ARC REVIEW: Bonds of Justice

Nalini Singh
Bonds of Justice (Psy/Changeling #8)
ISBN-10: 0425235440
ISBN-13: 978-0425235447
Paranormal romance
July 6, 2010

Description via the author’s site:

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…

Max Shannon…I owe you an apology. I didn’t remember who you were when your creator announced waaay back that your book would be next. I remember squinching my eyes and nose up in Who? confusion. I thought things like Okaaaay, whatever Singh says. Uh huh. I may have even wondered for a few minutes if this would be the dreaded filler book. But I was wrong, Max. So wrong about you. You’re not filler. Your high quality protein. And hawt. I’m almost glad I wasn’t expecting you. You can knock me off my feet any day.

People, people, people. Singh has done it again. I love this series’ romance. I feel so grateful for it because in all honesty, romance reading hasn’t been doing it for me lately. I’ve said it before too, about the long length of this series, bit wow – it’s still going strong. Max being a human hero sounded a little iffy when pitted against the supernatural strengths of the shifters and the Psy, but Max Shannon turned out to be another great hero in a long series line of them.

I loved his instant devotion to Sophia. We talk sometimes in romance about how quickly some couples are attracted, and that it’s not normally a believable scenario. It all depends on the author’s writing, of course, and I’ve always felt that Singh does a good job at this particular device. First of all, I’ve never had a problem believing in the basic premise that people can be instantly physically attracted. It’s just a normal reaction sometimes. Doesn’t mean anything will come of it. With Singh’s characters, and with Max and Sophia, not only do we get that instant sizzle of attraction, but we pretty much know that the guy is already committed. It’s in the way Max cares about Sophia’s mental health, because he knows what being a justice Psy does to those in that profession. He already knows deep down that she carries scars other than the one visible on her face. And that is what makes him so gosh-darned sexy – his intuition when it comes to Sophia, how to get around her limitations as a Psy that can’t stand to be touched and the resulting melting of her cold Psy shields. Max is a great cop, the best at what he does, but at the end of the day it is the strength that he exudes, mountains of it to ensure that Sophia doesn’t come to any harm just because he wants to hold her.

Sophia is actually typical of other Psy heroes and heroines we’ve seen so far, in the sense that she has to purge all emotion and avoid its deadly trap. She can’t be touched and she must maintain a tight rope on mental shields that are alarmingly thin. I admit that I had to suspend some beliefs about what we’ve come to know of the Psy because despite whatever explanations popped up, it seemed too easy for her to brush aside her Psy limitations and be with Max. Yes, they take it slow. Supposedly her limited time (much more so than other Psy designations) kind of gave her a new outlook on life, and it isn’t unusual for other Psy to ignore it when a justice Psy might behave a little abnormally. I still ound it a little too easy as she slips into Max’s arms, but I wasn’t going to complain too much when that same romance was rocking and pinging all my romance requirements. Sophia and Max are one sexy couple and I loved the steamy build up and tension. That’s definitely an area Singh excells at, the enticing of the romance, then always with a satisfying melding of the hero and heroine.

The villain is also what I’ve come to think of as a standard series villain. Gerard Bonner is a Psy killer who, while thankfully in police custody, still has the ability to mess with Sophia’s mind as she attempts to wrangle a confession from him and enable police to locate the women he’s killed. What makes him stand out a little more though is that we see a little more of him than past Psy psychos and Sophia has a few conversations with him that are chilling at best and downright sinister at worst. The interactions between him and Sophia are what enable his role as a villain to feel a little more fleshed out than past Psy villains. I thought his murderous idiosyncrasies and games pitted against the fracturing, vigilante justice Sophia sometimes engaged in were very interesting.

In terms of worldbuilding, Singh is still leading the pack when it comes to a wonderful, cohesive series arc. We are still seeing plenty of the still pregnant Sascha, more so now because of the political Psy maneuverings involving her mother, Nikkita Duncan, who is a major player in the governing Psy Council. I think readers will be happy with how this continuing series arc progresses and I advise paying particular attention to Nikkita this time. I can’t say much, but as I still love Sascha and Lucas so much as a couple, it was bittersweet to see the small ray of hope that Sascha has at one point.

I had other small quibbles, one being the use of the NetMind and other such entities as a bit too deux ex machina, especially since these entities have intervened in a godly way before for other series protagonists (not to mention that I felt sheepish because I couldn’t remember which was which and why they were the way they were etc.). I honestly was kind of….unimpressed to see such a similar scenario regarding these entities, but one thing I’ve learned about this series that’s very important is: Singh has a tight, well-written series unfolding here. I haven’t seen a detail yet that wasn’t intentionally used to move the stories and overall arc along. So I was able to get past that quibble and I’m pretty sure that there is a reason that the Psy Net’s collective “minds” like the NetMind do as they do in this book.

Overall, I was lapping this book up like the best dessert ever. The kind with the good calories. I love this series and it’s so rare that I get to say that when we’re this many books in. I loved Max and Sophia’s hot romance and I am still just as excited about this series as I ever was back in its beginnings.

Rating: Four and Half Scoops

Series order:

  • Slave to Sensation
  • Visions of Heat
  • Caressed by Ice
  • Mine to Possess
  • Hostage to Pleasure
  • Branded by Fire
  • Blaze of Memory
  • Play of Passion (November 2, 2010)
  • Hawke’s book – title TBA (2011)
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    • After all this time I get nuthin’ from Kaleb. I don’t understand what his allure is. :( Am I missing some key genetic girly gene?

    • So you think Kaleb will get his own book? Or has Singh says he will? Spill the deets if you got ’em!

  1. It would be a spoiler to say, but pay close attention to what Kaleb does and is thinking in his mind toward the end. or email me and we can discuss!

    • It’s so easy to get behind with a series these days when so MANY books out there are part of one! I’ve avoided starting so many books because they’re in a series but I bet you over 90% of my books I’ve read are in one.

  2. Wow! Thanks so much KMont. I can’t wait for this book to be out here now. I too am in the same position you were in. Max is nothing to me. I just can’t remember him. You’ve made me look forward to it more now.

    I am so looking forward to Hawke’s book. I think I’m in the same position as many people there. Kaleb though! I love him. I hope if he ever does get a book that you’ll get him a little more like you did with Max. I am hoping for is a nice shifter for Kaleb, something completely outside what he is.

  3. Thank you KMont! That’s one excellent review and I can’t wait to read this book. I’m also really glad that Max as a human hero works well. The hero (Dev) of the previous book (Blaze of Memory) didn’t really feel that human, so I was a little worried :)

    And I love your thoughts on the overall story arc. I do get the impression Nalini has a very clear idea of where she is going…and that quite a lot of things in the books are simply small jigsaw pieces that will make sense as the series keeps progressing.

    And I’m with KB on Kaleb! Hmmmmm *grin*

  4. KMont, great review! 4 1/2 scoops, yay! I can’t wait to read it, specially after the last book which was a bit of a downer for me.

    Hmm… Kaleb. Now there’s a character that has me wondering and wondering. I’m definitely intrigued by him.

  5. Pingback: Review: Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh | Smexy Books

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