**Note: this review is spoiler-free, so read on without fear**
In the year 2079, there are three different species of people on the planet. Humans, the shape-shifting Changelings, and the Psy, who operate on both the physical and psychic plane. The Psy are trained from childhood to feel nothing – they are conditioned to be emotionless to the point of being cold and almost inhumane in their view of the world.
Judd Lauren had been an Arrow, one of the Psy Council’s most elite soldiers, until the day he and his family dropped out of the PsyNet. Now Judd lives amongst the SnowDancers – a pack of changeling wolves. But though he has left the Psy population, Judd continues to live an icy, emotionless existence, binding himself up in the conditioning of his youth to prevent himself from harming others.
Brenna Shane Kincaid is a changeling wolf who has survived abduction and torture by a ruthless Psy serial killer. But she hasn’t fully recovered from her attack and is fearful that the torture she suffered has left something evil inside of her. And despite what logic might tell her, the ice-cold Judd is the man she knows, in her heart, will be the one to help her.
Caressed by Ice is the third installment in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series and it is flat-out amazing!!! Singh has gifted readers with an absolutely flawless read. After meeting Judd and Brenna in the first book of the series, Slave to Sensation, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to connect with the seemingly emotionless Judd. Boy was I wrong! As Judd’s icy barriers melt he struggles to balance his growing attachment to Brenna with his fear of completely breaking his conditioning and potentially unleashing a part of himself that would endanger everyone he loves. And seeing Judd’s struggle both broke my heart and made me incredibly attached to him.
As for Brenna, I have been waiting since Slave to Sensation (the book where she was kidnapped) to see her get her happy ending. Brenna surpassed even my highest expectations of her character. She has survived being horribly tortured and has come through with a strength and a dignity that not only I respect, but that feels truly realistic; I adored her.
The love story between Judd and Brenna was a thing of beauty. Balancing Brenna’s need for touch with Judd’s painful reaction to such contact could have been awkward with a lesser author. Singh not only pulls it off, but she had me on the edge of my seat, worrying how things could possibly work out for them.
There is plenty of action and danger to be had, and I give Singh high marks for keeping me guessing as to who was behind various attacks. There’s also humor to be found, as well as unexpected moments of sweetness, and not just between the main couple. Characters from Slave to Sensation and Visions of Heat play strong supporting roles, and I greatly look forward to the unmated changelings I so love getting their books (especially the latent leopard Dorian).
Caressed by Ice can be read as a stand-alone but I do not recommend it. I would suggest at least reading Slave to Sensation first to fully understand the Psy-Changeling world. And once you read Slave to Sensation, I’m sure you will want to run out and read Visions of Heat as well. All three books are fantastic and the series is wonderfully addictive. I cannot wait for the prequel, “Beat of Temptation” in the An Enchanted Season anthology (Nate and Tamsyn’s story – coming out October 2, 2007), nor can I wait for Mine to Possess (Clay’s story, due out February 5, 2008). And, because he has been my favorite from the very beginning of the series, I am incredibly impatient in waiting for Dorian’s story.
Caressed by Ice will be in stores September 4, 2007. Slave to Sensation and Visions of Heat, books 1 and 2 of the series, are already available and well worth rushing as fast as you can to the nearest bookstore. Nalini Singh is truly one of the most talented storytellers of today. Readers of the para and non-para genre alike will fall in love with the world Singh has created and the characters in it. Run, don’t walk, to get all three of her Psy-Changeling books!!!!