Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1) by Nalini Singh

Slave to Sensation - Nalini Singh

Well now, that was fun. I've been burnt plenty with dull as dishwater "Shifter finds true mate" PNR and actively avoiding this series, but it had such good reviews from people whose opinions I've come to trust as relatively good predictors for me, so I gave it a try, and I'm really glad I did. 

 

This is quite a different world than our own, with Psy's (effectively vulcans, who have suppressed their own emotions in order to suppress an innate violent tendency, although in favour of psychic talents rather than pure logic), Changelings (fairly typical shifter packs) and humans, all three having developed sometime prior to the present, and with this book set around 60 years from now.  The heroine is a psy, on the surface as cool and unfeeling as any other, but inside a turmoil as she tries to hide a froth of unwanted emotions, which if discovered would get her executed - or worse. And our hero is the pack alpha of a leopard pack, who makes no attempt to hide his emotions, because what honest to god cat does?

Going to keep this short, because the library actually came up with both the first two books and I want to go read the next one instead of writing this :) So I'll keep this to why it works for me over the other of this genre I've not enjoyed so much. Bullet points ahead!

 

  • It's a fully worked out world, with fairly logical consequences of the separation of strains of humanity. Psy's are all business, impersonal city dwelling creatures, changelings would rather live closer to nature, and we don't meet too many humans in this first book, but I guess they run the gamut.
  • Although it's clearly a fully worked out world, it's not totally laid out in info dumps. There's hints of things that aren't explained, like the fact psy's have a rampant drug addiction problem, without a direct explanation why - although there's plenty of hints, it's the kind of background information that makes the world feel real, and won't be a surprise if it comes up in a later book.
  • Where there is info dumping, it's handled very gracefully. The separation of psy and changeling means they find each other quite alien, so having the two main characters trade info actually makes sense in the context.
  • It's not insta-love (ok, sure it's pretty quick, but I was young and fell in love at the drop of a hat and a nice ass once upon a time too). But there is progression and development, and it's not "she's my mate because she smells like she is". The hero actually falls in love with the heroine, and vice versa, rather than a fluke chemical compatibility (omg I hate that trope SO much).
  • The background characters have some actual characterization, enough that they are distinguishable from each other and not just J. Random. Background-were. Enough that the idea of reading their stories in their own books is actually appealing.
  • It didn't end in a cliffhanger, but nor did it end with "ok this couple is done, on to the next one and these two will only be cameos forevermore". There's obviously places for Sascha and Lucas story to go, open threads that could be picked up (Sascha's relationship with her mother, for instance, or Sascha reaching out to other Psy's like her), but the main plot line is solved and dealt with.

 

Anyway, I enjoyed this plenty, and will definitely be reading on in the series.