Branded by Fire

Branded by Fire - Nalini Singh Branded by Fire is the sixth book in Nalini Singh's incomparable paranormal romance series, Psy-Changeling. A series set in a uniquely futuristic world where two changeling packs, the DarkRiver leopards and the SnowDancer wolves, fight to hold their Californian territory from the emotionless and psychically talented Psy. The Psy view the changelings and humans, who are seen as the weakest of the races, as base and disposable creatures. But that view is slowly changing as the Changelings gain more and more power in the world through enterprise and allies. To the Psy, emotions are a weakness, but the Changelings know that true power is held by those who have something to fight for. And there is nothing more important to Changelings then protecting their own.

After reading the masterpiece that was Dorian's story in Hostage to Pleasure, I couldn't wait to get started on the next book in the series but didn't expect to open a book that was just as stunning as the last. I swear, this series keeps getting better and better with each installment!

Riley, a SnowDancer lieutenant and second in command, has always been known for his practical nature and his calm in the face of a storm. Raising his two younger siblings after the death of their parents he's always felt that he's had to be that solid figure. But when he is paired up as the SnowDancer liaison for DarkRiver his even-tempered persona jumps off the side of the Sierra mountains in the face of the wildly tempting cat from DarkRiver.
Mercy is a DarkRiver sentinel, a place she earned and that is well respected in her leopard pack. But her dominant status also makes it difficult for her to find a male that won't feel intimidated by it or try to overrun her with his own dominance. Seeing a lot of her pack mates becoming happily mated has made her ache even more for companionship, so she really can't be blamed for her sex-starved body's reaction to Riley, even if he is a mangy wolf.
Together, on the hunt for a kidnapper, Riley and Mercy must find his victim before it's too late. And being in such close proximity to each other only induces the burning attraction between them. But when they finally give in to the all-consuming heat can they find a way to go beyond just their body's attraction and risk their hearts? Or will Riley's ideal image for a future mate and Mercy's fear of submission stand in their way?

Finally we have a story centered on two Changelings and if you thought they were hot on their own, get that cold shower ready because you ain't seen nothing yet! Riley and Mercy are both extremely dominant characters and very much alike in their personalities. They're also wolf and leopard, a paring that no one ever imagined. But the sexual tension between these two is palpable from the get-go and no matter how hard they fight it at first, there's no walking away. But just because their bodies are in agreement doesn't mean their minds are and these two have a heck of a journey to their happily-ever-after. I found Branded by Fire to be a lot more sensual then any of the previous novels in this series and I loved every minute of it. The romance was blistering hot and full of volatile emotions that gripped at my heart.

I also love the continuing story arcs outside of the two main characters. Lucas and Sasha...I couldn't keep the smile off my face with this one. You'll find first-rate writing, fascinating world-building, and compelling characters that you'll love in Branded by Fire. The plot is brimming with heart, passion and romance that is balanced masterfully with action and suspense. Definitely a recommended read from this reader and one of my favorite books read this year!