Slave to Sensation was one of the first paranormal romances I ever read—could I have asked for a better introduction to the genre? This book has a permanent spot in my keeper shelf and remains my favourite in the Psy-Changeling Series.
Slave to Sensation was the first book I ever bought based purely on online buzz after author Nalini Singh ran a viral marketing campaign through Dear Author. I’ve never regretted my decision, and this series, currently up to its sixth book, is still an auto-buy for me.
Slave to Sensation begins with a chilling prologue that introduces Silence—a process of conditioning Psy children into suppressing all emotion in order to stamp out the growing violence and insanity in the Psy population. Gifted with advanced mental capabilities, the Psy consider themselves perfect in their Silence.
Sascha Duncan has always suspected she’s flawed. Lately, she’s been leaking emotion, and only her ability to mimic Silence protects her from being forced into rehabilitation. When Sascha meets Lucas Hunter, alpha of the DarkRiver changeling pack, to negotiate a historic business deal, his emotional changeling nature batters at her mental shields.
Although changelings are usually repulsed by the emotionless Psy, Lucas finds himself inexplicably attracted to Sascha. His inner panther senses something different about her. But Lucas isn’t there for just business. There’s a serial killer among the Psy. By doing business with the Duncans, Lucas hopes to gain information that will expose the killer before the changelings’ desire for justice and vengeance lead to all-out war.
Mind vs emotion
The tension between Sascha and Lucas kept me turning the pages furiously to the end. Singh throws them into conflict again and again, sometimes with each other, and sometimes with their own nature. Lucas’s need for touch and Sascha’s need for a psychic anchor lead to a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. It’s the kind of heartbreak I can only endure because I know the characters will get their HEA eventually.
I looooved the way Lucas and Sascha teased each other. Sascha’s tentative attempts to learn how to stand up to a changeling alpha, and Lucas’s attempts to help Sascha overcome her fear of emotion make for some damn good romance. The contrast between Sascha’s mental strength and physical frailty gives Singh plenty of opportunities to play with Lucas’s alpha instincts in a way that doesn’t diminish Sascha’s individual strengths.
Slave to Sensation introduced me to a world that, at the time, was different to anything I’d read in romance before. The characters and their political structures are well rendered in this novel, although we don’t see much of humans. Enough of the Psy world is shown for us to get a reasonable understanding of their world, but Singh hints at intricacies in the PsyNet—a kind of Internet on the psychic plane, which links all the Psy minds together—well beyond that which is revealed in this book.
I’m tempted to gloss over the weaknesses of the book because I love it so much. Some of Singh’s prose could do with more refinement, particularly when it comes to metaphors and sensory descriptions. The serial killer becomes obvious fairly early in the story. These don’t detract from the beauty of the romance, but may bother those who are well-read in suspense fiction.
Also, I think the lurid cover does the book a disservice. I almost didn’t buy it.
Yay or nay?
If you haven’t read Slave to Sensation then you’re missing out on what I think will be a classic series in paranormal romance. It’s a big call—that’s how much I love this book. Even if they’re not your usual fare, don’t let the science fiction flavour and shapeshifter characters dissuade you, because this book is first and foremost a thrilling romance.
Title: Slave to Sensation (excerpt)
Series: Psy-Changeling Series (Book 1)
Author: Nalini Singh
Release date: September 2006
Publisher: Berkley Sensation (Penguin)
Format: Mass market paperback
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