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**Warning: Spoilers for earlier books in the series**
Hostage to Pleasure is the fifth book in Nalini Singh's Psy Changeling paranormal romance series. This book starts where the last leaves off. Dorian, a changeling, rescues the son of Ashaya, a Psy scientist who is being forced to work on a new protocol that will turn all Psy into a hive mind and put them under total control of the Psy Council. With Ashaya's son safe from the Psy Ashaya is free to make her own escape. Ashaya finds relative safety with the changeling's but even there she is not totally safe. The last thing Dorian wants is a Psy for a mate, he hold the entire race responsible for the brutal murder of his sister. But you can't choose your mate and Dorian finds himself drawn to Ashaya in a way that neither of them can fight. Soon there is more standing between them than the past and if Ashaya and Dorian want to make it work they need to take on the people who are set to destroy them.
Hostage to Pleasure is another delightful paranormal romance in a series that I'm beginning to think is unparalleled in the paranormal romance genre. I don't say this lightly. I love paranormal romance and there are a number of authors whose work I adore. Perhaps it's still early days, perhaps at book 5 I'm making this statement prematurely but out of all the paranormal romance novels that I've read I don't think I've found another series that manages to strike such a good balance between plot, romance and fantasy. It's been clear throughout the series that Singh has put a lot of thought and planning into the plot and the world building. These books are more than just a string of romance novels strung together by tenuous links to form a series. There's actual substance here outside of the relationship between the two main characters. The best thing is that Singh manages to achieve this without losing anything from the romance side of the book. I think that where Singh beats other writers is that she is consistently good. There are other fabulous authors out there who occasionally release a book that isn't up to their usual standard or who write a great romance but fail to build a plausible world but Singh has it all.
I have to admit that I wasn't really looking forward to Dorian's book. Earlier in the series his sister was murdered by a Psy sociopath and I knew that there was no way that his book could be written without addressing it. Murder is a pretty heavy subject and due to recent events I wasn't keen on reading a book that involved murder. However, while Singh does of course address the murder in this novel she does so in a way that while heart breaking has some hope. It's more about Dorian moving past it, not getting over it but moving on with his life. I found there was some hope in that and what had threatened to be quite a difficult subject turned out to feel quite uplifting, even if slightly bitter sweet.
The romance in this story was very nicely done. I think in part the success of the romance side of the story is due to the multiple layers of the characters. It seems that throughout the novel Singh peels layer after layer off of the characters and really shows the depth of her character development. Ashaya and Dorian, like all of the couples in the series so far, are so well suited to each other. I really enjoyed the way that Singh builds the trust between them. The whole development of the relationship is just so seamless. The characters do go from attraction but mistrust to devotion but there's never a point where you think that it's unrealistic or sudden. What I really liked was that Dorian doesn't just feel that Ashaya is his mate but also that her son Keenan is his son. There's no question about whether or not he will take on her son , he just takes it for granted that they come as a package and he is equally as devoted to Keenan as he is to Ashaya. The Social Worker in me loves the changeling attitude to children, that they should be protected regardless of anything else.
There's a lot of mystery in this book and I'm not going to give away anything about it. One of the reasons why this book was so enjoyable is that there are so many things that you just can't wait to find out. I wouldn't say it's entirely unpredictable but certainly you never know if you've got it quite right and it did keep me guessing until the answers were revealed.
At this point in the series I'm not just reading it for the romance. I would read it just for the romance if that's all there was in these books because the romance by itself is still excellent. At this point in the series I actually want to know what's going to happen with the Psy. The past books have revealed so much about the history of the Psy and the problems within the Psy net and in this book Singh continues to develop that storyline. The characters that she focuses on in each of the novels all seem to have an important part to play in the overall storyline which I think is probably why it works so well as both a paranormal romance novel and a fantasy novel. Like all of her books the main storyline and the romance storyline are weaved together really well.
Hostage to Pleasure is another enjoyable fantasy romance novel in what has become my favourite paranormal romance series. I would highly recommend the entire series. While this book can be read as a stand alone novel I feel that any reader would get more enjoyment out of it if they have read the previous books in the series. You could start here and the romance side of the book would probably still be very enjoyable, you could even pick up the main bits of the overall plot but I think that you would really be missing out if you didn't start from the beginning.