Psy-Changeling Read-Along: Slave to Sensation (+Contest)

Psy-Changeling Readalong.2013

Psy-Changeling Readalong.2013Here it is! The first discussion of our Psy/Changeling Read-a-Long. We are both very excited.

Before we get started we want to let you know that we are assuming you have read Slave to Sensation. We talk about what happened so we do give some things away.

With that out of the way let the fun begin! We can’t wait to hear from you!

– Casey and Courtney

Slave to SensationNalini Singh dives into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind-and none of the heart.

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of “rehabilitation” – the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was…

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy coexistence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion – and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities – or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation…

Here are the past discussions!

Slave to Sensation – the discussion Blaze of Memory – the discussion
Visions of Heat – the discussion Bonds of Justice – the discussion
Caressed by Ice – the discussion Play of Passion – the discussion
Wild Invitation – the discussion Kiss of Snow – the discussion
Mine to Possess – the discussion Tangle of Need – the discussion
Hostage to Pleasure – the discussion Heart of Obsidian – the discussion
Branded by Fire – the discussion


Slave to Sensation took place in the year 2078, in a world where Humans, Psy and Changelings lived together in an uneasy truce. All three of them mainly stayed within their own race, but kept an eye on each other, making sure none took over completely.

In the 1900s, there was an outbreak of Psy who went crazy and committed brutal murders. A program began in 1969 to condition Psy from birth to be completely emotionless, as emotions caused their violent tendencies. It is a type of behavioral conditioning that basically removes the emotion out of young Psy. Psy are usually conditioned by age 16 but are not fully released from the program until age 18 to make sure there are no mistakes.

The Changelings were a very emotional race, though they were not ruled by their baser instincts as the Psy believed. Every once in a while, though, a Changeling would get out of hand, but in those instances, they would dish out the punishment without getting any of the other races involved. Changelings are also very conscious of the Earth and have done a great deal to ensure the environment stays healthy.

The Humans did not play a large role in Slave to Sensation. All we know at this point is that they’re stuck between the Psy and Changelings; they have business with both races though they aren’t really close to either race.

Even though they were living in a truce, the Psy didn’t want to deal with either of the other groups for any reason other than business because they felt superior. To them, Humans are weak and unimportant, almost like ants, and the Changelings are merely animals. All three of the races mainly stayed within their own race, but kept an eye on each other, making sure none took over completely.

Main Characters:

Lucas – A black panther leopard and Alpha of Dark River. Lucas, from the very beginning, has been hunting a Psy who has been murdering female changelings. He’s in charge of the hunt because Dark River lost a member (Kylie) to the serial killer. As a way to get closer to the Psy Lucas began working on a building project with the Duncan family and as a result was granted access to Sascha, a Cardinal Psy. Lucas had planned to get close to her to get information about the killer. However, from their first meeting Lucas realized something was “not right” with Sascha and was instantly captivated by her. He soon changed his tactics and began to try and seduce Sascha. He eventually grew to like her and gained her trust but had to reveal all when a Snow Dancer female was captured. He asked Sascha to help him and she finally agreed. He eventually falls in love with Sascha and revealed they were mates. And even though he didn’t want to he let her risk her life so she could find out who the killer was.

Sascha – A Cardinal Psy who believed she was slowly going insane. Under Silence Sascha should not feel any emotions but she did and those emotions were slowly creating cracks in her psychic shields. Sascha was assigned by her mother, Nikita Duncan, to work on the Dark River project with Lucas. She believed that the sole purpose of the project was to make money for her family. She soon learned though, that her mother and the Psy Council were looking for updated information on the Changelings who have grown so powerful. Sascha was very confused by Lucas but was also very attracted to him. She tried to keep her distance but Lucas made that impossible. Soon, believing that her mind will fracture anyway, she allowed herself to dream about being with Lucas. The only problem was that he had the very pleasurable dreams as well. She grew closer to Lucas and began to trust him but was hurt when he admits he was using her to find out who the killer is. Even though she was hurt and confused Sascha agreed to help Lucas when she is told another female changeling has been taken. She found out the Psy Council is aware of the killings and that there are other serial killers in the Psy Net. Some of these killers will be rehabilitated but the Council will ‘provide’ for those killers who are a critical part of the Net. Sickened by this revelation Sascha created a plan to capture the killer. Sascha also found out she is not defective but is instead a Cardinal E-Psy. She can take the negative emotions of others into herself and negate them. She convinced Lucas to let her go through with the plan Her plan worked and she uncovers the killer.

Changeling Characters:

Dorian – Dark River Sentinel and a latent changeling (he cannot change into a leopard though the leopard is still a part of him). Dorian lost his sister Kylie before Slave to Sensation started. He was at first very leery of Sascha and angry at all Psy. When she took his rage and pain away it allowed him to think clearly for the first time since Kylie was killed. He began to trust Sascha and welcomed her into the pack. He also got his revenge on Enrique in the end.

Hawke – Alpha of SnowDancer. He has allowed Lucas to take control of the hunt because Dark River lost a member. However, after Brenna was taken he gave Lucas a time limit. Hawke took in the Psy Lauren family after they dropped out of the Net. He knew that when Sascha dropped out of the Net it would kill her and he told Lucas.

Brenna – Member of SnowDancer. She was captured by Enrique but was rescued before she was killed. She was in a coma after her rescue but Sascha helped bring her out of it. Her brothers are Riley and Andrew.

Tamsyn – Dark River healer and mate to Nate. She was always open and friendly towards Sascha. They became close friends and Tamsyn helped Sascha navigate her way into understanding her emotions.

Dark River Sentinels SnowDancer Lieutenants
Nate – Senior Riley – Senior
Dorian Indigo

Psy Characters:

Nikita Duncan – Nikita was Sascha’s mother, though because she’s Psy, it was only in the biological terms. She was a Gradient 9.1 TP (telepathy)-Psy, with some other lesser abilities. She appears to be the perfect Psy, completely conditioned in Silence. In Slave to Sensation, she was grooming Sascha to eventually take over their family business.

Santano Enrique – Santano Enrique was a member of the Psy Council. He was a very powerful Cardinal Tk (Telekinetic) – Psy. He was the perfect Psy because he embraced Silence so fully and lacked every kind of emotion.

Ming LeBon – Ming was a Cardinal Psy in the Council. He was a former Arrow, part of an elite Psy army. It is rare, if ever, that he is seen by anyone but the new generation of Arrows.

Marshall Hyde – Marshall Hyde was a Cardinal Psy, though his powers were never and most senior member of the Psy Council. He was the tacit leader for the Council.

Henry Scott – Henry Scott is a Gradient 9.5 Psy for the Council. He and Shoshanna Scott got married to appear more “human” to the other races.

Shoshanna Scott – Shoshanna Scott is also a 9.5. Gradient Psy for the Council. However, she seems like the more dominant in her “relationship” with Henry because she was always the one who would speak for them.

Tatiana Rika-Smythe – Tatiana was only an 8.7 on the gradient scale and the youngest member of the Psy Council but completely ruthless. She killed the councilor she worked for to gain his spot on the Council.

Psy Designations Psy Council
Tp-Psy – Telepathy Marshall Hyde
Tk-Psy – Telekinesis Ming LeBon
M-Psy – Medical Henry Scott
F-Psy – Foresight Shoshanna Scott
E-Psy – Empathy Nikita Duncan
Santano Enrique
Tatiana Rika-Smythe


The Lauren family defected from the Psy Net and survived. They became guests of SnowDancer.

Silence has not stopped Psy from becoming killers. As the Psy Council revealed, there are 50 active serial killers in the Net.

The alliance between Dark River and SnowDancer was deepened.

Glossary of Terms

Vocabulary from all the novels can be found on their discussion pages:

Cardinal – A Psy with power that cannot be measured on the 1 – 10 scale used to measure psychic power. Cardinals are easily identified by their eyes which are black with white specks throughout.

Changeling – One of the three races, changelings are born with the ability to transform into an animal form. Their animal forms are determined by their parents much the same way hair color and eye color. There are both predatory and non-predatory changelings and most are in Packs. Changelings are very conscious of the earth and have done a great deal to ensure the environment stays healthy. Changelings are also very close to their animal and will display characteristics of their animal even while in human form.

Dark River – The dominant Leopard pack in the United States. They are very powerful but have a lot of young to care for. Their territory includes San Diego. They are tentative allies with SnowDancer.

Hunter – Hunters are a type of changeling who hunt down rogue Changelings to keep their pack safe. You are either born a Hunter or not.

Lieutenant – Highest ranking soldiers in SnowDancer. They have certain duties in the pack such as security, training and advising the Alpha. They are also the ones who mete out punishment if the Alpha breaks pack law.

Psy – One of the three races, Psy are physically weaker than humans or changelings. They make up for this by having very power psychic abilities. There are many types of Psy designations but all Psy much have at least a 1.0 Gradient telepathy to link with the Psy Net. The Psy as a race currently practice Silence.

Psy Net – A manifestation on the psychic plane that links all Psy to one another. It “looks” like a night sky with the stars representing the Psy.

Psy Council – A group of five of the most powerful, ruthless and ambitious Psy who ensure the Psy Net is working properly, the Psy are acting under Silence and that the Psy as a race stay in control of the world. They also issue rehabilitation orders.

Rehabilitation – A horrible procedure that wipes a Psy of all upper level thinking and reasoning. Used on Psy who have broken Silence or are a danger to the world’s perception of the Psy.

Sentinel – Highest ranking soldiers in Dark River. They have certain duties in the pack such as security, training and advising the Alpha. They are also the ones who mete out punishment if the Alpha breaks pack law.

SnowDancer – A pack of wolves they are considered to be the most dominant pack in the United States. Their territory includes Sierra Nevada. They are tentative allies with Dark River.


What do you think of the Psy/Changeling world Singh created?
What do you think about the Psy? The Changelings?
Do you like Sascha and Lucas? Is there something specific about them you love or hate?
What’s your favorite scene?
Your favorite character?
What subplots did you see?
What did you feel about the big villain reveal? What about the villain?
Who do you want to see more of?
Anything we missed? Anything you have questions about?


Thanks to Nalini Singh and the wonderful people at Penguin, I have a couple of every single novel in the Psy-Changeling series, and while some of them have been claimed, all of them haven’t. So this is what we’re going to do – we’ll be giving away all the books in one shot at the end of the Read-Along. That means you have 13 different chances to enter for any one of the Psy-Changeling novels. Join in on any of the discussions and you’ll automatically be entered to win.

To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What do you think about the Psy? Do you agree with their philosophy of Silence or do you believe they made a grave error?  Don’t be afraid to answer any of the discussion questions above either!

The contest will stay open until July 1st, at which time we’ll determine the winners with help from this snazzy plug-in that Jackie has.

About Courtney 33 Articles
I teach Special Education and have three demented dogs. Between my students all day and my dogs all night my stress relief is reading. It is the only thing that keeps me from going crazy. Or should I say from going crazier? I read anything but I prefer fantasy, sci-fi and steampunk. I also love urban fantasy and historical romances. If it has dragons and magic, vampires and werewolves, crazy machines and corsets or aliens and spaceships then I’m happy. Mix in a Scotland laird or two every once in a while and I’m ecstatic!


  1. It’s great to re-read the first book! I love the way Nalini Singh unravels her world in Slave to Sensation. I also like that the leopards purr in human form. ;)

  2. Slave to Sensation is still my favorite in this series. I just adore Sascha and Lucas. It’s harder to say that they’re my favorite couple, but at the very least they’re in the top three.

    I also enjoy the world building. I get all of the information I needed to understand the book without feeling like there was a bunch of info dumps. I also enjoyed that much of the world building was done by showing the interactions between the Psy and the Changlings.

    • I have a thing for beginnings anyway and this one was fantastic. Nalini Singh does such a good job of building her world up and I was just instantly caught up in it.

  3. I love Nalini’s Psy/Changeling world. There is something so special in it that makes me wish I lived there.

    Nalini brings up a powerful concept in Silence: When you kill emotion, you kill morals. Emotions are what make us more than just animals.

  4. I love the Psy/Changeling world Nalini has created. I have recommend this series numerous times since I read Caressed by Ice. (I started in the middle, oops) The world is vivid and I find myself immersed every time I read or re-read a story. I can’t read these before bed or I’m up half the night.

    I’m a shifter groupie, so changelings all the way! The cats are terrific, but those wolves are sneaky and I found myself wanting more of them in the story.

    My favorite scene is when Sascha discovers the Web of Stars. The perfect ending / beginning……

    I loved Tammy and her cubs. Tammy always seems to provide the missing pieces of the story when needed and the cubs are great comic relief.

    Vaughn is one of my favorites and I am so glad he is next. So strong, quiet and alpha male, Yum.

    You can almost see the beginning of the end of Silence or a change in what Silence means???

    • I love the cubs! I’m really hoping that we get a story involving the twins at some point. Obviously it can’t be within this series because hello they’re five, but a novella after the series (*fingers crossed* never) wraps up would be awesome!

      • A novella with the cubs would be so amazing! Nalini recently had a short with Ben and Hawke, which she put on her blog. I’d love something like that with Roman and Julian!

  5. The whole idea of a Psy culture is fascinating, it was intriguing to me from the very start. I think the Psy are typical of what can and does happen to any society that isolates itself with rigid separatist views, to the point that the only way out is to desensitize themselves to everything. This is what I see the Psy have done.

    They possessed various gifts that they attempted to control (whether for gain or profit) instead of spending some of their intellect on understanding the value of assimilating every gift in a way that would profit their whole society. Sascha’s gift as an E-Psy was looked upon as not being profitable in a monetary way and they lost the very thing that would have made them the strongest group on the planet. When they discarded their E-Psy, they lost the ability to be emotionally balanced. It’s their very emotions (which they tried to turn off) that would have enabled them to make decisions that would have distributed the negative elements of their society in such a way that the positive could have neutalized the effect for everyone’s benefit.

    I believe the Psy made a grave error in attempting to “silence” their emotions. Instead of throwing off the equilibrium that is necessary whenever you have diverse personalities, they should have embraced the whole of what they are. You can never succeed if you do not recognize that what you consider a weakness only grows when you disregard it. Any society is truly only as strong as it’s weakest link. The answer is not to excise the weak link, but find a way to make it strong and as a result, make the whole even stronger.

    • Silence was enacted, what 50 years ago? So we’re on the second generation, do you think the Psy are who they are now because of Silence or would they have ended up this way without it? I almost think that the Psy wouldn’t be so cold or rigid if they had their emotions and people could relate to them more. Without those feelings, they’ve become even more different that it’s harder to blend in I think.

      • 100 years ago. They started the implementation in 1969, with full implementation happening in 1979. I think Slave to Sensation begins in 2080. Oftentimes each of the races can live to be around 130 years old. At this point, the current Psy don’t even know what it’s like to live without Silence. It’s all they know.

  6. I too really enjoy the world Nalini has created. I first encountered it in the short story in Magical Christmas Cat, and didn’t read all the stories in order, but she does a very good job of including the world building in her stories. My favorite scenes ( couldn’t pick just one) are the first scene at Tammy’s house and the dream scene. I think the Psy are an example of the dangers of trying to make one solution to a problem fit everyone and the corrupting potential of concentrating unchecked power in a few people. I like to re-read my favorite series when a new book comes out, if I can it’s nice to know others are doing the same.

  7. I can’t believe I have yet to start this series and just by reading this post, it looks like there is so much build up in this world she created! I can’t wait to get started and find out more about the PSY

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