Friday, December 30, 2016

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

SLAVE TO SENSATION is a book that I've been asked to review for years. Literally years. It's the first book in an insanely popular series: when you check paranormal romance lists, the Psy-Changeling series is almost always somewhere close to the top.

I'll admit that the concept is fascinating. There are two classes of paranormal races in the book. The changelings are shape-shifters, who can change from human to animal and back (with some intermediate forms) with varying ease depending on their individual abilities. The Psy on the other hand, are psychics who pride themselves on being emotionally stoic and purely logical. They used to be more human-like, but in the mid-20th century decided to embark on a severe emotional conditioning process called the Silence that was meant to psychically beat out any sort of emotion like passion or fear or anger. If a Psy can't be conditioned, they're deemed flawed and either rehabilitated (emotionally broken) or destroyed.

Our heroine, Sascha, is one of those unconditioned Psy. She's spent her entire life trying to hide it, which is difficult because her mother is one of the key players in their ruling Council. Our hero, Lucas, is a changeling who is trying to find out who is torturing, dismembering, and killing local changelings. Intel has led the packs to believe it is a Psy, and he figures his best chance of obtaining more information is brokering a business deal with the Psy Council. Sascha is chosen by her mother to be in charge of this deal, and as soon as Lucas meets her he immediately realizes that something is off; she doesn't seem to be purely unemotional and - surprise - he's powerfully attracted to her.

I'm a sucker for paranormal romances where the various paranormal factions are at war. That was part of what made L.J. Smith's Night World series so much fun for me (honestly, I'm surprised they made Vampire Diaries into the TV show - they should have turned Night World into a teen-geared version of True Blood or Buffy). With the murders, there were so many possibilities to play up the tension between changeling and Psy. I mean, the forbidden romance trope has so much UST possibilities!

Unfortunately, SLAVE TO SENSATION fell short for me. Most of the focus is on the romance, which normally wouldn't bother me except the world-building in this book had so much potential, it felt like Singh had come up with this great idea and then tossed it aside. The concept of the Psy Net! It's brilliance! Show me more of these authoritarian Psy acting cold and brutal. Show me the changelings using their pack dominance to screw with the Psy and flaunt the rules.

Considering that the two groups are supposed to hate each other, everyone welcomes Sascha with open arms. Seriously - the women fuss over her, the children immediately like her, the other men think she's hot. Lucas even has "dream sex that's actually real sex" with her several times before they actually do the real thing, which is a trope that I really can't stand. The Psy were mostly shunted to the background, and the tense moment at the end was over far too quickly. Plus, Sascha was given these special snowflake abilities that let her have the perfect happy ending with minimal fuss.

I have some of the other Psy-Changeling, so I'll give those a try before deciding whether or not to give the rest of this series a hard pass, but this beginning book did not come even close to my expectations.

1.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. It's true that the first book doesn't give much of the world-building. But later in the other books everything is more detailed.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Alexandra! That is so good to know. :) Hopefully I will like the other books better!