Ashaya Aleine is the M-Psy responsible for the Psy Council’s controversial new hive mind project… and she wants out. But the Council does not accept resignations and are holding her son hostage to ensure her co-operation
Only with the help of the Dark River wereleopards – including Dorian the sniper – can she manage her and her son’s escape
But whether Dark River can trust her – and how she can stay out of the Council’s clutches – is an ongoing battle, especially since Ashaya has a far more insidious threat to avoid: her sister.
I continue to be at war with myself over this series – a war that continues with this book
There’s so much I love about it. I love the world building. I love how the ongoing debate about Silence is becoming more and more complicated and involved. I love how layered this is. Ashaya repeatedly tells them – just like Judd did before - that some people need Silence to protect themselves from their own powers. And not just the lethal powers for Psy like Judd – but from the demons in their own head. We’re repeatedly told that the Psy were tormented by psychosis, murder and suicide before Silence was implemented
Ashaya says it best – ironically for a race that is so lacking in emotion – but the Psy are genuinely terrified of themselves. With Silence fraying more and more we’re seeing consequences of that, and a lot of that isn’t good or even close to good. Murder, suicide – the Psy perpetuated and suffer from horrors while living with Silence – but Silence is there to protect them from another nightmare of horrors the whole race is funning from.
On the Council side we have another interesting reaction – with the emergence of the “Pure Psy” – as more and more Psy are breaking silence we have a push back – led by factions in the Council. Brutal and ruthless and in many ways rather trying to close the stable door long after the horses has bolted – but that’s very human nature, to throw in extreme backlash when defeat seems inevitable.
Which means we also have ongoing political shenanigans with the Council – between Nikitia and the Scotts – there’s a lot of complexity within the Psy Council without them being simplistically reduced to just the designated bad guys.
I also like the continued hints of the third race that makes up this series – the humans. Humanity, the Human Union represents a growing threat simply because they are so invisible and overlooked – I look forward to see how this develops because it would be so easy to dismiss and ignore humanity next to the supernatural power houses of the Psy and Changelings. A third faction, coupled with the internal politics of the Psy, the rebellion, the Pure Psy and the Council politics all lends itself to layers of multi-faceted storylines and world building
Especially with nuggets of world building like the fact Psy, Changelings and humans are all the same species – which is an interesting touch. Many supernatural series have the various creatures interbreed without considering what that means genetically (if you had half-elves who are fertile you’re generally saying elves and humans are the same species) – but here we have it clearly incorporated
Then there’s the dark net and Net Mind and a whole new element to what that brings – when the deeply psychic race of the Psy split their psyche’s so completely it is reflected in the PsyNet. There’s just so much to this world, so much here that I love.
In just about every book in this series while I’ve praised the awesome world building and meta plot, I have also harshly criticised the gender roles and romance plot that has sadly dominated every book
In Hostage to Pleasure I’m going to go it again. If, that is, by “harshly criticise” I actually mean “scream ‘kill it with fire’” and exorcise my tablet.
This book’s male protagonist is Dorian, the leopard who cannot shift. Way back in Slave to Sensation we saw Dorian lost his sister to the Psy serial killer. Since then he has pretty much loathes all things Psy, only making an exception for those Psy who have proved themselves by leaving the Psy-net and joining the Dark River Web of Stars.
Our female protagonist is Ashaya and she represents everything Dorian hates. She’s a Psy, she’s part of Psy-Net, she embraces Silence, she’s working directly for the Council, the source of so much evil. This is naturally setting up a classic hate-turns-to-love trope which the romance genre loves to a truly disturbing degree: because the path to true love apparently really really needs some seething hatred in there.
But, hey, that could work and come with lots of not-too-subtle lessons about seeing the actual person rather than making assumptions based on whatever.
Except that this book also combined that other most essential trope – inexplicable overwhelming lust at first sight. Which means we’re treated to Ashaya fighting her attraction for Dorian even when, literally, the only thing she knows about him is he pointed a gun at her head. She even thinks of him as “the sniper” while having fuzzy thoughts about him