Sascha lives in a world that is populated by humans (although we don't really see much of them in this book), changelings (people who can shapeshift into animal forms), and the Psy. The Psy are people with various psychic abilities, but what unifies them all is that they are connected to a vast mental network. Generations earlier, the Psy, in an effort to combat the disturbing number of sociopaths and serial killers among them, began a conditioning program known simply as Silence.
Silence conditions Psy children not to feel any emotions at all, so that with rage, fear and frustration - not to mention all other emotions - gone from their minds, the Psy are creatures of cool logic and efficiency.
Sascha, however, is not like the rest of the Psy. She does feel emotions, and she has developed impressive mental shields to hide her disability. If it is discovered, she knows she will be subjected to procedures that will leave her a mindless automaton. Her mother is a powerful member of the ruling Council, and as the book opens, Sascha is given an assignment in their family business. She is to work with a local group of changelings - wereleopards - toward completion of a real estate deal. Sascha is immediately attracted to Lucas, the leader of their group, but of course she hides it beneath her cool, icy exterior, as she hides everything else so well. The more time she spends with him, though, the more difficult it becomes to maintain her reserve.
When she discovers that a young woman from a neighboring changeling pack has been abducted, and that the abduction is only one in a long string of kidnapped, tortured and murdered changelings, she is stunned when she is told that a member of the Psy is responsible. As impossible as it seems, though, she becomes convinced that the changelings are telling her the truth. As she risks her own exposure, searching the PsyNet for the clues, she comes closer and closer to revealing her disability to the powerful council. She must find a way work with the changelings, deal with their mutual distrust of each other (not to mention her illicit feelings for Lucas)r, in order to save the girl's life before the changelings declare war on her people.
I have heard so many good things about the Psy-Changelings series, and while I hardly need to become addicted to yet another series, I evidently have very little will power where these things are concerned. To be honest, I doubt I'd have picked up this book based on the cover, which isn't terribly appealing to me; nor does it capture the evocative otherworldliness of Sascha's life. The novel itself offers many surprising and unique elements, such as the entire Psy world with its machinations and politics, not to mention the unique way in which the Psy are all connected. That part of the book, along with the deft characterizations, the growing sexual tension between Lucas and Sascha as contrasted with the chilly interactions between Sascha and her fellow Psy - even her own mother - made for a compelling read. The changeling groups and their culture and politics were fairly run-of-the-mill in contrast, in the vein of Laurell Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong, etc. The rest of the book was so intriguing, though, that I didn't mind - the narrative held my attention the whole way through. I'm looking forward to the next book of this promising new (to me) series.
Books in the Psy-Changelings series:
1. Slave to Sensation
2. Visions of Heat
3. Caressed by Ice
4. Mine to Possess
5. Hostage to Pleasure
6. Branded by Fire
7. Blaze of Memory
8. Bonds of Justice
9. Play of Passion
Slave to Sensation (#1 in the Psy-Changelings series) by Nalini Singh (Berkley Sensation, 2006)
Also reviewed at:
The Book Lush: "Slave to Sensation is a intense story about two unlikely people finding each other, emotions run high and it was a thrill ride to read."
Medieval Bookworm: "I am of two minds about this book. Half of me loved it and the other half of me didn’t like it so much. Most importantly, I think, is the fact that I was really intrigued by the world."
Reading Adventures: "I really liked both the characters of Lucas and Sascha. Lucas gradually realising that he is going to have to learn to trust someone else, and Sascha learning to trust her emotions...really, really good!! And it didn't hurt that Lucas was hot either!!"