Sunday, September 5, 2010

REVIEW: Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh

ISBN 9780425235447
Genre: Paranormal Romance
(c) July 2010, Berkley
Nalini Singh's website
Rating: 5 stars

Available at Book Depository (print).

Sheer genius. Nalini Singh writes with amazing skill as she depicted the delicate balance of the growing attraction between the woman who cannot be touched and the man who aches to do so. By page 70 of this book, there are already several poignant scenes between the main couple that would tug at your heartstrings and make you root for an HEA for them. But most especially for Sophia Russo, who just about breaks me whenever I think about her past and her life, what it meant to be a J Psy.

Sophia Russo is a Justice Psy, able to walk the twisted pathways of the criminals' minds and retrieve the needed memories to take them to justice. However, this exerts a great toll on her shields. Though she goes in every now and then for reconditioning (strengthening her shields), she's nearing the point where she'll crack and go insane, when no amount of reconditioning would help and and then, her personality--her very self--would be erased and it will be as if she never was. As a Psy, they are trained not to feel, but each moment spent with Max Shannon, a detective, as they work together on a case made her shields crack that little more. Skin contact may be normal to us, but to Sophia, each touch is magnified a thousand-fold and threatens her shield. Yet, she didn't hesitate. If she'd go, then she wanted to go knowing how Max felt against her skin.

To Sophia, her near eventual demise was real, and to the reader, it felt real. There were some real touching scenes that blurred my eyesight, and I'd like to quote one of them, though it would probably be out of context to those who haven't read this and thus, wouldn't be able to grasp the richness of the emotion behind the words:

"Will you remember me?"
His heart broke into a thousand pieces. "Always."

I couldn't remember a couple who fought as fiercely and desperately for their HEA as Sophia and Max. It seems like every chapter contains some new information that contributed to the growing conviction of Sophia's eventual demise and how Max couldn't bear to lose her. I don't know how I was able to hold on to my will not to turn to the end of the book and have a peek. But I managed. Somehow.

Though I know some miracle would happen to bring about Sophia's HEA with Max (this is a romance, after all), at the moment of reading, I could believe there's no hope anywhere for Sophia, that she's probably going to have one intimate, glorious moment with Max and then she'd die. That's how powerful Nalini Singh's writing is. I can feel Sophia's fragile state like a tangible object. I think it's in the careful way Sophia holds herself, the way she takes care not to touch anybody, and also in the way Max acts around her, the way his thoughts contrast with his actions. There is so much feeling going on on both sides, but because of Sophia's condition, these feelings are controlled and subdued, repressed. This, coupled with the murders that Sophia and Max are taxed to solve and the build-up regarding Sophia's end fate, increased the tension and page-turning quality of the book.

As for Max, early on in their acquaintance, somehow, Sophia was able to touch something in him that no woman had ever done. He didn't know what to make of it, but he did know he was attracted to her. Recognizing her fragility as a J Psy, he didn't rush her, willing himself to slow down, to go at her pace, to introduce her to sensual delights at each opportunity. Not only that, but he also acquainted her with the light teasing that exists between (would-be) lovers and all the other stuff that Sophia missed in her childhood. I like that Max is sensitive in this manner, that he was willing to wait and to meet Sophia at her level. And, of course, he wouldn't accept Sophia's eventual demise without a fight. He wanted to make it so that she was his to keep forever. Like all heroes, this fierce protectiveness he has toward the heroine just about makes me melt.

"I know who you are," he said, holding her gaze. "I'm not going to be scared away because of your 'imperfections'."
A sheen of wet in her eyes, turning the midnight irridescent.
"We fit, you and I," he whispered, looking into that haunting gaze. "Two broken pieces making a whole." It wasn't the most romantic of statements, but it was torn from his soul. "I am not losing you."


"No one will dare hit on me after I mention my wife is a J with a jealous streak."
Wife. Her composure splintered. "Max, no matter what, we could never--"
"I told you, Sophie. You're mine. End of story."

No games. I thought it was heartbreaking when Sophia confessed she didn't know how to play games like how the woman was playing with Max (a woman they'd met in the elevator flirted with him and gave him her card), and also when Max decided that yes, he would pursue this attraction between them to the end and there would be no games between them. Just honest emotions and frank speaking.

I also haven't seen a couple who loved each other as Max and Sophia. Their intimate scenes are hot and steamy, sure, but there's more than lust and attraction. Though the word love may never have slipped past their lips, but you could see it in the other words that they do say, the way they care for one another, the way they take care of the other, the way they're willing to die for the other, the way...Argh! You have to read this book!

And I hadn't even talked about the worldbuilding yet. Astounding, complex, superb. I could believe such a world existed. It was that real.

Regarding how Sophia became well again, I don't believe I know enough of this world yet to judge with any knowledge whether it was believable or not. Certainly, for me, at this point, it is. It didn't feel like the solution came from out of the blue. There had been hints as the story progressed, but the realization came at the end.

Sascha and Lucas (from the first book) make an appearance here, due to Sascha's connection to Councilor Nikita Duncan, the councilor who needed Max's and Sophia's help on a case. I think fans would enjoy seeing this couple together and be updated on how their romance has progressed. I certainly enjoyed seeing the dynamics of Lucas's pack as they relate to Sascha, as well as other characters like Dorian, Clay, Faith and Vaughn.

Bonds of Justice is the first book I've read in Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling series, and I can assure first-time readers that you won't get lost at all if you start here! This book is totally stand-alone, yet I'm sure you'll feel as I do--I'm going to read this series in order, starting with Slave to Sensation (the first book which features Sascha and Lucas) all the way to Bonds of Justice (again!) to get the full flavor of Ms. Singh's world and her amazing characters.

Book Summary:

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 to 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 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...


Blodeuedd said...

I will hopefully get to read this one soon :=)

dor said...

Wow!! Can't imagine not feeling or being touched. Pretty intense.

dorcontest at gmail dot com

Sara Yasmin said...

Oooh, yes, it's a great read! Fully recommended.

Lora1967 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lora1967 said...

This book looks awesome i definitly want it BADLY

jeanette8042 said...

I loved this book like all the others in the series even though the cover art is a bit sucky this time.

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