Review: BONDS OF JUSTICE by Nalini Singh

Review: BONDS OF JUSTICE by Nalini Singh

Max Shannon is a good cop, one of the best in New York Enforcement. Born with a natural shield that protects him against Psy mental invasions, he knows he has little chance of advancement within the Psy-dominated power structure. The last case he expects to be assigned is that of a murderer targeting a Psy Councilor’s closest advisors. And the last woman he expects to compel him in the most sensual of ways is a Psy on the verge of a catastrophic mental fracture…

Sophia Russo is a Justice-Psy, cursed with the ability to retrieve memories from men and women so twisted even veteran cops keep their distance. Appointed as Max’s liaison with the Psy, she finds herself fascinated by this human, her frozen heart threatening to thaw with forbidden emotion. But, her mind filled with other people’s nightmares, other people’s evil, she’s standing on the border between sanity and a silken darkness that urges her to take justice into her own hands, to become judge, jury…and executioner…
Publisher: Berkley, July 2010

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Single Title/Series: BONDS OF JUSTICE is Book Eight in the Psy-Changeling Series and I highly recommend reading this series in order.

Cover Thoughts: While I have a grudging respect for the elements that were accurately portrayed on this cover, its still my least favorite of the entire series. The knife tattoo, the city horizon and trolley car, all mimic the setting and a true tidbit regarding the hero but its simply not pretty to look at.

Why I Read It: I purchased this book solely for my own reading enjoyment. I'm in love with this series. Every installment is like I'm coming home. Each one "feels" the same as Singh's over-reaching consistency never fails.

My Review:

The Plot:

Justice Psy (J-Psy), work closely with Enforcement as they have the unique ability to not only telepathically read minds but they can actually extract memories and project them to another. One hundred years ago, the J-Psy were only used for the rare and extreme cases where a memory extraction was imperative to prove whether or not a suspect was guilty. Now, they're constantly in rotation until their use-by-date which is generally between ages 25-30. Because the J-Psy repeatedly extract and withhold memories from horrific criminals and sociopaths, their psyche slowly takes on the evil they've become filled with, eventually overpowering and crushing their real memories. When this happens, J-Psy begin to administer their own brand of justice against those they've found guilty by acting personally as judge, jury and at times, as executioner. When strange incidents of mind controlled mutilations or suspicious deaths begin to occur around a J-Psy, or when their shields are no longer impregnable against the outside world, the J-Psy is rehabilitated - their mind swept clean.

Sophia Russo, a J-Psy, only has months to live before she's called in for mandatory rehabilitation which will effectively wipe all her memories and shatter her personality until she's nothing by a slobbering, incoherent shell of who she once was. Having reached her expiration date, Sophia is filled to the brim with a powerful wanting to live what little remaining life she has left to the fullest including breaking her Silence in order to experience the passionate human Enforcement Detective, Max Shannon. Gifted with a naturally strong shield that makes his brain nearly impenetrable by the Psy, Max is the one man that Sophia can touch without risking her delicate shields and the impending madness that threatens to smash her already fragile defenses.

Max Shannon has been fascinated with Sophia since the moment the beautiful Psy spoke to him in a decidedly un-Psy-like manner at a shared prisoner interrogation. Later, when the two are personally requested by Psy Councilor Nikita Duncan to work a case in her territory of San Francisco, Max immediately starts pushing the boundaries of Sophia's Silence with the same strength of determination he applies to his investigations and nothing will stop stop his sensual assault of his decidedly wounded Psy. In the meantime, someone is knocking off high-ranking Psy in Nikita's personal circle with attempts also having been made on the Councilor herself.

As Max's and Sophia's connection builds so does the mounting danger that's made them a target from two unrelated fronts. One, Bonner, a sociopath that's been convicted of murder with a handful of disappearances where he's number one on Enforcement's suspect list, becomes grossly fixated on Sophia. Like clawing nails on a chalkboard, he scrapes gruesomely across her shields after promising to let her into his mind to find the memories of the suspected murders. And two, Pure Psy, a radical group of Psy that aims not only for world domination, but the purity of the Psy race and above all the strict adherence to Silence. In a time where the PsyNet may be dying and the Silence Protocol being fingered as the infection, more and more Psy are breaking their Silence. With Nikita being the one Councilor that blends her vast business structure across all three worlds - Psy, Changeling, and human - she's at the top of a very methodical list of terminations.

The Heroine:

Sophia Russo is a woman of quiet but formidable strength. Having been subjected to the vast depths of evil for most of her life, even surviving the cruelty of a Psy sociopath as an adolescent and bearing the scars to prove it, Sophia is nothing if not a fighter. A warrior even. And unlike nearly all Psy, Sophia feels a urgent protectiveness for the victims that have been brutalized by the criminals she probes despite the fact that she looses a part of herself each time she enters their evil minds.

To counter her strength, Sophia is also incredibly vulnerable with a deep-seeded fear of rejection. After the trauma of her youth and its subsequent physical and mental scars, Sophia was abandoned by her family and looked upon as flawed beyond redemption and left to walk her own path alone. Given the choice of rehabilitation or becoming a Justice Psy, Sophia chose life but carried the wounds of her past into her present with Max. Fearing his rejection, Sophia instead finds incredible acceptance with Max despite all that he soon learns about her, even the dark otherness that swirls in her mind demanding justice. And once her cop latches on, she soon believes that he'll do anything to keep her at his side even knowing that a future together can never be.

The Hero:

Typically considered at the bottom of the food chain, humans are viewed as weak having no mind strength like the Psy or physical strength like the Changelings. Caught in the middle, the humans are pulled back and forth by their more powerful cousins. But Max has a trump card that makes him ideal for Enforcement. Having a naturally super strong shielded mind against the Psy, Max can't be "pushed" into making decisions by those that would like a change of outcome. More importantly, Max's natural shield protects his sensitive J-Psy from an overload of his thoughts making him Sophia's perfect mate.

Max knows rejection. He's lived with it, recognizes it, and sees its cruelty within Sophia just as she sees it within him. Both are rejects by the very people that should have loved them beyond any doubt but instead they were cast aside like so much trash. It's the combination of Sophia's strength and vulnerability that not only fires up Max's deeply ingrained protection instincts but she also has him admiring her with an acute sense of pride. All of which coalesces into need and possession where Max will do anything to make her his, to protect her from the cold-hearted Psy and shield her from those that would love nothing more than to do her harm.

My Final Thoughts:

BONDS OF JUSTICE, like its predecessor BLAZE OF MEMORY, is another Psy-Changeling series installment that I felt little compulsion to read if not for my must-read-in-order complex. Honestly, unappealing cover aside, Max is a character that simply never called to my attention. First meeting him in MINE TO POSSESS, he immediately lacked the bold sexuality of the Changelings and the cold intrigue of the Psy. He's merely human and while I hate to admit it, he seemed flat compared to his more vibrant cousins. And lets face it, the hero is why we read romance and the tantalizing details of a future hero in a series is what keeps us emotionally and financially invested in its installments.

That being said, BONDS OF JUSTICE reveals hands down some of the most interesting, game-changing, shocking characteristics of two much speculated characters and thus opens a new fold in the Psy-Changeling universe. Nikita Duncan, Psy Councilor and mother to Psy defector Sascha Duncan, is still as hard as ever to peg with regards to her allegiance but she's most definitely showing herself to surprisingly have a heart. Therefore, my previously cool thoughts towards Nikita are warily starting to thaw. Plus, we're given a long hard glimpse of Psy Councilor Kaleb Krycheck. As elusive to pinpoint as Nikita, Kaleb shows real signs of being a good guy but he's still so incredibly cold that one can't know for certain. Whatever side this deadly Psy lands on, I'm shamelessly dying to know more about Kaleb who by the way is rumored to be drop-dead gorgeous! Oh yeah, this is the type of character that keeps you reading.

The sensuality is a bit soft but unlike BLAZE OF MEMORY, I read the sex scenes. There was a sweetness to them that couldn't be ignored but my reader heart still craves the rough passion of this author's Changelings. Nothing can top them but the romance between Max and Sophia is nothing short of enjoyable. For a man to risk so much for a woman destined to collapse shows heart and a reader can't ignore their struggle any more than we could deny these two desperate characters a Happily Ever After. Two rejected souls as these deserve happiness and while Max's and Sophia's HEA tasted a bit bitter sweet next to all the other Psy-Changeling HEA's, it still made for lovely ending.

For Psy-Changeling fans that love their installments heavy on the Psy, BONDS OF JUSTICE will likely rank as your number one in the series as this novel delivers Psy in spades. For the rest of us, be content with the surprising character bombs Singh drops as well the soft love affair of Max and Sophia. As always, Singh never disappoints with regards to the over-reaching plot arcs and there's the awesome pot of gold at the end of this rainbow: PLAY OF PASSION. Woot!

4 Stars

More Reviews:

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The Good, The Bad and The Unread
Babbling About Books, And More
The Romance Reviews
Impressions of A Reader
Danielle's Book Thoughts
Book Series Reviews
Book Binge
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Blodeuedd said...

Not a PSy lover, they are just so cold. I need some changeling loving :)

deannalynnc said...

Great review, I really enjoyed how you broke it down by a description of the book, what you thought about the hero and heroine and your final thoughts overall! I also enjoyed how you talked about your dislikes of the cover. Very unique review layout! I think I might have to check out the first book in this series and see what I think!

VampFanGirl said...

Hear! Hear! To that Blodeuedd! I love me some Changelings!!

Hugs, VFG


Hi Deanna!

Thanks for the review layout love, girl! (((hugs))) My strategy is that people who don't necessarily don't want to read a lengthy review, can pick and chose amongst my breakdowns for the information they seek.

Oh and you MUST read this series. Its one of my top five paranormal series and truly, you'll fall in love with this world and want to live there. ;)

Hugs, VFG

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