|I am relatively new to the paranormal genre and especially to those
featuring animal-people. Itís therefore hard for me to compare Slave
to Sensation with other novels where shape-shifters (wolf-people,
leopard-people, jaguar-people, fox-people and, yes, rabbit-people)
appear. I wonít let that stop me from recommending it.
The originality of this book lies in its futuristic setting. Earth is
dominated by the Psy, a race of psychics. They are linked to each
other through the PsyNet, a network of mental spaces structured
similarly to the Internet. Governed by an authoritarian Council, they
have conditioned themselves not to have emotions. Everything is
reduced to a rational and utilitarian calculation, and any display of
feelings or desire is deemed unsound. Damaged Psy are
ďrehabilitatedĒ: they are sentenced to a form of mental death that
makes physical death infinitely more desirable.
This frigid, emotionless race looks down on other humanoid forms
populating the world, namely humans and changelings. The latter are
animal-human breeds who live in packs and thrive on emotional
bonding. Several appear in this novel, but the most important are the
Lucas Hunter, alpha leader of the DarkRiver Pack, is out to revenge
the brutal murder of one of his pack members and to unmask the serial
killer the Psy Council is obviously protecting. He believes Sascha
Duncan, whose mother is one of the most ruthless Council members, is
his ticket to inside information.
Sascha, however, isnít like the other Psy. She has never developed
any psychic potential; worse, she has spent her entire life masking
her inexplicably strong emotional reactions. She considers herself
seriously flawed and believes she is on the verge of collapse. She
nevertheless accepts the information Lucas gives her. As they draw
out the murderer, she comes to terms with who she is and what she has
The novel takes pains to withhold the killerís identity, but he is
fairly obvious. What is less apparent is how to unmask him without
destroying Sascha. Turning against her own people implies necessary
exile from the PsyNet. But without it, she cannot survive. Finding a
solution to this problem takes up much of the second part of the book
and maintains the suspense.
Given the title and the novelís main theme, I expected a lot more
from the sex and seduction scenes. Although steamy, they are not
particularly inventive. In fact, Sascha and Lucasís relationship
falls into a pattern Iíve seen in a number of recent paranormals:
despite their obvious differences, he quickly recognizes she is his
mate and doesnít fight it. As strongly attracted to him, she resists
their mating, not so much because of the consequences to her as out
of concern for him.
Sascha develops from a coolly calculating being into a sensual,
caring person. Yet, because she has always feigned indifference, her
character growth isnít as striking as it might have been. It is much
more than Lucasís. He remains throughout a heavy-handed, if
thoroughly likable, alpha male. Sascha stands her own, and it is
quickly clear that, mate or not, she is his match.
With three different races, two different social structures, and a
futuristic setting, Slave to Sensation invokes a fairly complicated world. Some explanatory passages are therefore inevitable.
Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of repetition, and the movement
between information and story is not as seamless as it could have
been. Still, the novel is a competent attempt at world-building for a
Slave to Sensation introduces a number of intriguing characters. Some of them are members of the DarkRiver Pack; others belong to their
allies, the SnowDancers, a pack of wolf-changelings. In all cases,
they have me hooked: Iíll definitely be back for more.