Review: Hostage to Pleasure

Review: Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh

Separated from her son and forced to create a neural implant that will mean the effective enslavement of her psychically gifted race, Ashaya Aleine is the perfect Psy--cool, calm, least on the surface. Inside, she's fighting a desperate battle to save her son and escape the vicious cold of the PsyNet. Yet when escape comes, it leads not to safety, but to the lethal danger of a sniper's embrace.
DarkRiver sniper Dorian Christensen lost his
sister to a Psy killer. Though he lacks the changeling ability to shift into animal form, his leopard lives within. And that leopard's rage at the brutal loss is a clawing darkness that hungers for vengeance. Falling for a Psy has never been on Dorian's agenda. But charged with protecting Ashaya and her son, he discovers that passion has a way of changing the rules...

'Hostage to Pleasure' continues where 'Mine to Possess' left off. As the perfect Psy with perfect Silence(Conditioning that rid the Psy of all emotion)designated M-Psy(medical), Ashaya Aleine, has the rare gift of seeing into the human body at the DNA level. This makes her a prime asset to the Psy Council and the implementation of Protocol I. We learned about Protocol I in series book three 'Caressed by Ice' and it's goal essentially is to make all Psy into a hive mind, destroying all individual uniqueness and personality. And like a bee hive, there must be a leader and the fight over this ultimate power is a deadly one. A fight in which Ashaya is unwillingly a part of. In order to ensure Ashaya's cooperation, the Council is holding her son, Keenan, hostage but Ashaya has put into motion a plan that will save her son and hopefully herself. In exchange for helping DarkRiver save two human children from her underground lab, DarkRiver will kidnap her son from the Psy Council.

From the moment of his birth, Dorian Christensen's life was marked for tragedy. As a changeling leopard, the animal side of Dorian's soul is integral to the human side. Sadly, Dorian was born a latent leopard. In other words, he is unable to shift and take his leopard form. This inability is not only severely damaging to his soul but also causes him excruciating physical pain as well. Dorian's leopard is completely unaware of the fact that man cannot shift into beast. When the leopard demands release it doesn't hesitate to claw and push beneath Dorian's human exterior. The pain of scraping claws underneath the skin of his fingers is brutal and fills him with intense agony.

Interestingly enough, the latency makes Dorian closer to his leopard than anyone else is to their own. Because his beast is constantly scraping and clawing beneath his skin, Dorian's reactions are generally more leopard than human. This also makes him on the extreme side of alpha. Ironically, Dorian is also the public Representative for DarkRiver. His surfer-boy good looks, outrageous charm, and innocent appearance make him the perfect leopard for the job.

Dorian's latency has not held him back however. In fact, he is one of the most dangerous leopards in DarkRiver. He moves as silently and stealthily as any other leopard but his claws are in the shape of a sniper rifle.
The latency became a driving force in Dorian at an early age, pushing him to be the best at everything and anything and eventually he attained the role of a sentinel, the highest pack rank below alpha in DarkRiver.

Another tragedy has also befallen Dorian. His baby sister was tortured and murdered by sociopath Psy. Dorian has sworn vengeance against the Psy race and will stop at nothing to destroy the Council - the Psy governing body, and the Psy way of life, Silence. Riding on the emotional waves of rage, hate, and guilt, Dorian has become colder than ever by slipping into his sniper mentality more and more. At one time pack helped in deadening his pain, but with the death of his sister, Dorian is one step away from picking up his sniper rifle and turning rogue.

Dorian's rage serves to be a real conflict for him and Ashaya's early relationship with guilt overcoming him for falling in love with a Psy whose way of life killed his beloved sister. Ashaya's continuation of upholding Silence, even though she is free of the Council, enrages Dorian even more. But in reality Ashaya broke Silence a long time ago and has essentially become an excellent actress yet her reasons for upholding Silence proves to nearly be Dorian's undoing.

What brings Dorian back from his killing rage is Ashaya's distinctive maternal behavior towards her son Keenan. Truth is Keenan and Ashaya have shared an exclusive parent/child bond which was cut when Keenan was thrust into the Web of Stars and out of the Psy Net. Ashaya wants nothing more than to save her baby but she feels that the only way to this is by remaining Silent and staying away from him so that the Council will feel that he is no longer important. Dorian is frustrated with her avoidance when she clearly loves her child despite what she has proclaimed to him verbally.

He smiled and it wasn't pleasant. "Scared?"
..."I feel nothing." It was the same lie she'd told herself her entire adult life, only allowing the truth to surface in the deepest depths of night...The unrelenting charade had taken a toll, but she refused to crack. Not yet. Not while Keenan remained at risk.

Although I started to feel that the Psy/Changeling pairing was becoming redundant, Ashaya's broken Silence before meeting Dorian made things interesting and unique. Whereas in previous series books, changelings were trying to break the Silence within their mates, Ashaya is trying to pretend Silence when emotions are something that she can feel.

"Pieces of my heart Dorian. You're in so many pieces of my heart."

The Psy/Changling war has also progressed with the Changelings winning. There was definitely more development with the human end of things in which that could play a major role in wars outcome. The rebellion is definitely getting interesting and I look forward to seeing where is will lead.

And the epilogue was beautiful. What Nalini Singh did for Dorian was well deserved and I believe in the end he was truly happy. No longer did he feel guilt and though he still believes that the Council should be brought down to dust, it is no longer the driving force within him, Ashaya is.



Christine said...

Fantastically written review!!! I loved this installment as well and that quote from Ashaya at the end of your review is probably my favorite in this book.

I can't wait for Mercy & Riley's story. It's going to be intense. =)

VampFanGirl said...

The quote is awesome huh?! Nalini never ceases to amaze me. Although HtP isn't my favorite installment (that would be 'Caressed by Ice') I'm definitely looking forward to 'Branded by Fire' - Mercy and Riley's story. I'm curious as to how their eventual children will look like. Plus does the mate bond work the same way between two species?? This installment will be very interesting.

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