Author: Nalini Singh
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: September 4, 2008
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 he is a defector, and his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins—cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna...
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...
Ever since I met Judd for the first time I kept wondering what his story might be like...But this was all that I expected and more. This was a truly magnificent read and the best in this wonderful series so far. I wonder what Ms. Singh might come up with to top this one.
A truly emotional roller-coaster of a book takes the reader through the entire plethora of human and changeling emotion. The ride is rough and rocky, but so incredibly tender and endearing at the same time I find it impossible to describe...And even somewhat impossible to grasp, which will most certainly result in a re-reading in the near future.
The characterization was once again beautiful and accurate to a t and I didn't expect any less from this talented author. I especially liked the lead female character's development. We first met Brenna in STS where she was kidnapped by a sociopathic Psy, tortured and almost killed, before she was rescued by a joint operation from the leopard and wolf clan. All feared for her sanity and very life after that rescue, but she proved her courage and will, by emerging strong and resolute, if not entirely whole. She didn't let the traumatic experience define her, she stood strong against the very real threat of mental degradation, deciding to fight to the end, to never let the monster who almost succeeded in destroying her win.
Judd Lauren was the perfect soldier. Cold, remote, emotionless, which could be true for every special branch of soldiers and special ops out there, but Judd wasn't a common soldier. He was an ex-member of an elite Psy soldier squadron, more myth than reality, the mysterious and deadly Arrows.
Except that all his Psy logic, calm, and aloofness flew right out of the chimney when Brenna was around, though he did put in quite an effort to prevent the unavoidable unraveling of his Silence.
These two were the least compatible couple I've ever met in fiction. Brenna, a wolf changeling and highly sensual creature that needed touch as much as she needed breath, and the cold, martial Psy whom her every touch, even merely her nearness, caused incredible pain as his conditioning slowly degraded. Yet, despite all this factors against them, they couldn't stay apart, no matter how hard Judd tried to convince her that he could prove fatal to her, and despite the fact Brenna's inner wolf didn't recognize Judd as her mate.
A heavy metaphor set into an alternative sci-fi universe, but speaking the common language of all the star-crossed lovers out there.
I loved how their relationship slowly evolved and progressed from some sort of friends and the beginning of the book, through the first glimpses of a crush, denial, potent attraction, and finally, when Judd exhausted all his excuses, control—and for their first time making love (scorching heat!) his deadly powers as well—full-blown love almost bordering on obsession.
The two grew and developed along with their relationship, helping and healing each other, learning from their blunders and mistakes. When the remote Psy finally let the gentle and caring wolf teach him the meaning and power of touch, this wonderful tale took on the traits of a classic love-story.
And how they each strove to take care of the other's needs before their own—she, despite needing touch, denying herself that luxury so as not to hurt him, and he, knowing how much she needed the contact, willing to bear the excruciating pain—it was so bitter-sweet it tugged at the heart-strings.
The supporting cast and the various subplots were once again nicely interwoven, not stealing the spotlight from the main plot that was, even more than in the two previous books, about the two leads, their growth, and their relationship.
The little glimpses into the Council's nefarious ploy at mind domination, the intriguing new presence of the Ghost, and Hawke's heartbreaking story make the next books in the series a must read.