(Originally from All About Romance)
2007, Alternate Reality Romance
Berkley, $6.99, 368 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425218422
Part of a series
What is it about emotionally distant men that make my inner heroine stand up and take notice? Inner masochism? Love of a challenge? Bone-deep belief in the power of love? Whatever it is, it was on high alert through Nalini Singh’s third installment in her Changeling/Psy/Human world – Caressed by Ice.
Ice follows the story of Judd Lauren, one of the Lauren family who dropped out of the Psy net and joined the Changeling community in the back story before Slave to Sensation (the first in Singh’s series) and Brenna, the wolf Changeling who was kidnapped and tortured at the hands of Enrique – a Psy with sociopathic tendencies.
Both Judd and Brenna are examples of broken characters, and neither believes they can truly be mended. Judd believes whole-heartedly in the Silence protocol, the programming that leaves the Psy emotionless, existing only in a world of logic and reason, and he has pretty compelling reasons to do so. And Brenna has been altered permanently by her experiences at the hands of her kidnapper; the color of her eyes only the most visible change.
We often see characters of this nature in romance novels, but it’s unusual to see both the hero and heroine in the same book. Normally one is strong and whole and heals the other. Singh turns this convention on its head, and makes the very valid point that we all have places where we’re broken and places where we are strong. Brenna and Judd take their roles in turn, each playing the teacher and student, healer and patient. And it makes for a much stronger story.
The non-romance plot line builds on Singh’s previous two novels, with elements from previous plotlines taken up again and expanded upon. We learn how Brenna was kidnapped, and more about the Psy net and the Council. I think readers new to the series would be able to follow the story easily enough, but they’d be cheating themselves out of two fantastic reads in Slave to Sensation and Visions of Heat.
Singh’s interlinked novels have been referred to as the Psy/Changeling series, and to this point it’s true. Each of the hero/heroine pairings has had one Psy and one Changeling. While she shakes things up a little this time with the Psy being a male and already out of the Psy net, the general “problem” with the relationship remains the same. I’ve read and devoured all three Singh novels, but the non-emotional nature of the Psy paired with the incredibly affectionate nature of the Changeling is becoming standard. The humans are often referred to in passing … perhaps it’s time to see something featuring them?
At the end of the day, though, Caressed by Ice is a compelling read with wonderfully developed characters and the strong world-building that has made Singh a star. Readers will revel in this latest installment with two of the most riveting secondary characters from the previous novels. I certainly did.