Book Critique – Hostage to Pleasure (Psy-Changeling #5)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

My Recommendation: An exciting continuation into a series filled with Psy, Changeling and Humans, who are living together, ruled by Psy but the other two races making the playing field even. Of course there is romance, passion, war, friendship, loyalties and betrayals along the line. 

Hostage to Pleasure is the fifth book in the long running Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh, published in September of 2008. The primary plot revolves around Dorian Christensen - a DarkRiver Sentinel and Sniper - and Ashaya Aliene - an M-Psy working for the Council.

Psy-Changeling series focuses on three races living side-by-side on Earth - The icy Psy who rule the world but are facing the fall of Silence; the Changelings of varied kind with natural mental barriers to fight the unwanted entry of any Psy into their brains; and the Humans considered the weaker of the three but have decided to level the playing field. The series shows the readers to the downfall of Psy, their drawbacks, why all three races are needed for survival of each other, and above all finding mates across races thus disintegrating the walls further.

In continuing with the series that intrigued when I picked it's spin-off, Psy-Changeling Trinity Series, here is my take on the fifth book in the parent series. Nalini continues to keep her focus on the DarkRiver Leopard Changelings with this story. It is still set in 2080 and begins two months after the events in the previous book Mine to Possess.

We have been seeing Dorian from the very first book in the series. But we first met Ashaya Aleine in Caressed by Ice where she is working for the Psy Council. However, in Mine to Possess, she reaches out to Talin McKade and in turn to DarkRiver Changelings for a favor in return for her help in saving Jonquil and Noor. Dorian was the point contact for Ashaya. We also saw Faith having a vision for Dorian in Visions of Heat. After seeing bits and pieces of them, finally here is their tale for us to hope and cheer them. 

True to their word, DarkRiver Changelings pay their debts to Ashaya Aliene for rescuing two human kids. The debt being their part in kidnapping Ashaya's son Keenan from the clutches of Psy Council. But Ashaya is not freed from peril and instead hunted by the Council. And she runs straight into the arms of Dorian Christensen, the DarkRiver Sentinel Sniper who threatened to kill her once but hadnt. Ashaya now needs his and his pack's help more than ever. But can Dorian trust a Psy after what the Psy had done to his family. Can Ashaya lower her shields far enough to let Dorian in?

Dorian comes as dominant as one can be and very lethal. Yet, he has charming attitude that hides his ferocity. Ashaya is no meek player either. She comes with her share of strengths and powers. What kind of made it cute was that both have a passion towards gadgets, a common thread that links them tighter and tighter. 

In the beginning of the series, I thought there would be a plot between Rina and Dorian, by the blatant way Rina was trying to lure Dorian. Apparently I was wrong and glad that Nalini gave someone more better and stronger for Dorian in the guise of Ashaya. 

Nalini sneaks in various eco-friendly concepts and futuristic things around in her plots. In this one we see thin-skin bandages that are almost like the skin of a person. She inserts subtle humor all through her plots to keep the heaviness of the more morbid sub-plots at bay.

She does explain one inconsequential thread that she had floating from the second book, in this plot. We now know what the darkness shrouding the cruel Psy is. **Shudders and Shivers** And ofcourse with the tale of Dorian, she fulfills the vision Faith NightStar had for him in the very same book. But what was interesting was the different routes that Nalini has Dorian take to reach the future that Faith saw, some of them painful and some filled with happiness.

Nalini has almost all of her chapters open with quotes or thoughts of the characters within the plot as a snippet to what could a reader expect in that chapter. She also has references to things that are true history for us readers and some that could be future for us but history for the characters. That mix kind of confused a bit but not much. Although it did give me a pause to see so many grammatical errors, which is unusual with her books.

Like her other series (GuildHunter, Rock Kiss or Hard Play), there is romance and more in the plot with hidden humor that lightens the plot, taking the sting of the darkness away. She has some repeat paraphrasing. And definitely some of the concepts are beyond imaginable. It will take more than a few books for me to get the depth of all the technical jargon behind her complicated concept. She does leave a lot of inconsequential details and new characters introduced, which will definitely form meat for future plots.

A good continuation to a long running series in a fantasy word filled with Psy, Changeling and Humans, with appearance of Humans in this plot who are staking their presence as well. Nalini has a lot of open-ended sub-plots in here that is definitely making to look forward to read the next book as soon as possible.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Ashaya Aliene's family includes - Zie Zen (biological father to Keenan); son Keenan; twin sister Amara. Keenan is sent to SnowDancer Wolves for protection.

b. A Tk-Psy and a surgeon Psy aids the DarkRiver Changelings and Ashaya in the plot. Who are these new people?

c. Kaleb assigns his aide Silver Mercant to connect with Pure Psy and spy on them while Kaleb is searching for the owner of a star-shaped platinum charm..

2. Sub-Plots: 

a. There are several Psy Designations that are thrown around by the author Nalini Singh. I wondered if there was a list of all of them some where. And true to that, some fan had posted about them here.

b. Psy terms:

i. Silence Protocol - Introduced first in 1969, conditions Psy to not feel any emotions so they can perform better. 

ii. Enforcement - similar to the Law Enforcement.

iii. PsyNet - Psychic Network that the Psy are connected to through minds.

iv. NetMind - the central controlling factor of PsyNet, the policeman and librarian encompassed together. It's twin DarkMind houses everything negative.

v. Web of Stars - the network that Sascha forms with Lucas's mind and the sentinel's minds he is connected to and their mates. With Talin, a human, joining in Mine to Possess, it becomes a true triumvirate with all three species joined together. 

vi. Cassandra Spiral - The ultimate cascade of a Psy who was breaking from Silence and being unsuccessful.

vii. Implant Protocol or Protocol I - To condition the Psy even beyond what the Silence does, by creating a true hive mind.

c. Various Psy we would see as the series progresses:

i. Psy Council (a panel of Psy that ruled the world with an iron fist) - Nikita Duncan, mother of Sascha Duncan; Tatiana Rika-Smythe, youngest to become a Councilor; Ming LeBon; Shoshanna and Henry Scott, only Psy couple on the council; Kaleb Krychek; Anthony Kyriakus.

ii. Latham; Sione (an F-Psy from PsyClan Pacific Rose); Juniper (8yr old F-Psy); Gia Khan (an M-Psy); Silver Mercant (Kaleb's sr. personal assistant, introduced in Caressed by Ice); Lenik (Kaleb's admin assistant).

iii. Remaining Lauren Family - Introduced first in Slave to Sensation. Walker; Sienna and Toby, their dead sister's kids; Marlee, Walker's daughter. Defectors into the SnowDancer territory, interlinked by their own psy network LaurenNet. There is some attraction between Sienna and Hawke as seen from Slave to Sensation. Indigo, SnowDancer Lieutenant, is assigned to train Sienna in Visions of Heat. Powers for the younger Psy are expanding as series progresses.

iv. In Slave to Sensation, we see that Shoshanna and Henry Scott, the Psy Council couple, are looking for some kind of markers in Sascha's family. They have concern on one of the youngest Psy male. Who is that?

v. Anchors: In the very first book, Slave to Sensation, Nalini alludes to at least 50 Psy serial killers who are protected by the Council as their psychic connection is needed in the PsyNet. So far three of them have been taken care of.

vi. In Visions of Heat, we see:

1) Faith NightStar's father Anthony Kyriakus is the governing force of the PsyClan NightStar- the clan of Psy that begets atleast one F-Psy in every generation. He is also the leader of a quiet revolution in Psy. She has a brother Tanique Gray and a cousin Sahara.

2) Faith's sister Marine is killed by the Psy Serial Killer. However, there are still unexplained reasons as to why she was targeted as of that plot.

vii. With more of Kaleb Krychek we see as the series progresses, he sounds more and more like an antagonist as opposed to a protagonist, especially now that we know that he can talk to DarkMind and NetMind. Of course we know that he is a protagonist with an agenda per the two books in the spin-off series that I already finished reading. Now I am craving for a story of Kaleb as well while I wait for Hawke's story to come out.

viii. In Caressed by Ice, we see that the Psy Council is faced with a new enemy called Ghost, who is infiltering the Psy to destroy them systematically. I have a distinct feeling it is Kaleb Krychek, but we have to wait and see.

ix. Kaleb runs the Moscow region and he has a vision for the square beneath his official buildings. Wonder where Nalini will bring this up again.

x. Solias King, a Psy, is apparently trying to encroach into the DarkRiver territory, with his aide and son Kinshasa in the novella Beat of Temptation. Will he surface again?

d. Arrow Squad - First introduced in Visions of Heat. 

i. Vasic - First introduced in this plot. 

e. Forgotten Psy - Psy who never had linked to the PsyNet when Silence Protocol was implemented over a century ago. First mentioned in Caressed by Ice.

i. The descendants of these Forgotten Psy are shown to be gifted human children with newer abilities. Their ancestors having mated with Changelings and Humans after not linking to the PsyNet and survived by creating their own network, ShadowNet.

ii. Jonquil "Johnny D" Alexi Duchslaya, a fourteen year old ex-gang member, is one of the direct descendants of Duchslaya Yurev, a cardinal telepath. He is rescued from the facility where he was held by Psy Anchors for experimentation.

iii. Noor Hassan, another child rescued from the same facility. Keenan, Ashaya's son want to marry Noor one day.

iv. Devraj Santos - Director of the Shine Foundation that helps kids get off street, trained and educated. Rangi was the Guardian of San Francisco Shine Branch. The Foundation is gathering these descendants, training and educating them and keeping them safe.

f. Humans that we see along the course of the series:

i. 18th Century Territorial Wars - Adrian Kenner, a human, had been the one to help draft laws that ended he Changeling wars. 

ii. The Human Alliance - Human Conglomeration representing the supposed weaker species of the three. Based in Venice. And proves to be as lethal as Psy and Changeling in their own way. However, will Nalini show their positive side as well like the other two species?

iii. Max Shannon - a Human police detective with strong mental shields, introduced first in Mine to Possess. After a brutal attack on him, last we know is he is recuperating in a secured Changeling facility.

g. Various Changelings we see during the course of the series are

i. DarkRiver Leopards with their territory in San Francisco and surrounding areas.

1) Lucas Hunter their alpha, a black panther. Mated to Sascha Duncan, an E-Psy. Story told in Slave to Sensation.

2) Other Leopards and pack mates - Kit and his sister Rina Monaghan; Zara (a wildcat, distant cousin); Ria, a human mated to DarkRiver leopard; Tara; Nico, Cory, Jason "Jase", Nicki, Aaron, Mia and Sarah (juveniles); Lysa; Cian; Jamie; Desiree "Dezi" and her mother Meenakshi "Meena"; Barker; Joe (owner of Joe's Bar); Cian; Zach (his mate was welcomed in Mine to Possess, so a definite plot for him in future); Jonquil and Noor (adopted Forgotten Psy descendants).

3) Lucas's Sentinels (second-in commands) - Nathan "Nate" mated to Tamsyn "Tammy" their healer and have twin sons Roman and Julian, Story told in Beat of Temptation; Vaughn D'Angelo (mated to Faith NightStar, an F-Psy, Story told in Visions of Heat); Clay Bennett (mated to Talin "Tally" McKade, a human guardian for Shine Foundation. Story told in Mine to Possess); Mercy

4) In Mine to Possess, Mercy is assigned as liaison with the SnowDarncer Wolves representative, Riley. And she seems to be poked at by Riley in this plot. A definite segue that the next plot would be between Mercy and Riley.

ii. SnowDancer Wolves with their territory in California

1) Hawke is their alpha. He has captured my interest more than the actual hero and heroines of any plot he appears in. I cant wait to read his story.

2) Other Wolves and packmates we see - Andrew "Drew" Liam Kincaid - Brenna's brother; Lara (their healer); Dalton (librarian); Tai; Lucy; Elias (a soldier); Greg; D'Arn & his human mate Sing-Lui; Ben (a wolf pup with designs to mate with Marlee when he grows up); 

3) Hawke's lieutenants - Indigo; Riley (Brenna's brother); Judd Lauren (an Arrow Squad Psy, mated to Brenna Shane Kincaid. Story told in Caressed by Ice)

iii. BlackEdge Wolves with their territory in Moscow. First mentioned in Caressed by Ice.

iv. DawnSky Deer - First mentioned in Caressed by Ice.

v. PineWood Hyenas - First mentioned in Caressed by Ice. Members - Kevin; Mahal; Lou-Ann;

vi. Rats Changelings. First mentioned in Mine to Possess. Members - Teijan (their alpha); Suyi; 

vii. Snake Changelings. First mentioned in Mine to Possess.

3. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 111, Line 11, it should be "…I thought M-Psy saw…"

b. On Pg. 146, Line 7, it should be "…they take care of us…"

c. On Pg. 153, Lines 5 and 6, totally seemed grammatically incorrect. 

d. On Pg. 249, Line 12, it should be "…rolled down her spine…"

e. On Pg. 274, Line 4 in the introductory snippet, shouldn’t it be "…his cat knows how to…"


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