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Last year I read the first book in Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series, a book so good that I rated it five stars. For some reason it took me eleven months to get the next book in the series and read it. I have finally read book two, Visions of Heat and it was most definitely worth the wait.
This series is set in a futuristic world where there are three races, humans, changelings and psy. So far there has been very little said about humans and the main focus has been on the psy and the changelings. Changelings are people who can shapeshift from human to an animal. There are various types of changeling, from what we know so far there are at least wolves, jaguars and leopards. The changelings are not necessarily united, although they may work together for business reasons, and have their own packs. Changelings tend to be very physical creatures who enjoy touch and have strong emotions.
The psy are in many ways the opposite of the changelings. The psy are a human-like race with psychic abilities. They are linked through the net mind, a internet type thing that you log onto through your mind instead of your computer. The psy have something that they call Silence. All psy children are conditioned into Silence which basically takes away their emotions and makes them emotionless people. The psy all have different designations depending on their abilities, such as telepathy, psychometry or precognition. Psy tend to live in cities but alone and isolated.
The psy and the changelings frequently meet in order to conduct their business and capitalism is a big part of this world.
Faith NightStar is a very valuable psy. With the ability to predict the future Faith brings her clan a lot of money by doing jobs for various companies. Vaughn is a changeling who was betrayed by his parents at a young age. Although he is a jaguar he lives among leopards as part of their pack.
When Faith realises that her conditioning is failing and that she may soon break Silence she knows that she must do something. Sasha, the heroine of the first book, is the only psy who to break free of the netmind and Faith seeks her out for help. It is then that she encounters Vaughn. Vaughn soon realises that Faith is his mate but how can a changeling and a psy like Faith ever have a life together? Especially when the psy council have other plans for her.
After waiting almost a year to read this book I had wondered if the first book was really as good as I remembered it and if this book could possibly live up to the legend that I had built up in mind. Fortunately I was not disappointed. This book is every bit as good as the first book and everything that a paranormal romance novel should be.
This book hooked me from the very beginning. Often I find that it takes a couple of chapters for me to really get into a book but the first page of this book had me hooked. Part of the reason is that I'm so fascinated by the world in which this book is set. It's one of the reasons I love fantasy and paranormal romance novels, I love exploring new worlds. The first book in this series really sets the world up well and you feel like you get to know it quite well, this book takes it a step further and you start to see it in more depth. I think the Singh is doing a great job of building this world up steadily and at a pace that's easy to keep up with as a reader.
The other thing that really had me hooked on this book was the characters. Both main characters are quite complex and very well developed. I found Faith to be suprisingly easy to relate to, she was a strong character but at the same time she was very vulnerable and I could really empathise with her. Vaugh was completely hot. Although I will never be entirely comfortable with a shapeshifter hero (doesn't that border on bestiality?) he was a great character, strong, dependable and refreshingly up front about his feelings and emotions. The majority of this book does focus on Vaughn and Faith but Sasha and Lucas, the main characters from the previous book are also featured in this book, giving readers a further insight into their happily ever after. I don't think this should be essential in a romance novel but it is nice to check in with past characters occasionally.
I thought the plot to this book was very interesting, mostly because the plot is very much linked with political developments in the psy world. I'm not going to give anything away here but as the plot progresses so does psy society. As I've said, I love having the opportunity to explore fantasy worlds and this plot certainly allows that. Often I find that too many fight scenes bore me but they were very well done in this book and there weren't too many of them. Singh builds up the tension very well and at times I found it very difficult to put this book down because I was so anxious to find out what was going to happen next.
The romance was of course excellent. Vaughn and Faith were very well matched and they had the whole opposites attracting thing going for them which I absolutely love. The romance was suprisingly sweet considering Faith was previously emotionless and Vaughn is a deadly predator who spends most of his time alone, but it still seemed in keeping with their characters. Although I wouldn't say this is the most erotic book that I've read (it's romance after all and not erotica or romantica) there are some good sex scenes and there is plenty of passion.
This is one of those great books that I just couldn't put down. It was a very compelling and enjoyable read and I would highly recommend it.
Nalini Singh is a writer of paranormal romance, most notably her Psy-Changeling series, of which Visions of Heat is the second book. There are currently six books in the series to date.
Like most writers of paranormal series, world building is important and the world of the Psy-Changelings created by Ms Singh is up there with the best. Several species co-habit this world: Humans, Changelings and the Psy. The Psy elected to remove feelings and emotion from their psyche to achieve a more logical approach to existence, (somewhat similar to Startreck's Spock) and they are ruled by a council of rather chilling individuals. All Psy are connected to each other through the Psynet and without this web it is thought they would die or at the very least go mad. The Changelings, on the other hand, are creatures ruled by their animal instincts as well as their emotions. One would imagine that never the twain should meet but Nalini Singh weaves a wonderful tale of how two very disparate characters come together grow to love each other with passion.
Synopsis: Faith Nightstar is the embodiement of a sheltered Psy. As an F-Psy able to predict the future, her talents are coveted by her family. Cocooned against the outside world, she's tucked away in her own compound, where she can predict safe things, things that make the PsyClan Nightstar very wealthy. When dark, disturbing visions begin to plague her at any given time, and a particular murder cuts too close to home, she knows she cannot ignore them...no matter how fragile her mind might be.
Drawn to the enigmatic and unusual Psy, Changeling Vaughn D'Angelo uses his abilities as a jaguar to encroach on Faith's territory. He must tread carefully, for too much contact with the delicate Psy could send her senses into overload. He's determined to make her feel though and it's going to be on his terms. He sees strength in Faith and that's what he plans to draw forth in her, till she can handle exactly what he wants to give her. When visions of the killer cut too close to home, and the Psy come for her too, Vaughn will be there to catch Faith and dispense the remorseless justice changelings are known so well for.
Having read the first book, Slave to Sensation, in which Vaughn D'Angelo first made his appearance, I looked forward to reading his story in this second of the series and was not disappointed. Nalini Singh builds further on the world she has created so that the readers' understanding of Human, Psy and Changeling interaction, or lack thereof, becomes more clear and with Faith and Vaughn she has produced an appealing pair of protagonists.
The writers of paranormal fiction seem mainly to be based in the USA. Nalini Singh, however, is a New Zealander and brings a fresh, antipodean approach to this genre. Her world building and characterisation are definite strengths in this book.
Vaughn, unlike the rest of the leopard clan of Changelings to which he belongs, is a jaguar: strong, sleek and deadly. And from the first he is attracted to Faith despite her desperate suppression of all her emotions. Faith is a powerful Psy whose predictions on the stock markets have made her a valuable commodity to the Psy community. Although the story centres on these two characters, Nalini Singh introduces other members of both communities, both from the previous book and from future titles, who add meat to the bones of the story and these secondary characters are every bit as fleshed out as the principal characters.
The story, though possibly not quite as engaging as the first, is a pacey and a very satisfying read. It would probably help to have read the first book in the series simply to allow a better understanding of the Psy-Changeling world, but it isn't essential and it's possible to enjoy this book as a standalone.
For those who are tempted to try the series, the books in chronological order are:
1. Slave to Sensation
2. Visions of Heat
3. Carressed by Ice
4. Mine to Possess
5. Hostage to Pleasure
6. Branded by Fire
Although Ms Singh is now working on a different series entirely, I feel that there will be much more to come from the Psy-Changelings in the future.
Visions of Heat
Publisher: Berkley (Nov 2007)