* Prices may differ from that shown
Caressed by Ice is the third book in Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series. This is a futuristic fantasy/sci fi series set in a world where there are three races, the psy race, the changeling race and the human race (who really don't feature much in the books so far). One of the things that I love about the series is the way that Singh blends fantasy and sci-fi (or should that be psy fi?). The changelings are something from fantasy, a race of people who can change into various animals whereas the psy are more something from science fiction than fantasy, a race of people who have conditioned themselves to feel no emotion (something they refer to as Silence), who are connected by the psy net which very much resembles the internet only within the minds of the psy. The psy are very much reliant on technology whereas the changelings rely on their own physical power and abilities.
There's a lot of animosity between the psy and the changelings which is unsurprising when you consider the psy are a race conditioned to have no emotions and the changelings are race who are very much about being emotional. Previous books have explored the tensions between both races and war seems to be on the horizon. What I find more interesting than psy/changeling relations is the discontent among the psy people. The way the psy people live is very much reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984, it's a restrictive, controlling society that requires everyone to behave in the appropriate way. If someone shows emotion after the age that they have gone through their conditioning the person will be sent to be rehabilitated or possibly killed. Although Silence was designed to stop violence among the psy one side affect is that homicidal sociopaths go undetected and are free to murder (something that the Psy's ruling body, the council, hide).
Being a romance series each book features a different couple and tells their love story but there is a story line that runs through the books. Within the psy, sometimes quite high up in the psy ranks, people have had enough and a rebellion is brewing. At this point it's still early days but I'm really enjoying seeing how this develops.
==Caressed by Ice==
Caressed by Ice tells Judd and Brenna's story. Both characters have featured in earlier books but you really don't need to have read those books to follow their story, everything that's directly relevant to Judd and Brenna from previous books is covered in Caressed by Ice. Although I have read the books in order and will continue to do so I really like that you can read each of the books so far as standalone novels because I tend to leave a lot of time between reading each book and it makes it easier to follow the series.
Judd is a psy, he was an Arrow, part of an elite secret military operation. When his family were sentenced to rehabilitation he risked taking them into Changeling territory where he hoped the changelings would show mercy to their young but fully expected to be killed. He wasn't killed, instead his family were...not exactly welcomed into the wolf pack but certainly taken pity on by the wolves. The psy can't survive without the feedback that they get from each other on the psy net so Judd and his family have had to create their own mini psy net.
Brenna was the victim of a psy sociopath, Enrique, who violated her in every way possible. The only survivor of his attacks Brenna has since been trying to put her life together under the ever watchful gaze of her over protective brothers. Brenna and Judd have developed a strange bond but with Judd's cold and unfeeling psy ways can Brenna ever hope to have a relationship with him? Enrique's attack on Brenna left her changed, he did something to her brain and Judd may be her only hope of survival.
Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the Psy/Changeling series is that they hook you from the very first page and they don't let you go until the very last page and even then leave you wanting more. Caressed by Ice is no exception. It's one of those books that makes me want to keep reading until I find that a weekend has gone by, the book is finished and my phone is beeping non-stop from the messages that I've been ignoring. In this book Singh drew me in immediately which I find surprising when I think back on it because she's not one of these authors that jumps straight into the plot or the romance. Instead she builds things gradually, giving the reader little insights into the world of the psy and changelings and slowly sets the scene for the plot of this book. I don't generally like books that move slowly, I don't like to feel like the pages I'm reading are just filler so that the author can make a book longer or fill it with unnecessary detail. In the case of Caressed by Ice I felt that it was a little slow moving but that this was a good thing, in this case I felt that the initial slow moving pace helped to draw me in.
Out of the three novels in this series that I've read I felt that the romance in this one was the slowest to get off of the ground. Judd is one of the coldest Psy that we have met so far and it just wouldn't have worked if Singh had thrown that aside in order to move the romance along. I did find it frustrating at times because I just wanted it to get moving but I am glad that Singh didn't sacrifice Judd's character development in order to move the romance along at a faster pace. I did enjoy the romance in this novel but it was very slow to get moving at first. I don't think that this was necessarily a bad thing, of course you buy a paranormal romance novel because you want to read about romance (and the paranormal) but I found myself being really drawn into the overall plot of the series more so than the relationship between Judd and Brenna. I was far more interested in solving the mystery that is presented in the novel and the potential rebellion among the psy than I was in Judd and Brenna as a couple.
I liked the characters in this book and in particular I thought that Judd was a great romantic hero. He had a mystery and an edge that the previous heroes just didn't have. Being a psy, and a particularly dangerous one at that, it's difficult to predict his behaviour and how he will react to Brenna which I felt made it more interesting, in previous books you knew that the male characters would be determined to have and keep their women, with Judd it's never that clear cut. At the beginning of this book he's basically emotionless so you can imagine there's a long way to go from being the emotionless psy assassin to having a happily ever after. I liked the way that Singh built this up slowly and really explored the way that Judd was feeling and the challenges that he faced.
From the very first book I was interested in the world that Singh has created in this book. One of the reasons why I love paranormal and fantasy books is that I enjoy exploring fantasy worlds and Singh's world is a really interesting one. In this book we see far more of the wolf pack than we have in previous books that have concentrated more on their leopard allies. I loved the way the wolf pack was so removed from the psy and the way that the two races are different but can ultimately compliment each other. I liked the way that the Brenna and Judd's plot slotted in with the overall plot regarding discontent among the psy. Due to their backgrounds Singh is able to use Judd and Brenna to explore Silence (the psy having their emotions conditioned out of them) and the violence that Silence masks. I felt that this book gave me more of an insight into the changelings in general, not just the dominant, predatory changelings that tend to feature heavily in these novels. This book certainly gives us a better picture of the way that changelings live but I have to admit that at this point in the series I would like to see more of how the psy live (so far all of the psy main characters live with changelings). Various events in this novel did leave me more curious about aspects of the Psy-Changeling world and the discontent among the psy.
Caressed by Ice is an excellent addition to the Psy-Changeling series that will leave fans of the series wanting more.
So far all of the books in this series can be read as standalone novels but I think it's better to read them in order. You can enjoy the individual romance stories out of order and to an extent you'll be able to follow what's going on in the wider psy-changeling world but I think to fully appreciate the series it's better read in order.
The reading order is:
Slave to Sensation
Visions of Heat
Caressed by Ice
Mine to Possess
Hostage to Pleasure
Branded by Fire
Blaze of Memory
Bonds of Justice (Not yet released)
Play of Passion (Not yet released)