Nalini Singh – “Caressed By Ice”

3 Nov

GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Berkley Sensation, 2007

WHY THIS NOVEL: I wanted to see how (or if) the relationship dynamic changes with a Psy hero and a Changeling heroine.

The back blurb:
“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 drk abilities have made him the most deadly of assasins–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…”

First, I’ll be lazy with this post: minimal plot description of the book (not that I bother much with that anyway, I think); there’s the back blurb I quoted above and I’m very late to read this.

Secondly, I was not really blown away by Visions of Heat. But there was my curiosity about the relationship dynamic and I read comments by readers stating they liked the next one better. So I went and bought Caressed by Ice.

Thirdly, I’m happy to say that I liked Caressed by Ice better. Main reason: I thought the romantic conflict (why Judd and Brenna can’t be together) and the romance more convincing than in Visions of Heat.

Of course, the romantic conflict is the same as with the other novels in this series so far: a Changeling and a Psy are paired, so emotion and reason, or maybe better, non-emotion meet. But this time, as opposed to Visions of Heat, I believed in the danger it would pose for the Psy character to break with Silence, the conditioning that keeps emotions in check via pain (Judd already dropped out of the Psy Net), because there was a better balance between the Psy and Changeling side. The Changeling side didn’t always (seem to) win when the Psy side had to deal with emotions. Of course, it could also just be because I’m a sucker for tortured heroes. But oh, Judd is a very appealing one – caressed by ice indeed (aside: although obvious as hell, I liked that there are several scenes out in the snow).

I also believed that Brenna and Judd “have something.” It is not just lust between them. This might be because they’re both “damaged” characters, so things had to go slower (which also helped my impression that there was more balance between Psy and Changeling sides) than with a hero character who is constantly walking around aroused. But there is also the fact that Brenna and Judd know each other for some months before the story starts. Judd was there to help with Brenna’s healing, supporting the Psy healer Sascha, and he’s the only one who doesn’t look at Brenna with pity. He sees Brenna’s strength and his rational way of seeing things helps her more than the overprotection and cuddling she gets from her family and friends. In return, Brenna helps Judd discover the good side of emotions, so at the end he laughs and plays, even if it’s only with her. They are right for each other.

Again, I think the world Singh created interesting on an academic/intellectual level. The Changeling world is inclusive in that there’s not just cats and wolves able to change, there are also deer, bear, eagle changeling to name just a few. The new things I learned about the Psy world are intriguing and chilling, especially the implant bit (what’s up with the scientist?) and the Ghost. I also like that there are hints of gray in this world:
– not everything in the Changeling world is good.
– Silence might have it’s uses for Psys with certain skill sets although that doesn’t make the way or that it is implemented at all any less questionable.
So I’m interested in what is to come. Maybe even humans get some play time because so far, they’re missing from the picture except with “don’t underestimate them, they have weapons” statements. Also: the women are no push-overs which is always good.

But I also had some problems. While I enjoyed the slow realization in relation to the mystery, I also had my suspicion from the beginning who would be the villain (I was right). There are a number of background plot lines floating around and on the whole, I didn’t think them all that well integrated into the story. Most of the Psy Council bits seemed jarring to me. And one day after I finished the book I couldn’t (still can’t) remember what happened to Brenna’s visions. Is there a resolution to this? But again, and most of all, the resolution of the romantic conflict struck me as easy in contrast to what went before and what I expected because of that. I understand that Judd was afraid of what would happen and that he needed time to get used to the idea of doing it, but the actual description when he breaks Silence didn’t make me feel the danger and left me curiously cold so that I asked myself, “why didn’t he do this sooner?” And that I would answer “no conflict then” is not good. Although I have to say this part worked better for me in this novel than in Visions of Heat.

Overall, I thought Caressed by Ice better paced than Visions of Heat, especially in the beginning/for the first half I was really hooked. And I liked that the relationship dynamic with a Psy hero and a Changeling heroine was different, although much of that just might due to their background (Judd’s Psy ability, Brenna’s experience). But other than that, I don’t know. I think there’s something in the way the stories are written, that keeps me distanced and makes it difficult for me to fully appreciate the original world Singh has created in this series.

I know this series is a favorite of many readers. It just doesn’t seem to be one of mine.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Maybe (as part of series).

Grade: 4 – / 5


3 Responses to “Nalini Singh – “Caressed By Ice””

  1. Carolyn Jean Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 4:31 pm #

    Great review, and great point about the shades of gray in both worlds. I heartily agree. I, too, liked this one better than VoH. And yes, Judd and Brenna sort of had something. That was satisfying.

  2. Christine Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 10:56 pm #

    Great review, Taja. I loved this story, I think because I loved the couple so much. Both Judd and Brenna had their own issues and it felt natural and realistic the way they came together to help each other and fall in love. Their romance really worked for me and the pacing of their intimacy was just right. I loved the snow scenes, too! 🙂

    I think most days CARESSED BY ICE is tied with MINE TO POSSESS as my favorite in this series. HOSTAGE TO PLEASURE I liked a bit less.

  3. Taja Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 11:20 am #

    Carolyn Jean, thank you. It’s because of Brenna and Judd (also known as: what Christine said 😉 ) that I liked this novel more than VoH.

    Christine, thank you. I really like what you wrote about Brenna and Judd. You hit it on the head why they worked.

    I’m kind of interested in the scientist’s story (Hostage) but most seem to like it less than Caressed. Hmm.

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