As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now a defector, his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins—cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna...Sometimes I can really kick myself for letting a book languish and collect dust in my TBR Monster for so long. But you know, there's always a right time for something and the stars were in alignment so there you go - I finally got around to reading the 3rd in Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling Series.
Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted—and had her mind violated—by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives...
And I do deserve a kick in the butt.
Why? Because I enjoyed it so much!
In Visions of Heat (book 2) there was a Psy serial killer that was targeting young female changelings. Brenna was the only victim to survive, but not without some severe psychological scars. The most damaging I believe was her inability to shift to her wolf form - an intrinsic part of who she is, stolen. Among all her rescuers that day was Judd, a Psy assassin who dropped out of the Net to protect his family.
In the aftermath of the events from Visions of Heat, Brenna has been looking for answers to what happened inside her mind from Judd. Brenna believes that there may be something wrong with her that maybe Sascha didn't pick up during the healing, namely the fact that there's a dead Changeling in the compound and Brenna swore she saw it happen. Which leaves everyone nervous, namely the killer.
So now there's another murderer on the scene and the Psy Council is creating a new version of the PsyNet that resembles a hive-mind (think the Borg) and they're trying to manipulate the wolves and leopards into taking each other out, which puts tension on the truce between the two clans. And right in the middle of all this is one strong-willed Changeling and one cold Psy assassin.
With all the scheming and plotting, I thought I'd get confused. But I didn't. A fact which attests to Ms. Singh's strength in world building. Because even behind the PsyNet, there's the Ghost, a mysterious figure who is keeping the Psy Council from progressing too far with their hive-mind. It all blends together and builds up and the reader is caught right up in it. I can see a big improvement in the writing from Slave to Sensations. Things were much smoother here.
As much as I found the greater complicated picture interesting, the real story for me was Judd and Brenna's relationship. This was the heart of the book and I loved these two characters.
Brenna only survived what she did because she has a will so strong she made herself heal faster than everyone thought possible. And despite her strength and steely determination, everyone is treating her with kid gloves with drives her crazy. Her experience changed her but it also left her vulnerable, and she finds herself seeking comfort from the emotionless Psy, Judd. And Judd, with the abilities he has put together with the training he endured is a block of ice - no emotions, no closeness. But slowly Brenna starts to get through all his shields.
Eventually, he looks forward to seeing her, he becomes protective of her and he doesn't shun her casual touches. Even if it causes him pain to open himself up to Brenna, he does it, he can't help himself. And he knows that with his abilities he can kill her with a thought, so he welcomes that pain - anything to keep Brenna safe from himself.
Caressed by Ice is an excellent read and a great installment to the series - I enjoyed it more than I did VoH. I thoroughly enjoyed it and if you haven't already picked up this series, what are you waiting for?
A solid B+ from me!