For the next bonus book, I read Slave to Sensation, from the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh. I gave this one a two out of five stars; it is not my style. This was another Vaginal Fantasy book club pick, but I’m going to have to agree to disagree with Felicia Day’s review for the most part. Yes it was trashy, but I really didn’t care for it.
There are interesting world-building ideas. Rather than vamps and wolves, we have Psy and Shifters, who will henceforth be known as “Heartless, Calculating Bastards” and “The Cool Hotties,” respectively. The heroine is from the first camp but unable to be completely heartless. The hero is from the second camp, and is a full-fledged alpha male who instantly wants to possess the heroine’s body as his own. Flattering, right? Yeah. Goes downhill from there, in my opinion.
In addition to all this “give in to your FEEEEELLLLSSSS” stuff, there is a lot of “don’t you worry little lady, I’m here to make decisions for you” going on, which sets my teeth on edge. Add to that a choppy writing style that had me feeling like I was trying to teach my younger sister how to drive a manual, and it’s kind of a miracle I made it through the damn book. Honestly, the stuttering style alone would be enough to take off two full stars. I am more than a little picky about the flow of the narrative in a book. A reader shouldn’t be stopping and starting every few sentences.
Even for emphasis.
Very specific emphasis.
Now I have whiplash.
Because The Cool Hotties are all some form of shape-shifter (big cat, wolf, etc.), they have the animalistic social expectations. Mating for life, interpersonal dominance, mystic sexcapades, emotional reactions supposedly worth way more than rational thought, male-dominant social hierarchies decided by badassery alone, etc. The Heartless Calculating Bastards really don’t have any redeeming qualities at all. They’re all just a step or two away from genocidal purity regimes in an effort to “fix” society (some are right square in the middle of it), so that’s awesome. And here’s the thing; these are great elements to have in a story. There is so much fodder for intrigue, for intricate plans and subtle villains and heroes, for a long line of social commentary and political experimentation, for corruption and gray areas drawn out in a painstaking analysis over multiple books, or with several different shades of hero or honor or practicality or chaotic well-intentioned terrorism, and NONE OF THIS HAPPENS. Instead we get a psychopath in a lab as an excuse for the heroine to have furry sexytimes with a guy who feels he owns her but it’s okay because abs and feelings. And I just… fnehglisdnshil’dsla.
I don’t even know how to end this. If you like trashy sexytimes and dominant alpha males and wilting violets full of insecurity and lost in their own misery but upon introduction to shiny magical penis suddenly find a reason to live, by all means, go right ahead. Otherwise, avoid.