I started reading Nalini Singh’s psy-changeling series after Erin binge-read them all and then texted me every day about how amazing they were. I thought the first two were mildly entertaining, but I promised Erin I would read up through Book 3 before I gave up on the series.
I think I’m giving up. So here are some notes on Caressed by Ice from someone who didn’t love it.
First, I do agree that the worldbuilding is excellent, and I love that Singh expands out what we know about both psy and changeling politics in each book. If I were to read another book, it would only be to follow the continuing story of the psynet. (However, I thought the one-book mystery of who was killing pack members was underdeveloped—the villain wasn’t actually a real character, so I didn’t care when he was revealed.)
However, the gender essentialism in this series is…a lot. So if you feel your skin crawl when characters say things like, “Well, you know that women are more in tune with their emotions than men” (ugh, Faith Nightstar, ugh), then this book might not be for you. If you hate it when characters refer to “her innate female sensuality” or “his male dominance”, then this book might not be for you.
If neither of those things are dealbreakers, then read on for Erin’s enthusiastic take about how awesome this book is.
Psy-Changeling, Book #3
Review of Psy-Changeling, Book #1
Heat Factor: Judd destroys furniture with his mind while banging because it’s so intense
Character Chemistry: So, the drama of “he really wants to be with her but if he engages in their emotions one of them will die” (not joking) is AWESOME
Plot: There’s a lot going on with all the Psy/Changeling politics, but also Brenna is recovering from being kidnapped and tortured, and Judd is desperately trying not to break Silence and become a serial killer.
Overall: This book totally sealed it for me. I stan Psy/Changeling now.
In the first two books in the series, the Psy are women and the Changelings are men, which is its own kind of fun. But in this book the Psy is a man and the Changeling is a woman. And if you have been reading my reviews, you know that emotionally reserved bossy men with mad skills are catnip for me.
Plus, I felt like Judd actually had a very good reason to avoid a relationship with Brenna, on account of: before Silence (the reason Psy don’t have feelings) all Psy with his powers ended up being murderers, and intentionally or not, they would kill a person they loved. So. Judd cannot break Silence and have feelings, first of all because he’s terrified (mildly concerned? IDK what that would be if you’re not allowed to have feelings) he’ll end up killing Brenna. But also because his assassin training from before he left the PsyNet means that he has special triggers in his mind that will kill him if he breaks Silence and embraces his feelings. Like, his ears start bleeding when he hugs Brenna too much.
So Judd is like, “This is so not happening.”
Meanwhile, Brenna is like, “This is so already happening.” Then: “Also my kidnapper broke me because I can’t shift and I’m having dreams about murdering people now.”
All the drama!
Oh, also, Brenna is a wolf shifter, and Changelings are very physical, so she needs touch. The Psy don’t like touch, and also touching Brenna, as I mentioned, makes Judd bleed. So complicated!
Anyway, this book has many many levels. There is the Brenna and Judd relationship situation happening. But there is also someone murdering/trying to murder people in the SnowDancer pack, which is what Brenna’s visions are all about. And Judd has left the PsyNet, but he’s still using his badass assassin powers to disrupt Psy politics. And then of course Singh moves the overall plot of the whole series forward with all of the political machinations on the part of the Psy Council (that are actually pretty disturbing). It’s all interconnected. She’s very good. Singh, that is. I can see why people so love this book and this series.
And then I binged 9 Psy/Changeling books in a row. This series is awesome!
Looking for something similar?
I like it when my heroes use their powers for good
Shifter heroes are great and all, but have you tried shifter heroines?
3 thoughts on “Review Revisited: Holly’s Take on Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh (2007)”
It’s interesting because if I had first read this book today, my feelings on it might have been closer to Holly’s than Erin’s. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have picked the book up in the first place because I’m not into serial killer plot lines anymore. When I first read Caressed by Ice 10 years ago, the problems with gendered language wasn’t even on my radar. I was so ignorant of all that stuff. Smexy Books has been discussing the gender essentialism in their reread of the series as well.
I still love all the same stuff that Erin loved. This is definitely my favorite book that I’ve read in this series, and one my favorites in general, because I can reread it with nostalgia glasses on. I do remember being annoyed whenever a chapter in the villain’s POV interrupted the good stuff. I’ve never found them interesting and these days I just skim or skip those chapters in books. Like I probably only read half of Adriana Ander’s Whiteout, lol. (I enjoyed the parts I actually read!)
“Review Revisited” is a cool new feature! I imagine less labor intensive than “dueling reviews”. When did Erin first post her review of Caressed by Ice?
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This “Review Revisited” was definitely less labor-intensive than a duel, though perhaps less fun (since dueling reviews usually also involve us getting on a video call for several hours and yelling at each other about books). I want to say Erin first published her review of Caressed by Ice last spring? That’s when she did her big psy-changeling binge, IIRC.
And it’s so funny about the gender essentialist language, because it bugs the shit out of me when I read it in paranormal romances, but I just finished the Maiden Lane series, which is also FULL of the same kind of language, and it bothers me way less in that context. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it if I hadn’t been thinking about gender essentialism so much recently. Maybe because I like histrom better than paranormals? Or maybe because I think that if you have the imagination to create a whole new society of humans who can kill people with their mind, you should better be able to imagine different ways of talking about gender.
The fun you’re having definitely shows up in the dueling reviews! I enjoy reading the range of opinions you all have on this one site, whether you’re revisiting or dueling.
And I totally get what you mean. I guess I take it for granted that the cis and straight characters in a historical live in the same ignorant bubble I once did. I agree with you that it should be different for paranormal and sci-fi/fantasy authors today. They have so much freedom to create all kinds of cool stuff in their worlds so it feels like a deliberate choice when they ignore or erase a bunch of different kinds people. Especially when so many books use our world today as a jumping off point.
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