Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in July 2010
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…Genre: paranormal romance
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…
Series: Psy-Changeling, Book #10
The Story: Sophia Russo is a Justice-Psy which means she has a particular telepathic talent that gives her the ability to navigate crazed minds, retrieved their memories and project them. Because of the nature of their work, J-Psy are more susceptible of emotions and their shields, more likely to break down... and once that happens, they are completely rehabilitated, leaving a blank-minded body behind. Sophia is very close to the point of no return, her shields being so fragile that actual skin-to-skin contacts could lead to a flood of memories and emotions and fry her mind.
Max Shannon was the cop introduced in Mine to Possess. As previously mentioned, he has natural shields - very good against mental invasions. While he'll never make it far in Enforcement because of them, he's also the perfect cop to investigate cases where you don't want the primary to be read or influenced, especially when you have many Psy enemies... which is why Nikita Duncan wants him.
Nikita's close advisors are being murdered one after the other. It quickly becomes clear the reason is because Nikita has "alliances" with humans and changelings, marring the image of Psy superiority. Max and Sophia suspect the Pure Psy, a group of fanatics that want Psy to be isolated, and come to the conclusion that it must have been an inside job. While they work on this case, Max and Sophia don't forget another one they've been walking on, trying to break a serial killer into revealing where he's buried his victims so they return them to their families....
My Opinion: Hmmm, I'm a bit torn with this one. I really wanted to love it, but in reality, it feels like an echo of Mine to Possess. I enjoyed the plot, liked the way the story-arc is advancing. It does feel like we're about to reach the culmination of the series and I'm really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I was less entranced by the romance, but not for the usual reasons ^_^;
I actually enjoyed the characters in Bonds of Justice. Did I ever expect Max to get his own story? Not really. Was I excited to read his book? Well the fact that I didn't remember who he was speaks for itself, right? However, he was a solid hero. He's a solid cop, determined and dedicated to his job. I think the fact that he stays in Enforcement knowing that he's less likely to climb up the ladder speaks very loudly and very positively of his personality. His background was interesting and the fact that he wanted to know and find out. As for Sophia, I admired her dedication to her work, bringing justice. I also liked the fact that she went after what she wanted: Max. Unfortunately, she didn't really stand out for me, because I feel she isn't very different than any of the other Psy heroines we got so far.
That's also my crux with the romance in Bonds of Justice. It just doesn't stand out for me. Alpha hero falls in love with a Psy heroine that's on the verge of dying or breaking down. If you've read my blog, you know that I like self-sacrificing heroines... and so I do like this premises.... but how many times have we've seen it in this series? Too many. Also, I had a discussion with Hilcia a few weeks ago concerning how she thought Dev was very changeling-like, the possession, the "mine." I told her it was attributes to alpha-ness. Well in Max case, I thought he felt very changeling and I think it's because his reaction to Sophia was very similar to Lucas, Vaughn and Dorian with their mate. Max was attracted to Sophia, he didn't hide it and he pushed. These are the reasons why I wasn't engaged by the romances... because it feels repetitive. The circumstances and details are different, but the basics are the same :( Although, kudos to Ms Singh for the resolution in this one - that, I didn't see it coming.
Once again, I'm enjoying where Ms Singh is taking us with the world building and the intrigues. She keeps adding new layers to the plot, making it more intricate while the readers keep guessing... Is Kaleb really a good guy? And what's up with the Arrows? What about Nikita? She's one cold Psy, but at the same time, one hard cookie LOL. I previously dismissed her as selfish, but now, I'm having my doubts. We also see the Council divide and this is definitively going to keep the story interesting. I liked the fact that although the main plot was Psy matters, Lucas and Sascha got to play a more important role. They weren't only in the story because Lucas is alpha. I really liked how Sascha's pregnancy was connected to the storyline. Overall, I really enjoyed the storylines, but personally could have done without the last bits with Bonner. I find it hard to believe that the serial killer could escape such a secure facility.
The last few things I'm going to mention are simply thoughts on the series more than on the actual book. I thought Max didn't feel very human, what with his alpha attitude and his natural shields. I understand that has he been different, it'd be a completely different story.... but I'd like to see a genuine, normal, regular human in this series and see how s/he deals with this world. I'm also very happy the next two books are going to feature the SnowDancers. It'll be a good change of pace and will shift the focus a little from the Psy :P
Finally, did anyone pick up on the woman that slipped her card to Max during the sushi take-out pick-up? Keiko Nakamura. For some reasons, her last name rings a bell. Any chance she's a relative of Sascha (giving that her great-grandmother defected...)?
My Grade: B. Ms Singh definitively knows where she's going with the series and it only becomes more interesting with each book. However, I'd really like for her to change it up a little bit in the romance department. Therefore, I'm really looking forward to the next book which will feature Indigo and Drew :P Yay!