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 a defector, 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...
Book Three in the Psy/Changeling Series
The Laurens: A family group of Psy that went into SnowDancer wolf territory and dropped from the PsyNet. Their stars winked out one by one leaving the Psy Council to assume that each was struck dead by the wolves for reputation had proceeded the ruthless predatory changelings as well as their despise of the Psy. What the Psy Council didn't know was that the Laurens risked their lives based on that very assumption - and lived.
Judd Lauren, a TK-Cell Psy (Telekinesis with sub designation Cell meaning he has immense telekinetic powers at the cellular level making him extremely lethal), is determined to maintain Silence despite the fact that he dropped from the PsyNet along with his family over a year ago. Due to the lethal nature of his gifts, Judd along with other TK-Cell Psy, found solace in Silence for it was a way to protect themselves from others. Prior to Silence, TK-Cell Psy were murderers who generally struck those they loved most with their abilities. With Silence they no longer had to fear killing those closest to them nor did they have to spend their lives behind bars. Yet one little wolf with an indomitable will may just break the chains that Judd holds so fiercely on his heart.
Brenna Shane Kincaid, the sole survivor from the evil clutches of a sociopath and Psy Council member Santano Enrique, knows she's different from the other wolves of her pack. The obvious difference is that none of the others had been through Hell and lived to tell about it but she also feels that she might be a little bit Psy. Enrique ripped her mind open, committing rape on the most intimate of levels and in the process, may have awakened a previously dormant area of her brain giving her "visions". Her fears are proven true when a fellow SnowDancer is killed within the den and the crime scene looks terrifyingly familiar for Brenna had just witnessed it in her dreams. Feeling mentally dirty over the evil that seems to have infected her, Brenna refuses to seek out Sascha Duncan, the E-Psy and mate to the alpha of DarkRiver - SnowDancer's leopard allies. Brenna can't stand the idea of subjecting the intrinsically gentle Psy with her nightmare after everything Sascha had done to pull her soul back from near death. There is only one other Psy that Brenna knows can help her, the "Man of Ice" - Judd Lauren.
Unbeknownst to Judd in the beginning is that he's already broken some surface level ties to Silence. While he's accepted that Brenna has ingrained herself on his mind, Judd rationalizes it away as merely an unavoidable after effect from his "lending" of power to Sascha as she repaired Brenna's brutalized mind. It's the fact that he's walked through her nightmares, seen the damage she survived by sheer force of will, that Judd has founded a deep rooted respect for the female wolf. He also plans on never letting Brenna discover his TK abilities. As far as the SnowDancer pack knows, Judd is only a strong telepath and it's true that he is, but while revealing this knowledge he's also conveniently left out his more powerful and deadly TK abilities. SnowDancer and most especially Brenna, are not rational when it comes to TK-Psy due to Enrique. It's in these small actions of protection that Judd reveals his emotions where Brenna is concerned. Now with Brenna's "visions" coming to his attention, Judd will do everything he can to make sure that Brenna is okay even if it means that he has to ground her with touch as is the changeling way of support and care.
But as Brenna seeks out Judd more and more for comfort, he's soon alerted to the staggering and possibly deadly impact that she's having on his mind. Psy with Judd's TK-Cell abilities were conditioned to Silence by using severe pain controls that are programmed into the mind. When Judd allows himself to feel emotion he is reprimanded by near debilitating pain. This pain grows exponentially overtime if he doesn't adhere to Silence and could cause his brain to implode. Knowing this, Judd makes the decision to flee to the outer corners of SnowDancer territory in the hopes of repairing the fractures in his mind that have been caused by his burgeoning emotions for Brenna. On a deep seeded level, Judd knows that he's not what Brenna needs. A cold and aloof Psy can't provide the healing she deserves and Judd tries his best to deflect Brenna's interest. But no sooner does he arrive at his stationed post when Brenna comes traipsing out of the forest with her pack and a look on her face that blatantly shows she's there to stay.
Brenna will not allow Judd to run from what they could have together and his prickly demeanor and callous efforts to turn her towards other wolves won't stop her from getting her Psy. Realizing the defeat of his previous efforts, Judd starts doing his best to scare Brenna away by revealing his position within the Psy as an Arrow - a deadly assassin and the Psy's first defense against any threat. Yet despite the fear that Brenna feels at Judd's revelations, somehow she knows that Judd would never hurt her. But Brenna's hopes where Judd is concerned are more than tested when he makes a major error. Males stand up for their females in public no matter if he feels that she is wrong. When Judd doesn't back Brenna up against the pack, she starts questioning what she's even doing with Judd in the first place.
While a potential boon has been thrown Judd, he finds that he doesn't want to push Brenna away and soon seeks her out to make amends only to find that she's been doing some seeking of her own and taken Judd's advice to find a changeling male to provide for her needs. As dark jealousy and fierce possessiveness sweep over Judd, he comes to terms with the fact that he's claimed Brenna and doesn't think he'll ever let her go. Even if she does eventually find her intended mate, there will be bloodshed. But despite Judd's claiming, a sexual relationship is still out of the question. Judd is still resolute to not break Silence but he's also finding his need to be with Brenna is slowing chipping away at his resolve.
In the midst of Judd and Brenna's complicated mating dance is a dark presence that haunts them and threatens to destroy both their lives. Judd knows that loosing Brenna to death will cause his rigid control on his abilities to snap thus potentially causing the deaths of countless innocents as a result of his rage. In the back of his mind, Judd feels the count down to the strike on Brenna's life and he can only hope that this time he is there to protect her.
'Caressed By Ice' continues to be one of my very favorites in the Psy/Changeling series. It was interesting to go back and read about Brenna, a female changeling heroine, after Mercy's story in 'Branded By Fire'. Brenna and Mercy are very different with the most glaring being that Mercy is exponentially more dominant than Brenna. A man like Judd would have sent Mercy running for the hills to avoid his blatant dominance. Brenna, on the other hand, was in desperate need for a mate that could handle her inner darkness and who better than the dark angel that is Judd Lauren.
Sigh...Judd Lauren. I'm lovin' me some virgin hero at the moment. ;)
One my favorite aspects of Judd's character is the sheer dominance that radiates from his person despite Silence. No amount of pain controls can contain the arrogance that is Judd. Plus, he's just so deadly. His TK-Cell powers were as interesting as they were frightening. You had to admire Brenna's strength of character to not be afraid of Judd especially after her ordeal with the Cardinal TK - Santano Enrique. Judd is also fiercely loyal and faced certain death to protect his family. His strong capabilities to protect along with his loyalty make him a strong and worthy hero for Brenna.
It was nice to experience a strong heroine after Faith in 'Visions Of Heat'. The fact that Brenna survived Enrique's attack and retained her sanity is a strength in and of its self. She's stubborn too and that personality trait was much needed when dealing with a male Psy. Her persistence in her desire for Judd was truly necessary. Despite Brenna's age of twenty, she's much older then her years given the horror she experienced and survived. She's also the youngest female heroine that I've read by Singh but really you were surprised at Brenna's age. While she did make some immature decisions at times, overall Brenna was mature far beyond her years.
There are a lot of new developments with the Psy in 'Caressed by Ice'. We learn about the Ghost - a rebel Psy who's recruited Judd's services to help bring down the Psy Council. This proves that not everyone is aligned with the evil that is the Council but we're also shown how the Council hopes to eradicate any dissension in their race. With the implementation of Protocol I, Psy would effectively become a hive mind in truth with individuality wiped clean and replaced with the goal of serving the Council and their race. Judd and the Ghost make headway in CBI to thwart those plans.
'Caressed By Ice' is a superb addition to the Psy/Changeling series and solidified Nalini Singh's amazing talent as an author.