Brianna was terribly traumatised by her abduction by the Psy serial killer. Her family and her Pack are determined to protect her, moving her home, sheltering her and almost guarding her every moment
Only Judd, the cold and terrifying Psy seems to be the man who knows what Brianna needs.
But Judd has always been the Psy out of place – desperately sheltering behind the shield of Silence, he needs the emotional control to keep people safe from his lethal abilities. Brianna may have the ability to crack his shields – but will it ever be safe to do so
One of my main concerns with this book isn’t about this book per se at all – but about how this book contrasts with the previous two books in the series
The previous two books had a pattern: we have a female Psy struggling with Silence. They’re vulnerable, imploding and desperately at risk because of the repression that silence represents. They cling to silence because it’s all they’ve ever known – but a shapeshifter male decides that he knows better than the Psy and repeatedly pushes her, even physically ignoring her boundaries, until Silence collapses and she feels emotion. In each case we have a narrative of a vulnerable female Psy whose agency is largely ignored by a shapeshifter male who knows better and saves her from her destruction by ignoring said agency.
Now take this book which breaks the trend – here we have a vulnerable, hurting Changeling who is, at least in part, healed by the love and support of the Psy. That Psy breaks silence, but on his terms – in fact the Psy is menaced by the loss of silence so much that the shapeshifter has to back off and give the Psy space rather than pushing the Psy’s boundaries past what is safe.
Hey that flips the script and doesn’t follow the same pattern – that’s good, right? Except, opposite to the previous 2 books, in this case the Changeling is female and the Psy is male. So this doesn’t feel like a switch of the typical Psy/Changeling dynamic which has been established so much as enforcing the gender roles that have already been in place. This is also apparent when we consider the nature of Judd‘s powers – while Faith and Sasha had very cerebral non-active sensory powers and were somewhat physically (both have minor offensive powers) overwhelmed by their-oh-so-lethal Changeling partners. Again, it’s also established in the world building that not only are Psy physically less strong than Changelings but also than humans. Yet when we turn to Judd and Brianna, we have a Psy with powerful Telekinesis which not only makes him super-duper-mega dangerous but he uses it to both give himself super healing skills AND enhanced strength and speed that matches or eclipses the Changelings
When the gender is switched, the male Psy is given powers that ensure he is physically more powerful than his female Changeling mate. It’s hard not to think that gender isn’t the reason for this. It’s frustrating because with what has already been established about Psy and Changelings, a male Psy and female Changeling would have been an excellent way to counter the gender role issues of this series so far. It’s a sad lost opportunity.
I do like that there is a challenge of how overprotective Brianna’s brothers are – how they’re reacting to her victimisation by turning her into a prisoner, treating her like a child and generally removing all the agency and control she has over her life and how terrible this is. I think this is a vital point to make because all too often we do regard victims as abuse as child like and completely remove their agency in a broken way of “protecting” them. This also links to ableist tropes – because Brianna is clearly suffering from mental illness as a result of her trauma, we often see people make decisions for the mentally ill “for their own good.” So I really like this challenge – I just don’t think it goes far enough. I think there’s far too much focus on how much they love her and mean well rather than the damage and problems they’re causing.
That’s a problem with this book – and it’s a big one which is why I’ve written so much about it – but there’s also a lot of good which I love once I get past the relationship (which is something of a shame because it is a Paranormal Romance and I kind of love every single thing in this series EXCEPT the romance). The world building has been steadily growing in the last 2 books and this one continued that progress. In particular I love how we’ve analysed Silence more, specifically how it does have an advantage