have evolved form the human genome: changelings and Psy, all three species now living together on Earth. The humans remained as they were, yet slowly but steadily losing the control/influence over the other two, much more powerful races. The Psy represent the logic, devoid of emotion, they are cold and cerebral. In their unwavering pursuit of power and excellence, they developed typical mind-based special abilities like telepathy, telekinesis and foresight. Additionally, a form of a hive mind was created, the PsyNet, to enable a more efficient communication between individual Psy and the ultimate control over the society.  The ultimate goal: rulers of the known world. The changelings represent all that is sensual, instinctual and emotional to allow the change of form – from a man to an animal. They stayed out of the cities preferring the open spaces and large expanses of forests to limit to the bare minimum their encounters with the hated Psy. They also over the years promoted the sustainable ways of living: embracing the nature not exterminating it mindlessly.

The story begins with a shocking information: there is a Psy killer on the loose targeting changeling females. As creatures devoid of emotion, such an accusation is short of impossible yet the evidence speaks volumes. The alpha of the local pack, Lucas Hunter, plans to use his new construction contract with one of the Psy families to gather information about the inner working of the Psy community and to target the killer. But how do you find a killer in a society which is known for its non-violence? And how do you undermine the Psy Council who would do everything in its power to keep that illusion alive? A killer who does not feel rage, who is free of guilt, who can mask his crimes in the shadows of the PsyNet. I am not going to reveal any more of the plot in case you haven’t read it yet. Enough to said, that the story is riveting.

Now let us meet the two characters. Sasha is a woman who was told since her childhood that she is broken. Even though she belongs to the most powerful kind of Psy – a cardinal – she could never tap to her powers and she spent her entire adult life protecting that secret. Lucas is an absolute contradiction to all of Psy teachings. He is ruthlessly handsome, he has this animal magnetism about him, suffice to say – he is sex and sensuality impersonated.

As you might have suspected, the attraction between Sasha and Lucas is instantaneous. Because Sasha is Psy, her upbringing prevents her from simply following her heart’s inner desires. But her mind has a ‘mind’ of its own. We observe how she slowly allows Lucas to lure her out of the sanctuary of her mind and in their dreams to pursue the attraction that sparks between them. That mating dance between Sasha and Lucas is perfectly executed, with plenty of hesitations, second-thoughts, until finally Sasha throws everything on one card, Lucas. You could question the sincerity of their feelings when the whole story takes place within a span of little over a week. However, the Author allowed the Reader to ‘hear’ the inner monologues of the two characters thus allowing to observe up close the blossoming of the romance, the internal battles and dream-sharing of the two character as they slowly fall in love.

I suppose the only questionable aspect of their affair was the root of Sasha’s immediate attraction to Lucas. Sinc eshe lead a fairly sheltered life was the attraction due to his obvious attractiveness, or because he was simply the first man who did not resemble a walking and talking fridge and freezer unit? Don’t get me wrong – the attraction between Sasha and Lucan is undeniable, it is romantic, sweet, sensual and everything you would expect from a well-written and well-paced PNR. But the sparks between the two characters cannot completely erase Sasha’s meek attempts at standing up to Lucas and becoming a tad too submissive for my taste. I understand that she has some self-esteem issues (who doesn’t) but she is a cardinal Psy and her quick submission is slightly disappointing. Of course, there are other qualities to Sasha which I balance it out – examples of her intelligence, cunning and resourcefulness are all admirable and a pleasure to read. Even though fearful, she is determined and courageous, desperately trying to make up for the crimes of her people. And Lucas’s suffering, dark past and unwavering love and trust in Sasha is unquestionably moving and romantic.

To summarise, the book is definitely worth reading with captivating storyline and characters you end up caring deeply for. There is love and hate, deceit and trust, suffering and blissful peace. And there is plenty of background characters which I am looking forward to read more about in the next instalments.