Series: Psy-Changeling #12
Published by Berkley Sensation on June 4th 2013
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.
Kaleb Krychek, Cardinal Psy and Councilor of the former Psy-Council, is perhaps the most dangerous man alive. His telekinetic (Tk) abilities are so great they can’t even be measured, but with only a thought he could reach the heart of the planet and destroy it. He has planned out his life meticulously so that he would reach the level of Councilor, and eventually take over the entire Psy-Net itself. All of his plans for power revolve around one more important plan, finding her. Someone took her away from him seven years ago, and he has been searching the world and the Net tirelessly to find her. She is his and he is willing to destroy the world if he does not get her back.
But to understand the now, we need to go back to the beginning. Kaleb was one of the first victims of former Councilor Santano Enrique, powerful Tk, psychopath and serial killer who enjoyed torturing and killing changeling women. Santano has recently been caught and destroyed by the changelings. But long before that happened, Santano purchased the young but very strong Tk Kaleb when he was only 3 years old, and he was determined to mold the youth into his own image with years of mental and physical abuse. Even as an adult with such strong Tk abilities, Kaleb could not fight against Santano or even turn him to the authorities, because Santano had ripped into his mind as a child, building back doors into Kaleb’s psyche, always able to get into his mind and control him. Yet in twisting Kaleb’s childhood, Santano made it impossible for Kaleb to integrate into Silence as all the psy-children must.
This is why young Kaleb Krychek was able to fall in love. Love was an emotion which would normally have caused him to be sent for rehabilitation. Silence keeps psy-children from feeling emotions, no hate, anger, jealousy, but also no love, happiness or joy. But Kaleb could feel could feel love for the one person who treated him like he mattered.
Sahara Kyriakus, an F designation psy of the Nightstar clan, has the ability for Foresight or in her case, subdesignation B for backsight. Like the Justice Psy she could see what happened in the past. At least that is what she is known for outside of her clan. As far as anyone know, Sahara is the only psy alive with her own special and powerful ability and if anyone were to find out about it, they would do anything to get their hands on her. When someone did find out, they abducted her at the tender age of 16, and have locked her away for the last seven years. Sahara had no other defense against those who tried to rip open her mind and control her ability but to twist her own mind into a labyrinth that even she could not unlock. There was only one person who’s presence would allow her to unlock her mind, but even she cannot remember who that would be as twisted as her mind has become.
Kaleb has finally found Sahara and has brought her to the home he built for her outside of Moscow. He will help Sahara unlock her mind. He will keep her safe from harm. He will even go so far as to bind her to himself like the changelings do, by mating with her. Yet he knows that once she unlocks her mind and finally remembers him, she will run from him. Although he will never cage her again, he will also never let her go. She is his and will always be his.
Wow…wow…wow!!! Brilliant! Phenomenal! Every other author who has ever attempted to give their dark antagonist a happily ever after needs to read this book and go try again. This is one of those books that makes me want to go back and re-rate every book I have ever read. If you read the psy-changeling series, this is going to blow your mind. If you don’t, go right now and start with book 1 or this book will not have the same impact for you.
God I love a tortured hero, and Nalini Singh shows us that we knew nothing of the man who was guiding the psy in his power play for total dominance of the Net. In HOO we see a whole new Kaleb Krychek than the one we’ve met so far. Is he still attempting to take over the Net? Yes. Is he still absolutely dangerous? Yes. Is he trying to find Sahara to use her special powers in his end game? Oh, no.
Kaleb was raised by a sociopath and a serial killer, physically brutalized and mentally raped by a monster who wanted to create Kaleb in his own image. As a young boy he chances to meet Sahara, a girl six years his junior but one who is highly intelligent and sympathetic. She befriends the very lonely Kaleb and worries about him and is angry for him once she realizes the brutality which is inflicted on him by Santano. Whenever he can sneak away from Santano, he meets with Sahara, and she brings him peace and a feeling of caring that he has never known before. Their friendship spans a decade until at 16, Sahara is kidnapped and locked away where Kaleb cannot find her. And that is what defines the man we knew and that is the force that governs all his actions for the last seven years–finding Sahara and bringing the only person he cares about home to him.
I almost bawled when young Sahara declared to Kaleb that he is hers and when she turns 21 they will do the psy-equivalent of we’ll get married and make a family and he simply replies “Yes.” and you just know by his simple reply how much it means to him that the only person he cares about wants to be with him and claim him. Absolutely heartbreaking!
Oh, yeah and there’s also this whole war with the organization known as Pure Psy which brings together the humans, changelings and psy to fight them, building strong foundations between the races. Whatever…
I loved this book and I am going to have to make time to read it again.
Received an ARC from the publisher. Thank you so much!!!
(Sahara is working to remove the labyrinth that she created in her mind and reclaim her memories.)
She had met Kaleb before. A long time ago.
Every year on her birthday, he’d waited for her in a hidden curve of that pathway, and…
Her eyes went wide. Pushing off the blankets, she went to the right side of the bed, lifted up the mattress, and pulled out the small treasure she’d concealed there out of habit, she’d been protecting it for so long. She’d gone so psychotic when a guard tried to take it from her as a punishment that he’s been fired—because Sahara’s hysteria had left her useless to her captors for days.
She’d still been cooperating to a certain point at that stage, in the hope that she could lull them into a false sense of security. That plan had failed, but after the mania of her reaction, no one had ever again tried to take her treasure from her, even during the worst punishments—as if they were afraid of fatally breaking her. Still, she’d stopped wearing it, hiding it in knots she created in her clothing.
Now, it glittered in the lamplight, a charm bracelet of shining platinum.
“Thirteen.” She whispered and touched the key she knew was meant to represent the endless choices open to her.
“Fourteen.” An open book. That was the year her ability for languages had become apparent, French as easy for her to understand and use as Cantonese and Hungarian—as long as she was taught by a fluent speaker of the language, rather than using computronic aids. Intrigued teachers had theorized she had some type of unheard-of psychic ability that allowed her to unconsciously absorb languages from those around her, never realizing how close they skated to the perilous truth.
“Fifteen.” A tiny globe that represented her dream of seeing the world.
“Sixteen.” She touched wondering fingers to the dancer who leaped into the void with abandon, her arms raised above her head, pure joy in her expression.
Four, only four.
All from the man who now held her captive.
She sat on the edge of the bed, the bright metal warm in her palm, the charms of exquisite workmanship. It was the kind of gift that could be taken in many ways, the majority of them troubling, given Kaleb’s connection to Santano Enrique, as well as the six-year age gap between Kaleb and Sahara. It mattered nothing now that they were both adults, but at the start, Kaleb would’ve been nineteen to her thirteen.
Except…for her the bracelet was associated with hope and a rare, incandescent joy. There was no hint of a taint, none of the ugliness that might mean Kaleb had been grooming her as a future victim. Even the idea made her stomach revolt, as if she’d done a terrible insult to something indescribably precious.
Kaleb would never hurt me.
Closing her fingers over the lovely present given to her by a familiar stranger wreathed in shadows, Sahara realized she had a choice to make: to trust in the emotions engendered by this bracelet—a bracelet she’d guarded and treasured for seven long, agonizingly lonely years, or to listen to the coldly rational part of her that reminded her Kaleb had walked hand in hand with a murderous monster since childhood.
In spite of the late hour, he was working at his desk, his dark hair pristine, his steel gray shirt unwrinkled in the slightly yellow-tinged light from the table lamp that provided the only illumination in the room. Looking up when she came in, the roiling darkness she’d glimpsed in the bedroom yet visible in his eyes, he said, “Yes?”
The dead calm of his voice had her hesitating, the decision she’d made a painful hope she couldn’t bear to have crushed.
“Sahara,” he said at her silence, “If you’re here for a reason, speak. If you’re not, leave.”
Swallowing at the cold warning that told her not to push him, she took a seat in the chair on the other side of his desk. He watched her with the unblinking gaze of a predator so deadly, the world had never seen anything like him. “Where”—she wet her throat gone dry as a desert sun—“where are the rest?”
His eyes didn’t move off her.
Trembling within, she lifted her fisted hand in front of her. Plantinum shimmered in the golden light as her fingers fell open. A moment of absolute, endless silence, and then Kaleb blinked and the stars were back in his eyes.
Not breaking the eye contact that threatened to brand her from the inside out, he laid his right hand palm-up on his desk. Seven charms lay on his skin between on heartbeat and the next. Biting back tears as the most secret part of her keened in joy, she leaned closer, hand rising.
He drew the charms away.
Anger flashed, hot and raw. “They’re mine.”
“That’s not how it works.”
Scowling and wanting the charms, she sat back in the chair as he stood and moved around the table with the deadly grace that always drew her eye, her body taut with a very adult tension. Breath shallow, she slipped the bracelet over the wrist, snicked the clasp into place, and held out her arm toward him. “Now.”
Leaning against the desk in front of her, he lifted his hand and a single charm appeared between his fingertips. “Seventeen.”
“A compass.” To find my way home. Heartbreaking, she looked her fill of him as he finished hooking the charm on to the bracelet, and again, she asked herself who he was to her. Who had he been to her, this beautiful man who might be so deeply damaged as to be forever broken?
He glanced up, a lock of hair falling across his forehead, midnight dark against his golden skin. For a fleeting instant, she saw the boy he’d once been, all silky hair and quiet eyes, and she knew the memory was true. Her and Kaleb, whatever it was the tied them together, it had begun long before she was thirteen, begun when they were both children.
“Hurry,” she whispered, helpless as her other hand rose to push that errant lock off his forehead.
He didn’t move away, didn’t repudiate her touch. “Eighteen.” A second charm appeared between his fingers.
She twisted her head this way and that to try to see what it was as he hooked it into place, but he deliberately blocked her sight. She saw the reason why when he straightened. “An unsheathed blade.” What he had become the day she vanished.
“Nineteen.” He began to hook the charm on before she saw the telekinetic fetch.
A small home.
The rock that was her heart grew heavier. “Twenty.”
“Twenty.” This one, he let her see.
A tiny heart formed of a deep blue stone, so very beautiful it made her breath release in a sigh. “Sapphire?”
“Tanzanite.” His eyes meet hers. “Rare. Unique.”
A frozen heart, she thought, her wonder swirled with a haunting sorrow. His heart or hers?
A fragment of jagged obsidian, edges smoothed only enough not to cut her skin.
A single, perfect star.
Frowning, she looked up at him. “I don’t understand.”
He hooked the charm into place. “Only this star matters.” His thumb brushing over her inner wrist. “Should it be erased, no other has the right to live.”