Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series is one of my top ten YOU MUST READ paranormal romance series to date. It's filled with non-stop action, suspense and mystery, but nicely balanced with hot steamy romance and bouts of hilarious comedy.
The series is set in a futuristic alternative Earth and populated by three groups: the Changelings, the Psy and humans. The changelings are shapeshifters. The Psy are humans with psychic powers who have been taught from birth to suppress their emotions. The Psy is the largest and most powerful ruling body on Earth. The continuous arc tells of the struggles between the three groups and the struggles within each group. Each story features a different hero and heroine who meet, fall in love, and engage in some heavy petting and purring. RAWR!
There are two main changeling factions, the Dark River changelings who are felines, and the Snow Dancer changelings who are wolves. There have been mentions of other groups, and we have been told we will see more of them in depth later in the series.
The Dark River changeling’s alpha is Lucas Hunter. We meet him in the first book of the series, Slave to Sensation. Lucas is a very sexy panther who meets Psy Sasha Duncan and decides that she is his mate. Sasha is a cardinal in the Psy hierarchy (one of the strongest and most deadly Psys to date). She feels she is damaged and is trying to stay off the radar to avoid termination. Lucas will do anything to save her. Even at the risk of his own life.
“She was his and he was hers. They had under-the-skin privileges.”
Book 2 in the series is Visions of Heat. Faith Night-Star is an F-Psy, a forecaster—she can see the future and works for the Psys to predict the outcome of Psy business ventures. Vaughn D’Angelo is a jaguar shifter who dreams of Faith and desires her for his own. But his desire could snap the last remaining threads of her sanity.
“Ask nicely and I might let you.”
“No, you just can't lie worth a damn. Everything's in your eyes. Plus I know when a woman's thinking about stroking me.”
“I wasn't thinking about stroking you, I was imagining your fur.”
“You let me stroke you and I'll let you stroke me—I have a thing about your skin”
Caressed by Ice, book 3 in the series, takes a sinister turn when a family of Psys decide to defect from the Psy network and are taken in by the Snow Dancer group. When Brenna, a she-wolf, is captured and tortured by a Psy serial killer, only one man can being her back. Judd Lauren (a dangerous former Psy assassin) was brutally conditioned to feel nothing; that is, of course, until he meets Brenna. But their feelings could ignite a firestorm that can kill them all. The piece de resistance of this book is that Judd is a virgin. SQUEEE!
“I take it back!” she cried. “Foreplay sucks!”
Mine to Possess brings two former changeling friends back into each others lives and hearts when leopard changeling Clay Bennett and Talin Mckade work together to find and stop the Psy who are kidnapping and torturing changeling children from a children’s home.
“How can I be angry with the other half of my soul?” he asked, his tone so tender it tore little pieces out of her heart. “I have a temper, baby, and I know I fucking brood. But even if I act pissed, even if I snarl, it doesn't mean I love you any less. Your soul shines, Tally, and I'm so damn glad it shines for me.”
Hostage to Pleasure is a turning point in the series: Here we begin to see the disruptions in the Psy network and the rebels working from within. Ashaya Aleine is a Psy scientist who created an implant to control the Psy mind. When she turns traitor, Dark River sentinel Dorian Christensen comes to her and her son’s rescue. Dorian hates the Psy and has problems with his cat acknowledging Asyaya as his mate.
Plenty of delish battles and makeup time follow these two on the path to love.
“It’s the great irony of our race. Psy cling so hard to Silence because at the bottom of it all, they’re terrified, afraid that if they let go, the monsters inside their heads will start crawling out, reducing them to the level of you animals once again.”
Branded by Fire, book 6, is pure delight when fiercely dominant Dark River sentinel Mercy (a leopard) and the oh-so-sexy Snow Dancer LT Riley (a wolf) have to work together to find a kidnapped changeling researcher before his kidnappers decide he’s not useful anymore.
“Do you want to claw at me, kitty-cat? Come on.”
“Sorry, I don't beat defenseless puppies.”
Book 7's Blaze of Memory is a little different than the previous books. In here, Ms. Singh widens the scope of the arc by introducing humans who have distant Psy ancestry. The storyline adjusts to show what happened to those who escaped when the Psy first implemented the “silence.”
Dev Santos finds a Psy woman with amnesia—and all she can remember is that she's dangerous. Stripped of her memories by a shadowy oppressor and programmed to kill, Katya's only hope is Dev. But Dev is one of the Forgotten and Katya’s last command is to kill.
“Do you like that?” he whispered against her ear, releasing the pressure to circle the flesh he'd tortured so sensually the instant before.
“Yes.” She pushed into him, wanting to rub, but held in place by the delicious heat of his body. The weight, the pressure, it ratcheted up her hunger until she could hardly breathe.
His lips curved. “Demanding, aren't you?”
Book 8's Bonds of Justice follows the same pattern as Blaze of Memory in that a human is paired with a psy: Max Shannon is a police officer with the NY police department. He has a natural shield that disrupts Psy mental control. When he is assigned to a case with a J-Psy to find a killer targeting the Psy councilors, he is surprised.
His ‘gift’ doesn’t make him popular on a Psy dominated police force. J-Psy Sophia Russo is close to the edge. Her constant forays into criminal minds is slowing destroying her mental shields; hastening her demise. Can Max save Sophia from the edge? Or will he go over with her?
In Book 9's Play of Passion, Singh takes us deep within the Snow Dancer pack and the dynamics that exist within the shifter community. Snow Dancer LT Indigo will only mate with someone who is her equal. A mis-matched mating in her family is a lesson to Indigo of what could go wrong when two unequal people mate.
Andrew Kincade is a tracker for the pack, so he falls outside the rigid hierarchy. Drew wants Indigo for life, and risks everything to show her that he is more then enough wolf to handle her. As Drew woos and challenges the aggressive Indigo; the pack(s)and the Psy ramp up the battles between them, cluing us in to an epic showdown.
“Once, he hadn't been able to touch her without causing himself pain. Now, it only hurt when he didn't touch her.”
Which brings us to Kiss of Snow, coming at the end of the month (look for a Fresh Meat post on Kiss of Snow prior to May 31's release date). This new release (the first in hardcover!) is the long awaited story featuring two of the series most delectable protagonists: Hawke, OMG-I-want-him-so-bad, a Snow Dancer alpha, and Sienna Lauren, a cardinal Psy whose powers are off the charts. Hawke is 100% total male dominant alpha. He has waited for Sienna to grow old enough to pursue, but now he is afraid he cannot give her what she needs. Sienna is a deadly weapon in human form, and is not weak by any measure. Sienna wants Hawke; but on her terms. Either he gives his all or he lefts her go forever.
Ms. Singh has not given us an indication of how long this series will last; I'd like it to go on forever, because I will never tire of the fascinating world and characters she's created. Listed below are the novels and novellas in her Psy Changeling series in chronological order:
1. “Beat of Temptation” in An Enchanted Season Anthology
2. “Whisper of Sin” in Burning Up Anthology
3. Slave to Sensation
3.5 “The Cannibal Princess” (free short story)
4. Visions of Heat
5. Caressed By Ice
6 . “Stroke of Enticement” in The Magical Christmas Cat Anthology
7. Mine to Possess
8. Hostage to Pleasure
8.5 “A Gift for Kit” (free short story)
9. Branded By Fire
10. Blaze of Memory
11. Bonds of Justice
12. Play of Passion
13. Kiss of Snow (out May 31, 2011)