Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling #1), by Nalini Singh
Publish Date: September 1, 2006
Format: audiobook, purchased
Genre: adult paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
Rating: 5 STARS
(From Goodreads) Nalini Singh dives into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind-and none of the heart.
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.
You don't have to tell me how late I am to this party. Slave to Sensation was published for the first time in 2006. I added it to my Goodreads TBR in late 2011. I know, I KNOW. For some reason, I waited years to read this book, and now I'm so mad at myself for it. It's been a long time since I've read a true adult PNR book, and one that was done this well.
Sascha Duncan is a Psy - a race of humans that are very cerebral. They are classified by their extraordinary powers of the mind and their ability to block out all emotion. To cater to emotion means death. Lucas Hunter is the alpha of the Dark River pack of leopard shifters. He's a changeling, which is a race that loves nature and touch and feelings. Sascha and Lucas enter into a business relationship, but Lucas' role in this is full of pretense. He's really looking for information on the Psy that is killing changeling females. As he gets to know Sascha, he realizes how different she is, which is very dangerous for her. If anyone were to know that she felt emotion, she would be sentenced to death.
This book was incredible. The world building was astoundingly perfect. Slave to Sensation takes place in the late 2000s, so there are some things in it that are what we would deem "futuristic," but not so much that it was over the top. Most of all, I loved the different races and Singh's descriptors of them. The rules were clearly laid out, and she stuck to them. The landscape was vivid, from Lucas' treetop aerie to the inner workings of the Psy-Net. I loved it.
I've always been a big fan of shifter books because I love the intensely strong family unit that is always present with the pack mates. The alpha males who protect their women and children with their lives and the women who band together to die for their men if need be just speaks to my soul. So, Lucas and his pack were my favorite part of this book. They love each other and care for one another so strongly and unconditionally. And, when Lucas falls for Sascha, despite her being a despised Psy, because she now belongs to Lucas, she also belongs to everyone else, without question. It was awesome.
In addition to the cool paranormal features of this book, there's a really great mystery too. There's a serial killer who we know is a male Psy, and he's killing Changeling females. We spend the entire book trying to figure out who it is before he kills his next victim, who happens to be a wolf changeling. The fact that the killer is Psy is baffling to Sascha, as it would obviously take emotion to kill like that. It starts Sascha on a journey of self-discovery. She gives up hiding who she is and actively tries to figure out where she comes from and what her role is in this life. And Lucas helps her.
The ending is heart-pounding and exciting as we race to find the killer, and Sascha makes decisions that will affect the rest of her life, no matter how much of it is left. Lucas is torn between his duty to his pack and his duty to the woman he loves. And fragile alliances are tested in extreme ways.
The audio version of Slave to Sensation was fantastic. Angela Dawe delivered an incredible performance. I loved her narration - she was able to communicate the cold aloofness of the Psy as well as the intense emotionally charged Changelings. I will definitely seek out the other books in this series in audio format. Sure it takes longer to get through them, but it's totally worth it.
I know there's 14 books in this series at present. I've heard they just keep getting better and better. If that's the case, then sign me up right now for book number 2.