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Monday, September 11, 2006

***** Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh. Paranormal romance.

Wow. Why have I not heard of Nalini Singh before? The cover of Slave to Sensation assures me she's a bestselling author. Somebody's been falling down on the job.

This is a science fiction romance, which accounts for some of my excitement. There are plenty of fantasy romances, but not so many science fiction ones. And the premise is not uncommon in science fiction books: a race of futuristic humans have suppressed emotions in an attempt to eliminate violence, but it goes awry.

But there's more to it than that, and it's all in the way it's written.

Sascha Duncan is a Psy--one of the race with psychic abilities that control this future world. In fact, she's a Cardinal Psy, meaning she has the potential for great power, but she's living far beneath her potential because she's "broken." All Psy have been trained since birth to suppress their emotions, but Sascha's been feeling emotions, and fears that her mind is on the verge of collapse. She's desperate to hide it as long as she can, because the alternative is a "rehabilitiation" that would wipe her mind, leaving no trace of her self.

Lucas Hunter is a Changeling, and leader of the DarkRiver pack of were-leopards. He's working with Sascha on a joint Psy-Changeling construction project, but has a hidden motive: finding a serial killer, a Psy who's been preying on young Changeling women.

Their story is emotionally intense. Sascha's thoughts and reactions are very realistic, as she's feeling emotions more and more, and trying to interpret them and what they mean. Both of them have things they have to hide from each other, and Sascha in addition has to hide her newfound emotional state from the other Psy, particularly from her mother.

The mystery is well done, as are the paths Sascha and Lucas take to unravel it. In the process, they both find out things about themselves and their pasts, and the politics of their world. Which is another reason I liked this story so much: the intrigue.

The future world of Slave to Sensation is a complete one, with a history and complex societies. I can see several directions open to the series, so I hope it goes on a long time.

My only, very minor niggle is the cover and title. My first impression, at a glance, was that it was a BDSM erotic romance. It's not. I wouldn't have minded if it were, but I do fear that some readers will be disappointed, and some readers who'd have liked the sf-romance blend might miss it. Of course, most people probably do read the back of the book before buying, so maybe it's not a problem.

I'll definitely be looking for Nalini Singh's backlist, and watching for her future books.


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Hmmmm - almost brought this at the store the other day. But didn't because it is sci-fic :/
But... it's got were-animals and psychics! You like those, right? There are no vampires, and it's not too terribly futuristic--no spaceships or anything.
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